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Says he: "In recent years, we here in California have become rather expert at abusing our land and our resources. We carve up our mountains not for the purpose of living, but only to drag our car to our bedroom door. Having learned to rely on the T square and the triangle in the uses of land, rather than an understanding of the land itself, we have come to accept with enthusiasm the unprofessional, unappreciative, unskillful butchery of the land that goes under the name of planning. Here we have a tremendous opportunity to point people's tastes and expectations in another direction. And we can do it—the sheer size of the place makes almost anything possible."
Irvine Ranch is the biggest private development project in the world—93,000 acres of open land adjoining the southern edge of sprawling Los Angeles. Originally this vast tract was an amalgam of three Spanish land grants put together in the 1880s by a group of San Francisco investors, headed by Merchant James Irvine. Ever since, it has been kept intact, used, where it was used at all, mainly as agricultural land and citrus groves. In recent years, its disposal has been the subject of considerable squabbling among the heirs. They finally agreed to have it planned as a regional whole, and to rent it out to private builders. Pereira got the design job.
The Spokes. He has master-planned Irvine in three tiers. One, along the Pacific Coast, covering some 40,000 acres, will absorb the first wave of urbanization. Here will be a city, 31 miles south of overcrowded Newport Beach, and the beginning of a coastline dotted with beach clubs and marinas, ocean-centered communities and resort hotels. At the center will be the branch of the University of California on a 1,000-acre campus acting as a gigantic hub with spokes extruding into the surrounding residential area. Vast green stretches and extensive recreation areas, with industries scattered among them for easy accessibility (Ford Aeronutronic and Collins Radio have already moved in), will break up the city. "These communities will not be dominated by the auto," says Pereira. "They will be walking communities where women can stroll to the shops with their children just as their grandmothers did."
The central tier, some 20,000 acres of pasture land and citrus groves, will preserve Irvine's agricultural tradition —partly because of its soil and climate, partly because Pereira feels that agriculture is essential to the economic health of the area. The top tier, 30,000 acres of rugged peaks and ragged canyons—a mountain wilderness of deer, coyote and quail, pungent with sage and stippled with cactus—will be reserved for recreation, and it will take considerable population pressure before any residential development will be permitted.
All over Irvine's residential region, bulldozers and graders, carpenters and builders were busy this week. At Dover Shores, a development on upper Newport Bay, 70 houses of the planned 311 have already been completed (60% of the homesites in this development were sold in two months, for houses costing from $46,000 to $190,000). And earthmovers were digging away at a 160-ft.-high dam that will hold a billion gallons of water to be used by the University of California and the residents of Irvine, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach.