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By Collin Breaux | Twitter: @collin_breaux

Despite the coronavirus health crisis, 2020 was a positive year for Rancho Mission Viejo in some respects—the master-planned community saw the opening of a new community park, the kickoff to a water sustainability project, and continued home sales.

Homes are nearly sold out in the Village of Esencia, and there are fewer than 15 homes remaining in the subdivision, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Mike Balsamo said.

“What’s been evident from the sales success is working from home has created flexibility about where (people) choose to live,” Balsamo said.

The Ranch’s upside for new homeowners includes the natural beauty surrounding the area, Balsamo said.

Balsamo himself was a bit surprised at home sales holding steady, saying their historically low interest rates and low-density environment were factors. Though people can still take home tours in person, community officials worked with homebuilders this year to create a virtual tour option for prospective homebuyers.

“There were even a few homebuyers who didn’t need to see the home in person,” Balsamo said.

Another highlight includes the opening of Esencia Sports Park in August, an amenity that has been heavily used in the community. Amenities for the 30-acre site include a synthetic turf area, sports fields, and a swimming pool.

The opening of Esencia Sports Park was a major event for Rancho Mission Viejo this year. Photo: Bil Zelman.

Santa Margarita Water District (SMWD) officially starting their water conservation project at the Trampas Canyon Dam and Reservoir in October was a significant event, as well. SWMD acquired the land from The Ranch, and broke ground on the project more than two years ago. The reservoir will allow SMWD to maximize recycled water use and brings them closer to their goal of zero discharges into the ocean.

“That’s a pretty incredible public-private partnership,” Balsamo said.

Santa Margarita Water District celebrated the opening of the Trampas Canyon Dam and Reservoir in October. The project will recycle water as part of water conservation efforts. Photo: Collin Breaux.

Residents have been resilient during the pandemic and looked after one another. While The Ranch wasn’t able to host their usual in-person events, they did transition to other outreach methods, including through their new YouTube channel, where they profile various aspects of Ranch life and feature interviews with residents.

The Reserve—an outdoor preserve at The Ranch—has also adapted to the new normal, with socially distanced hikes and virtual fields trips for students.

This year’s Annual Rancho Mission Viejo was canceled, and a video celebrating the history of the event and Ranch aired in its place. This year would have been the 20th Rodeo in the community.

Balsamo said the cancellation was disappointing, but it was an obvious decision taking into concern everyone’s safety.

Collin Breaux

Collin Breaux covers San Juan Capistrano and other South Orange County news as the City Editor for The Capistrano Dispatch. Before moving to California, he covered Hurricane Michael, politics and education in Panama City, Florida. He can be reached by email at

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