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The Mayor's Vision for a Happier Mission Viejo

Mayor Dave Leckness talks about the 5.5-mile Oso Creek Trail.

One of Mission Viejo’s jewels is the 5.5-mile Oso Creek Trail network of multi-use paths for pedestrians, joggers, and cyclists. Mission Viejo residents can go from neighborhood to shopping centers, schools, and parks through the wooded scenery that makes Mission Viejo special. 

Summary: Lovers of a quick wilderness hike will love the proximity to homes and shopping centers. Families and seekers of exercise will enjoy the paved trails and shaded pathways of this route which runs from (near Olympiad) to the on Marguerite.

The trail takes you along a concrete- and stone-paved stream course shaded by ashes, oaks, and sycamores. The natural effect of the corridor is landscaping dominated by eucalyptus trees, pines, and palms. Along the way you will discover a Peace Obelisk (see photo), a Rotary Grove and a few other surprises. 

What Makes a Perfect Community?

Residents of Mission Viejo are thriving with a sense of purpose, meaning that a majority of them expect things will get even better. And they are not only happy in their city, but also happy with their city. So, this begs the question: How do we do it? What can we learn from other cities' experiences? Can you actually plan a city to become one of the safest and happiest in the United States?

A perfect city would be a place with good schools, good day care centers, safe neighborhoods and diverse places of worship. Bars, cafes and social clubs or organizations would abound, and sidewalks would connect them all. Nature—not suburbs—would surround a quiet yet culturally vibrant downtown. Outdoor recreation would be accessible to everyone.

The lesson: Make walkable, bikeable cities with high-quality parks a priority, not an afterthought.

In Mission Viejo we invest deeply in public spaces, such as playgrounds and parks. Walkways and bike lanes line major streets, making exercise easier. Places like Mission Viejo are great because they are attractive, open to everyone, and you don’t need to spend a lot of time or a lot of money to enjoy them.

Mission Viejo is a town that prides itself on making recreation and social interaction easier. Streets and homes were laid out in such a way as to maximize safety, security and views. It is said: "If your home doesn’t have a view, your neighbor probably does."

Provide More Community Space:

In Mission Viejo, our community develops parks, vibrant city corridors, outdoor restaurants, public gardens and pedestrian trails, making it easier for citizens to socialize. Since we know people are generally happier the more they socialize, the key is to make socializing the easy option.

The Arts:

Art gardens, theaters, dance centers, museums, and even street artists not only provide venues for social interaction, but also cultivate an authentic happiness.

Encourage Walkability:

Healthy people are happier people. Research shows that cities that build sidewalks, add bike lanes and create a feeling of safety—making the active option the easy option—tend to increase the activity levels of residents.

Happiness Tricks:

Socialize: Even introverts tend to be happier when they are around people.

Own a pet: Many studies suggest pet owners are healthier and happier. If a dog needs to get walked every day, guess who else tends to get walked?

Grow a Garden: Several studies show that gardening lowers stress hormones.

Develop Arts Appreciation: Learning to appreciate the painting of favorite artists can set you up for a boost in happiness every time you see their work.

Volunteer: One of the surest ways to increase your well-being is to volunteer.

Civics and Arts Appreciation: Engaging in civic participation and arts appreciation facilitates a fulfilling adulthood.

Encourage Sports: A recent study showed that when teenage kids participate in sports, it helps them succeed later in life. Athletes have higher rates of employment and higher education.

Thank you,

Mayor – City of Mission Viejo

Dwight Broeman September 20, 2011 at 02:16 PM
What would make me happy are more GOOD restaurants and bars. Most of the time, when we want to go out to eat, we leave the city. The shopping centers parcels at La Paz and Marguerite are perfect locations with less than desirable buildings and usage of space. Tear it all down and rebuild. I picture a restaurant row along paths intertwined through trails etc. This would be so cool. Right now, these buildings are completely outdated and the rest of the city is beautiful. No more chain restaurants. We have enough. Good old funky places to go where we can stay in the city is what we need.
Sharon Cody September 20, 2011 at 02:31 PM
I love and enjoy the beauty everywhere in Mission Viejo. The parks, slopes and medians are breath-taking and often full of color. I feel proud that our community felt strongly enough about our four-legged friends to build an extraordinary shelter. Over 35,000 animals have been saved because we live in a community that cares. It is such a pleasure to hear from so many families about the joy their K9 or feline family member has brought to them. No question that animals who became lost or abandoned in MV were lucky but so are we. They have done as much for us as we have done for them. Hundreds of volunteers have loved caring for them and hundreds of families in our community have benefited from their companionship and love over the years. Animal Services will soon be celebrating 20 years of love and care for our pets in this community. Sharon Cody
BBW September 20, 2011 at 02:59 PM
I walk my chocolate labs there everyday. What a beautiful and well maintained trail!
Mayor Pro Tem Dave Leckness September 20, 2011 at 06:13 PM
Hi Dwight, I agree about the center at La Paz and Marguerite. One of the issues we have (and it's a big one) is there are 12 different owners in that center. Trying to get all to agree to some form of facelift for the center is difficult - not impossible but difficult. It is at the top of my list, I had an architect draw up some suggestions and they were fabulous - arches - walkways - fountains - and a new entry to the Oso Creek Trail.
Shripathi Kamath September 20, 2011 at 06:46 PM
Since you are taking requests, I would say that a dinner theater, or a playhouse would be a great addition to a fine city. Something like this: http://dms.cityofmissionviejo.org/sirepub/cache/0/jpjwqz45bh3s1s45im1g3u55/247112709202011113553546.PDF A bench clearing brawl at a city council meeting would be a dream come true as well. Especially when they get long-winded, and some of us get bored. ;-) I am a happy citizen, now that the tennis center will finally be renovated after decades, including almost a decade of stalling. I'd be remiss if I did not thank you, the rest of the city council, and the efficient and courteous city employees for doing a fine job with the city's resources. Responsible and frugal, but not mired in Greece-austerity which does not help anyone.
Christopher Sullivan September 20, 2011 at 10:25 PM
Hello, Shripathi, Thank you for mentioning Modjeska Playhouse's proposal and your support for the arts. You are not alone! I receive emails all of the time asking when Modjeska Playhouse will have a permanent space. All I can tell you is- We are trying. we have spent the last 6 months working on the Potocki Center concept, but it is currently "stalled" at the Community Services Commission. While we may end up teaching some classes there until a final decision is made, this is not the sole mission of Modjeska Playhouse. Our education programs were designed to coincide with a working theatre company giving our students an opportunity to study and learn from the actors, directors and technical artists that perform with the company. We have everything in place to do this with the exception of a theatre space. While it was urged by the members of the commission to make a decision sooner rather than later regarding Potocki, no progress in regards to the actual proposals for use have been made. Because of this, we are continuing to keep Potocki in our sights, but are also actively looking for another space to rent. We love Mission Viejo and would love to be here but, we have to keep all options open so we are looking at all the cities in the Saddleback Valley including Mission Viejo, Lake Forest and Laguna Hills. If you have any questions or leads feel free to contact me at christopher@modjeskaplayhouse.org Christopher Sullivan Co- Artistic Director Modjeska Playhouse

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