via Melissa Sims
Times, they are changing…
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” -Charles Darwin
Times are definitely changing, and it remains to be seen whether these changes are going to have a positive impact on local communities. The recent influx of developers coming into our towns and creating more housing seems to have created quite the stir of emotions for current residents.
I run a Facebook page, called Around the Ranch, which I created for the residents of Foothill Ranch to connect with one another, while providing an open platform to discuss our community. When I asked everyone’s opinions about the new developments coming in, the range of answers was staggering. Too much traffic, unwanted demographic changes and negative impacts on our schools seemed to be the largest concerns. However, many pointed out that it could also help our micro-economy through local businesses gaining new customers and create the need for more shopping and dining choices.
The Toll Brothers, known for their impeccable luxury design, has teamed with Shea Homes, a leader in master-planned communities, to bring us Baker Ranch, the largest of the new developments to impact Foothill Ranch. Baker Ranch will bring just over 2300 new homes, 6 parks and a focus on outdoor recreation. “Village One” as they call it, will contain six neighborhoods, with homes ranging from 1200 sq. ft. to 3200 sq. ft. and will be ready in early 2014. Prices have not been released, but most anticipate them to start in the $300,000 range for townhomes and $500,000 for detached homes. If the development rings true to Shea and Toll Brothers’ past accomplishments, the result will be beautiful luxury design, coupled with an outstanding focus on community atmosphere.
Sounds great, right? Well, residents in Foothill Ranch are mainly concerned with this development’s impact on our local elementary school, Foothill Ranch Elementary (FRE), which is part of the Saddleback Valley Unified School District. A straight answer is somewhat hard to come by from city officials and planners, as to what school the new residents will go to. FRE already has an overwhelming traffic issue, which could be exacerbated by the incoming population. The teacher-to-student ratio is high at FRE due to cutbacks over the past few years. However, FRE’s attendance is down this year, and new students could prove beneficial to funding for the school. Baker Ranch will use Saddleback Unified for it’s district, and is required to pay the district around $8,500 per unit for improvements to whichever school is impacted.
The effect of Baker Ranch on local resources will soon be realized, but whether it is a positive or negative impact could be in the attitude we all have toward change. The changes are coming, and it is how we adapt to those changes that will determine the future of our community.