Chiquita Ridge


Project Update

The City issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a Focused Market Study on July 18, 2016.  Proposals were due on August 5, 2016.  On August 24, 2016 the City Council will consider approval of a professional services agreement for the requested services. 

About the Property

In 2005, the City of Rancho Santa Margarita began legal action against the County of Orange regarding several hundred acres of land at the southern boundary of the City, collectively called Chiquita Ridge (view Google map). Located between State Road 241 and Antonio Parkway, Chiquita Ridge is an open space area of hill slope and gullies adjacent to existing active recreation amenities including homeowner association owned ball fields, a City dog park and a City skate park.

Chiquita Ridge
Settlement Agreement
After years of discussions and negotiations, a Settlement Agreement (PDF) between the City, the County, and an environmental group known as the Endangered Habitats League established the City’s right to own the Chiquita Ridge property.  As part of the settlement agreement, signed in January 2009, the acreage is distributed as:
  • 410 acres are added to O’Neill Park to be forever preserved as open space
  • 100 acres are declared as local protected open space as part of the Dove Canyon Preservation Easement
  • 15 acres were purchased by the City and transferred to the County as part of O’Neill Park
  • 92 acres became City-owned
Learn more about how the City split up its 92 acres on the in the Chiquita Ridge City-Owned Property page.
Map showing divisions of Chiquita Ridge as per the agreement
Restoration Requirements
In addition to the unique development opportunity provided by the Settlement Agreement, the City will be required to enhance and restore approximately 83 acres of property identified as Conservation in the Southern Subregion Habitat Conservation Plan (to be concentrated in O’Neill Regional Park). The location of this conservation property is located at the northwestern portion of the City and is referred to as the Upper Oso Restoration Project (Restoration Project).

In May 2014, the City Council approved a Professional Services Agreement with Habitat Restoration Sciences, Inc. to implement the Restoration Project. The Settlement Agreement and the obligation to restore this property will remain with the City regardless of whether or not development occurs on the Chiquita Ridge parcel.

Comprehensive Market & Development Feasibility Report

In July 2012, the City Council authorized a Professional Services Agreement (PSA) with Developers Research, Inc. to prepare a comprehensive market and development feasibility report for Chiquita Ridge. The report was presented to the City Council in February 2013. At that time, the City Council authorized Developers Research, Inc. to conduct 5 scenario development opportunities and conduct a financial/fiscal impact analysis of each opportunity. This report was presented to the City Council in March 2014. At that time the City Council determined that its preferred alternative concepts included:
  • Large anchor/warehouse retail shopping center with gas station
  • Mixed use allowing for both a large anchor/warehouse center and a low-density single-family detached residential development
Future Development
In May 2015, the City partnered with the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to conduct a Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) to review development opportunities and constraints and suggest implementation strategies for future development of Chiquita Ridge.