Woodbridge, Irvine, California

Woodbridge, Irvine, California

Woodbridge is a large suburban housing development, begun in 1975 by The Irvine Company, in the central region of Irvine, California. It covers roughly four square miles and has two large man-made lakes at its center. It contains four elementary schools (there used to be a fifth, an alternative school, Alderwood, which got moved to Quail Hill), two middle schools, and Woodbridge High School. The Interstate 405 forms its southern boundary. The final developments in Woodbridge were completed in the early 1990s.

Style & Layout

Woodbridge is bisected into two residential segments, called North Lake and South Lake, by a broad stripe of retail, commercial and institutional development. Each half of Woodbridge has a lake at its center. The lakes are between three and six feet deep and each is crossed by a large wooden footbridge, owing the village its name. A four-lane circular loop road, Yale Loop, runs around the interior of Woodbridge, connecting all its housing blocks and major streets. The village is walled off from the rest of Irvine by a row of pine trees and a continuous, 20-foot-high Privet hedge. Woodbridge, for the most part, is uniformly designed in a New England Cape Cod style.

In Great Streets by Allan B. Jacobs (MIT Press), Pinewood (street name) on the Northern edge of the village off the Yale Loop, is cited as one of the great "new urban" streets. Though the suburban style of place makes it difficult to take the "urban" designation seriously, Mr. Jacobs remarks on its gentle curvilinear aspect; there is no other street in Woodbridge that has the same characteristics. The tract in which Pinewood is the only circular street, it is also noted for its relatively profuse vegetation, particularly rich use of pepper trees, and the natural shake roofs which, in other tracts, have been replaced by steel or cement imitating other materials.

Woodbridge Village Association

Concurrent with opening sales of homes in Woodbridge, the Irvine Company established the Woodbridge Village Association ("WVA"). Headquartered out of the community facility located at 31 Creek Road, the WVA is a master homeowner's association, maintaining the commonly owned pools, parks, lakes and trails within the Village. Smaller "sub" associations maintain individual neighborhoods within Woodbridge.

The WVA has a board of directors, elected from the homeowner's membership of Woodbridge. Due to the Village's large size, and the number of people represented by the board, coupled with the size of the WVA's budget and staff, the board and WVA are really not unlike a city council and a small city as opposed to a board for a small homeowner's association. Adding to this perception, WVA normally holds community events much like a small town during holidays of the year, such as an annual Independence Day parade, events and fireworks.

All homeowner's and apartment tenants are required to become members when moving in or purchasing a home and are required to pay association dues for maintenance and upkeep of common areas. The WVA provides a number of services to maintain the community facilities including landscaping; maintenance; lifeguard services during the peak summer season at the larger swim and lake facilities; and a security patrol known as Facility Inspectors- part of its community relations department - that patrols and ensures safety at its facilities.

The WVA requires homeowners to submit applications for any home additions or changes to paint colors, to ensure the integrity and uniformity of colors and themes within the Village. Sometimes criticized for being authoritative (like many homeowner's associations), the unofficial and unstated, but underlying purpose of WVA is essentially to maintain a high standard of living within Woodbridge and ensure property values remain high for homeowners.

Lakes and Facilities

Each one of Woodbridge's lakes has a "beach club" next to it, where there is a "lagoon" (a sand-surrounded fresh-water swimming pool that empties into the lake), a dock facilitiy to rent human-driven pedal boats, kayaks, canoes, sailboats, and hydro-bikes. Swimming is technically prohibited in the lakes (due to insurance reasons), however, is perfectly safe, and many people swim or jump off their boats into the water anyway. The beach clubs also have two volleyball courts each. South lake has a recreation room and a snack shop in it also, which is only open on the 4th of July and Memorial Day.

There are also two "swim clubs," Stonecreek and Bluelake, on each side of Woodbridge. These have lifeguards all day 10-10 during summer, and weekends 10-5 during the winter. Stonecreek has a two-meter diving board, and Bluelake has a one meter and a three meter diving board. The Woodbridge swim teams are based out of Stonecreek.

Twenty-four tennis courts, twenty of which are lit for night play, pathways, bikeways, and a plethora of recreational parks within the four square miles make Woodbridge a community of interest to young families as well as retirees who enjoy outdoor activities. Its community tennis club regularly trains young players who are ranked in the first hundred in their USTA age group.

Trivia

In March 2000, around 250 Woodbridge residents were evacuated after anthrax containers were found buried in the yard of Dr. Larry C. Ford, a biomedical researcher who specialized in infectious diseases. City officials closed an elementary school and evacuated 48 families (about 250 residents) in Woodbridge while they performed a thorough search of Ford's home. Ford committed suicide after his business partner, James Patrick Riley, chief of Biofem, Inc. was shot and wounded by a masked gunman at the company's office near the Irvine Spectrum. Police searched the building and discovered a strain of clostridium bacteria. After Ford killed himself, a number of newspapers alleged that he and Riley had corporate ties with biological warfare development in apartheid-era South Africa and with Israel. Ford was also linked to Dr. Neil Knobel, former chief medical officer for the South African National Defence Force. During the apartheid-era, Knobel oversaw South Africa's notorious Project Coast, a covert biological program directed by Dr. Wouter Basson, nicknamed "Dr. Death." South African newspapers have claimed that Basson considered employing everything from anthrax to AIDS against black militants during the struggle against apartheid.

References

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