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Laguna Niguel

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Laguna Niguel is a suburban city in Orange County, California. Laguna Niguel is located in the San Joaquin Hills in the southeastern corner of Orange County, close to the Pacific Ocean, and borders the cities of Aliso Viejo, Dana Point, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo, and San Juan Capistrano. Laguna Niguel has its origins in the Rancho Niguel Mexican land grant, which was acquired in 1959 by the Laguna Niguel Corporation to develop one of California’s first master-planned communities. As a predominantly residential city, Laguna Niguel serves as a bedroom community for the job centers of northern and central Orange County. Laguna Niguel has a median household income 31 percent above the Orange County average and nearly double the U.S. average. It is known for its mild coastal climate, low crime rate, and its numerous parks and public trails.

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The population increased quickly during the last few decades of the 20th century, from 12,237 in 1980 to 61,891 in 2000. Growth since 2000 has been slower, with an estimate of 65,806 in 2015, due to the fact that the city has been fully built out. In 1992, Alicia Parkway was completed to I-5, providing a shorter route for northbound commuters; in 1996 the 73 San Joaquin Hills toll road opened, linking Laguna Niguel to the Interstate 405 in Costa Mesa. The Laguna Niguel City Hall, which had been planned as early as 1989, finally opened on October 15, 2011.

In 1994 local residents first noticed damage to retaining walls and roads near an artificial slope in the Niguel Summit community, and geologists warned that the area could be subject to a landslide. After heavy rains caused by the 1997–98 Super El Niño, the hill collapsed on March 19, 1998, destroying four homes at the top and five condominium units at the bottom. Fortuitously, there were no deaths as the area had been evacuated only a few hours prior to the collapse. An investigation revealed that the company responsible for development, J.M. Peters Inc., had improperly packed and graded the 275,000 tons of fill supporting the Niguel Summit homes. In addition, the project had been plagued by instability throughout its construction, and halted repeatedly “after complaints of mudslides, slope washouts, erosion and dust.” The Los Angeles Times reported that “according to county records, the developers were warned that building on “ancient landslides” could be unsafe, but they were able to continue construction after producing their own geological report that persuaded county officials to let the project go forward.”

Laguna Niguel is home to many upscale neighborhoods including Bear Brand Ranch, El Niguel Heights and Golf Course, Ocean Ranch, Laguna Crest, Laguna Sur. Coronado Pointe, South Peak, Crest de Ville, Niguel Coast, Palmilla, Beacon Hill, and Monarch Point, which offer city, canyon, and ocean views. Other key neighborhoods include Rancho Niguel, Marina Hills, Niguel West, Niguel Summit, Kite Hill, and San Joaquin Hills.
Laguna Niguel is known throughout Orange County for its extensive park and trail system. Over one-third of Laguna Niguel is public open space, a legacy of the original 1959 Gruen plan, and is divided between 31 city parks and 4 county parks. Laguna Niguel’s major roads are designated as “scenic highways” within landscape corridors, which includes parks, decorative medians, and grade-separated recreational paths. The 227-acre (92 ha) Laguna Niguel Regional Park is centrally located and includes an extensive trail network, ball courts and Laguna Niguel Lake, a popular fishing and boating venue. Crown Valley Park, visited by about 240,000 people per year, has the city’s main public sports facilities. Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, which borders Laguna Niguel on the west, consists of over 4,000 acres (1,600 ha) of canyons, grasslands and riparian forests along Aliso Creek. Aliso and Wood Canyons is part of the larger South Coast Wilderness, 22,000 acres (8,900 ha) of preserved open space in the San Joaquin Hills that also includes the larger Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and Crystal Cove State Park outside the city limits. The interconnected city and regional park systems provide a significant refuge for wildlife in an area of Orange County otherwise filled with suburban sprawl.

There are about 80 miles (130 km) of non-motorized trails in Laguna Niguel for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Major hiking trails include the Aliso Summit trail, which hugs the rim of Aliso Canyon on the western edge of Laguna Niguel, and the Colinas Bluff Trail on the eastern border, overlooking San Juan Capistrano. The Laguna Ridge Trail passes through Badlands County Park, which exposes the namesake geological formations, and approaches the summit of Niguel Hill, the highest point in the city. The paved Salt Creek Trail, a popular Class I bikeway, follows Salt Creek and Niguel Road from Dana Point to Laguna Niguel Regional Park. The Aliso Creek and Oso Creek trails are mostly outside Laguna Niguel, but link the city via greenbelts to other parts of south Orange County. The Aliso Creek Trail is also known as the “Forest to the Sea Trail”, as it is planned to connect the Santa Ana Mountains in the Cleveland National Forest to the Pacific Ocean at Laguna Beach.

Roads
Laguna Niguel is served by Interstate 5 on the northeastern border, and the State Route 73 tollroad which runs along the northern border. The Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is located just outside the southern boundary of the city. Within the city, neighborhoods are connected by a network of 4- to 6-lane arterial roadways with timed intersections. The main thoroughfare is Crown Valley Parkway, which bisects Laguna Niguel roughly from southwest to northeast, linking the PCH in Dana Point to I-5 in Mission Viejo. The other main roads are Alicia Parkway, Niguel Road, La Paz Road, and Moulton Parkway/Golden Lantern north-south), and Aliso Creek Road, Marina Hills Drive and Camino del Avion (east-west). Due to the hilly local geography, Laguna Niguel’s streets are not arranged in a grid pattern.

Buses
The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) operates the 85, 87, 187 and 490 bus routes in Laguna Niguel. The 490 bus line provides connecting service to the Metrolink train station.

Rail
The Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo station near I-5 is served by the Orange County Line and Inland Empire-Orange County Line of Metrolink commuter rail, providing service to points in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego Counties. The Amtrak Pacific Surfliner served Laguna Niguel from 2007 to 2012, but has since ceased to stop here. Amtrak continues to serve the nearby Irvine and San Juan Capistrano stations.

Bicycling
Most major arterial roads in Laguna Niguel are marked with bike lanes. There are about 60 miles (97 km) of such lanes in the city. There are also several dedicated bikeways which link Laguna Niguel’s extensive public park system (see #Parks and open space).

Emergency services
Laguna Niguel is protected by Orange County Fire Authority with ambulance services provided by Care Ambulance Service. Police services are provided by Orange County Sheriff. Although there are no hospitals in Laguna Niguel proper, nearby hospitals include Mission Hospital, Saddleback Memorial Hospital and South Coast Medical Center.

Utilities
Electricity in Laguna Niguel is provided by Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric. Water is provided by the Moulton Niguel Water District, which is supplied by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Colorado River Aqueduct and the State Water Project. Gas is supplied by San Diego Gas & Electric and The Gas Company. Waste management is provided by CR&R (Solag Disposal).

Content Courtesy of Wikipedia.org

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