Roots & Wings Online

Ladera Turns 20 in 2020

As Ladera Ranch approaches its 20th year anniversary as a community, neighbors reflect on the early years and where they are today.

Jennison Family

In 1998 while driving to a USC football game, Ann Marie Jennison read an Orange County Register article about a new community that would have cul-de-sacs, clubhouses, splash playgrounds, parks and villages that would draw residents from their homes to build friendships. Immediately Ann Marie and Jeff knew that Ladera Ranch was the place for them.

The Jennisons had one child with one on the way. They became obsessed with reading about the plans for Ladera Ranch and took frequent drives to Oso and Antonio where they would look off in the distance - at the land and some cows - as the beginning of Ladera Ranch was being established. Eventually their names were drawn from the housing lottery to purchase a home which was "the best call we’ve ever received” said Ann Marie. Someone had fallen out of escrow and they were next on the list!

With a 2-1/2 year-old and a 6 month-old in tow, they moved to Bramford Street located in the Sarasota neighborhood on December 19, 1999. The first item brought into their home was a pre-decorated Christmas tree. That night, Jeff put lights up on the roof for the holidays - the Jennisons were home!

After living in the same home in Oak Knoll Village for 12 years, the Jeninisons moved to Clifton Heights in the Flintridge Village in 2011. It was a tough decision to leave a neighborhood that was filled with people they considered family, but as their family grew to having four children in the span of 10 years, the extra space was welcomed.

MacCartie Family

The MacCartie family moved to Ladera Ranch from Chicago in 2000 for Kevin's new job. They purchased their first home in Ladera because of the small town community feel, the amenities, and they knew it would be an amazing place to raise their kids. Laura remembers the day they moved in. "As I looked out of my kitchen window, all I could see were wide open, dirt lots. They were just starting the framework of Chaparral Elementary School with nothing beyond that. I never could have imagined what Ladera would grow into 20 years later” said Laura. 

Today, the MacCartie family lives in their third Ladera home. They moved to Orlando, Florida for one year in 2010 and couldn’t wait to return to Ladera Ranch. 

Laura joined the 2001 Babies playgroup when Kyleen was six weeks old. To this day, they count these families as some of their closest friends. Their kids have grown up together and they celebrate many holidays with one another, as well as vacation together. Most recently, nine families, 43 people, all from Ladera, went on a cruise together through the Caribbean and Mexico. They have created many annual traditions with friends, such as, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at Arroyo Trabuco every year and hosting the annual Father/Son Turkey Bowl at Cox Sports Park every Thanksgiving. 

Laura shared "Moving to Ladera Ranch was one of the best decisions we ever made. We have been blessed with the most amazing friends who we now consider family. We have taken full advantage of everything Ladera has to offer including the pools, parks, sports teams, restaurants (The Ranch and Diho Siam being two of our favorites) and local businesses. No matter where life takes us, the memories we have made in Ladera Ranch will be with us forever!"

Doyle Family

The Doyle Family moved to Ladera Ranch in February of 2001 for a larger home to raise their family. At the time homes in south Orange County were going fast and they had to wait in lines to place deposits on homes they were interested in. They were lucky to land a home in Flintridge Village’s Hampton Road development. At the time, Ladera Ranch ended at Flintridge and there was nothing south of that village. 

The Dolye family lived in the same home in Flintridge Village for 15 years where they have made some of their dearest life-long friends. Today they live in Covenant Hills. "Raising our kids on our street has been an incredible gift that I don’t believe would have happened anywhere but here. Friday nights in the cul-de-sac, Halloween celebrations in the pocket park and giant water slides right in the middle of the street are some of our fondest memories,” said Sarah. 

"We cannot talk about raising our kids in Ladera without referencing the July 4th Celebration. In 18 years we have never missed a single celebration. Hands down, it’s the best event of the year. Our kids never want to be anywhere else that day. It is magical!” added Sarah. 

The Doyles are founding members of Holy Trinity Catholic Church and are still active parishioners. Sarah was the first resident board member on the LARCS (Ladera Ranch Community Services) Board of Directors and served as President; Sarah was awarded the Volunteer of the Year award in 2008. "We have enjoyed being grownups at the summer concerts - attending without our kiddos and enjoying all that Ladera has to offer."