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Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program
1984 to 2008 TIME SERIES
Irvine, Orange County

Land use change in the Irvine area, Orange County, 1984-2008. 

In this Image

Changes in this area are predominantly conversions from irrigated farming (shades of green) to urban (red). Commercial, residential, and infrastructure uses, such as a landfill, comprise most of the development. Information on these changes was gathered from air photos, local comments, and field reconnaissance. Area shown is approximately 81 square miles.

Orange County has gained nearly 57,400 acres of Urban land between 1984 and 2008.  Prime Farmland has declined by more than 16,000 acres during the same period.  Orange County has been among the 'Top Ten Urbanizing Counties' from all categories for most of FMMP's history. 

A brief history of Irvine

The City of Irvine is located in central Orange County and is named for the family which owned the area since the 1870's.  James Irvine I was partner in a sheep-raising venture covering three major Southern California ranchos, and slowly brought a total of 110,000 acres under his family's ownership.  The ranch stretched 23 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the Santa Ana River.  In 1893, his son, James Irvine, Jr. incorporated the land into the Irvine Company and branched into field crops, olive and citrus orchards.  By the end of World War I, more than 60,000 acres of lima beans were being grown on the Irvine ranch, and in World War II two Marine Corps air bases were developed. 

Urban development on the property began in earnest in 1959, when the University of California obtained 1,500 acres from the Irvine Company.  A master planned community of 50,000 was designed at that time.  In 1971, residents incorporated to form the city of Irvine on an area significantly larger than the original planned community. 

Irvine's most rapid population growth was in the 1970's and 80's, yet it has continued to grow consistently; with an overall increase of 161% between 1984 and 2008.  (79,400 to and 207,848).