It is only ‘the best of times’ for these two families

Orchard Hills: ‘It feels like we’re living in Tuscany’

Jeannie Do and her family stroll by one of many orchards in Orchard Hills.

Jeannie Do grew up in Northwood Village, met her husband at UC Irvine, and now they’re raising three children in Orchard Hills, which she describes as “a perfect place to raise a family.” We asked what it’s like to live among the avocado orchards at the top of the city.

How did you choose Orchard Hills?

I’ve lived in Irvine since kindergarten. When Orchard Hills was being built, we wanted to live here because everything is so walkable – the school, the shopping, the parks. It’s so beautiful. It feels like we’re living in Tuscany or something.

What’s it like raising a family here?

Orchard Hills School is K-8, which allows all three kids to attend the same school and gives them a great education. It is a beautiful campus, walking distance from home, and we’re active in our school community. My kids’ after-school activities occur on campus, too – robotics, basketball and speech and debate.


Yes. The school won the world championship last year, so they’re very focused on that program. They learn coding and building robots and the design process, too. Many families pay for their kids to go to private robotics classes, but we don’t have to.

What’s a typical week like for you?

It’s rare that we leave the village. We use Orchard Hills Shopping Center for groceries, restaurants, coffee, going to the dentist. It’s local, so it feels more personal. We also walk to the park – Orchard Hills or Settlers. They have basketball courts for my older kids and a playground for my youngest to enjoy.

What’s your hope for the future?

We hope the kids will live nearby when they grow up. I think they realize the value of living in Irvine. The Master Plan keeps everything updated and taken care of, and we feel fortunate to live in such a beautiful community.

Woodbridge: ‘The best example of urban planning’

The Woodbridge lakes draw Robert Puertas and his family out for a walk.

While architect Robert Puertas was earning his master’s degree at UC Berkeley, a professor held up examples of the best and worst urban planning. The best was Irvine and, after living in Woodbridge for 18 years, Puertas knows why. We asked him to explain.

What’s it like living in Woodbridge?

The lake makes Woodbridge unique, especially the mountain views as you look north from Woodbridge Village Center, across the water. It’s an uplifting experience, and seeing friends and neighbors as we walk makes it even better.

As an architect, what do you notice about Woodbridge’s design?

I grew up in Huntington Beach, and it’s a stark contrast: You drive along the streets and everything is a sidewalk with a tall block wall. No grass, no nothing. Then you pull into Woodbridge, and you’ve got this huge grassy area with all these trees. It’s just a different feel. It’s like, ‘OK, this is how you’re supposed to live.’ The design is an attraction for me.

How so?

It’s both attractive and functional, which is exactly what successful architecture and urban planning do. They make you want to experience it, and they make it easy to experience.

Can you give us an example?

Yes, the way that the paths work in Woodbridge is a perfect example. Our youngest son, who’s 14, doesn’t drive. And we love the fact that he can leave the house and go hang out with his friends and grab a bite at Woodbridge Village Center or see a movie – all of that without crossing a big street. The lake paths encourage us all to get outdoors and connect with friends and neighbors.