I will cover a brief intro into the richest real estate investor in the globe, the owner of The Irvine Company, Donald Bren. But I must give an introduction into this post so that you understand some concepts of what makes a wonderful city to live in (which ties directly into The Irvine Company if you bare with me for a moment). Excerpts from the book: The Irvine Ranch: a Time for People" by Martin A. Brower.

After much abuse in San Francisco, such as:
Mental: Covid with a couple of years of lockdown seeing businesses that had been there for decades close due to the Covid regulations, watching homeless people shoot themselves up with drugs, using the bathroom in broad day light, having to watch out for needles on the streets, etc.
Physical: someone spat on my face one day when I was walking, another person kicked my dog.
Property: my wallet was stolen in broad day light by a known criminal, my car getting broken into multiple times, leading me to not drive or park in the city anymore.

For all those reasons, I decided to leave San Francisco, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Orange County lately, one of the first things I noticed is how much lighter I felt being here, it was as if a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. On the first Airbnb I got here I didn’t have parking, I parked my car on the street for 4 months and nothing ever happened to my car! I have seen probably less than 10 homeless people during my time here, and I am always in pure bliss in this area. The streets are beautiful, there is law and order. I am a very curious person by nature, so I talk to people a lot about this and how wonderful this place is. On one of my conversations someone told me, do you know what the difference is between here and SF? It’s that here the citizens are very engaged in city meetings, whereas in SF, lets just say that there’s only one kind of people that go to these meetings, the woke kind. That struck me and it made sense.

The way that I learned about The Irvine Company’s existence was when I was at an event talking to a woman about how delightful this city is, how beautiful the city is and just how I feel blissful being here (I guess SF really traumatized me). This woman proceeds to tell me yes, and if you notice, there are no electricity cables in this city, they’re actually all underground, and I start looking around me and indeed there are no cables here for the most part. She then told me that she has been working for the Irvine Company for the last 20 years. That they are very peculiar about everything, that they use the best quality materials in everything and that all of the properties that they own have green lines for the parking spaces because the owner likes flying his helicopter and knowing which properties are his. And let me tell you, now that she told me that, I noticed that all the large retail properties here have green lines on the parking lot.

A little background on the history of The Irvine Company:

In 1864, James Irvine and three partners bought a 101,000-acre ranch, for around $26k. Much of that is now a city called Irvine, in California. It was initially a ranch focused on agriculture and it also encompassed coastal land. In the early 1900’s they started developing some of the real estate, and in the 1950’s they started large scale planned community development, also known as master planned communities, which encompasses building everything from residential to commercial and industrial buildings. The city of Irvine became one of the largest planned communities in the US.

I recently read the book The Irvine Ranch: A Time For People by Martin A. Brower, and I will be sharing what I highlighted from the book below for my own knowledge.


  • Novices in such real estate transactions, The Irvine Company prepared lease and sale agreements which did not require development as proposed nor reversion of the land to the Company if not used by the lessee or purchaser.


  • As they were expanding and continuously growing, one of their developments in the 60’s pioneered the “zero lot line” concept, in which a house is placed on its neighbor’s property line, resulting in one wide side yard rather than two small and useless side yards for each home. The unique plan placed groups of homes around a series of central green parks. Homes were priced from $27,000 to $32,000, a step below the prices in Turtle Rock Hills.
  • As with all other Irvine Company village centers, included architecture consistent with its community, an attractive service station with pumps away from the streets, and with a supermarket and shops opening from a broad walkway rather than directly from the parking lot.
  • Master planned to group buildings by size and use, the IIC was developed with strict covenants regulating land coverage, architectural design, landscaping and sound, odor and visual emissions. They were known for their innovative planning concepts.


  • The Company’s Residential Division had developed strict guidelines for each village which builders had to obey if they wanted to be invited to build homes on the Ranch. One of the homebuilders in Greentree — The Bren Company — was felt not to be cooperating. It was determined that Bren would never again be invited to build on the Irvine Ranch.
  • When a citizen spokesman completed an attack one of of the Irvine company’s plan for a new project and the city stood with him, the president at the time Raymond Watson, applauded. “You’re not supposed to applaud,” chided Company director of public relations Martin Brower. “Sure I am, this is real democracy in action, with each of us respecting the other’s role”.

We will continue this exploration on the next post as I will highlight how Donald Bren became a partial owner in The Irvine Company and how he then became the sole owner of The Irvine Company.