U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Office of Community Planning and Development

Consolidated Plan Contact


Lake Forest, California, incorporated in 1991, is an urbanized community that was developed primarily in the 1970s and 1980s. It is located in southeastern Orange County, between the larger cities of Irvine and Mission Viejo.

Action Plan

The city plans to spend about $458,000 in Federal funds for the 1995-1996 program year. Proposed projects include: economic development, homeless food and emergency shelter programs, senior services, transitional shelter, youth services, accessibility activities, infrastructure, and housing rehabilitation activities.

Citizen Participation

The city held four community meetings regarding the Consolidated Plan. The first meeting on November 2, 1994, notified citizens of the upcoming Consolidated Plan process and solicited input on local needs and priorities. The second meeting on February 22, 1995, marked the official preparations for the Consolidated Plan. The third meeting on April 4 solicited input on the draft Action Plan and the final meeting on May 16 marked the closing of the review and comment period and final adoption the plan.

Public hearings were announced in the newspaper and in flyers distributed to targeted areas. The draft plan was available for public input during a 30-day review and comment period. A legal advertisement summarized the plan, while complete copies were available for review. City staff responded within 15 days to all written comments received during the review and comment period.


The California Department of Finance estimated that Lake Forest's 1993 population was 58,182, ranking it third in size among the five surrounding communities. Of that total, 85 percent are white; 9 percent are Asian American; 2 percent are African American; less than 1 percent are Native American; and the remaining 3 percent are racially diverse.

Nearly one-third of Lake Forest residents work in the service industry, while one-fifth work in manufacturing. Another 16 percent work in retail, and 11 percent work in finance. Lake Forest's 3 percent unemployment rate is lower than the State's 5 percent rate.

Lake Forest's 1990 median family income (MFI) of $51,269 was based on the nearby Santa Ana-Anaheim Metropolitan Statistical Area. Of Lake Forest households, 13 percent were lower income (0-50 percent of MFI); 17 percent were moderate (51-80 percent of MFI); and 9 percent were middle-income (81-95 percent of MFI). Although income levels for African American and Asian American households relatively equalled the median, 22 percent of Native American and Hispanic households (who comprise 2 percent of the population) fell into the lower income category.



Most of the city's land designated for residential use has been developed. It contains a variety of housing types, such as: single-family tract homes, mobile homes, townhouses, condominiums, and apartments. Future residential development is primarily restricted to recycling existing units and completing infill development.

However, the city's sphere of influence contains substantial vacant land which can be used for new development. Additional residential development is planned in that area as part of the Portola Hills and Foothill Ranch planned communities. Combined, these developments will accommodate about 6,100 housing units, and the city may annex this area during the next decade.

Housing Needs

The majority of households (76 percent) consist of families. Although the median age of 32 is slightly higher than the median age of Orange County, the city also higher percentages young adults (ages 25-44) and children (ages 5-17) than Orange County. This young population indicates that the demand for housing will continue to grow.

The accepted standard for major housing rehabilitation is 30 years. Therefore, even though Lake Forest is a new community, 10 percent of the housing stock was built before 1970 and may soon begin to show signs of decay. More than 2,000 units may need rehabilitation and continued maintenance during the Consolidated Plan's 5-year cycle.

Housing Market Conditions

The California Department of Finance reports that Lake Forest has a total of 20,796 housing units, ranking it fourth among surrounding jurisdictions. Mirroring countywide growth patterns, the city's housing stock increased more than 90 percent between 1970 and 1990, leaving little vacant land for new residential development. Of the total housing stock, 70 percent are single-family units and 24 percent are multifamily units. The city also has four mobile home parks, containing 1,410 coaches.

Nearly 5 percent of all units are vacant. Vacancy among ownership units is lower than that among rental units. Since the 1970s, owner-occupied housing in Lake Forest has been in high demand. In 1990 units for sale had a 2 percent vacancy rate, while rental units had a 7 percent vacancy rate.

Housing costs have dropped slightly. The median price of an existing single-family home dropped from $216,000 in 1993 to $211,000 in early-1995. Despite this change, fewer single-family homes sold in January 1995 than in 1993. Furthermore, the median price on a condominium rose from $133,000 in 1993 to $150,000 in early-1995.

Lake Forest's rental housing market includes single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums, and apartments. Rental rates for two-bedroom, single-family homes range from $725 to $950 per month, and rates for three-bedroom homes range from $1,100 to $1,250. One-bedroom condominiums cost between $650 and $695; two-bedroom units cost between $725 and $975; and three-bedroom units cost between $900 and $1,300. One-bedroom apartments cost about $720 per month; two-bedroom apartments cost between $700 and $800; and three-bedroom apartments cost between $900 and $1,300.

Affordable Housing Needs

Of the 1,168 extremely low-income households in Lake Forest, 454 rental households and 344 owner households pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing expenses. Among the 1,527 low-income households, 868 rental households and 450 owner households pay more than 30 percent. Of the 3,391 moderate-income households, 868 renters and 1,154 owners pay more than 30 percent.

About 5 percent of the city's households are overcrowded, meaning they have more than 1.01 people per room (excluding bathrooms, kitchens, hallways, and porches). Most of the overcrowded households were owner-occupied households, and most households consist of families doubling up to save on housing costs.

Homeless Needs

Although there are an estimated 230 to 290 homeless people in Lake Forest, there are no homeless facilities. However, a number of shelters and transitional housing programs operate within close proximity to the city and are most likely to provide services to homeless individuals in the area. These programs include: Friendship Shelter, which is a 60-day shelter program that contains 29 beds; Irvine Temporary Housing, which provides transitional housing for 12 families who are threatened with homelessness; and Orange Coast Interfaith Shelter, which operates an emergency shelter of 45 beds and a temporary shelter where families can stay for a maximum of 60 days.

Overall, daytime homeless services are inadequate in southern Orange County. Although five social service agencies in the county provide some daytime services, the need of the homeless exceed the available services.

Public and Assisted Housing Needs

Although Lake Forest does not own any public housing projects, the city does contract with the Orange County Housing Authority to administer Section 8 certificate and voucher programs. As of February 1995, 64 low-income Lake Forest households received housing assistance through the Section 8 program.

Barriers to Affordable Housing

Housing affordability is affected by factors in both the private and public sectors. The single largest cost associated with building new housing is the expense of building materials, which contributes to 40-50 percent of a home's sales prices. Also, as the city expands toward its boundaries and land for residential construction becomes more scarce, land development costs increase. In February 1994, single-family lots cost approximately $50,000.

Market conditions hinder renters who would like to purchase a home. Because many households pay high rents, they cannot save enough money to afford the downpayment on a house. Furthermore, the supply of affordable rental housing is limited, especially for low- and moderate-income large-family households.

The city's actions can also impact the price and availability of housing. Prior to the city's incorporation, Orange County controlled development in Lake Forest. After incorporation, the city adopted the county's zoning code, which provides for a full range of residential types and densities.

Lake Forest charges fees to cover the cost of processing permits. The city is reviewing the development fee schedule, which it inherited from the county, and is making recommendations to significantly reduce fees for development entitlement. Neither building codes nor tax policies significantly increase the cost of housing. However, State tax policies and environmental protection policies can drastically increase the cost of new housing construction and can lead to considerable delays.

Fair Housing

The city contracts with the Fair Housing Council of Orange County to establish, maintain, and advance fair housing choices. The city is committed to achieving equal housing opportunities through the administration of Federal, State, and local programs.

The Compliance Division of the Council addresses discrimination complaints regarding protected classes under Federal and State laws. In the first half of the 1994 and 1995 fiscal years, the Council's Compliance Division received eight discrimination complaints covering nine different issues.

Lead-Based Paint

Since 1992 the County of Orange Health Care Agency has documented two cases of childhood blood-lead poisoning in Lake Forest. One child had a blood-lead level of 10 micrograms per deciliter (mg/dl), and another child had a higher level of 16 mg/dl.

One method for estimating the number of homes with lead-based paint is to determine the number of homes built before 1979, when lead-based paint was banned. Using this method, Lake Forest estimates that between 9,099 and 11,375 units could contain lead-based paint.

The city will implement the following actions during the next 5 years to reduce lead-based paint hazards:

Other Issues

An estimated 582 to 1,455 Lake Forest residents are severely mentally ill. However, the city does not have any community care facilities to serve their housing needs. Approximately the same number of people are developmentally disabled, and supportive housing for this population is limited to 2 supportive housing facilities that provide 10 beds. Compared to the number of developmentally disabled people in the city, this inventory of supportive housing is grossly inadequate.

An estimated 1,131 Lake Forest residents are physically disabled. Although about 170 need supportive housing, the city does not have any community care facilities to provide supportive housing. However, elderly community care facilities have the capacity to accommodate non-ambulatory senior citizens.

The AIDS Surveillance and Monitoring Department of the Orange County Public Health Department reported that by June 1994, there were 34 persons with AIDS living in Lake Forest. By National Commission on AIDS estimates, Lake Forest could have between 11 and 17 people with AIDS who need supportive housing. Unfortunately, the city does not have any services or facilities for people with HIV/AIDS. Three housing or shelter programs in nearby communities do provide housing options for people who are HIV positive. Furthermore, Orange County received additional funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA). Under this program, Santa Ana, which is the largest city in the metropolitan area, will receive about $1 million for AIDS programs.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that 14-16 percent of the adult male population and an equivalent figure for the female population may have drinking problems. In addition, the Institute estimates that until entering into treatment, one-third or more of the clients in publicly funded residential programs are homeless throughout most of the year. Applying these figures to the population of Lake Forest, the city estimates that about 1,988 men and 851 women could need supportive housing.

Lake Forest has an inadequate supply of supportive housing for the elderly. There are nearly 4,000 elderly residents in the city, and 31 percent of them are frail elderly. However, 30 residential care facilities offer 700 beds for elderly people, and only half of these beds can accommodate frail elderly people who are non-ambulatory.

Community Development Needs

For the Consolidated Plan, the city conducted a community needs survey to assess community opinions and concerns. Surveys were hand-delivered to 3,500 homes in targeted neighborhoods and distributed at community meetings for the Consolidated Plan.

The survey was divided into several needs categories. The economic development category focused on issues of job creation, business support services, commercial rehabilitation, and neighborhood-based small business uses.

Under the community services category, crime awareness ranked highest. Youth services came in second, followed by: senior citizen services, child-care services, transportation services, employment training, handicapped services, substance abuse services, health services, tenant and landlord counseling, and fair housing counseling.

In the community facilities category, youth centers ranked highest. The survey also identified the following facility needs: parks and recreational facilities, child-care centers, senior citizen centers, centers for the disabled, health-care facilities, parking facilities, and other neighborhood facilities and community centers.

Under the infrastructure improvements category, street improvements ranked highest. Flood prevention and/or drainage improvements came in second, with garbage and trash removal being third. Water system and sewer improvements ranked last.

Under the accessibility needs category, improving handicapped mobility in parks and recreational facilities ranked highest. Improving handicapped mobility in public buildings and health facilities came in second.


Housing Priorities

The city has identified a number of strategies for addressing the housing needs of its community. They include:

Non-housing Community Development Priorities

The city has identified five priority non-housing community development needs. They include:

Anti-Poverty Strategy

The 1990 census showed that about 3 percent of the city's population was living in poverty, while more than 6 percent of all female-headed households had incomes below the poverty level. The median poverty threshold for a family of four in 1989 was $12,674.

To offer these and all residents a brighter future, Lake Forest assigned certain components of economic development high and medium priorities. Activities include the Commercial Rehabilitation Loan and Grant program, which provides property and business owners with financial assistance to improve the exterior of their businesses, and which provides specific commercial district project developments with financial assistance to expand employment opportunities.

To further reduce the number of people with incomes below the poverty level, the city will coordinate its efforts with those of other public and private organizations who provide economic development and job training programs.

Housing and Community Development Resources

Lake Forest can access numerous Federal, State, and local resources to achieve its housing and community development priorities. Specific funding sources will be used based on the opportunities and constraints of each particular project or program. The city's goal is to leverage Federal and local funds in order to assist the maximum number of households.

Of the tax increment funds generated by the El Toro Redevelopment Project Area located in Lake Forest, 20 percent are annually set aside for low- and moderate-income housing. However, these funds are controlled by the Orange County Redevelopment Agency. At minimum, Lake Forest will request matching funds for its non-public service Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs from the redevelopment agency.

Coordination of Strategic Plan

In order to enhance the delivery of housing and related services provided by public, private, and other agencies, the city will coordinate with those agencies to provide services. The Lake Forest Community Development Department is the lead agency for the Consolidated Plan and will collaborate with a variety of Orange County service agencies, including: the Fair Housing Council, Community Housing Corporation, and Homeless Issues Task Force.


Description of Key Projects

The city plans to spend about $458,000 in Federal funds for 1995-1996 projects. A summary of some of the proposed projects includes:


MAP 1 depicts points of interest in the jurisdiction.

MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.

MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.

MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.

MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.

MAP 6 is a map, sectioned by neighborhood, which depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.

MAP 7 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within one of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.

MAP 8 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded project(s) from a street level vantage point; in addition, a table provides information about the project(s).

To comment on Lake Forest's Consolidated Plan, please contact:
Kathy Graham
(714) 707-5583

Return to California's Consolidated Plans.