The first residents of the area known a Rancho Santa Margarita were Shoshonean Native Americans called Acagchemen. This area was purchased in 1843 by Juan Forster who renamed it “La Victoria.”
In 1864 Forster added Rancho Santa Margarita to his already vast land holdings. The cost of managing so much land left Forster in debt, and when he died, his heirs sold much of the land that he had worked so hard to acquire.
The land was sold to James C. Flood and Richard O’Neill, Sr. After acquiring all the property ‘on a handshake’, O’Neill deeded his land holdings to his son, Jerome, under whose leadership the ranch grew to 230,000 acres and spanned three counties. These holdings were incorporated under the name of Rancho Santa Margarity Company. After O’Neill’s death in 1926, the land was left to heirs who incorporated the land into developed communities, including Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita.
Planned to be an “Urban Village,” Rancho Santa Margarita offers the best of two worlds: all of the elements and advantages of a small city plus the quality of life of a small village. In 1996 the Celebrating the Vision Committee developed Rancho Santa Margarita’s Vision Statement: “A Small City with the Soul of a Small Village.”
Located along the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains, the city incorporated on January 1, 2000, and became the 33rd city in the County of Orange.
Population (year 2000): 47,214, Est. population in July 2002: 48,161 (+2.0% change)
Males: 23,219 (49.2%), Females: 23,995 (50.8%)
Land area: 12.3 square miles
Zip code: 92688
Median resident age: 31.9 years
Median household income: $78,475 (year 2000)
Median house value: $280,700 (year 2000)
For population 25 years and over in Rancho Santa Margarita
For population 15 years and over in Rancho Santa Margarita city