From citrus trees to spring breakers, Transforming the Irvine Ranch tells the story of Orange County's metamorphosis from 93,000 acres of farmland into an iconic Southern California landscape of beaches and modernist architecture. Drawing on decades of archival research and their own years at the famed Irvine Company, the authors bring a collection of colorful characters responsible for the transformation to life, including:
- Ray Watson, whose nearly century-long life took him from an Oakland boarding house to the Irvine and Walt Disney Company boardrooms
- Joan Irvine Smith, a much-married heiress who waged war against the US government and the Irvine Foundation's reactionary board and won
- William Pereira, the visionary architect whose work became synonymous with the LA cityscape.
Spanning the history of modern California from its Gold Rush past to the late 1970s, Transforming the Irvine Ranch chronicles a storied family's largely successful attempts to remake the vast Irvine Ranch in its own image.
H. Pike Oliver has worked on real estate development strategies and master-planned communities since the early 1970s, including nearly eight years at the Irvine Company. He was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and resided in the City of Irvine for 15 years. As the founder and sole proprietor of URBANEXUS, Oliver works on advancing equitable and sustainable real estate development and natural lands management. He is also an affiliate instructor at the Runstad Department of Real Estate at the University of Washington. Earlier in his career, Oliver worked for public agencies including the California Governor's Office of Planning and Research where he was a principal contributor to An Urban Strategy for California. Prior to relocating to Seattle in 2013, he taught real estate development at Cornell University and directed the undergraduate program in urban and regional studies. He is a member of the Urban Land Institute, the American Planning Association, and a founder and emeritus member of the California Planning Roundtable.Oliver is a graduate of the urban studies and planning program at San Francisco State University and earned a master's degree in urban planning at UCLA.C. Michael Stockstill received a degree in journalism from Humboldt State University in 1971. After a year as a legislative staff member in the California Assembly, he worked as a reporter and editor in Orange County before joining the Irvine Company in 1978. During his 13-year career there, he helped formulate and implement strategy for major planning and policy issues, including a multi-year effort to pass a half-cent sales tax for local transportation improvements. Stockstill also worked for the Transportation Corridor Agencies, which built the first toll roads in modern California history, CalOptima, Southern California Edison, and as a public affairs consultant. Stockstill moved to Irvine in 1975 and was active in local government, youth sports, and education while raising a family there. Now retired, he lives in Irvine. He has written for national magazines including Planning and Parks and Recreation.