In the late 1960s, Sacramento County approved preliminary plans for what the Sacramento Bee called “a vast residential community which will take advantage of the natural beauty of rolling, tree-studded ranch land along the Cosumnes River.” It was our community, Rancho Murieta.
The 3,500-acre parcel, built from a handful of properties, was owned by the Pension Trust of Operating Engineers Local 3, a union of heavy-equipment operators. The property would serve as a training ground for the union members.
Because some of the ranches had water rights, in 1971, the state granted the development 6,368 acre-feet of water annually from the Cosumnes. The first residential development, Murieta Mobile Home Village, opened later in the year. An airstrip, lakes and reservoirs were already completed. The first homes were built next to Laguna Joaquin in 1973. The El Dorado Irrigation District annexed the Rancho Murieta development to provide water and sewage services to the community. The equestrian complex was in operation.
As the decade drew to a close, the first two development units were sold out, there was 24-hour security at the front gate, and Rancho Murieta was on its way.
Rancho Murieta Country Club
The North Course opened to the public in 1971 to develop and market Rancho Murieta. Membership was initially tied to property ownership to spur lot sales. The club became a California mutual benefit nonprofit corporation in 1973. The Pension Trust Fund and the Country Club signed a lease running through October 2028 for the existing golf course and a new, yet-to-be-built course.
The Rancho Murieta Community Services District supplies the club with the community’s recycled water to irrigate the golf courses. The CSD does not charge the club for the treated water.
The South Course opened in 1979.
The development plan for Rancho Murieta called for the streets and facilities to be managed by a homeowners’ association. Developers recorded the articles of incorporation and bylaws to form Rancho Murieta Association in the early 1970s.
RMA enforces homeowner rules and regulations, owns and maintains streets, common areas and parks within the gated community. The RMA-owned cable system provides TV and broadband services under an outside contractor.
By the 1980s, residents replaced developer representatives on the boards of Rancho Murieta Association and Murieta Townhouses Inc. and exerted more control over the community’s direction.
Concerns about having a large, out-of-county entity like El Dorado Irrigation District manage Rancho Murieta’s water and sewer systems led RMA to contact the Sacramento County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO). RMA funded a feasibility study that determined Rancho Murieta could support a community services district to manage its municipal services.
In June 1982, voters approved the formation of Rancho Murieta Community Services District, elected five directors to its board, and approved a range of services the district could provide as the community grew.
The Rancho Murieta Community Services District began providing water, sewer and drainage services in 1983.
In 1984, the CSD became the service provider for security after the developer refused to pay RMA’s charges for security.
In 1986, CSD obtained the community’s water rights.
In 1988, CSD worked with Sacramento County to develop a master plan for parks and establish the Parks Committee.
In 1998, after a California constitutional amendment required CSD to change the way it received revenue for drainage and security services, voters approved special taxes for these services.
In 2005, CSD contracted with California Waste Recovery Systems to provide residential garbage, recycling and green waste services.
Park Development Agreements
As the development of Murieta South was about to get underway, the CSD commissioned a master plan for parks and worked with Sacramento County to meet the community’s open space needs. The county continues to use this document in land use applications for Rancho Murieta.
After the plan was adopted, agreements were negotiated with landowners between 1990 and 1991 to develop, fund and construct the parks. The agreements established a committee of two developer representatives, two Rancho Murieta Association representatives and one CSD representative to carry out parks projects. Landowners agreed to convey park sites to RMA at no cost, and “to develop, and upon completion, grant to RMA at no cost to RMA, a system of pedestrian and bike trails. … The trail system may include a river crossing….”
This provision came into play when Sacramento County enforced a condition for South development requiring a river crossing. The county supported RMA’s plan for a bridge and denied the South developer’s request for relief from the condition. The Parks Committee carried out the project and the bridge opened in 2007.
Parks funding relies on developer contributions, and smaller, matching RMA contributions that are triggered by development.
The parks matrix – our future parks plans – includes a community center and aquatic complex as projects.
Mutual Benefit Agreement
The MBA was an agreement between RMA and PTF that finally settled the suits and counter-suits that arose from the financial collapse of a developer who bought the undeveloped parts of the community in 1985 and defaulted them back to the PTF 12 years later.
The MBA was negotiated by developers representing the PTF and signed in 2003. It runs with the land, which was sold by the PTF in 2013 to a group of investors.
The MBA gives RMA title to community parks, provided $1.4 million for the new North Gate, and requires new developments to be part of a central homeowners association with CC&Rs that mirror RMA’s, to pay full RMA dues and contribute to parks funding.
Two projects, the Retreats and the Residences Of Murieta Hills East and West, with a total of 282 homes, came out of that process and won county approval for development in 2007.
The MBA limited the number of homes that could be built in each subdivision and reduced the overall density of the development. The MBA provides for RMA ownership of land along the river designated as a resource protection area.
(The MBA does not apply to development on the South. Property for the South development was sold to a developer in 1988 and building began in the early ‘90s, after the development received county approval. Over the years, developers have requested and received time extensions from the county to build subdivisions that were initially approved but not yet built.)