There are different ways to learn about private land use planning and investment strategies in land. I’ve approached the learning process from multiple perspectives, some of which were admittedly unintentional. Currently at 59 years of age, I have served at several levels in California state and local government from staff positions, appointed positions, community activist and as an elected official. In the coming weeks I’ll approach the discussion of land by growth development, infill development, rejuvenation/redevelopment, among other topics.

One of the first things I learned as a child in the 1960’s and 70’s development of Fresno, was that although I was climbing fig trees as a child, the disappearance of those trees was not an act of impulsiveness. It sure seemed like a ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ occurrence but as a child, reality is based off of observation. When a shopping mall rose from the ground where trees once stood, questions came to mind. Whose land is this, how long were they planning this, are they planning more?

We moved from the edge of that former fig orchard to a new housing tract never realizing the figs once grew there too. All I knew was that homes would be built on the dirt lot across the street where I would ride my bike and play in the mud. Certainly not much else could be built, but if so, the rural 2 lane highway had to be the ‘end of the earth’. Once the new hospital was built, lanes widened, stop lights put in, maybe the World’s end was an illusion (clearly it was) .

The story is not unique. My Father grew up in Yucaipa and Redlands. He would tell the story of driving to the beaches of Orange County and not so ironically driving thru orange orchards. Knott’s Berry Farm was likely just that, basically a roadside stand and a restaurant. The Irvine Company had yet to construct it’s master planned community, and certainly no Disneyland.

The moral of the segment is that planning takes time, housing, malls, apartments, gas stations and etc… don’t rise from thin air. True, there have been cities and neighborhoods built without what appears to a lack rhyme or reason, but those days are largely gone. There are investment principals that take time, there are planning principals adopted decades in advance. To navigate the waters of purchasing land to buy and hold, to develop in short order, pursue opportunities in infill development or redevelopment an understanding of the past, present, and future are required. Knowledge breeds success, in-depth knowledge breeds greater success and less risk. Consult more than just a financial strategist, make sure you are also consulting a government and planning expert.