Coto de Caza (meaning game preserve in Spanish) is a census-designated place (CDP) and guard-gated private community in Orange County, California. The population was 14,866 at the 2010 census, up from 13,057 at the 2000 census.
The CDP is a suburban planned community of about 4,000 homes and one of Orange County’s oldest and most expensive master-planned communities. The project began in 1968, when it was envisioned as a hunting lodge, now the Lodge at Coto de Caza, and the community was completed in 2003. For the 1984 Summer Olympics, the community served as host to the riding, running, shooting, and fencing portions of the modern pentathlon events. Around the town, there are still undeveloped lots available for purchase. Currently there are two 18-hole golf courses and two club houses, one considered the “old club” and the other the “new club.” The new club, the Coto De Caza Golf & Racquet Club, harbors the facilities of the two golf courses and adjacent ten tennis courts. The old club, located in the residential area known as “the Village,” was once home to tennis guru and teacher Vic Braden. The old club was also the home location for the Coto de Caza Youth Swim Team. The new club finished construction of the new Spa & Sports Club building in April 2008 that houses a new fitness center with state-of-the-art StarTrac exercise equipment, a spa with many services, a snack bar with Starbuck’s coffee, and the Michael Chang tennis hall of fame and member lounge. The golf courses are both Robert Trent Jones Jr. design. The North course was rated the most difficult golf course in all of Orange County.
The community is the setting of the reality-based television show The Real Housewives of Orange County on Bravo.
Coto de Caza contains commercial endeavors, Lodge at Coto de Caza, The Coto de Caza Golf and Racquet Club, & The Coto de Caza General Store. Residents shop in Rancho Santa Margarita, Mission Viejo, Las Flores, or Ladera Ranch. Most students in Coto de Caza reside in the Capistrano Unified School District and attend Wagon Wheel Elementary, Tijeras Creek Elementary, Las Flores Middle School, Tesoro High School, and Santa Margarita Catholic High School (not part of Capistrano Unified). The majority of the community is tract housing, with collections of custom-built homes on the outskirts off the main streets. Coto de Caza is twenty minutes from the San Diego Freeway (Interstate 5) and five minutes from the Foothill Toll Road (State Route 241) to Irvine and then Riverside County.
While some residents believe that “Coto de Caza” means “Preserve of the Hunt” in Portuguese, this is erroneous. Actually, “Coto de Caza” is Spanish for “Hunt Reserve” and implies that the reserve is private.