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Ep. 1: The future of community development

In this episode of the Alosant Innovator Series, Paul Johnson sits down with host April LaMon to discuss his notable career in community development, how residential lifestyle trends are changing in a post-COVID world, and what he sees on the horizon for the industry.


Johnson has over 25 years of experience in building, planning, and developing some of the leading master-planned communities in the country including Ladera Ranch and Rancho Mission Viejo in Southern California. From the start of his career, Johnson has always believed in the core values of having fun and building communities that are financially feasible, sustainable, and innovative.


In this episode, Johnson speaks to the power of those around you. He credits the innovation at Ladera Ranch and Rancho Mission Viejo to the legacy of the ownership and the teams that challenge themselves to innovate and enhance the resident experience in unprecedented ways.



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Here are some highlights from his conversation with LaMon:


In the last couple of years, what have you noticed in how people think about where they live and how they work?

The pandemic woke everyone up, whether home builders or developers, to the changing landscape of resident expectations of their community. Now more than ever, home buyers and community members value their environment whether that is in their home or the amenities and facilities around the community. There is a new attitude towards home and community after the pandemic, and buyers look more closely at wellness, wellbeing, amenities, and the community itself. There are so many new things being thought about in the industry now after the pandemic that are at small and very large scales.


The Story behind the RanchLife App

The idea behind the RanchLife App started far before the idea of creating a way for residents to connect in the palm of their hand. At Ladera Ranch, Johnson and his team recognized the need for residents to connect with one another in more ways than just meeting on the street or at community events. There was an opportunity to leverage the internet on desktop computers to do so. Johnson’s team at Ladera Ranch built a custom software platform where residents could join what he called their ‘community internet’. 


Fast forward to 2017 when Johnson was at Rancho Mission Viejo. He knew there had to be a way to get off the desktop and onto the mobile phone to provide residents more accessibility, both to each other and the community. As smartphones and apps were emerging, he and his team knew that was where the attention was transitioning to. 


Johnson tapped April LaMon and Mike Swanson, to create a fully functional branded mobile app that continues to serve as an integral part of the daily lives of Rancho Mission Viejo residents. It connects them with the place they live using the one device they cannot live without: their smartphone.


The RanchLife App launched in 2018 and has been adopted by more than 97% of the residents at Rancho Mission Viejo (over 6,000 residents). 


Partnering with Alosant meant figuring it out from the start, and has since provided opportunities to continually develop the resident experience using technology. From the initial version, to the newest features that enable access control throughout the community, the RanchLife app has become an invaluable resource. 


How is your team adjusting to the changing landscape or residents working from home and their necessities?

The pandemic made us realize how important fast and secure networks throughout the entire community are to residents. Whether in homes or amenities and facilities, it is truly a necessity in the connected digital world we live in now. RanchLife actively works with AT&T and Cox to ensure we are delivering the highest quality of connectivity to our residents. 


When it comes to new construction, home builders and developers are thinking critically about smart home technology and what younger generations value in their home life. The pandemic made us pay attention to the right conveniences for residents within and outside the home.


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