Westlake Village is a planned community that straddles the Los Angeles and Ventura county line. The eastern portion is the incorporated city of Westlake Village, located on the western edge of Los Angeles County, California. The city, located in the region known as the Conejo Valley, encompasses half of the area surrounding Westlake Lake, and small neighborhoods primarily south of U.S. Route 101 and east of La Venta Drive. The population was 8,270 at the 2010 census, down from 8,368 at the 2000 census.
The original community was known simply as “Westlake”. Roughly two-thirds of it was annexed by the city of Thousand Oaks in two portions, in 1968 and 1972. In 1981, the remaining third eventually incorporated as the City of Westlake Village.
About 3,000 years ago, Chumash Indians moved into the region and lived by hunting rabbits and other game, and gathering grains and acorns. On-going excavations, archaeological sites, and polychrome rock paintings in the area provide a glimpse into the social and economic complexity of the ancient Chumash world.
In January, 1770, the first Europeans came to the area. Captain Gaspar de Portolà’s party of Spanish explorers and missionaries traveled through the area from west to east, camping one night near a Chumash Indian village, believed to be the site of present-day Westlake Village. Father Juan Crespí, chaplain and diarist of the expedition, wrote: “We are on a plain of considerable extent and much beauty, forested on all parts by live oaks and oak trees, with much pasturage and water.” Crespi named the place El triunfo del Dulcísimo Nombre de Jesús (in English: The Triumph of the Sweetest Name of Jesus) to a camping place by a creek – today’s Triunfo Canyon Road begins between Thousand Oaks and Westlake Village. Later Spanish travelers also used this route, making it part of El Camino Real (today’s U.S. Route 101).
In 1795, the area became part of one of the first Spanish land grants, Rancho Simi, given to the Pico family. When Mexico won independence from Spain in 1821, Alta California became Mexican territory, and the Rancho Simi grant was confirmed in 1842.
At the time California was admitted to the union in 1850, most of the land that later became Ventura County was divided among only 19 families. The picturesque future Westlake Village site among rising knolls, arroyos, barrancas and ancient oaks was recognized as the central part of two Mexican land grants: Rancho El Conejo and Rancho Las Virgenes.
In 1881, the Russell brothers purchased a large portion of the land for cattle ranching. According to Patricia Allen, historian and family descendant, Andrew Russell beat the competition in buying the land by racing across 6,000 acres on a fifteen-minute trip in a buckboard and sealed the deal with a $20 gold piece. The price per acre was $2.50. The area continued to be known as the Russell Ranch although it was sold in 1925 to William Randolph Hearst and again in 1943 to Fred Albertson. The Russell family leased back part of the land to continue its successful cattle ranch operation while the Albertson Company used the vast area as a movie ranch. Many movies and television shows were filmed here, including Robin Hood, King Rat, Laredo, and various episodes of Tarzan, Buck Rogers, Gunsmoke and Bonanza.
Westlake Lake in Westlake Village
In 1963, the American-Hawaiian Steamship Company bought the 12,000 acre ranch for $32 million and, in partnership with Prudential Insurance Company, commissioned the preparation of a master plan by architectural and planning firm A. C. Martin and Associates. This new “city in the country” planned to have a firm economic base including commercial areas, residential neighborhoods, ample green space with the lake as a focal point. Prominent architects, engineers, and land planners participated in designing the new community, a prominent example of planned 1960’s-style suburbanism.
The original tract was divided by the Los Angeles/Ventura county line. In 1968 and 1972, the Ventura County side, two portions of Westlake Village consisting of 8,544 acres, were annexed into the city of Thousand Oaks. In 1981, the Los Angeles County portion (3,456 acres or roughly 1/3) of the Westlake Village master community was incorporated as the City of Westlake Village. California state law prevents a city from existing in two separate counties, so the areas in Ventura County remained part of Thousand Oaks. Despite the technically geographic location, many residents of the Ventura County portions of the area simply use the name “Westlake Village” as their home address instead of Thousand Oaks. The United States Post Office maps both 91361 and 91362 ZIP codes to this area.
Much of Westlake Village is surrounded by open space, including hiking and horse trails, as well as the vast Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The town borders the Malibu hills, and is nine miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. Coastal breezes seep through canyons to allow Westlake to stay up to 10 degrees cooler than nearby San Fernando Valley during the summer months.
In addition to its role as a bedroom community for Los Angeles via the Ventura Freeway, it is also home to many large commercial offices and the headquarters of the Dole Food Company, Pleasant Holidays, K-Swiss, ValueClick, J.D. Power and Associates, and Jafra Cosmetics. The western region office of Anheuser-Busch Inc. is also located in the community. The Ventura Freeway is one of three of Westlake’s lifelines to Los Angeles and Ventura; the Pacific Coast Highway, and the Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway also run nearby. It is a short drive to the nearest mall in Thousand Oaks.
Westlake Village is well served by golf courses and country clubs. The Westlake Golf Course and the more exclusive venues include Sherwood Country Club to the west and North Ranch Country Club to the north.
The 2 Sides of Westlake Village
Over one half of the original “Westlake” development lies across the county line wholly within the city limits of Thousand Oaks. This boundary which divides the Incorporated City of Westlake Village, and Thousand Oaks portion of Westlake Village, crosses over the Westlake Golf Course, halfway between Lakeview Canyon and Lindero Canyon roads, and half of the Lake itself. Another common misconception is that Lake Sherwood is part of Westlake Village. It lies on the Thousand Oaks/Ventura County side.
(Little known trivia: the road called La Venta got its name because it divides the lake in half “La” for L.A. County and “Venta” for Ventura County).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.5 square miles. 5.2 square miles of it is land and 0.3 square miles of it is water. It is located approximately 40 miles West of downtown Los Angeles in the Conejo Valley. Other communities in the surrounding area include Thousand Oaks, Oak Park, Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Newbury Park, and Malibu.
Much of the information about Westlake Village is courtesy of Wikipedia.
Jeff Haring CRB, GRI Realtor- Sales & Property Management
Ventura County Real Estate