About the City of Camarillo
Camarillo is a city in Ventura County, California. The population was 65,201 at the 2010 census, up from 57,084 at the 2000 census. The Ventura Freeway (U.S. Route 101) is the city’s primary thoroughfare. Camarillo is named for Adolfo and Juan Camarillo, two of the few Californios (pre-1848 California natives of Hispanic ancestry) to preserve the city’s heritage after the arrival of Anglo settlers. The railroad coast route came through in 1898 and built a station here. Adolfo Camarillo eventually employed 700 workers growing mainly lima beans. Walnuts and citrus were also grown on the ranch. Adolfo bred Camarillo White Horses in the 1920s through the 1960s and was well known for riding them, dressed in colorful Spanish attire, in parades such as the Fiesta of Santa Barbara.
The city grew slowly prior to World War II but the war effort saw the construction of the Oxnard Air Force Base (now Camarillo Airport) to the west of town. The community grew as the new base along with a Naval Air Station Point Mugu and a Seabee base at Port Hueneme brought many workers and their families to the area. The grounds of Camarillo State Hospital, that opened in 1936 south of town, is now the campus of California State University, Channel Islands.
The Chumash Indians were the first known settlers in what is now known as Ventura County. Fishermen built their villages along the Pacific Coast near the mouths of the Calleguas Creek and Santa Clara River. Artifacts from their settlements are on display in the Ventura County Historical Museum and their paintings are still visible on canyon walls and in caves in the area.
The Portuguese navigator Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, while exploring the Pacific coast for the king of Spain, came upon the Chumash in an area near Point Mugu. He explored the surrounding region and claimed it in the name of Spain in 1542. Cabrillo was followed in 1602 by Sebastian Viscaino on a mapping expedition for the King of Spain. The Chumash continued to inhabit the coast until 1768 when Russians, having established a settlement 800 miles to the north, launched expeditions challenging the Spanish land claims. In the 18th century, the Spanish began settling California and built the first of what would become a chain of 21 missions in San Diego. Father Junípero Serra establish the ninth mission in Ventura in 1782 bringing more settlers to the area and exposing the Indians who had settled around the mission to many European diseases to which they had no immunity. Their numbers diminished until the Chumash, once the largest Indian nation in California, had largely vanished by 1839.
By the early 1820s, Mexico had gained independence from Spain, and shortly afterward California allied itself with Mexico. The Mexican land grant system was liberalized in 1824 resulting in many large grants in California and the proliferation of Ranchos north of the border. One grant to José Pedro Ruiz created Rancho Calleguas in 1837, in the area that is now Camarillo. The grant was later sold to Juan Camarillo, who had arrived in 1834 as a member of the Hijar-Padres Expedition; it was his sons Adolfo and Juan that are credited with the founding of the town that was to bear their name. The earlier proposed name of Calleguas was rejected as too difficult to pronounce.
At about same time the town of Springville had begun to form just to the west of the emerging town of Camarillo. Springville was one of seventeen post offices operating in the county in 1890. Springville’s existence was threatened though when the Southern Pacific Railroad Coast Route did not come through the settlement and a depot was established in nearby Camarillo. The settlement did disappear but in 2012 a new road was named Springville Drive to honor the little town and is now marked on the 101 freeway with an overpass and ramps at the western end of Camarillo. The original settlement would have been on the south side of the freeway just a bit farther west.
The Camarillo Family & Camarillo Ranch
Juan and Martina Camarillo
Juan and Martina Camarillo were married in 1840 and moved to Ventura, California in 1854, becoming the fourth European family in the town. In 1876, Juan Camarillo bought the 10,000-acre Rancho Calleguas in eastern Ventura County from Jose Pedro Ruiz for $3,000 in gold. Rancho Calleguas remained in the Camarillo family until the 1960s, eventually becoming the City of Camarillo—named for the family.
The Camarillo Ranch House, also known as Rancho Calleguas and Adolfo Camarillo House, is a Queen Anne-style Victorian house in Camarillo, California. Built in 1892, the 6,000-square-foot house was designed by architects Herman Anlauf and Franklin Ward. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. The house is currently operated by the Rancho Camarillo Foundation and is open to the public for docent-led tours on Saturdays and Sundays. It is also available to be rented for weddings and other special events.
Camarillo Ranch is an iconic community focal point with a rich culture and extensive history dating back to 1837. Juan Camarillo (1812–1880) obtained the rancho from the Ruiz family in 1875. Juan was a member of the Hijar-Padres Expedition to California in 1834 and he settled in Ventura in 1857. Following Juan’s death in 1880, Adolfo Camarillo, his oldest son, took over the ranch operations at the age of sixteen. During the next 78 years, Adolfo operated the Camarillo Ranch, changing the operations from mostly cattle to crops. He was a leading innovator bringing in lima beans, plus barley, corn, alfalfa, walnuts, and citrus.” Including eucalyptus trees that can be seen all around the city of Camarillo.
The Ranch House was built in 1892 under instruction of Adolfo Camarillo using Architects Franklin Ward and Herman Anlauf. Together, they built a three-story, fourteen-room Victorian Queen Anne style home. The house and property are currently being used for tours, events, and weddings.
Adolfo Camarillo, sometimes referred to as “The Last Spanish Don,” was a leader within the community and a heavy donator that helped shape the City of Camarillo. Between 1999-2000 the City of Camarillo and the Camarillo Ranch Foundation worked together to complete a $1.5 million restoration of the house, barn and stables. With its completion in 2001, the beautiful Queen Anne Victorian home is a fully furnished museum that provides tours and holds events.
St. John’s Seminary
Don Juan Camarillo, brother of Adolfo, donated 100 acres to be used as a seminary to be named in honor of Saint John the Evangelist. The Roman Catholic seminary was founded in 1927 as St. John’s Seminary.
Camarillo’s growth was slow from founding through World War II. In the late 1940s, building lots on Ventura Boulevard, the main downtown street, were being offered for $450 and home lots on the adjoining streets were $250, with few buyers. Travel to and from Los Angeles was difficult, owing to the narrow, tortuous road climbing the Conejo Grade to the east of the city.
The main industry during this period was agriculture, and the area surrounding the small town was blanketed with orange, lemon and walnut groves. The State Mental hospital south of the town was the largest employer. A few houses had sprung up to the north and south of town center. The Oxnard Airforce Base, built during World War II to the west of town, the Navy Facility at Point Mugu and the Seabee base at Port Hueneme brought many military personnel to the area, but there was little private industry or other source of non-agricultural employment.
Incorporation in 1964
At this time plans were made for the incorporation of the city to control the rapid expansion. Camarillo became a city in 1964 and soon put into place a General Plan and building codes that were to lead to an attractive city environment. In 1964 the closest traffic signal was 2 miles (3.2 km) from the City center on the road to Point Mugu, and the first shopping center and supermarket were under construction. Because of the late date of city incorporation, the local telephone exchange is still listed as part of Oxnard. Much of the city was expected to be developed to the south of Ventura Blvd, however it was to the north that the new city grew, and the land south of Ventura Blvd remains reserved for agricultural use to this day.
Many of the home buyers during the 1960s were military veterans, who had been stationed at one of the local bases during their service. The temperate climate and the living conditions lured them back. With the establishment of both the Pacific Missile Range and the Naval Civil Engineering Laboratory at Port Hueneme many found employment that utilized their military training. Other newcomers were those who worked and lived in the San Fernando Valley and were willing to endure the commute for the opportunity to raise their families in a smog-free, semirural environment. Still others relocated here with their employers, like 3M, and Harbor Freight Tools who built facilities in and around the city to take advantage of the large workforce. Technicolor Video Services Inc. is the largest DVD duplicator in the world.
Camarillo Airport is a public airport located 3 miles west of the central business district of Camarillo. The airport has one runway and exclusively serves privately operated general aviation and executive aircraft with no scheduled commercial service.
The airport was originally established in 1942 when the California State Highway Department constructed an auxiliary landing field with a 5,000 ft (1,500 m) runway, which was later extended to 8,000 ft (2,400 m) in 1951 to accommodate what by then had developed into Oxnard Air Force Base. The airport runway was further extended in 1959 to accommodate jet fighter aircraft such as the Northrop F-89 and McDonnell F-101B, used as part of the Los Angeles area Air Defense network. In Mid-1960s the base received 17 new F-106 Delta Darts. On January 1, 1970, Oxnard AFB was deactivated and the base became surplus property. Oxnard had 99 Officers and 990 enlisted assigned prior to its closing in 1970. The last commanding officer of the 414th Fighter Group was Colonel Paul D. Cofer.
The transfer of the airport to Ventura County was approved by the Department of Defense in 1976. Camarillo Airport also serves as the base of operations of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Aviation Unit and the home of the VCSD’s Training Facility and Academy, the Ventura County Criminal Justice Training Center. The Camarillo Airport also serves as the base of operations for the Ventura County Fire Department and facilitates the Oxnard College Regional Fire Academy and the Ventura County Reserve Officers Training Center.
Camarillo State Hospital & California State University, Channel Islands
Camarillo State Mental Hospital was established near the city in the 1930s so that persons suffering from mental illnesses or tuberculosis could recover in Ventura County’s balmy climate. Jazzman Charlie Parker’s “Relaxin’ at Camarillo,” written while he was detoxing from heroin addiction, is a tribute to the facility. The song “Camarillo” by punk outfit Fear is also written about the facility. The band Ambrosia released a song called “Ready for Camarillo” on their 1978 Life Beyond L.A. album. “Ready for Camarillo” also appeared as the single B side of their hit “How Much I Feel.” Perhaps the most famous song associated with the facility was “Hotel California”, by The Eagles, which is widely rumored to be about lead singer Don Henley’s brother’s struggles to overcome a mental disorder, but Henley claims this connection is false.
The former hospital is the now the site of California State University, Channel Islands. The University has retained the distinctive Mission Revival Style architecture bell tower in the South quad. The band Brazzaville released a video called “Camarillo” in 2007, with mental hospital-like imagery and lyrics concerning lead singer David Brown’s relatives’ stay in the institution.
Frank Zappa famously, and perhaps deliberately, mispronounced the city’s name in the song “Camarillo Brillo”, also about a stay in the institution, but in this case to get clean.
The Camarillo State Hospital was closed in the 1990s and remained vacant until the site was converted into California State University, Channel Islands (CSUCI). CSUCI officially opened in August 2002 and is now accredited by the WASC.
In Popular Culture
The motion pictures Coming Home, Pearl Harbor, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Iron Eagle, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, and Friday the 13th: A New Beginning were filmed in Camarillo. The well used in the film The Ring is also located in Camarillo
Camarillo is sometimes mentioned in literature because of the mental hospital once located there. In Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums, he mentions a place “…somewhere near Camarillo where Charlie Parker’d been mad and relaxed back to normal health” (The Dharma Bums, 1).
Frank Zappa referred to the city in his 1973 song “Camarillo Brillo”. The city’s name is mispronounced so as to rhyme with the second word in the song’s title.
Mission Oaks is the name given by developer Pardee Homes to a 1,312 acres parcel of land located in the north-eastern portion of the city. This parcel was developed as a planned community over the span of 35 years, and was completed in October 2004. The area developed by Pardee Homes makes up approximately 15% of Camarillo’s total land. Due to the decades-long timescale of the project, many residents are unaware of Mission Oaks’ proprietary nature, and the area east of Lewis Road (State Route 34), south of Somis and north of the 101 Freeway is generally thought of as Mission Oaks regardless of which company built the buildings in the area.
Camarillo Premium Outlets
In the mid-1990s, multiple large retail centers, including one of California’s largest outlet malls and movie theater were built south of US 101 and west of Carmen Drive. These new retail centers have provided a large influx of cash to the city; from 1993 to 1998 sales tax revenues nearly doubled from approximately $3.5 million to approximately $6.5 million. On April 23, 2009, several new shops and restaurants opened at the Camarillo Premium Outlets, designated “The Promenade”. The Promenade is 220,000 square feet, while the Premium Outlets is 454,000. The new center has 45 stores and restaurants, bringing the total to about 160
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 19.5 square miles. 0.015 square miles of the area (0.08%) is water.
Camarillo is located in Pleasant Valley at the eastern end of the Oxnard Plain, with the Santa Susana Mountains to the north, the Camarillo Hills to the northwest, the Conejo Valley to the east, and the western reaches of the Santa Monica Mountains to the south.
This region experiences warm (but not hot) and dry summers, with no average monthly temperatures above 71.6 °F. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Camarillo has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate, abbreviated “Csb” on climate maps.
The 2010 United States Census reported that Camarillo had a population of 65,201. The population density was 3,336.3 people per square mile. The racial makeup of Camarillo was 48,947 (75.1%) White, 1,216 (1.9%) African American, 397 (0.6%) Native American, 6,633 (10.2%) Asian, 116 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 4,774 (7.3%) from other races, and 3,118 (4.8%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 14,958 persons (22.9%).
There were 24,504 households, out of which 8,103 (33.1%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 13,565 (55.4%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 2,386 (9.7%) had a female householder with no husband present, 1,078 (4.4%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 1,099 (4.5%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 158 (0.6%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 5,986 households (24.4%) were made up of individuals and 3,231 (13.2%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64. There were 17,029 families (69.5% of all households); the average family size was 3.14.
The population was spread out with 15,115 people (23.2%) under the age of 18, 5,164 people (7.9%) aged 18 to 24, 15,895 people (24.4%) aged 25 to 44, 17,825 people (27.3%) aged 45 to 64, and 11,202 people (17.2%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40.8 years. For every 100 females there were 93.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.7 males.
There were 25,702 housing units at an average density of 1,315.1 per square mile, of which 17,059 (69.6%) were owner-occupied, and 7,445 (30.4%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.4%; the rental vacancy rate was 5.2%. 45,522 people (69.8% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 19,183 people (29.4%) lived in rental housing units.
Much of the information about Camarillo courtesy of Wikipedia.
Jeff Haring CRB, GRI
Broker Associate – DRE#00844358