Westlake Village is an affluent city in Los Angeles County on its western border with Ventura County. 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.
Chumash Indians were the first to settle in what is now Westlake Village. It was home to a Chumash settlement known as Hipuk. 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 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 (see Conejo Valley). 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 (24 km²) 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. The 1940 film Danger Ahead was filmed on Westlake Boulevard.
Westlake Lake in Westlake Village
In 1963, Daniel K. Ludwig’s American-Hawaiian Steamship Company bought the 12,000 acre (49 km²) 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 (35 km2), were annexed into the city of Thousand Oaks. In 1981, the Los Angeles County portion (3,456 acres (13.99 km2) 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. To this day, many residents of the Ventura County portions of Westlake do not realize that they are actually within the city limits of Thousand Oaks.
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 is in the northwestern Santa Monica Mountains area, and is 9 miles (14 km) inland from the Pacific Ocean. The lake lies within the watershed of Malibu Creek. Water from the lake must be released into the creek in compliance with an agreement between the California State Water Resources Control Board and the Westlake Lake Management Association, a private entity that oversees the operation of the lake.
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, K-Swiss and J.D. Power and Associates. The western region office (Region 5) 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 has several golf courses and country clubs: the Westlake Golf Course, Sherwood Country Club, and North Ranch Country Club.
Panorama of Westlake Village.
Over one half of the original “Westlake” development lies west 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. Lake Sherwood is nearby.
The City of Westlake Village is located at 34°8′31″N 118°49′10″W (34.141973, −118.819514). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.5 square miles (14.3 km²). 5.2 square miles (13.4 km²) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.8 km²) of it (5.80%) is water. It is located approximately 40 miles (64 km) 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.
The 2010 United States Census reported that the self incorporated portion Westlake Village, on the Los Angeles County side, had a population of 8,270. The population density was 1,502.4 people per square mile (580.1/km²). The racial makeup of Westlake Village was 7,326 (88.6%) White (83.9% Non-Hispanic White), 98 (1.2%) African American, 12 (0.1%) Native American, 490 (5.9%) Asian, 13 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 114 (1.4%) from other races, and 217 (2.6%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 533 persons (6.4%).
The Census reported that 8,142 people (98.5% of the population) lived in households, 121 (1.5%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 7 (0.1%) were institutionalized.
There were 3,262 households, out of which 971 (29.8%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 1,985 (60.9%) were married couples living together, 292 (9.0%) had a female householder with no husband present, 119 (3.6%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 103 (3.2%) unmarried partnerships. 712 households (21.8%) were made up of individuals and 376 (11.5%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50. There were 2,396 families (73.5% of all households); the average family size was 2.92.
The population was spread out with 1,737 people (21.0%) under the age of 18, 479 people (5.8%) aged 18 to 24, 1,380 people (16.7%) aged 25 to 44, 2,917 people (35.3%) aged 45 to 64, and 1,757 people (21.2%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 48.7 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.2 males.
There were 3,384 housing units at an average density of 614.7 per square mile (237.4/km²), of which 2,745 (84.2%) were owner-occupied, and 517 (15.8%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.0%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.4%. 6,906 people (83.5% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 1,236 people (14.9%) lived in rental housing units.
According to the 2010 United States Census, Westlake Village had a median household income of $112,083, with 3.9% of the population living below the federal poverty line.
In the state legislature Westlake Village is located in California’s 27th State Senate district, represented by Democrat Henry Stern, and in California’s 44th State Assembly district, represented by Democrat Jacqui Irwin. Federally, Westlake Village is located in California’s 26th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +2 and is represented by Democrat Julia Brownley.
As of May 2009, 1,943 (33%) of the 5,876 registered voters in Westlake Village are registered as Democrats, 2,583 (44%) as Republicans, and 1,101 (19%) declined to state a party affiliation.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) operates the Malibu/Lost Hills Station in Calabasas, serving Westlake Village.