Located at the southern base of craggy, “rustic-beautiful” Simi Peak and offering a rare combination of access to nature, convenient suburban life, and easy-access urban proximity on just 2600 acres within eastern Ventura County, the idyllic, pristine community of Oak Park is bordered on the south by the Los Angeles County cities of Westlake Village and Agoura Hills, on the west by the North Ranch neighborhood of Ventura County city of Thousand Oaks, and on the north and east by the popular Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
While the developed portions of Oak Park are primarily residential (single-family homes, townhomes, and apartments), in recent years new shopping/ commercial centers have risen in order to supply its residents with a wide range of product and service offerings. Considered small by today’s standards, the original commercial center is located at Kanan Road and Sunnycrest. Much larger shopping/ commercial centers have in recent years been built at the southeast corner of Kanan and Lindero Canyon Roads (Oak Park Shopping Center) and the northeast corner of the same streets.
As with the other communities of the Conejo Valley, Oak Park has always placed great importance on balancing housing and commercial needs with extensive greenbelts and a number of beautiful parks, including six neighborhood parks; plus Medea Creek Natural Park, and Oak Canyon Community Park. The parks have been built and maintained by the Rancho Simi Recreation and Parks District.
Though not an incorporated city, through the work and efforts of its then residents, it was able in 1977 to form its own school district, the Oak Park Unified School District (OPUSD), by seceding from the Simi Valley Unified School District; when over 90% of those voting approved of the change. This route was taken after a number of requests to join the nearby Las Virgenes Unified School District were denied in the early and mid 1970’s.
Today, Oak Park has three grade K-5 elementary schools, one grade 6-8 middle school, and two grades 9-12 high schools. The OPUSD is, like the two other districts serving the Conejo Valley, considered to be among the finest in the state (public and private); with its schools regularly receiving “Distinguished School” and other prestigious awards. Dedicated in February of 2004 and adjacent to Oak Park High, the Oak Park community Library is run under a joint operating agreement between OPUSD and the County of Ventura.
While its residents back in the 1970’s were given a three-choice opportunity to become part of the city of Thousand Oaks, to form its own city, or to remain unincorporated, the majority of its people living in the area at the time (as is and was the case with the residents of the various unincorporated “pocket” areas of Newbury Park) felt that their interests would best be served by remaining an unincorporated community within Ventura County.
Since it was (and still is) considered to be a significant “independent” population and economic presence within the county, relatively recently the Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) was created in order for its residents to present their community to both the Ventura County Supervisors and Ventura County generally. Consisting of elected members, MAC oversees matters which are pertinent to Oak Park. Prior to the formation of MAC, the Oak Park Civic Association had for many years handled community needs and issues.
A non-profit umbrella organization, the Community Foundation for Oak Park (oakparkfoundation.org), helps raise funds for the support of community activities; while overseeing a number of other organizations consisting of members (plus other volunteers) who serve the community in many different ways.
Given its relatively small size and integral location within the Conejo Valley, up until the 1950’s Oak Park shared a primarily common history with the other communities of the Conejo, including Agoura (Hills), Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, and Newbury Park.
That was when Jim and Marian (Driscoll) Jordan; the nationally known and beloved radio stars known better by their stage names of “Fibber McGee and Molly,” purchased a huge, 2600 acre ranch just north of the Agoura area; which included the area of what is now known as Oak Park. Operated mostly for the raising of cattle, the value of the now appropriately named Jordan Ranch continued to rise along with the population of southern California. It wasn’t long before the Jim and Marian realized that their ranch would provide a much better return on their invested dollars by being used for housing development than as a cattle ranch.
Accordingly, in the early 1960’s they decided to sell their Jordan Ranch to the Metropolitan Development Corporation (MDC), which was owned and run at the time by brothers Louis and Mark Boyar; who had previously built San Fernando area, planned communities such as Valley Park, Valley Park Highlands, and the Fallbrook Shopping Center. Louis Boyer had previously worked with well-known developer Mark Taper (Mark Taper Forum) and Ben Weinberg in the creation of Lakewood; just south of Los Angeles.
After deciding to name this latest land acquisition “Oak Park” after the many oak trees in the area, the brothers first needed to build a two lane extension of Kanan Road from the Agoura tract of Hillrise to reach their new property. At the time, there was only raw land between the Hillrise homes and Oak Park. The first homes were built on and around Kanan in 1967; just north of Mae Boyer Park (names after Louis’ late wife, Mae), including Tamarind, Birchwood, Pinewood, Santinwood, and Oakleaf. The second phase of homes included Smoketree, Pinion, Maplegrove, and Bayberry. The third phase; featuring the first two-story homes of Oak Park, included Joshua and Pinion; with other homes following, including on the west side of Kanan.
As was common with this type of construction and size of homes throughout the Conejo Valley and other southern California “outlying area” during the late 1960’s to early 1970’s, prices for these first homes of Oak Park ranged from approximately $27,000 to $32,000. While the prices seem ridiculously minuscule by modern norms, it’s important to remember that many of the buyers of the time for this price range of homes had household incomes of less than $1,200 per month; and usually from one income, as the great majority of wives of the time were traditional homemakers.
Location: North of Agoura Hills
ZIP Codes: 91377
Origin of Name: Named for the oaks in the area.
Information: (818) OAK-PARK (625-7275)
Address: 1000 Kanan Road Oak Park, CA 91377
Phone Number: (818) 865-9304
City Hall Information:
Address: 30001 Ladyface Court, Suite 102, Agoura Hills, CA 91301
Phone Number: 1-818-597-7300
Web site: www.ci.agoura-hills.ca.us
Chamber of Commerce:
Area: Agoura, Agoura Hills, Las Virgenes, Oak Park, Westlake Village
Address: 30101 Agoura Court, No. 207, Agoura Hills, CA 91301
Phone Number: 1-818-889-3150
Fax Number: 1-818-889-3366
Web site: www.agourachamber.org