Built and centered around a beautiful man made lake which like the city itself straddles the Los Angeles (LA)/ Ventura County boundary line, Westlake Village is a small (less than 6 square miles) incorporated city located in western Los Angeles County.
Like its directly adjacent city neighbors Agoura Hills and Thousand Oaks, it’s a popular and sought after mix of safe streets, good schools, picturesque hillsides, and hiking and equestrian trails.
The original master planned community of Westlake Village is transected diagonally the Los Angeles/ Ventura County line. The LA County side, consisting of 3,456 acres, was incorporated as the City of Westlake Village in 1981 and became the 82nd city within LA County. The Ventura County side, consisting of the remaining 8,544 acres of the original Russell ranch, was annexed into the City of Thousand Oaks in two portions; one in 1968 and the other in 1972. Therefore, approximately 2/3 of the ranch became part of Thousand Oaks, while the other 1/3 became the new city of Westlake Village.
Though confusing, it is common for many businesses and residents of the Thousand Oaks portion of the “Westlake area” to use “Westlake Village” as the city in their address. To further confuse things, the postal service’s zip code boundaries cross both county and city lines for the two zip codes 91361 and 91362. Often, only those who use a map or are very familiar with the actual boundary lines, streets, and street numbers are able to accurately determine whether a specific location or address is actually in Thousand Oaks (Ventura County) or Westlake Village (Los Angeles County).
Some 3,000 years ago, Chumash Indians moved into the region which now includes Westlake Village; hunting game including deer and rabbits, and gathering acorns and various types of grains. On-going excavations, archaeological sites, and rock paintings in the area provide a glimpse into the social and economic complexity of the ancient Chumash world.
In 1770, Captain Gaspar de Portola led a party of Spanish explorers and missionaries who were traveling north on the route which would later became known as the El Camino Real (state historical markers for which can be seen along State Highway 101). The men camped near a Chumash village, now believed to be the site of present day Westlake Village. Father Juan Crespi, 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.”
When the Spanish finally did settle the area, they were given huge land grants, the largest of which was Rancho Simi, given to the Pico family. When Mexico won independence from Spain in 1821 and California became one of the territories of Mexico, a few more land grants were given. When 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.
Then, 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 (he of Hearst Castle fame) 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,” various episodes of “Tarzan,” “Buck Rogers,” “Gunsmoke,” and “Bonanza.”
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 for a “city in the country.” Prominent architects, engineers, and land planners participated in designing the new community; one which quickly became nationally acclaimed as a model for the “planned community” concept.
Christened, “The city in the country,” Westlake Village soon became recognized as one of the nation’s most successful and desired communities in which to live.
Incorporation Date: 1981
Size (square miles): 5.4
Origin of Name: The community was named after creating a dam of Triunfo Creek to facilitate access into the village in the 1960s.
Type of Government: General law with five-member city council and a city manager.
ZIP Codes: 91361, 91362.
Elevation (at City Hall): 900 feet.
Average Annual Rainfall: 14.38 inches.
Average Annual High Temperature: 75 degrees.
Average Annual low Temperature: 50 degrees
City Hall Information:
Address: 31200 Oak Crest Drive, Westlake Village, CA 91361
Phone Number: 1-818-706-1613
Web site: www.wlv.org
Chambers of Commerce:
Area: Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, Newbury Park
Address: 600 Hampshire Road, Suite 200, Westlake Village, CA 91361
Phone Number: 1-805-370-0035
Web site: www.towlvchamber.org