About the Westlake Village Area
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. It is also the headquarters of the Dole Food Company.
The western portion of Westlake Village is a community, within the city limits of Thousand Oaks, in Ventura County. Built across the county line as a planned development, residents recognize that the community of Westlake Village is not limited to the incorporated city in Los Angeles County, but encompassing the entire area surrounding the lake.
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.
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
, and various episodes of Tarzan
, Buck Rogers
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.
Dole Food Company is headquartered in Westlake Village. In 1994 Dole announced that it would finalize its plans to build its world headquarters on a 30-acre (120,000 m2
) site owned by the company, located north of the Ventura Freeway in Westlake Village. K-Swiss, Guitar Center, ValueClick, and Ryland Homes also have their headquarters in Westlake Village. There is also a Four Seasons Hotel located next to the Dole campus.