The area was first settled by the Chumash Native Americans around 10,000 years ago. As the Alta California (Upper California) coast was settled by Spanish Franciscan missionaries in the late 18th century, the El Camino Real (the Royal Road or King’s Highway), a road from Loreto, Baja California, Mexico to Sonoma, California, and connecting the Spanish missions in California, was established through the heart of what would later be known as Agoura Hills.
In about 1800, Miguel Ortega was granted a Spanish grazing concession called Rancho Las Virgenes or El Rancho de Nuestra Señora La Reina de Las Virgenes. The grant was abandoned after Ortega’s death in 1810, and José Maria Dominguez was given Rancho Las Virgenes as a Mexican land grant in 1834. Maria Antonia Machado de Reyes purchased the rancho from Dominguez in 1845. (The “Reyes Adobe” ranch headquarters sits today in central Agoura Hills, where it is part of the Reyes Adobe Museum built around 2004 and owned by the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department.)
By 1900, Agoura Hills was being used as a popular stage stop for travelers along the Camino Real because of its natural spring at the foothills of Ladyface Mountain, one of Agoura Hills’ defining geographic features.
In the 1920s, the community was briefly known as Picture City, as Paramount Pictures owned a ranch in the area used for filming Westerns. To obtain a post office of their own, the residents were required to choose a one-word name, and in 1927 chose the shortest name proposed: a misspelling of the last name of Pierre Agoure, a local Basque man and French immigrant who had settled in the area in 1871 to live the lifestyle of the Mexican rancher. Styling himself Don Pierre Agoure, he was a successful sheep herder and had a reputation as a swashbuckler.
Agoura Hills started to grow within the late 1960s after the Ventura Freeway portion of U.S. Route 101 was built with the city’s heart, isolating its northern half from the south. The first housing tracts in Agoura were Hillrise, Liberty Canyon and Lake Lindero. Rapid growth continued through the 1970s, when schools were built and most of downtown was built.
In 1978, residents from the Agoura Hills area banded together to lobby Sacramento to widen the Kanan Bridge. Legislation was passed requiring the State Department of Transportation to award contracts for widening of the Kanan Road bridge overpass, over the Ventura Freeway, from two lanes to four lanes.
In 1982, the residents with the City of Agoura Hills voted in support of cityhood with a 68% majority. Agoura Hills took over as the 83rd City in Los Angeles County. Elected to the first City Council were Mayor Fran Pavley, Mayor Pro Tem Carol Sahm, Councilmembers Ernest Dynda, John Hood and Vicky Leary. Incorporating a year after neighboring Westlake Village, the drive for cityhood in the region was largely based on public discontent while using county’s failure to limit residential development from the area, motives that influenced Malibu and Calabasas to follow suit in 1991.
The 1980s would be a period of tremendous growth, with large land areas being subdivided into housing tracts and a great wave of migration of folks into the city. In the 1990s, numerous businesses create shop inside the city, and downtown filled with shops and restaurants.
According to the City’s 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
|#||Employer||# of Employees|
|1||Bank of America||1,153|
|2||Las Virgenes Unified School District||482|
|5||Farmers Financial Solutions||200|
|8||Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill||162|
A extensive list of Ventura County employers is available here.