Ventura County Cities & Towns
Camarillo (pronounced "kama-ree'o") is a city in Ventura County, California.
The population was 57,077 at the 2000 census. A January 1, 2006, California
Department of Finance estimate lists the population at 64,034.
The Ventura Freeway (U.S. Route 101) is the city's primary thoroughfare.
Camarillo is named for Adolfo Camarillo, one of the few Californios
(pre-1851 California natives of Spanish ancestry) to preserve the city's
heritage after the arrival of Anglo settlers. As with most cities in
Ventura County, it is noted for its resistance to urban sprawl.
Some of the most desirable land in the city limits, located on the
north and south sides of the Ventura Freeway, is permanently zoned
for agricultural use. Recently, however, the city has seen a great deal
of growth that has been decried by some area residents as environmentally
destructive and not well enough planned. However, other residents have
welcomed the much needed new housing and shopping opportunities
this growth has brought, along with new schools and parkland.
It is also home to the Ventura County, California Sheriff's Department
Academy, as well as the department's other assets; such as the VCSD Air Unit,
SWAT Unit, Bomb Squad, and Reserve Officer Academy.
Camarillo is located at 34°13'32?N 119°1'56?W. According to the
United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 19.0 sq mi.
0.04 mi. of the area (0.11%) is water.
Camarillo is located in the eastern Oxnard Plain, with the
Santa Susana Mountains to the north, the Camarillo Hills to the northwest,
the Conejo Valley to the east, and the western reaches of the
Santa Monica Mountains to the south.
As of the census of 2000, there were 57,077 people, 21,438 households,
and 15,242 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,015.3/mi.
There were 21,946 housing units at an average density of 1,159.4/mi.
The racial makeup of the city was 80.66% White, 1.50% African American,
0.52% Native American, 7.23% Asian, 0.20% Pacific Islander,
6.32% from other races, and 3.57% from two or more races.
Hispanic or Latino of any race were 15.54% of the population.
There were 21,438 households out of which 33.0% had children under the
age of 18 living with them, 59.7% were married couples living together,
8.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.9%
were non-families. 24.1% of all households were made up of individuals
and 13.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older.
The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.12.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.3% under the age of 18,
6.5% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 22.7% from 45 to 64, and 17.0%
who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years.
For every 100 females there were 93.9 males. For every 100 females
age 18 and over, there were 90.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $62,457, and the
median income for a family was $72,676 (these figures had risen
to $78,677 and $92,683 respectively as of a 2007 estimate).
Males had a median income of $51,507 versus $36,240 for females.
The per capita income for the city was $28,635. About 3.6% of families
and 5.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.9%
of those under age 18 and 4.6% of those age 65 or over.
Quality of Life
Camarillo and the surrounding area has a temperate and livable climate,
often referred to as a Mediterranean climate. Its location in a coastal
valley brings mild ocean breezes and temperatures in the 70's throughout
most of the year.
An average rainfall of 13 inches occurs primarily from November to February.
The city has over 300 days of sunshine a year and an average humidity of 62%.
Snow has only fallen about 3 times in the last thirty years and is
seldom more than a dusting. Snow is often visible during the winter
months above the 4,000-foot level in the mountains to the north.
The proximity of the ocean sometimes causes morning fog
in the spring and early summer.
Camarillo is primarily a bedroom community made up of large housing tracts,
with elementary schools and small strip malls serving the nearby neighborhoods.
The primary public high schools serving Camarillo are Adolfo Camarillo High School
in Mission Oaks and Rio Mesa High School, just over the Oxnard/Camarillo line.
A new high school near the intersection of Lewis Road and Las Posas Road is planned.
The YMCA recently opened a new facility on Village at the Park Drive, and a new
library was constructed and opened on March 31, 2007.
The incidence of all types of crime committed in the city is far below
the national average. Ventura County crime rates in general are low, and
have fallen in the last 2 years, from 2007 to 2008, according to FBI reports
of cities with 100,000 or greater population.
Many sports leagues, including adult leagues, such as baseball, basketball,
football, and the largest AYSO soccer league west of the Mississippi are
located in Camarillo.
An outdoor in-line hockey rink was recently put into Freedom Park,
near the Camarillo Airport.
At the city's incorporation in 1964, a council-manager form of
government was created. The five member city council is elected
at large for four year terms. As of January 2009 the mayor of
Camarillo is Don Waunch, who also served as mayor in 2004, and has
been a Councilmember since 2000. Mayor Waunch was preceded as
mayor by Charlotte Craven, who has served as mayor five terms,
and has been a council member since 1986.
The council is responsible for establishing policy, enacting laws
and making legal and financial decisions for the city. A city manager,
hired by the council and answerable to it, is responsible for the day
to day operation of the city. He is charged with overall management
of the five city departments and 97 full time employees.
Services such as water, sewer, trash collection, street maintenance
and traffic engineering are provided by a combination of contractors
and city employees.
Police services are provided by the Ventura County Sheriff's
Department under contract to the city, headquartered in a
police station owned by the city. The Sheriff's department
helicopter fleet is hangared at Camarillo Airport.
Ventura County Fire Department provides fire protection,
with four stations within the city limits.
The major source of city funding is sales tax revenue.
The mix of retail and commercial businesses in the city provides
a stable tax base. The recent addition of a Factory Outlet Center
and a new shopping center has added to the sales tax revenues.
The Chumash Indians were the first known settlers in what is now known
as Ventura County. Fishermen built their villages along the Pacific Coast
near the mouths of the Calleguas Creek and Santa Clara River. Artifacts
from their settlements are on display in the Ventura County Historical
Museum and their paintings are still visible on canyon walls
and in caves in the area.
The Portuguese navigator Juan Cabrillo, while exploring the Pacific coast
for the king of Spain, came upon the Chumash in an area near Point Mugu.
He explored the surrounding region and claimed it in the name of Spain
in 1542. Cabrillo was followed in 1602 by Sebastian Viscaino on a mapping
expedition for the King of Spain.
The Chumash continued to inhabit the coast until 1768 when Russians,
having established a settlement 800 miles to the north,
launched expeditions challenging the Spanish land claims.
In the 1700s the Spanish began settling California and built the first
of what would become a chain of 21 missions in San Diego.
Father Junípero Serra establish the ninth mission in Ventura in 1782
bringing more settlers to the area and exposing the Indians who had
settled around the mission to many European diseases to which they
had no immunity. Their numbers diminished until the Chumash, once the
largest Indian nation in California, had largely vanished by 1839.
By the early 1820s, Mexico had gained independence from Spain and shortly
afterward California allied itself with Mexico. The Mexican land grant system
was liberalized in 1824 resulting in many large grants in California and
the proliferation of Ranchos north of the border. One grant to Jose Pedro Ruiz
created Rancho Calleguas in 1837, in the area that is now Camarillo.
The grant was later sold to Juan Camarillo and it was his sons,
Adolfo and Juan, who are credited with the founding of the town
that was to bear their name. The earlier proposed name of Calleguas
was rejected as too difficult to pronounce.
At about same time the town of Springville had begun to form just
to the west of the emerging town of Camarillo but when the Southern
Pacific railroad was built and chose Camarillo as the location
for a depot, Springville's existence was threatened. It is now
only a dot on the map in an area south of the freeway at the
western end of the current Camarillo city limits.
St. John's Seminary
Don Juan Camarillo donated 100 acres to be used as a seminary
to be named in honor of Saint John the Evangelist. The Roman
Catholic seminary was founded in 1927 as St. John's Seminary.
Camarillo's growth was slow from founding through World War II.
In the late 1940s building lots on Ventura Boulevard, the main
downtown street, were being offered for $450 and home lots on the
adjoining streets were $250, with few buyers. Travel to and from
Los Angeles was difficult, owing to the narrow, tortuous road
climbing the Conejo Grade to the east of the city.
The main industry during this period was agriculture, and the area
surrounding the small town was blanketed with orange, lemon and
walnut groves. The State Mental hospital south of the town was the
largest employer. A few houses had sprung up to the north and south
of town center.
The Oxnard Airforce Base, built during WWII to the west of town,
the Navy Facility at Point Mugu and the Seabee base at Port Hueneme
brought many service personnel to the area, but there was little
private industry or other sources of non-agricultural employment.
In the middle 1950s the Ventura Freeway, which bisected the town,
was completed from L.A. to points north making it an easy
one hour trip to Camarillo.
The freeway was originally planned to follow the path of Potrero Road,
south of Camarillo, which would have competely by-passed the
soon to be city. However, after much debate, "city officials"
persuaded Cal Trans to lay the freeway parallel to Ventura Blvd,
creating the infamously steep decent from the Santa Monica
Mountain Range, known as the Conejo Grade.
The completion of the freeway facilitated the growth that followed.
In 1962 the population was 7500 and 3M began construction for the
Mincom and Magnetic Tape Divisions, which would ultimately
employ 900 people, becoming the largest local employer.
Housing tracts were built where orchards once stood.
House prices were $14,000 to $65,000.
Incorporation in 1964
At this time plans were made for the incorporation of the city in to
control the rapid expansion. Camarillo became a city in 1964 and soon
put into place a General Plan and building codes that were to lead to
an attractive city environment. In 1964 the closest traffic signal
was 2 miles from the City center on the road to Point Mugu,
and the first shopping center and supermarket were under construction.
Much of the city was expected to be developed to the south of
Ventura Blvd, however it was to the north that the new city grew,
and the land south of Ventura Blvd remains reserved for agricultural
use to this day.
Many of the home buyers during the 1960s were military veterans,
who had been stationed at one of the local bases during their service.
The temperate climate and the living conditions lured them back.
With the establishment of both the Pacific Missile Range and the
Naval Civil Engineering Laboratory at Port Hueneme many found
employment that utilized their military training.
Other newcomers were those who worked and lived in the
San Fernando Valley and were willing to endure the commute
for the opportunity to raise their families in a smog-free,
semirural environment. Still others relocated here with their
employers, like 3M, and Harbor Freight Tools who built facilities
in and around the city to take advantage of the large workforce.
Camarillo State Hospital & CSUCI
Camarillo State Mental Hospital and
California State University, Channel Islands
Camarillo State Mental Hospital was established near the city
in the 1930s so that persons suffering from mental illnesses or
tuberculosis could recover in Ventura County's balmy climate.
Jazzman Charlie Parker's "Relaxin' at Camarillo," written while
he was detoxing from heroin addiction, is a tribute to the facility.
The song "Camarillo" by punk outfit Fear is also written
about the facility. The band Ambrosia released a song called
"Ready for Camarillo" on their 1978 Life Beyond L.A. album.
"Ready for Camarillo" also appeared as the single B side of their
hit "How Much I Feel."
Perhaps the most famous song associated with the facility
was "Hotel California," by The Eagles, which is widely rumored
to be about lead singer Don Henley's brother's struggles to
overcome a mental disorder.
The former hospital is the now the site of California State University,
Channel Islands. The University has retained the distinctive Mission
Revival Style architecture bell tower in the South quad.
The band Brazzaville released a video called "Camarillo" in 2007,
with mental hospital like imagery and lyrics concerning lead singer
David Brown's relative's stay in the institution.
Frank Zappa famously, and perhaps deliberately, mispronounced
the city's name in the song Camarillo Brillo, also about a stay
in the institution, but in this case to get clean.
The Camarillo State Hospital was closed in the 1990s and
remained vacant until the site was converted into California
State University, Channel Islands (CSUCI). CSUCI officially
opened in August of 2002 and is now accredited by the WASC.
Mission Oaks is the name given by developer Pardee Homes to
a 1,312 acre (2.05 square mile) parcel of land located in
the north-eastern portion of the city. This parcel was developed
as a planned community over the span of 35 years, and was completed
in October 2004, The area developed by Pardee Homes makes up
approximately 15% of Camarillo's total land. Due to the
decades-long timescale of the project, many residents are
unaware of Mission Oaks' proprietary nature, and the area
east of Lewis Road (State Route 34), south of Somis and north
of the 101 Freeway is generally thought of as Mission Oaks
regardless of which company built the buildings in the area.
Camarillo Premium Outlets
In the mid 1990s multiple large retail centers, including
one of California's biggest outlet malls and movie theater
were built south of US 101 and west of Carmen Drive.
These new retail centers have provided a large influx of
cash to the city; from 1993 to 1998 sales tax revenues
nearly doubled from approximately $3.5 million to
approximately $6.5 million. On April 23, 2009, several
new shops and restaurants opened at the Camarillo Premium
Outlets, designated "The Promenade." The Promenade
is 220,000 square feet, while the Premium Outlets is 454,000.
The new center has 45 stores and restaurants, bringing
the total to about 160.
Camarillo Airport (ICAO: KCMA, FAA LID: CMA) is a public airport
located three miles west of the central business district of Camarillo.
The airport has one runway and exclusively serves privately-operated
general aviation and executive aircraft with no scheduled commercial service.
The Airport was originally established in 1942 when the California
State Highway Department constructed an auxiliary landing field with
a 5,000 ft runway, which was later extended to 8,000 ft in 1951 to
accommodate what by then had developed into Oxnard Air Force Base.
The airport runway was further extended in 1959 to accommodate
jet fighter aircraft such as the Northrop F-89 and McDonnell F-101B,
used as part of the Los Angeles area Air Defense network.
In Mid-1960s the base received 17 new F-106 Delta Darts.
On January 1 1970, Oxnard AFB was deactivated and the base became
surplus property. Oxnard had 99 Officers and 990 enlisted assigned
prior to its closing. The last commanding officer of the 414th
Fighter Group was Colonel Paul D. Cofer.
Camarillo Airport now serves as the current base of operations
of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department Aviation Unit and the
home of the VCSD's Training Facility and Academy, the Ventura County
Criminal Justice Training Center. The Camarillo Airport also serves
as the base of operations for the Ventura County Fire Department
and facilitates the Oxnard College Regional Fire Academy and the
Ventura County Reserve Officers Training Center.
Camrosa or Santa Rosa area
A rural region northeast of Camarillo, California may be
referred to as Santa Rosa or Camrosa. Camrosa is believed
to be a contraction of Camarillo and Santa Rosa.
The area includes just over a five mile distance along
Santa Rosa Road from the city limit east to Moorpark Road.
The area is unincorporated as of 2007. Wired telephone service
to the area appears to come from the Camarillo telephone exchange.
This page was last updated January 22, 2010.