Ventura County is part of the Greater Los Angeles Area, located on California's Pacific coast. As of the 2000 census the county had a population of 753,197. Its county seat is Ventura.
For thousands of years, the area was home to the Chumash tribe of Native Americans.
In 1782, the Mission San Buenaventura was founded. Buenaventura is composed of two Spanish words, buena meaning "good" and ventura meaning "fortune." The town that grew up around the mission is named San Buenaventura, which came to be known as Ventura.
Ventura County was formed from the southern part of Santa Barbara County in 1872.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Ventura County surged to the forefront of the smart growth movement through a series of voter initiatives that barred development on large swaths of open space surrounding its cities. These measures have limited sprawl, allowing the county to maintain its status as one of California's leading agricultural areas and limiting air pollution in its narrow valleys. However, residents' unwillingness to embrace greater population density has led to a severe housing shortage, to the extent that in 2004, the county's new housing bureau chief resigned due to his inability to purchase a home in the county on his $80,000 salary. As is the case in many areas of California, the struggle to meet the demand for housing while preserving its rural character dominates the county's politics.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 5,719 km˛ (2,208 mi˛). 4,779 km˛ (1,845 mi˛) of it is land and 940 km˛ (363 mi˛) of it is water. The total area is 16.43% water. Anacapa Island of Channel Islands National Park and San Nicolas Island are located in the county.
Most of the population of Ventura County lives in the southern half, including those in Conejo Valley.
North of Highway 126 the county is mountainous and mostly uninhabited, and contains some of the most pristine, rugged and inaccessible wilderness remaining in southern California. Most of this land is in the Los Padres National Forest, and includes the Chumash Wilderness in the northernmost portion, adjacent to Kern County.
The highest peaks in the county include Mount Pinos (8831', 2697 m), Frazier Mountain (8017', 2444 m), and Reyes Peak (7525', 2294 m), all in the Transverse Ranges (Pinos and Frazier Mountain are sometimes assigned to the Tehachapis). The uplands are well-timbered with coniferous forests, and receive plentiful snow in the winter.
Mount Pinos is sacred to the Chumash Indians. It is known to them as Iwihinmu, and was considered to be the center of the universe; being the highest peak in the vicinity, it has a spectacular view, unimpeded in three directions.
The Santa Clara River is the principal waterway. Lake Casitas, an artificial reservoir, is the largest body of water.
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 753,197 people, 243,234 households, and 182,911 families residing in the county. The population density is 158/km˛ (408/mi˛). There are 251,712 housing units at an average density of 53/km˛ (136/mi˛). The racial makeup of the county is 69.93% White, 5.35% Asian, 1.95% Black or African American, 0.94% Native American, 0.22% Pacific Islander, 17.68% from other races, and 3.93% from two or more races. Over a third (33.42%) of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 243,234 households out of which 39.70% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.50% are married couples living together, 10.90% have a female householder with no husband present, and 24.80% are non-families. 18.90% of all households are made up of individuals and 7.40% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 3.04 and the average family size is 3.46.
In the county the population is spread out with 28.40% under the age of 18, 9.00% from 18 to 24, 30.70% from 25 to 44, 21.70% from 45 to 64, and 10.20% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 99.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 97.50 males.
The median income for a household in the county is $59,666, and the median income for a family is $65,285. Males have a median income of $45,310 versus $32,216 for females. The per capita income for the county is $24,600. 9.20% of the population and 6.40% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 11.60% of those under the age of 18 and 6.30% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
- Port Hueneme
- Santa Paula
- Simi Valley
- Thousand Oaks
- Ventura (San Buenaventura)
Towns and other communities
- Casa Conejo
- Channel Islands Beach
- El Rio
- La Conchita
- Lake Sherwood
- Meiners Oaks
- Mira Monte
- Newbury Park
- Oak Park
- Oak View
- Point Mugu
- Westlake Village
- Official website (http://www.countyofventura.org/)
- News from Ventura County (http://www.insidevc.com/vcs/county_news/0,1375,VCS_226,00.html), from the Ventura County Star website
- News from Ventura County (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/ventura/), from the Los Angeles Times website
- The Ventura County Reporter (http://www.vcreporter.com/), a weekly newspaper
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