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Agoura Hills is a city in Los Angeles County, California, and has the ZIP code 91301. The population was 20,537 at the 2000 census. It is located in the eastern Conejo Valley between the Simi Hills and the Santa Monica Mountains. This city on the Ventura Freeway (U.S. Route 101) straddles the border between the county of Los Angeles to the east, west and south and Ventura County to the north. It is approximately 30 miles northwest of Downtown Los Angeles and less than 10 miles west of the Los Angeles City limits (Woodland Hills). Agoura Hills and unincorporated Agoura are also situated next to Calabasas, Malibu, Oak Park, and Westlake Village.
The area was first settled by the Chumash Native Americans around 10,000 years before present. As the Alta California (Upper California) coast was settled by Spanish Franciscan missionaries in the late 1700s, 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 can still be found today in a museum along Reyes Adobe Rd. in central Agoura Hills. The historic Reyes Adobe Museum, owned by the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department, was built in the mid-2000s around the site of the old adobe.
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 its own the residents were required to choose a one word name, and in 1927 chose 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 and styled himself Don Pierre Agoure, accordingly. Agoure was a successful sheep herder and had a reputation as a swashbuckler. His name was chosen for the post office as it was the shortest name proposed.
Rapid growth occurred in the Agoura Hills area starting in the late 1960s, in the wake of the construction of the Ventura Freeway section of U.S. Route 101 through the city's heart, an action that isolated the northern half of the city from the south. The first housing tracts started in Agoura were Hillrise, Liberty Canyon and Lake Lindero. Growth continued at a rapid pace during the 1970s. Schools were built and much of downtown was erected.
In 1978, residents of the Agoura Hills area banded together to lobby Sacramento to widen the Kanan Bridge. Legislation was introduced and 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 of the City of Agoura Hills voted in favor of cityhood by a 68% majority. Agoura Hills became 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 with the county's failure to limit residential development of the area, motives that influenced Malibu and Calabasas to follow suit in 1991.
The 1980s was a period of tremendous growth, with large land areas being subdivided into housing tracts and a great wave of migration of people into the city. In the 1990s numerous businesses also set up shop in the city, and the downtown area was filled with shops and restaurants.
In 1996, however, the murder of Jimmy Farris (the infamous Brandon Hein case) shook the city and awakened it to a rising drug problem and petty theft crime wave among its young. As a result, the city began sponsoring live music competitions and concerts in local parks (see Music).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 21.2 km² (8.2 mi²). 21.2 km² (8.2 mi²) of it is land and 0.1 km² (0.04 mi²) of it (0.37%) is water
Agoura Hills has a mountain called Ballard Mountain named after pioneer settler and freed slave John Ballard. The name of the mountain was officially changed from Negrohead to Ballard in a ceremony on Feb. 20, 2010.
Agoura Hills is called the "Gateway to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area". The city is unofficially divided into a number of varied districts centered on the modern Downtown area of the city. The most notable of these districts include Downtown, Forest Cove, South End, Malibu Junction, East Agoura, and Old Agoura.
Natural areas of Agoura Hills are part of the California chaparral and woodlands ecoregion and are covered by hundreds of local plant species, some of which are very rare, and others of which have become popular ornamentals. The range is host to an immense variety of wildlife, from mountain lions to the endangered steelhead. The Mountain lion population within the Santa Monica Mountains (which includes the Simi Hills & Santa Susana Pass) is severely depleted with only 7 known living adult individuals. The primary cause of the decline is due to a combination of traffic related mortality (3 from the area were killed within a matter of months,) anti-coagulants ingested from human poisoned prey (2 individuals within the Simi Hills) and attacks by other, more dominant mountain lions (an elder male, known as P1, killed both his son and his mate, this is though to be due to a lack of space available.) Snakes are common but only occasionally seen- the Southern Pacific Rattlesnake (the only venomous species), Mountain Kingsnake, California Kingsnake, Gopher snake, and Garter snake. The mountains are also home to the Western fence lizard.
In 2010, the Los Angeles Times reported that the New Zealand mud snail had infested watersheds in the Santa Monica Mountains, posing serious threats to native species and complicating efforts to improve stream-water quality for the endangered steelhead trout. According to the article, the snails have expanded "from the first confirmed sample in Medea Creek in Agoura Hills to nearly 30 other stream sites in four years." Researchers at the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission believe that the snails' expansion may have been expedited after the mollusks traveled from stream to stream on the gear of contractors and volunteers.
Agoura Hills is known regionally for its live music scene and artistic originality in the nu metal scene, a fame that has given rise to such top acts as Linkin Park, Incubus, Hoobastank and Fort Minor
This music scene was born amid the coming of age of the children of the first wave of migration into Agoura Hills, those that settled in the 1960s. The 1980s was the first boom in the music scene, but by the late 80s, as many of these original rockers moved off to college or aged, the scene quietly began to slip away.
However, in the mid-1990s the music scene began to take off again, energized by the coming of age of the children of those who had settled in the early 1980s. The 1996 Jimmy Farris murder case (popularized by defendant Brandon Hein) spurred many city leaders to action in promoting the arts among teenagers, hoping to ward off a rising crime wave. This patronage helped re-popularize live music among teenagers, and created the fertile ground that led to the take off of Linkin Park and Hoobastank.
However, by the 2000s, much of this wave of teenagers had aged or gone to college, leaving the scene with only a shell of the energy it once had. Although the scene lives on, pushed forward by various Battle of the Bands competitions and garage concerts, the lack of a third major wave of migration to Agoura Hills (construction having been relatively maxed out in the second migration) makes a major renaissance seem doubtful as of early 2007. Demographic data suggests a possible resurgence within the coming years, but current data shows that the majority of young people in the city are in the 10-14 age group, leaving a comeback to some years in the future. With mean house prices in Agoura at $1.03 million, families with younger children (age 0-9) are probably not expected for a generation.
As a result of this decline, it has become equally common to hear alt-rock blaring from stereos in Agoura as to hear reggaeton, a fact evidenced by radio station Latino 96.3's advertising campaign and runaway popularity in Agoura Hills.
Agoura Hills is home to The Canyon Club, a highly regarded concert venue that hosts national and regional touring acts such as Peter Frampton, REO Speedwagon, X, Steel Pulse, The New Cars, Asia, Boys II Men, Alan Parsons, and The Smithereens.
Agoura Hills, once a relatively homogeneous town, has in recent years become more diverse, both racially and socially. Having grown 10.8% in the 2000–2005 period, Agoura Hills today boasts a Hispanic population (6.9%, or 1407 people) and a highly visible Iranian population (1.7%, or 349 people). Evidencing this phenomenon is the growth of various ethnic restaurants in the city, especially in Lake Lindero and Downtown. A highly visible Jewish population is also present in the city, as businesses cater to this group can be found in Downtown and a regional synagogue is located in southern Lake Lindero.
As of the census of 2000, there were 20,537 people, 6,874 households, and 5,588 families residing in the city. The population density was 969.4/km² (2,511.8/mi²). There were 6,993 housing units at an average density of 330.1/km² (855.3/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 86.96% White, 1.32% Black or African American, 0.25% Native American, 6.50% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 2.09% from other races, and 2.78% from two or more races. 6.85% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 6,874 households out of which 47.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 67.7% were married couples living together, 9.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 18.7% were non-families. 13.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.98 and the average family size was 3.30.
In the city the population was spread out with 30.5% under the age of 18, 6.3% from 18 to 24, 27.6% from 25 to 44, 29.4% from 45 to 64, and 6.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 99.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.0 males.
According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the city was $108,862, and the median income for a family was $127,811. Males had a median income of $72,081 versus $42,656 for females. The per capita income for the city was $39,700. About 2.8% of families and 3.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.8% of those under age 18 and 2.9% of those age 65 or over. More than half of the population over the age of 15 has a college degree, and 81% of residents qualify as white-collar workers.
Of 7,660 females that are at least 16 years old, 4,865 are in the Civilian Labor Group and 0 are in the Armed Forces. 4,715 are employed, and 150 are unemployed.
Of 10,166 out of the 10,285 workers 16 years or older, 8,454 drive to work alone in a motor vehicle, 793 carpool, 90 use public transportation (including taxicabs), 76 walk, and 82 use other means of transportation to commute to work. 671 workers work at home.
The mean time to commute to work (one-way) is 30.5 minutes.
In the state legislature Agoura Hills is located in the 23rd Senate District, represented by Democrat Fran Pavley, and in the 41st Assembly District, represented by Democrat Julia Brownley. Federally, Agoura Hills is located in California's 30th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +20 and is represented by Democrat Henry Waxman.
In the 2004 presidential election John Kerry won 52% of the vote, whereas George W. Bush won 46% of the vote. In the 2006 state governor election, Arnold Schwarzenegger got just over 62% of the vote, while Democratic opponent Phil Angelides got over 34%.
The Las Virgenes Unified School District serves Agoura Hills.
Notable current and former residents of Agoura Hills include:
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