Ojai, California

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"Ojai" redirects here. For the airport in Amman, Jordan with the airport code OJAI, see Queen Alia International Airport.
City of Ojai
City
Downtown Ojai
Downtown Ojai
Location in Ventura County and the state of California
Location in Ventura County and the state of California
Coordinates: 34°26′57″N 119°14′48″W / 34.44917°N 119.24667°W / 34.44917; -119.24667Coordinates: 34°26′57″N 119°14′48″W / 34.44917°N 119.24667°W / 34.44917; -119.24667
Country  United States
State  California
County Ventura
Incorporated August 5, 1921[1]
Named for Chumash: 'Awha'y ("Moon")[2]
Government
 • Mayor Paul Blatz
 • Senate Hannah-Beth Jackson (D)
 • Assembly Das Williams (D)
 • U. S. Congress Julia Brownley (D)[3]
Area[4]
 • Total 4.401 sq mi (11.398 km2)
 • Land 4.386 sq mi (11.359 km2)
 • Water 0.015 sq mi (0.040 km2)  0.35%
Elevation[5] 745 ft (227 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 7,461
 • Density 1,700/sq mi (650/km2)
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 93023 & 93024
Area code(s) 805
FIPS code 06-53476
GNIS feature ID 1652763[5]
Website www.ci.ojai.ca.us
Ojai Inn, built in 1876. Photo taken in 1880s.
Ojai Arcade, built in 1917 in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. Post Office tower at right.

Ojai (/ˈh/ OH-hy) is a city in Ventura County in the U.S. state of California. Located in the Ojai Valley, it is northwest of Los Angeles and east of Santa Barbara. The valley is about 10 miles (16 km) long by 3 miles (5 km) wide, surrounded by hills and mountains. The population was 7,461 at the 2010 census, down from 7,862 at the 2000 census.

Ojai is a tourism destination with boutique hotels and recreation opportunities including hiking, and spiritual retreats, as well as for a farmers' market on Sundays with local organic agriculture. It also has small businesses specializing in local and ecologically friendly art, design, and home improvement—such as galleries and a solar power company. Chain stores (other than a few gas stations) are prohibited by Ojai city law to encourage local small business development and keep the town unique.

The city's self-styled nickname is "Shangri-La" referencing the natural beauty of this health-and-spirituality-focused region. While there are no known references, it is commonly claimed that the mountains visible from the city were used, but then cut, from the 1937 movie as the mystical sanctuary of James Hilton's novel Lost Horizon.[6]

History[edit]

Chumash[edit]

Chumash Indians were the early inhabitants of the valley. They called it Ojai, which derives from the Ventureño Chumash word ʼawhaý meaning "moon".[7] The area became part of the Rancho Ojai Mexican land grant made to Fernando Tico in 1837, and he established a cattle ranch. Tico sold it in 1853 without much success to prospectors searching for oil. By 1864, the area was settled.

Nordhoff[edit]

The town was laid out in 1874[8] by real estate developer R.G. Surdam and named Nordhoff, California, in honor of the writer Charles Nordhoff. Leading up to and during World War I, American sentiment became increasingly anti-German. Across the United States, German and German-sounding place names were changed. As part of this trend, Nordhoff was renamed Ojai in 1917.[9][10]

The public high school in Ojai is still named Nordhoff High School. The public junior high school, named "Matilija", formerly served as Nordhoff Union High School and still features large tiles with the initials "NUHS" on the steps of the athletic field.

Libbey[edit]

The main turning point in the development of the city was the coming of Edward Libbey, early owner of the Libbey Glass Company. He saw the valley and fell in love, thinking up many plans for expansion and beautification of the existing rustic town.

A fire destroyed much of the original western-style downtown Nordhoff—Ojai in 1917. Afterwards Libbey helped design, finance, and build a new downtown more in line with the then contemporary taste for Spanish Colonial Revival style architecture. The projects included a Spanish-style arcade along the main street, a bell-tower reminiscent of the famous campanile of the Basilica Menor de San Francisco de Asis in Havana, and a pergola opposite the arcade.

To thank Libbey for his gifts to the town, the citizens proposed a celebration to take place on March 2 of each year. Libbey declined their offer to call it "Libbey Day", and instead suggested "Ojai Day". The celebration still takes place each year in October.

The arcade and bell tower still stand, and have come to serve as symbols of the city and the surrounding valley. Libbey's pergola was destroyed in 1971, after being damaged in an explosion. It was rebuilt in the early 2000s to complete the architectural continuity of the downtown area.

The town completed a new park, Cluff Vista Park, in 2002, which contains several small themed regions of California native plants.

Geography[edit]

Ojai is located at 34°26′57″N 119°14′48″W / 34.44917°N 119.24667°W / 34.44917; -119.24667 (34.449079, -119.246654).[11] The city is approximately 745 feet (227 m) above sea level.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.4 square miles (11 km2), of which only 0.35% is water, and the rest is land.

Ojai is situated in a small east-west valley, north of Ventura and east of Santa Barbara. It is approximately 15 miles (24 km) inland from the Pacific Ocean coast. Nordhoff Ridge, the western extension of the Topatopa Mountains, towers over the north side of the town and valley at more than 5,000 feet (1,500 m). Sulphur Mountain creates the southern ranges bounding the Ojai Valley, a little under 3,000 feet (910 m) in elevation. The Sulphur and Topatopa Mountains are part of the Transverse Ranges system.

The Ventura River flows through the Ventura River Valley, draining the mountains surrounding Ojai to the north and east and emptying into the Pacific Ocean at the city of Ventura. The Ventura River was once known for its steelhead fishing before Matilija Dam and Lake Casitas were constructed, eliminating habitat for this trout species.

The climate of Ojai is Mediterranean, characterized by hot, dry summers, sometimes exceeding 100 °F (38 °C), and mild winters, with lows at night sometimes below freezing. As is typical for much of coastal southern California, most precipitation falls in the form of rain between the months of October and April, with intervening dry summers.


Climate data for Ojai, California (1905-2012)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 91
(33)
92
(33)
98
(37)
104
(40)
105
(41)
119
(48)
117
(47)
115
(46)
114
(46)
108
(42)
100
(38)
94
(34)
119
(48)
Average high °F (°C) 66.6
(19.2)
67.9
(19.9)
70.1
(21.2)
74.0
(23.3)
77.4
(25.2)
83.4
(28.6)
90.9
(32.7)
91.5
(33.1)
88.7
(31.5)
82.1
(27.8)
74.7
(23.7)
67.9
(19.9)
77.9
(25.5)
Average low °F (°C) 35.9
(2.2)
38.0
(3.3)
39.9
(4.4)
43.1
(6.2)
46.9
(8.3)
50.3
(10.2)
54.5
(12.5)
54.3
(12.4)
52.1
(11.2)
46.7
(8.2)
40.3
(4.6)
36.4
(2.4)
44.9
(7.2)
Record low °F (°C) 13
(−11)
22
(−6)
25
(−4)
27
(−3)
31
(−1)
34
(1)
40
(4)
40
(4)
37
(3)
27
(−3)
23
(−5)
16
(−9)
13
(−11)
Precipitation inches (mm) 4.92
(125)
4.94
(125.5)
3.53
(89.7)
1.42
(36.1)
.40
(10.2)
.07
(1.8)
.02
(0.5)
.04
(1)
.27
(6.9)
.66
(16.8)
1.82
(46.2)
3.13
(79.5)
21.22
(539.2)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ .01 in) 6 6 6 4 2 1 0 0 1 2 3 5 36
Source: [12]

Demographics[edit]

2010[edit]

The 2010 United States Census[13] reported that Ojai had a population of 7,461. The population density was 1,695.3 people per square mile (654.6/km²). The racial makeup of Ojai was 6,555 (87.9%) White, 42 (0.6%) African American, 47 (0.6%) Native American, 158 (2.1%) Asian, 1 (0.0%) Pacific Islander, 440 (5.9%) from other races, and 218 (2.9%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1,339 persons (17.9%).

The Census reported that 7,281 people (97.6% of the population) lived in households, 48 (0.6%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 132 (1.8%) were institutionalized.

There were 3,111 households, out of which 876 (28.2%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 1,396 (44.9%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 366 (11.8%) had a female householder with no husband present, 128 (4.1%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 151 (4.9%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 25 (0.8%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 992 households (31.9%) were made up of individuals and 496 (15.9%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34. There were 1,890 families (60.8% of all households); the average family size was 2.95.

The population was spread out with 1,520 people (20.4%) under the age of 18, 515 people (6.9%) aged 18 to 24, 1,446 people (19.4%) aged 25 to 44, 2,547 people (34.1%) aged 45 to 64, and 1,433 people (19.2%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 47.1 years. For every 100 females there were 84.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.9 males.

There were 3,382 housing units at an average density of 768.5 per square mile (296.7/km²), of which 1,717 (55.2%) were owner-occupied, and 1,394 (44.8%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.7%; the rental vacancy rate was 5.4%. 4,243 people (56.9% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 3,038 people (40.7%) lived in rental housing units.

2000[edit]

As of the census[14] of 2000, there were 7,862 people, 3,088 households, and 1,985 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,773.0 people per square mile (685.2/km²). There were 3,229 housing units at an average density of 728.2 per square mile (281.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 88.01% White, 0.60% African American, 0.50% Native American, 1.58% Asian, 0.17% Pacific Islander, 6.26% from other races, and 2.90% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 15.84% of the population.

There were 3,088 households out of which 31.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.0% were married couples living together, 11.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.7% were non-families. 29.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 3.06.

In the city, the population was spread out with 24.9% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 23.9% from 25 to 44, 26.8% from 45 to 64, and 17.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 88.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.2 males.

The median income for households in the city was $44,593, and the median income for a family was $52,917. Males had a median income of $40,919 versus $30,821 for females. The per capita income for the city was $25,670. About 7.9% of families and 10.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.9% of those under age 18 and 9.3% of those age 65 or over.

Education[edit]

Dormitory at Besant Hill School
Old Main at the Thacher School

Public schools[edit]

Other schools[edit]

The Ojai Valley is home to several private boarding schools:

The Summer Science Program was formerly hosted at the Besant Hill School (2000–2009) and at The Thacher School (1959–1999).

Libraries[edit]

Public Libraries: Ventura County Library—14 county locations, with three branches in the Ojai Valley:

  • Ojai Library[15]
  • Oak View Library[16]
  • Meiners Oaks Library[17]

Culture[edit]

Bart's bookstore, Ojai

Ojai's culture is heavily focused on ecology, health and organic agriculture, walking/hiking, spirituality, music and local art. It is often seen as a hippie-friendly city, and many New Age shops exist. The benign climate has also fostered subcultures devoted to driving and exhibiting classic cars and there are several motorcycle clubs that regularly tour through Ojai as well. On 8 July 1999 former Apollo astronaut Pete Conrad, one of the twelve men who walked on the moon, died of injuries suffered from a motorcycle accident in Ojai.[18]

The Ojai Music Festival, founded in 1947, is an annual festival of performances by some of the world's top musicians and composers, and occurs on the first weekend after Memorial Day. Notable appearances include Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Pierre Boulez, who was festival director in 2003. The outdoor bookshop Bart's Books, subject of news programs and documentaries, has been in Ojai since 1964. Ojai is home to the annual Ojai Playwrights Conference, a two week playwrights festival that brings professional writers and actors from across the country to Ojai. The community is served by The Ojai and Ventura VIEW, Ojai Valley News and The Ojai Post.

The script for the movie Head was written in Ojai by The Monkees, Jack Nicholson and Bob Rafelson.[19]

In fiction[edit]

Ojai is the setting for the 2010 comedy film Easy A (much of which was shot on location), and for part of Michael Scott's book The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. Ojai is the location of the fruit orchards of the fictional Ojai Foods, central to the conflict and drama of the Walker family in the ABC series Brothers & Sisters.

The title characters of TV series The Bionic Woman and The Six Million Dollar Man (Jaime Sommers and Steve Austin) are described in the series as having been childhood sweethearts in Ojai, and a number of episodes from both series take place in Ojai and its vicinity.

The Psych episode “Neil Simon's Lover's Retreat” was set primarily in Ojai, where Shawn and Juliet are having a romantic weekend.

Ojai is shown in a mile marker in the Steven Seagal movie Hard to Kill after Kelly Lebrock's nurse character rescues him from an assassination attempt at a hospital.

Recreation[edit]

Ojai Valley Museum, 2009

The town of Ojai and its surrounding area is home to many recreational activities. Los Padres National Forest borders the town on the north, and many back country areas within the forest are accessible from Highway 33, the major north–south highway through town. Matilija Creek is a spot to enjoy splashing under waterfalls, backpacking, and soaking in a hot spring. To the west, the Lake Casitas Recreation Area offers camping, picnicking, and hiking as well.

The valley has several public courts in downtown Libbey Park. There are also two major golf courses: the Soule Park Golf Course, and the noted Ojai Valley Inn Golf Course.

Annually, in early April, the town hosts a bicycle race that draws professional and amateur teams from around the country. The "Garrett Lemire Memorial Grand Prix" began in 2004 as a tribute to a 22-year-old cyclist from Ojai who died racing his bicycle in Arizona the previous year. The race is held on a 1 mile (1.6 km) circuit that circumnavigates Libbey Bowl in the heart of downtown Ojai. Proceeds from event promote cycling safety and education in local schools. Also in April, "The Ojai" tennis tournament is held. It is the oldest tennis tournament west of the Mississippi River (founded in the 1887) and has been an early competition for many players who went on to earn one or more Grand Slam titles.[20]

In early June, often coinciding with the Music Festival, the Ojai Wine Festival is held at Lake Casitas. Over 3,000 wine lovers sample the products of over 30 wineries. Proceeds go to charity.

Notable current and past residents[edit]

Tom Neff and Beatrice Wood in Ojai, 1993

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "California Cities by Incorporation Date" (Word). California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions. Retrieved August 25, 2014. 
  2. ^ McCall, Lynne; Perry, Rosalind (2002). California’s Chumash Indians : a project of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Education Center (Revised edition ed.). San Luis Obispo, Calif: EZ Nature Books. ISBN 0936784156. 
  3. ^ "California's 26th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  4. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer File - Places - California". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 12, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Ojai, California
  6. ^ "Visit Ojai" City of Ojai official website. Accessed 28 February 2014
  7. ^ Harrington, John Peabody. The Papers of John Peabody Harrington in the Smithsonian Institution 1907-1957. Kraus International Publications, 1981, 3.89.66-73
  8. ^ "MAP of the town of NORDHOFF" 1 MR 225. Ventura County Recorder Retrieved December 3, 2013 from CountyView GIS.
  9. ^ Meltzer, Betty Kikumi (2005-08-21). "Looking for Charles Nordhoff". Redlands Daily Facts (Redlands, Calif.). 
  10. ^ Wigglesworth, Angela (1998-08-29). "Rediscovering the Lost Horizon: Shangri-la Does Exist - It's in California and It's Idyllic, says Angela Wigglesworth". Financial Times (London (UK)). p. 18. 
  11. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  12. ^ http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/cliMAIN.pl?ca6399
  13. ^ "2010 Census Interactive Population Search: CA - Ojai city". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2014. 
  14. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  15. ^ Ojai Library
  16. ^ Oak View Library
  17. ^ Meiners Oaks Library
  18. ^ Third Man to Walk on Moon Dies in Motorcycle Accident NASA Press Release, 1999-07-09.
  19. ^ Head at the Internet Movie Database
  20. ^ "History" The Ojai Tennis Tournament official Website Accessed 28 February 2014
  21. ^ Beale, Lauren (October 14, 2012) "A place to get away from 'The Office'" Los Angeles Times
  22. ^ Hernandez, Marjorie (September 28, 2011). "Video of resident Ojai taxidermist goes viral" Ventura County Star
  23. ^ "Local Screenwriter Dies". Ventura Breeze. 2011-01-20. Retrieved 2011-01-26. 
  24. ^ [1]
  25. ^ Beale, Lauren (January 18, 2014) "Reese Witherspoon no longer legally bound to Ojai ranch" Los Angeles Times

External links[edit]