Simi Valley Community Information
Simi Valley is an incorporated city located in a valley of the same name in the southeast corner of Ventura County, California, bordering the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles in the Greater Los Angeles Area. According to the United States Bureau of the Census, the city had a population of 124,237 in 2010 up from 111,351 in 2000.
Simi Valley is presently known as the home of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where the former president was laid to rest following his death in 2004. The city received media attention as the location of the 1992 trial resulting in the acquittal of four Los Angeles Police officers accused of assaulting Rodney King, triggering riots in Los Angeles and elsewhere. The town sits adjacent to the site of America's first significant nuclear accident, at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in 1959.
The city of Simi Valley is surrounded by the Santa Susana Mountain range and the Simi Hills, west of the San Fernando Valley and east of the Conejo Valley. It is largely a commuter bedroom community feeding the larger cities in Ventura County to the west and the Los Angeles area and the San Fernando Valley to the east.
Simi Valley repeatedly appears on Safest Cities in America lists.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 42.4 square miles. 41.5 square miles of it is land and 0.8 square miles of it is water. The total area is 1.81% water.
Simi Valley is located 3 miles north of the city of Los Angeles' Border community of Chatsworth and 40 miles from Downtown Los Angeles, 380 miles south of San Francisco, 160 miles north of San Diego, and 350 miles south of Sacramento. Commutes to Los Angeles are usually via the Ronald Reagan Freeway (Highway 118) or the Southern California Metrolink commuter train, which makes several daily trips from Simi Valley.
Simi Valley borders the Santa Susana Mountains to the north, Simi Hills to the east and south. Simi Valley is connected to the nearby San Fernando Valley by the Santa Susana Pass in the extreme east of Simi Valley.
The 2010 United States Census reported that Simi Valley had a population of 124,237. The population density was 2,940.8 people per square mile. The racial makeup of Simi Valley was 93,597 (75.3%) White, 1,739 (1.4%) African American, 761 (0.6%) Native American, 11,555 (9.3%) Asian, 178 (0.1%) Pacific Islander, 10,685 (8.6%) from other races, and 5,722 (4.6%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 28,938 persons (23.3%).
The Census reported that 123,577 people (99.5% of the population) lived in households, 482 (0.4%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 178 (0.1%) were institutionalized.
There were 41,237 households, out of which 16,765 (40.7%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 24,824 (60.2%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 4,659 (11.3%) had a female householder with no husband present, 2,214 (5.4%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 1,975 (4.8%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 291 (0.7%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 7,087 households (17.2%) were made up of individuals and 3,013 (7.3%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.00. There were 31,697 families (76.9% of all households); the average family size was 3.33.
The population was spread out with 31,036 people (25.0%) under the age of 18, 11,088 people (8.9%) aged 18 to 24, 33,890 people (27.3%) aged 25 to 44, 35,046 people (28.2%) aged 45 to 64, and 13,177 people (10.6%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37.8 years. For every 100 females there were 96.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.4 males.
There were 42,506 housing units at an average density of 1,006.1 per square mile, of which 30,560 (74.1%) were owner-occupied, and 10,677 (25.9%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.2%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.6%. 93,181 people (75.0% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 30,396 people (24.5%) lived in rental housing units.
As of the census of 2000, there are 111,351 people, 36,421 households, and 28,954 families residing in the city. There are 37,272 housing units. The racial makeup of the city is 81.33% White, 1.26% Black or African American, 0.70% Native American, 6.33% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 6.50% from other races, and 3.74% from two or more races. 16.82% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 36,421 households out of which 42.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.9% are married couples living together, 10.7% have a female householder with no husband present, and 20.5% are non-families. 14.7% of all households are made up of individuals and 4.9% 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 3.33.
In the city the population is spread out with 28.4% under the age of 18, 7.9% from 18 to 24, 32.9% from 25 to 44, 23.1% from 45 to 64, and 7.6% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 35 years. For every 100 females there are 97.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 95.6 males.
According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the city is $88,406, and the median income for a family is $91,658. 10.2% of the population and 7.4% of families are below the poverty line.
Simi Valley's government uses the "Council-Manager" form of government. This means that the city council is composed of one mayor, elected every two years, and four council members elected for four year terms. The city council appoints both the city attorney and city manager, who heads the executive branch of the city government. The city manager appoints the various department heads for the city, and acts as the city clerk and city treasurer.
According to the city’s most recent Comprehensive Annual Financial Report Fund Financial Statements, the city’s various funds had $89.3 million in Revenues, $86.3 million in expenditures, $139.9 million in total assets, $26.1 million in total liabilities, and $158.5 million in investments.
The city operates its own police department, and contracts with the Ventura County Fire Department to provide fire protection services. There are five fire stations within Simi Valley, and the city recently built a state-of-the-art police station. American Medical Response, in conjunction with Ventura County Fire Dept, provide Emergency Medical Services at the ALS level.
In the state legislature Simi Valley is located in the 19th Senate District, represented by Republican Tony Strickland, and it is located in the 37th and 38th Assembly Districts, represented by Republicans Audra Strickland and Cameron Smyth.
Simi Valley was ranked the 18th most conservative city in the country in 2005 by GovPro.com.
Simi Valley was once inhabited by Chumash Indians, who also settled much of the region from the Salinas Valley to the Santa Monica Mountains, with their presence dating back 10,000-12,000 years. Around 5,000 years ago these tribes began processing acorns, and harvesting local marshland plants. Roughly 2,000 years later, as hunting and fishing techniques improved, the population increased significantly. Shortly after this sharp increase a precious stone money system arose, increasing the viability of the region by offsetting fluctuations in available resources relating to climate changes. Simi Valley's name is said to originate from the Chumash word Shimiyi, which refers to the stringy, thread-like clouds that typify the region.
Colonial rancho and town
Rancho Simi, also known as Rancho San José de Nuestra Senora de Altagarcia y Simi, was a 113,009-acre Spanish land grant in eastern Ventura and western Los Angeles counties given in 1795 to Francisco Javier Pico and his two brothers, Patricio Pico and Miguel Pico by Governor Diego de Borica. Rancho Simi was the earliest Spanish colonial land grant within Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. The name derives from Shimiji, the name of the Chumash Native American village here before the Spanish.It was one of the largest lands, but later when Mexico became independent from Spain, land was handed out much more freely. The Simi Adobe-Strathearn House, later the home of Robert P. Strathearn, served as the headquarters of the rancho.
José de la Guerra y Noriega, a Captain of the Santa Barbara Presidio, who had begun to acquire large amounts of land in California to raise cattle, purchased Rancho Simi from the Pico family in 1842. A few years after Jose de la Guerra’s death in 1858, the rancho was sold to the Philadelphia and California Petroleum Company headed by Pennsylvania Railroad president, Thomas A. Scott. When no great amount of oil was discovered, Scott began to sell the rancho. In 1887, a portion of the rancho was bought by a newly formed company, the Simi Land and Water Company. The small colonial town known as "Santa Susana del Rancho Simi" thrived in the late 19th century and had a Spanish-speaking majority, but many Anglo-Americans arrived to settle lands into farms, orchards and groves dominated the valley's landscape until the 1970s.
For a brief time, its postal address was known as Simiopolis, though it was soon shortened again to Simi by 1910. The first public school was built in 1890 in the northeast but was torn down in 1926. There was also a great deal of destruction caused by a flood in 1952. The city incorporated as Simi Valley in 1969, when the area had only 10,000 residents. In 1972, Boys Town West was founded in the eastern end of Simi Valley. The youth camp/home facility is based on an older larger one in Boys Town, Nebraska.
Nuclear Accident at SSFL
The Santa Susana Field Laboratory operated in the Simi Hills beginning in 1948, conducting both nuclear development and rocket development. For nearly forty seven years, the Santa Susana Field Laboratory was operated by Atomics International and Rocketdyne (originally both divisions of North American Aviation). The Rocketdyne division developed a variety of liquid rocket engines, and the site conducted rocket engine tests which were frequently heard in Simi Valley. The Atomics International division of North American Aviation operated a section of the Field Laboratory where they built the Sodium Reactor Experiment, the first United States nuclear reactor to supply electricity to a public power system in 1957. The Sodium Reactor Experiment operated until the 1959 reactor core breach incident, then was restarted in 1960 and operated until 1964.
In July 1959, the Sodium Reactor Experiment located at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory suffered a serious incident causing damage to the reactor and the controlled release of radioactive gas to the atmosphere. The reactor was repaired and returned to operation in September, 1960. The incident at the Sodium Reactor Experiment has been a source of controversy in the community. Technical analysis of the incident intended to support a lawsuit against the current landowner (The Boeing Company) asserts the incident caused the much greater release of radioactivity than the accident at Three Mile Island. Boeing's technical response concludes the monitoring conducted at the time of the incident shows only the allowable amount of radioactive gasses were released, and a Three Mile Island-scale release was not possible. The case was settled, reportedly with a large payment by Boeing. In September 2009, The U.S. Department of Energy sponsored a public workshop where three nuclear reactor experts shared their independent analysis of the July, 1959 incident. The last nuclear reactor operated at SSFL in 1980.
The Santa Susana Field Laboratory includes sites identified as historic by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and by the American Nuclear Society.
The Santa Susana Field Laboratory also hosted the Energy Technology Engineering Center. The center performed research and development of liquid metal reactor components for the United States Department of Energy from 1965 until 1998. The Field Laboratory and Engineering Center have been closed since the 1990s, and have been undergoing the decontamination and decommissioning of the nuclear facilities, site cleanup of soil and groundwater, and site restoration by the Department of Energy.
Rodney King trial
On November 27, 1991, Judge Stanley Weisberg of the California Court of Appeals selected Simi Valley as the venue for the case against four officers of the Los Angeles Police Department. The officers (Stacey Koon, Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind, and Theodore Brisenio) were accused of using unnecessary force in a March 3, 1991 beating of an African-American motorist "Rodney" Glen King. The case known as the Rodney King Trial was based on footage recorded on home video by a bystander (George Holliday). The now famous video was broadcast nationally and caused tremendous response because the beating was believed to be racially motivated. Selecting Simi Valley as a venue for the trial is believed to be motivated by the predominantly white ethnic make-up of the city at the time.
On April 29, 1992 a Ventura County jury acquitted three of the four officers (Koon, Wind, and Brisenio) and did not reach a verdict on one (Powell). Many believed that the unexpected outcome was a result of the racial and social make-up of the jury, which, reflecting the area's population demographic, included ten whites, one Filipino, and one Hispanic. None were Simi Valley residents. Among the jury were three who had been security guards or in military service. The acquittal led to the 1992 Los Angeles riots and mass protest around the country.
Simi Valley is home to two California Historical Landmarks:
NO. 939 Twentieth Century Folk Art Environments (Thematic) - Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village - This fantastic assemblage is one of California's remarkable Twentieth Century Folk Art Environments. In 1956, Tressa Prisbrey, then nearly sixty years old, started building a fanciful 'village' of shrines, walkways, sculptures, and buildings from recycled items and discards from the local dump. She worked for 25 years creating one structure after another to house her collections. The Mosaic Walkway is embedded with thousands of treasures—tiles, shells, doorknobs, irons, car ornaments, jewelry, dishware, scissors, guns, toys—everything imaginable that creates a timestamp of 1950s post consumer waste. Originally, Bottle Village had more than 13 buildings and 20 sculptures. Although severely damaged during the 1994 Northridge earthquake, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. It is located at 4595 Cochran Street, Simi Valley.
NO. 979 Rancho Simi - This is the site of the headquarters of the Spanish Rancho San José de Nuestra Senora de Altagarcia y Simi. The name derives from 'Shimiji,' the name of the Chumash village here before the Spanish. At 113,000 acres, Rancho Simi was one of the state's largest land grants. Two prominent Spanish and Mexican family names are connected with the Rancho: Santiago Pico who first received the grant, and José de la Guerra who purchased the Rancho in 1842. Two rooms of original adobe remain, part of the Strathearn home built in. The Strathearn Historical Park and Museum, an open air park that is owned and maintained by the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District, and is operated jointly with the Simi Valley Historical Society. The house is maintained as a historic house museum with typical period furniture and household displays. In addition to the Simi Adobe-Strathearn House, there are various historic buildings and structures that have been moved from their original site to the park, including the a 1924 children's playhouse with toys, the 1902 St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, the original Simi Valley Library and two barns with farm tools and equipment. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places: NPS-78000825. Location: Robert P Strathearn Historical Park, 137 Strathearn Place, Simi Valley.
Simi Valley is also home to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, which has been visited by more than 1 million people since it opened. After a major state funeral in Washington, D.C., President Reagan was buried at the library in June 2004. The library adjoins a hangar in which the Boeing 707 SAM 27000 (Air Force One), which served presidents Nixon through G.W. Bush, is housed and available for tours. In the pavilion are various automobiles used to transport the president, as well as Marine One, the presidential helicopter.
The Montalvo Cutoff, a railroad line opened by the Southern Pacific Company on March 20, 1904, to improve the alignment of its Coast Line, runs east-west through the valley. In 1905, the longest train tunnel in the United States at that time was completed at the east end of Simi Valley. Tunnel #26 still stands today linking Simi Valley and the San Fernando Valley. Simi Valley Station is used by Amtrak and Metrolink, after Metrolink purchased the line from Southern Pacific, and is located at 5000 Los Angeles Avenue, west of Stearns Street. Simi Valley Transit buses stop on Los Angeles Avenue in front of the station. There are connections from Simi Valley north to Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, and south to Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties. These trains, as well as the buses, run 7 days a week and stop in Simi Valley several times each day. The Simi Valley station is unstaffed; however, tickets are available from automated ticket dispensers, conductors onboard the trains, travel agents, by telephone, or from the Amtrak and Metrolink websites.
The United States Postal Service operates the Simi Valley Post Office at 2511 Galena Avenue, the Kopy King Post Office at 2157 Tapo Street, and the Mount McCoy Post Office at 225 Simi Village Drive.
In Simi Valley there are two main areas of industry — one in the eastern part of the city and the other one in the west. The primary industry is machinery and tools with 69 firms, and the secondary is the metal Industry with 51 firms, both situated in the eastern and western industrial areas. Other industries such as Lumber/Wood Products, Food, Plastic Products, Apparel/Textiles and Minerals, are also largely concentrated in these industrial areas.
The largest division of Countrywide Home Loans, now Bank of America, Loan Administration, has been headquartered in the city since the mid 1990s. Operating off of Madera Road in a building that once housed the apparel company Bugle Boy, the company also has facilities on Tapo Canyon, and First Street. At its height, Countrywide had approximately 10,000 employees in the city.
The Volkswagen of America Design Center was once in an industrial complex across from the Costco wholesale club near Madera and Cochran. The VW Design Center California or DCC, moved to Santa Monica, California in the spring of 2006. Such notable automotive designers as Jay Mays, now (2007) VP Design for Ford and Freeman Thomas, co designer with Jay Mays of the original Audi TT, once called the DCC in Simi Valley their place of work. The original concept for the New Beetle from Jay Mays, had its genesis there.
According to the City's 2009 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city are:
An aspect of Simi Valley's location, situated beside the Simi Hills, is that it lies in a high-risk area for the wildfires that sweep through Southern California's mountain ranges every few years.
Simi Valley is also at risk for earthquakes. The valley is surrounded by earthquake faults; the closest ones being the Santa Rosa Fault to the Northwest, the Northridge Hills Fault to the Northeast, and the Chatsworth Fault to the South. In 1994, portions of Simi Valley received significant damage from the Northridge earthquake.
Southern California has a high fire risk, due to hot weather and high winds.
A 2005 fire started on September 28 and burned an estimated 7,000 acres. On September 29, the fire was estimated to be 17,000 acres. More than 1,000 firefighters worked against the tricky combination of dry brush, low humidity and temperatures in the high 90s along the line that divides Los Angeles and Ventura counties. About 45 evacuees gathered at Canoga Park High School in the San Fernando Valley where the Red Cross had set up cots and provided meals. One firefighter was struck on the head by a 40-pound boulder and was taken to a hospital, officials said. The fire was later brought under control and extinguished, without serious injury. Three homes were lost in outlying areas, but none within the city limits.
Simi Valley is served by the Simi Valley Unified School District (SVUSD).
Simi Valley High School was ranked as the 546th best high school according to MSNBC's Top 1000 High Schools.
Schools of higher education located nearby include Moorpark College, Cal State Northridge, Cal State Channel Islands, California Lutheran University, University of LaVerne, University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), Ventura College, Oxnard College, Eternity Bible College, Louis Brandeis Institute of Justice, Pepperdine University, University of Southern California (USC), Caltech, Valley College, American Jewish University, and UCLA.
There are five high schools located in Simi Valley: Royal High School, Grace Brethren High School, Santa Susana High School, Simi Valley High School, and Apollo High School.
Public Libraries: Ventura County Library - 14 locations with one branch in Simi Valley: Simi Valley Library.
Simi Valley has 20 city parks and five county parks to preserve large swaths of open space in the nearby Santa Susana Mountains, locally known as the "foothills." The city boasts six golf courses and the Kanan Ranch home development has nature trails for hikers, bicyclists and equestrians to enjoy. Two collegiate baseball teams: The Simi Valley Senators and the California Oaks of the California Collegiate League in Thousand Oaks, provide sports action to local fans.
To the East, Rocky Peak has a trail system for Mountain Biking, Hiking and Equestrian activities. The trail is accessed just off the 118 freeway at Kuehner Road, Yosemite Road (about 1-mile North) or Rocky Peak. Trailheads are: The Hummingbird Trail, Rocky Peak Fire Road or The Chumash Trail. These trails are not recommended for beginners, due to fairly steep grades and some technical sections on the trail. A technical downhill mountain bike run known as the G Spot can be accessed via Rocky Peak Fire Road.
To the West, numerous trails are accessible for Mountain Biking, Hiking and Equestrian activities. The main access point is at the intersection of Wood Ranch Parkway and Long Canyon Parkway. The trail system travels as far west as highway 23, as far east as the Rocketdyne facility and connects to the Lang Ranch trail system (Westlake Village) and Chesebro trail system which begins in Agoura Hills. Simi Peak (the highest peak in Simi Valley) is accessible from this trail system via China Flats in the Chesebro trail system. Ahmundson Ranch connects to this trail system, again via the Chesebro trail system. Bridlepath, a private trail system also connects to the main fire road.
Being located so near to Hollywood, Simi Valley has long been a convenient location for the film industry. Simi Valley and the surrounding hills have been the site of several television series, including the long running television series Gunsmoke and M*A*S*H.
Established in 1937 and opened to the public in 1949, the Corriganville Movie Ranch, established by Ray "Crash" Corrigan, is located at the extreme Eastern end of Simi Valley and was the production site for many movies and television shows. Today the site is open to the public as Corriganville Park, just off the Santa Susana Pass Road.
The 1982 film Poltergeist was filmed in Roxbury Street, Simi Valley. At the time, the homes were new and the land behind the street was free, allowing plenty of access for the studio trucks. The Freeling house as used in the film (4267 Roxbury Street) received substantial earthquake damage in the 1994 Northridge earthquake.
The popular 70s television show Little House on the Prairie was filmed at extensive sets built up in the hilly landscapes of the Big Sky Ranch in the Tapo Canyon hills north of Simi Valley and Santa Clarita, California. In addition to the Little House itself, the entire set for the town of Walnut Grove was built atop the hills. After finishing his work on the series, Michael Landon blew up the town which became part of the final movie but the Little House itself was left intact. In July 2004 the house was destroyed in the 2004 wildfire.
The 1973 film, The Doberman Gang was filmed entirely in Simi Valley, with the actual Bank of A. Levy as the backdrop for the robbery scenes.
In 1983, Colleen McCullough's TV mini-series, The Thorn Birds, was brought to life in a remote corner of the Simi Valley. Australia proved to have too many obstacles for the producers to handle, including that there could only be two American actors in any movie filmed there. All the rest had to be Australian. Location scouts were sent out, and Simi Valley, which looks very similar in parts to the Australian countryside, was chosen to build the set of the famous Cleary ranch and sheep station, Drogheda.
In the 1984 film "Bachelor Party" starring Tom Hanks, the MANN 6 Movie Theater formerly located within the Sycamore Shopping Center was used for the movie theater scene.
The 1986 western comedy film ¡Three Amigos! was partially filmed here.
The Brandeis-Bardin Institute's House of the Book is the location of the original Power Ranger Power Chamber.
The Playtronics Toy company and its car park scenes from Sneakers were filmed at the Countrywide Loans Data Processing - Admin Plant at 400 Countrywide Way.
The delivery of the ransom money in The Big Lebowski shows a highway sign naming Simi Valley.
The video for Bullet with Butterfly Wings by The Smashing Pumpkins was filmed in Simi Valley.
In the 1999 comedy Joe Dirt, the character found his long-lost parents in a trailer home park in Simi Valley (but on some versions, it was changed to Yucca Valley, California).
The 1992 children's comedy "Honey, I Blew Up the Kids" was filmed in and around 676 Coldbrook Place.
In the 1992 film Forever Young starring Mel Gibson the test airstrip scenes and the highway chase scene were filmed on the west end of Simi Valley bordering Moorpark.
Most of the 2003 film adaptation of The Cat in the Hat starring Mike Myers and Dakota Fanning was filmed in Simi Valley. The elaborate faux suburb where most of the film takes place was built on vacant land in a hilly area in West Simi Valley.
Parts of Viva Rock Vegas, the sequel to the original Flintstones movie, was filmed at Rocky Peak.
The video for "Hexagram," by The Deftones was filmed with fans watching the band play the song in an indoor skatepark in Simi Valley.
The skatepark in the 2005 movie Bad News Bears is in Simi Valley.
The "Retail Rodeo" scenes from the Jennifer Aniston movie The Good Girl were filmed in the Ralph's shopping center on L.A. Ave. The set was constructed inside a vacant retail space.
Nu-metal band Limp Bizkit filmed the music video for the single "Break Stuff" at Skatelab, a skate park in Simi Valley.
The 2006 comedy The Benchwarmers was filmed on location in Knolls park and Santa Susana park, both located in Simi Valley.
In March 2008, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra starting filming in the northern hills above Simi Valley, near the Little House on the Prairie site.
The Patrick Swayze movie "Three Wishes" used a baseball field in Simi Valley, near the Santa Susana Pass.
In 2009, the rock band AFI filmed their music video for Beautiful Thieves, the second single off of their album Crash Love, in a mansion in Simi Valley.
The 2009 Hallmark Channel movie "Always and Forever" was filmed in various locations throughout Simi Valley and Moorpark, California.
In 2009 Gavin Rossdale filmed part of his music video "Forever May You Run" in an office building on 555 E. Easy Street in Simi Valley.
The fictional "Atmospheric Research Institute" from the 2009 NBC TV miniseries, The Storm, was filmed in an office building on 555 E. Easy Street in Simi Valley.