Ventura's History

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City Hall 1910

Welcome to the City of Ventura, one of America’s most livable communities. We’re located between Malibu and Santa Barbara on the blue Pacific Ocean, overlooking Anacapa and Santa Cruz islands.

People have lived along this stretch of the California coast for at least ten thousand years. San Buenaventura was founded in 1782 by Father Junipero Serra, the ninth of the California missions. He named it after the Italian St. Bonaventure, hence the nickname that Ventura is the “city of good fortune.”

The City of San Buenaventura was incorporated in 1866. The minutes of the first City Council meetings were recorded in Spanish, which was still the pre-dominant language of its time. Ventura became the County seat when Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties split in 1873. That same year, a courthouse and wharf were built, a bank was opened and the first public library was created.

An oil strike in 1914 fueled rapid growth. In the years following World War II, farmland gave way to outward suburban development. Growth has slowed in recent decades as Ventura has matured into a seaside community known for its scenic coastline and hillsides, rich culture, revitalized historic Downtown and environmental stewardship.

In 2005, the City Council unanimously adopted a visionary General Plan that the Ventura County Star praised as “a model for other communities.” During the current economic crisis, the City Council has focused on delivering key services within available means and promoting sustainable prosperity.

The City of Ventura provides a full range of services to 109,000 residents. It operates under the “Council/Manager” form of government under a charter adopted by voters in 1934, with an elected seven member City Council. The Mayor is chosen from among the City Council and serves a term of two years.