West Hills, CA Local Area Information

About Area

West Hills is a community and district in the western San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, California, United States.

West Hills is bordered by Chatsworth and the Chatsworth Reservoir to the north, Canoga Park to the east, Woodland Hills to the south, Hidden Hills to the southwest, and the Simi Hills with the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve and Bell Canyon to the west.

The present day West Hills area was the homeland of Native Americans in the Tongva-Fernando and Chumash-Ventura tribes, that lived in the Simi Hills and close to Bell Creek and the local tributaries to the Los Angeles River. Native American civilizations had inhabited the San Fernando Valley for an estimated 8,000 years. The village, Hu'wam, of the Chumash-Ventura's, was located at the base of Escorpin Peak (Castle Peak) near present day Bell Canyon Park. It was a meeting and trading point for them with the Tongva-Fernando and Tataviam-Fernando people. A cave near here known as The Cave of Munits is the believed home of a mythical Chumash shaman, Munits, who was killed by an eagle after murdering the son of a Chumash chief. Escorpin Peak is one of nine alignment points in Chumash territory and is essential to maintaining the balance of the natural world.

From 1797 to 1846, the area (future West Hills) was part of Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana (Mission San Fernando). After Mexico won independence from Spain, it later became part of Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando in Alta California. In 1845, a separate land grant for Rancho El Escorpin was issued by Governor Pico to three Chumash people: Od Eusebia, Urbano, and Urbano's son Manuel. It encompassed the land west of present day Fallbrook Avenue in West Hills, with its adobe ranch buildings (present 1840s-1960s) sited where Bell Canyon Park is now.

California was admitted to the United States in 1850, with Spanish and Mexican land grants requiring a federal land patent to retain ownership. The United States Public Land Commission patented the Rancho to the original grantees Od Eusebia, Urbano, and Manuel in 1876. In 1912 the Chumash heirs sold Rancho El Escorpin to George Platt. He established a dairy operation on renamed Platt Ranch variously called Ferndale, or Cloverdale Dairy. The Rancho El Escorpin-Platt Ranch was not incorporated into Los Angeles and its water system until 1958 and was left undeveloped until 1961.

West Hills was originally part of Owensmouth (founded 1912) and renamed Canoga Park (1931). West Hills was formed in 1987 after homeowners on the western side of Canoga Park launched a petition drive a year earlier to form a new community. In an unusual move, the area's L.A. City Councilwoman, Joy Picus, polled Canoga Park residents, asking them if they would like to join the new community, to determine West Hills' boundaries.

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