Channel Islands Beaches, Oxnard CA.
The Channel Islands Beach area is located just 30 miles northwest of Malibu California in the city of Oxnard. It is comprised of four beach neighborhoods: Silverstrand, Hollywood By The Sea, Hollywood Beach, and Mandalay Shores. The area is known for its world class surfing, fishing, and yachting. And with the Channel Islands National Park just a short boat ride away, opportunities for exploration are endless. The story of the Channel Islands Beaches begins with Douglas Fairbanks. In 1918, the legendary silent film actor starred in “Bound In Morocco,” which was filmed on the sand dunes of Leon Lehmann’s beachfront ranch.
Just two years later, Rudolph Valentino an immigrant actor from Italy appeared on the same dunes, shooting Paramount Pictures’ blockbuster film, “The Sheik.” Massive success at the box office made Valentino a star and also put Oxnard on the map, securing their place in Hollywood history.
Real estate developers William Lundbrink and Bill Dunn decided to capitalize on the “Valentino craze.” They purchased beach property just north of Lehmann’s ranch from the McGrath family. Laying out a subdivision, 500 small lots were carved out for the new beach colony. They called it, naturally, Hollywood Beach.
By 1925 the next subdivision of Oxnard beach Silverstrand (“silver
screen”) was already mapped out. Streets were named after the Channel Islands, as well as areas of LA’s “Westside”: Santa Monica, Sawtelle, Venice, etc. On its south end, stood a Lighthouse and long wharf, which was erected in 1874. It was removed in 1938 to build the deep water harbor at Hueneme, currently known as the Port of Huemene. Three streets were also taken out in the construction of the harbor: Del Rey, Ocean Park, and Venice.
The city of Oxnard has long been known for its rich farmland, notably Rancho Santa Clara, the finest agricultural land in Ventura County. This was due to black soil sediment from an expansive river system; deposited across the Oxnard Plain over thousands of years. Originally part of Mexico, the land grant of 1852 was known as Rancho del Rio Santa Clara o Colonia. With the United States’ victory in the war with Mexico, this land was quickly sold off. By 1868 Thomas Bard, a representative from the Pennsylvania Railroad acquired a majority share of the land grant (the rest going to the Camarillo family).
Bard paid just $150,000 for the 21,375.39 acres of land! The Mexicans regarded this price as high because they had only used the land for cattle raising. They had not seen the potential for farming. The beach area connected to Bard’s land is known today as Hollywood By The Sea. In 1921 it was regarded as an “oasis” where imitation palm trees once surrounded a clean water lake where “The Sheik” had been filmed. In 1926 however, landowner Leon Lehmann sold the 80 acre “Patterson Ranch” to land developer Fred J. Cutting who would carve out 967 lots. On the Bard property border was Panama Street. On the Lundbrink/Dunn border: Roosevelt blvd (named after Franklin Deleano Roosevelt, who would become our nation’s 32nd president).
Cutting offered the lots for just $100 and $10 down. However even at this price, some regarded it as a bad investment. Despite the skepticism, in 1927 at least a hundred summer cottages were built in the subdivisions.
How Channel Islands Became Oxnard
What made Hollywood By The Sea different than the preceding developments of Silverstrand and Hollywood Beach? According to Map 1 of the Book of Properties in the Ventura County Courthouse, it was a subdivision of the Rancho El Rio de Santa Clara o Colonia. The law stated that any development within three miles of an incorporated city could be annexed by that city. Hollywood Beach and Silverstrand had been outside the three mile limit, however Hollywood By The Sea was within it. It would not be long for the city of Oxnard to add its first beach neighborhood. And once this happened, it quickly gobbled up Silverstrand and Hollywood Beach as well.