Ojai (pronounced /ˈoʊhaɪ/) is a city in Ventura County, California, United States. The estimated population, in 2003, was 8,006 , making it one of the smaller towns in the county.
The town of Ojai is situated in the Ojai Valley, (10 miles long by 3 miles wide, approximately) surrounded by hills and mountains.
The valley was home to Chumash Indians before becoming one of many Spanish land grants along the California coast. It became a cattle ranch in 1837, when it was granted to Fernando Tico.
In 1853 he sold it to prospectors searching for oil, without much success. By 1864, the area had been settled, and in 1874, the City of Nordhoff was founded.
Ojai is located at 34°26′57″N, 119°14′48″W (34.449079, -119.246654). The city is generally at 745 feet above sea level.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.4 square miles (11.5 km²), of which, 4.4 square miles (11.5 km²) of it is land and 0.22% is water.
Ojai is situated in a small east-west valley, north of Ventura and east of Santa Barbara. It is approximately 15 miles inland from the Pacific coast.
Since Ojai is lined up with an east-west mountain range, it is one of few towns in the world to have the Pink Moment occur as the sun is setting. The fading sunlight creates a brilliant shade of pink on the Topa Topa Bluffs that stand at the east end of the Ojai Valley, reaching over 6,000 feet above sea level. Nordhoff Ridge, the western extension of the Topa Topa Mountains, towers over the north side of the town and valley at more than 5,000 feet. Sulphur Mountain creates the southern ranges bounding the Ojai Valley, a little under 3,000 feet in elevation.
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 weather in Ojai is Mediterranean, characterized by hot, dry summers (sometimes exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit) and mild winters, with lows at night sometimes below freezing. The climate is generally mild and temperate. 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.
Ojai is the home of the Ojai Film Festival, which showcases independent films from around the world.
There is only one movie theater in the town -- the Ojai Playhouse, located downtown. It houses only one screen.
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 Ojai Poetry Festival began in 2003 as a biennial gathering of poets for two days of readings and discussions. It features poets of national repute such as Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Galway Kinnell, Jane Hirshfield, Robert Bly, Coleman Barks and Gary Snyder.
Ojai occasionally hosts the "Ojai Classic Rock Festival", featuring cover/tribute acts of various rock groups. There have been five Classic Rock Festivals so far, all taking place at Ojai's Libbey Bowl. OJAI ROCK FEST '09 is scheduled for Saturday July 11, 2009 and will include the legendary Jackie Lomax.
The local public high school (Nordhoff High) also has a decorated music program. Its concert band held the California State Champion title in its division for three years in a row, until state budget cuts ended the festival, and performed in Carnegie Hall in April 2003 and again in April 2007, along with Nordhoff's award-winning choirs. The Nordhoff music department has also toured in San Francisco, New Orleans, Hawaii, Canada, Austria, and Germany.
The famous outdoor bookshop Bart's Books, subject of news programs and documentaries, has been in Ojai since 1964.
Ojai is also home to the annual Ojai Playwrights Conference, a two week playwrights festival that brings professional writers and actors from across the country to Ojai. David Lindsay-Abaire, Lee Blessing, Keith Bunin, and Luis Alfaro are all previous attendees. Many of the plays performed during the conference go on to have successful runs in New York, Seattle and Chicago.
As of the census 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/sq mi (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. (A person can be Hispanic or Latino and of any race, accounting for the percentages adding up to over 100%)
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.
The town of Ojai and its surrounding area is home to many unique recreational activities. Los Padres National Forest borders the town on the north, and many backcountry areas within the forest are accessible from Highway 33, which is the major highway through town south to north. To the west, the Lake Casitas Recreational Area offers camping, picnicking, and hiking as well.
Annually, in early April, the town host a bicycle race that draws the top professional and ameuter 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 one-mile circuit that circumnavigates Libbey Bowl in the heart of downtown Ojai. Proceeds from event promote cycling safety as well as education in local schools.
In early June, often coinciding with the Music Festival, the Ojai Wine Festival is held at Lake Casitas. Over three thousand wine lovers come to sample the products of over thirty wineries. Proceeds to go charity.
Ojai Valley News
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