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Spotlight/24″/dt1st/mike2nd Camarillo Year Founded: 1964 Origins: The King of Spain awarded Adolfo Camarillo a land grant of 15,000 acres in the late 1700s. The Camarillo Ranch raised cattle and farmed the land. In 1964, the 6,000 or so community members got together and incorporated Camarillo as a charter city. Business Profile: Camarillo has a major shopping outlet and several clusters of high-tech companies, as well as agriculture. By JOAN OSTERWALDER Staff Reporter Between strawberry patches and lemon groves in Camarillo lie clusters of high-tech companies that may eventually transform this quiet town into a sort of Silicon Valley South. Located along the Ventura (101) Freeway, the city’s seven industrial parks most of which are named after the streets they are bounded by are part of the so-called High-Tech Corridor that stretches from Camarillo to Agoura Hills. This year, at least nine new companies opened in Camarillo. In 1997, about 23 new companies relocated or started up in the city, of which about 60 percent were in the high-tech field. City officials and industry observers say Camarillo is a tempting location for industrial companies because the city offers an attractive housing environment close to the industrial parks. “Camarillo represents the quality of life,” said Jason Harris, project director for Burke Real Estate Group, a Santa Ana-based developer that is constructing an 18-building complex in Camarillo. “It’s out of the hustle and bustle of the Valley and Los Angeles.” City officials have worked hard to keep the city’s growth under control. They wanted to prevent explosive expansion such as occurred in Orange County during the 1960s, said James M. Jevens, economic development consultant for Camarillo. The Ventura Freeway cuts straight through Camarillo, a sprawling city of about 20 square miles with Spanish-style houses and single-story office and industrial buildings, as well as open farmland. As in most other places around Ventura County, Camarillo has a surrounding green belt that will remain open space. The city has also made an effort to attract high-tech businesses. “We try to attract clean industry that has growing potential,” said Larry R. Davis, assistant city manager, sitting in his quiet office at City Hall. “We try to create a sustaining environment. We feel high tech is broad enough and diverse enough that it will have growth in down times.” As the farm community developed into a city, Camarillo’s officials designed the city’s general plan “so people could live, work and play right here,” he said. “Seeing what the community is like and the standards we kept make (Camarillo) attractive.” About 10 percent of the city’s land is set aside for industrial development. Currently, about half of the 1,200 acres or so are developed. Camarillo has about 500 industrial-commercial companies. Roughly 40 percent of them arrived in the 1990s. Meanwhile, the city’s general population is increasing at a rate of about 1 percent per year. “Our population growth is based on the companies that brought and hired people,” Jevens explained. Camarillo’s high-tech firms are in such businesses as telecommunications, electronics, computer software and hardware, biotechnology and fiber optics. As a result of the high-tech concentration, the city’s median annual income is around $60,000. “They’re typically well-paying jobs and recession-proof,” Jevens said. “It makes it a very preferred community. A lot of engineers and scientists live in Camarillo.” Camarillo is also attractive to businesses, officials say, because it doesn’t charge property taxes. The city’s main revenue source is sales tax. Driving among the industrial parks, Jevens points out that the buildings are no higher than two stories so they don’t obstruct views of the landscape. The parks are set on quiet streets lined with trees and stretches of green grass. “If you came here blindfolded, you’d think you were on a university campus,” Jevens said. The latest testaments to the lure of Camarillo are three industrial developments currently underway. The $10.2 million Burke Camarillo Corporate Center being developed by Burke Real Estate Group is scheduled to begin construction in summer 1999. The grass lot where the complex will be built is located along Calle Plano, near the intersection of Calle Carga and Calle Bolero. Burke expects to have a variety of tenants, ranging from high-tech firms to distributors, Harris said. Another project is a 181,354-square-foot complex in the Mission Oaks Business Park, for which Medical Analysis Systems Inc. has signed a lease to expand from its current Camarillo location. About 150 employees with MAS, a maker of controls for laboratory diagnostic equipment, and its subsidiary, Medical Diagnostic Systems Inc., expect to move into the new buildings by October 1999. The new development is located at the southeast corner of Adolfo Road and Camino Carillo, not far from the freeway. Although land is cheaper farther west, in places such as Oxnard or Ventura, several companies like MAS have chosen to expand within Camarillo. “When companies expand, they’re typically motivated to go to a less expensive area,” said Robert A. Flink, senior vice president with CB Richard Ellis Inc., the real estate brokerage representing the MAS building’s developer PEGH Investments LLC. But once firms establish themselves in Camarillo, they seem to stay, he added. “It’s very pleasant to live there,” he said. “It’s a Mediterranean climate. It’s a peaceful city.” The third current project is going up on 60 acres surrounding the Camarillo Ranch House and is being developed by a joint venture between Westlake Village-based Zepher Development and Dallas-based Syntex. “Unless the zoning changes, that will be the last major development until we’re down the road a bit,” Jevens said. So far, only a gray concrete building and a couple bulldozers stand on the parcel. The building will house a distribution center and a research and development site for the Diamondback Bicycle Co. “A lot of companies come in from the Valley,” Jevens said. “They want to get out of the potential threat of earthquakes, crime and the high cost

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