Living on the Edge

'It's been like looking down on Mars or some sort of outer space planet.'

Resident Jerry Sullivan

For some residents along the shore of a dry Lake Sherwood, near Thousand Oaks, the last three years have been otherworldly.

"It's been like looking down on Mars or some sort of outer space planet," said Jerry Sullivan, 48, a sales representative who lives with his family on a hill overlooking the lake bed.

The lake has been dry since the former owner drained it, telling residents the lake's dam needed to be inspected.

Since then, David Murdock, a multimillionaire who owns a ranch in adjacent Hidden Valley, bought the lake and 1,600 acres of surrounding land and plans to refill the lake and build homes nearby.

Learned Patience

Newton B. Anthony and his wife, Carolyn, were once angry about the draining of the lake. They have since learned patience. "There's no sense in getting frustrated," Carolyn Anthony said. "We'll get water sometime."

The couple, area residents since 1946, had a boat dock before the lake was drained, and would go fishing for trout, bass, catfish and crappies.

Another longtime resident, Don Robertson, said ducks and geese that once made Lake Sherwood a migratory stop don't come to the dry lake bed. Other animals that depended on the lake have also disappeared. "All the animals have either left or died," he said.

Sullivan, who has lived on the lake 11 years, said the biggest complaint he and others have is a lack of water pressure in pipes. He said that sometimes he turns on his faucets and gets either dirty water or none at all. "It's water you don't want to drink or bathe in," he said.

Sullivan added that property values have dropped as much as 50% since the lake was emptied. "Nobody has really tried to sell, and we're sure that the property values will go back up when the lake is refilled," he said. "But when some of us have tried to get loans, that's when you find out your property is not worth nearly as much."

Sullivan said he supports Murdock's development plans, however. "The lake was really heading south before it was drained. There was no maintenance. There was a silt buildup and weeds all over. The whole thing was not a very pleasant experience. . . . It can only get better."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World