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OAK PARK : Community Now One for the Book

Oak Park, the Rodney Dangerfield of Ventura County, has gained a little more respect: Pacific Bell will recognize it as a separate community in its telephone books instead of lumping residents in with Agoura.

“I used to find it a little degrading,” said Alan Cohen, an Oak Park resident who lobbied Pacific Bell for the change. “This is one step closer to being recognized as a community.”

Pacific Bell spokesman Bill Kenney said the change should become effective with the new telephone books for the region, which will be issued in May.

“They want their own identity as a city,” Kenney said.

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With 14,000 residents, Oak Park is the largest unincorporated community in Ventura County. Yet it is frequently thought to be part of Los Angeles County, which aggravates community leaders no end.

Oak Park shares a ZIP code and an area code with Los Angeles County. Until about a year ago, the U.S. Post Office did not even recognize Oak Park as a legitimate address. Mail had to be addressed to Agoura or Agoura Hills--both Los Angeles County communities.

Residents’ concerns are not entirely frivolous. Recent calls to the 911 emergency service from Oak Park have been misdirected to authorities in Los Angeles County instead of Ventura County, causing delays in response.

And some residents say they have been billed hundreds of dollars more in insurance premiums based on their Los Angeles County ZIP codes. Ventura County rates are often lower than those for Los Angeles County.

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“I never realized all these identity problems until I moved here,” said Cohen, who moved to Oak Park four years ago.


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