Architect Hugo Martinez with his wife and collaborator Christin To in front of their home in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Hugo grew up in Las Casitas, Newbury Park.
He sees the neighborhood as a stepping stone toward the American Dream.

All over the country, and here in Southern California, there are many high income areas that thrive and tells us how some people live there.

Jackson Nava is a resident of Las Casitas. He sent this photo to his family in Huetamo, Michoacán, Mex.

Jackson Cruz is a resident of Las Casitas. He sent this photo to his hometown in Huetamo, Michoacán, Mex.

Architect and

128183000:2016-05-04 06:32:13 urban designer, Hugo Martinez grew up sharing in Las Casitas. He calls it, “A living style that is truly based on necessity.” Hugo talks about growing up in Las Casitas, and seeing it in the context of architecture and design. He sees Las Casitas as an example of people finding innovative ways to live in a situation of “high-density”.

Inside, Las Casitas  feels chaotic, messy and unpredictable. But there are residents like Navia Ortiz who have found a haven there. Navia came to Newbury Park, Calif., from a rural village in Guatemala eighteen years ago. She used to rent a piece of floor in a living room in Las Casitas. Today, she is on the lease, pays $1,300 and rents to eight recently arrived immigrants. This past decade, her apartment has been the first step to 70 or 80 immigrants. She says it’s her life’s purpose to give recent arrivals a home during their first months and years in the U.S.

Navia Ortiz sublets to eight people in here casita.

Navia Ortiz sublets to eight people in her Casita.

For decades Las Casitas has been stigmatized as the ‘bad’ neighborhood in the Thousand Oaks area.  It had its share of tensions in the early 2000s, but in reality, it’s just an immigrant neighborhood. Most people in Las Casitas are from rural villages in Mexico and Central America. They come to the area to work.

As chaotic as it is from the inside, the outside stays picture perfect. America Yeresma Villanueva Nava tells us why. And former City Manager of Ventura, Rick Cole gives us some context.


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  • Oatie

    Looks like a great place to start off…or just live. Hopefully ALL are legal immigrants…because the illegals make it much tougher for those of us that played by the rules and have to compete for wages, housing, etc.

  • Knifey

    It’s a revolving door of illegal immigrants here. Perhaps live there yourself and tell me that it just happens to have a bad rep. I live there and constantly have a fear of going outside at night because gang members walk around trying to hide weapons next to their legs, drug deals happen out in the open, cars get broken into all the time, stabbings occur every other weekend. I personally witnessed people using a brick over someone’s head and kidnapping them in our alleyway. The males like to drink, leer at underage girls, and pee on cars and trash cans… We even saw children learning to pee on trash cans and jimmy car locks open with a shiv by their uncles and fathers. They even destroy private property and, when the cops are called, swear they didn’t see anything. And that’s an improvement from 2 years ago when I moved in!