The city grew slowly prior to World War II but the war effort saw the construction of the Oxnard Army Air Field (later Oxnard Air Force Base in 1951, now Camarillo Airport) to the west of town. The community also grew as the new base along with nearby Naval Air Station Point Mugu and a Seabee base at Port Hueneme brought many workers and their families to the area. The grounds of Camarillo State Hospital, which opened in 1936 south of town, are now the campus of California State University, Channel Islands.
As with most cities in Ventura County, it is noted for its resistance to new development. In 2014, the council voted against an 895-acre project that would have extended development on agricultural lands east towards the Conejo Grade.