Sunday, March 15, 2009

The importance of neighborhood distinctions in L.A.

With its vast variety of distinct areas, the neighborhood in which Angelenos call home is not only important for property values, but also defines where they often shop, walk, exercise and socialize. In the city's San Fernando Valley, as neighborhoods have evolved, some have broken off from historical names such as 'North Hollywood' or 'Van Nuys' to join neighboring areas that better define them or simply conjure up a new name such as 'Valley Village' (forever immortalized in Comedy Central's "The Sarah Silverman Show") or 'Lake Balboa.'

The latest battle is for a part of Van Nuys that has long considered itself to be 'Sherman Oaks-adjacent,' and organizers have launched a compelling Web site that shows photos of the neighborhood in question versus other parts of Van Nuys to the north.

The city council is expected to soon vote on this change and organizers are asking for area residents to weigh in by email, so I'll be watching it closely. But does seem to make sense that neighborhoods should follow ambience and demographics more than historical boundaries that are sometimes drawn without much forethought.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

My family and I are members of the "part of Sherman Oaks" area of Van Nuys that has petitioned for the neighborhood name change.

Journalists, bloggers such as you who look at the issue with an impartial eye, weighing the arguments, will likely find that there really is no downside to this neighborhood being absorbed into Sherman Oaks.

Property taxes in our neighborhood will not go up if we become Sherman Oaks. Van Nuys does not stand to gain or lose in any budget-related way by having us remain on its rolls. Property values in our neighborhood may experience a modest increase, but in the current real-estate market this benefit is neglible, and not the driving force behind the Part of Sherman Oaks movement.

Our cohesive little community wishes to be validated as belonging to a community where we already shop, bank, worship, send our children to school and enjoy recreation and entertainment. For the overwhelming majority of our residents, this occurs in Sherman Oaks.

But there is another compelling reason. Being Part of Sherman Oaks is Green and supports the local economy. In this era where gas was, and may again hit nearly $5/gallon, where pollution, energy waste, and the size of our carbon footprint is a righteous concern, then it makes sense that we reinvent the village, and learn to love living locally.

Residents of Part of Sherman Oaks do that. Why patronize Jon's supermarket near Vanowen -- a 10 minute drive in traffic (or a very, very long walk traversing an industrial zone and the Orange line), when I can walk 4 blocks to Ralph's on Burbank -- in Sherman Oaks? They happen to have a recycling depot there too, something I have yet to find nearby in Van Nuys.

Anonymous said...

Throughout history urban and small town boundaries have often been determined by rivers, freeways, canyons, train tracks, etc -- hence the expression "the other side of the tracks". The train tracks that used to be where the Orange Line now runs and the vast difference in urban land/cityscape north of them is the most clear indicator of which neighborhood we belong to - Sherman Oaks. It'd be one thing if just north of Oxnard there were tree-lined, well-kept, single-family homes similar to those south of Oxnard Blvd to Burbank Blvd, and south of Burbank Blvd to Magnolia and beyond, etc. But there aren't. You have to go all the way to Lake Balboa or Vally Glen to match the look, feel of neighborhood, size of homes, lots etc. Our entire southern boundry borders Sherman Oaks, our kids go to Sherman Oaks schools, we shop, jog, walk our dogs, worship, etc in Sherman Oaks so it makes the most sense that we be part of the community that we are already integral to. The problems Van Nuys has are problems that we don't have in our neighborhood and problems we don't have the power to fix. It's not our fault that Van Nuys can't can't seem to fix them - we've done our part with our neighborhood. Perhaps the Van Nuys residents who don't wish to let us leave would be better served fixing the problems that make us want to secede. That said, even if the problems were fixed - our neighborhood still more closely resembles Sherman Oaks.

Anonymous said...

Because no other community in Van Nuys is apparently as cohesive as this one, obviously it deserves to have it's property values improved by becoming part of Sherman Oaks.

If the situation were reversed and the children of this area went to Van Nuys schools and they shopped in Van Nuys, would they petition to join Van Nuys? Highly unlikely. As a resident of a very nice and cohesive neighborhood in Van Nuys I am so sick of hearing people bash on it without ever seemingly making an attempt to improve it.

Anonymous said...

I used to live in the Sherman Oaks part of this area, just a half block south of Burbank - and the partofshermanoaks.org folks are correct - it's the same neighborhood, and not a very-Van Nuys-y one, either, on both side of Burbank. I too 'lived my life' there and to the south, with only occasional forays into Van Nuys for Costco visits.

Anonymous said...

I live in Van Nuys and my neighborhood looks more like Sherman Oaks proper than this one does.

Anonymous said...

Palms: our neighborhood still more closely resembles Cheviot Hills.

Tarzana: our neighborhood still more closely resembles Encino.

North Hollywood: our neighborhood still more closely resembles Toluca Lake.

I could go on and on. Who are you kidding?