On Sepulveda, in Sherman Oaks, just north of the Galleria, land has been cleared for the future improvements to the 405/101 interchange. This is the plan to alleviate the horrendous bottleneck of traffic that makes commuting so torturous on the San Diego Freeway.

But passing by this open space I had a different thought, about how the Valley might have looked in 1945, when orange and walnut groves were destroyed to make room for houses. This field, I thought, would look mighty fine planted with hundreds of orange trees.

There was once a balance to life in California, between urban and rural, agriculture and urban density, that has been lost. The outskirts of the city do not exist anymore. We live in a bowl of sprawl that extends from the Pacific Ocean to Palm Springs and beyond.

Why not develop housing that utilizes and incorporates some agriculture in the design? Perhaps there is some tonic from the orange blossoms that might soothe the angry idiocy roaming the streets of Los Angeles? Van Nuys with lemon or walnut trees along VanOwen! Demolish the asphalt on Sherman Way, and create garden apartments around real edible gardens!

At CSUN, in Northridge, the campus wisely and with some historical knowledge, kept acres of old orange trees. The buildings and parking lots are there, but so is that little sliver of life, of citrus and sunshine, that makes California California.

6 thoughts on “Open Space.

  1. Hello Andrew,

    I was using my internet prowess to search for any information on this apartment building on Camarillo and Sepulveda of which two-thirds of it was torn down several months ago and that is how I came across your blog.

    I meandered throughout the months and enjoyed many of your posts and photographs. I cannot find a link to an email, so I hope that you will be able to see this comment on this old posting because I was wondering if you knew what was going on with this run-down building that is continually being vandalized. Thank you much!

    –Krystle (blondeambassador (at) gmail (dot) com


  2. I just recently found out that orange grove on the CSUN campus is the oldest surviving one anywhere in L.A. county (probably Ventura county, too). Apparently is was planted by some Dutch immigrants back in the early 1800’s.


  3. M. David Paul is the developer of this site, and it will ultimately have no bearing on the 101/405 interchange as I hear.
    It will instead be from 5-10 story residential buildings with a significant retail component. The site runs on the west side of Sepulveda from Morrison north to the 101. The office building was demolished and all the single and multi-family homes will be as well, if not already done so, and the interior streets will be abandoned for a master plan for the entire project.
    Ellen Vukovich in the Sherman Oaks Sun has written about this project in the past. Check her weekly development column in the Friday free edition delivered to your doorstep if you live in Sherman Oaks.


  4. To the best of my knowledge, this building was red tagged after the 94 earthquake. Until it was taken down this past fall, it had been a home for many many transients. This is one of the many reasons we have seen an increase in visibility of transients on the street in Sherman Oaks and surrounding areas. Whatever happens to this property is up to the private owner and the community that rallies to make it the best development it can be. We hope the developer is on board for this.


  5. Interesting. If you drive down Moorpark between Kester and Sepulveda on one corner (I forget which street), there is a small pocket farm that is run by one of the local restaurants. It would be nice if there was a way for more restaurants to have gardens to grow fresh food for their diners.


  6. Walnut trees died in a blight. Orange trees require much mantainence and the liability for dropping fruit, parrot poop, slipper sidewalks? Nice idea in theory. Oh, nut it has been a great year for my avocado trees and the olive trees are setting quite nicely. The neighbor is also seeing a good orange harvest. Much of Ventura County is still the San Fernando Valley of 1965 you pine for.


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