Slum Apartment. Dare Management.
Slum Apartment. Dare Management.

We all know by now that the name “Van Nuys” is about as prestigious as JC Penney is to clothing. But the effort to wipe away and tear apart a community by renaming oneself “Lake Balboa”, as West Van Nuys proposes to do, is a cop out.

Driving east along Victory, from Woodley, the blight does not begin until Sepulveda. This is already “Central Van Nuys” not “West”. From this point on, the shopping carts, graffiti, Spanish signs, men on the street, and old smog emitting cars reaches a crescendo at Van Nuys Boulevard. Van Owen is blighted from Woodley east all the way to the Hollywood Freeway! But is the solution to rename every little pocket of Van Nuys and North Hollywood into inane and meaningless places such as “Lake Balboa”, “Valley Glen” and “Valley Village”? Do the social problems of a geographical region just disappear with a new name? Is genocidal Rwanda a better country than when it was called the Belgian Congo?

The more courageous plan for nomenclature is to BUILD upon the history of a place. How about “Old Van Nuys” or “Van Nuys Gardens” or “Redfordville” in honor of Robert Redford who grew up here?

Why “Lake Balboa”? I’ve seen that lake, and it ain’t a lake, but a pond with bird droppings all over. It’s not even that nice looking. It would be appropriate next to an insurance headquarters in suburban Omaha where fat secretaries could take their hourly cigarette breaks and throw their discarded butts into the water.

Is Los Angeles still so dysfunctional and provincial that we cannot work together as a community to make our city better looking? How about ripping down the ugly billboards and wooden electric poles that disfigure so much of LA?

Better yet, how about the city planner of Los Angeles unveiling a new architectural plan for Van Nuys that would make people want to live and work and dine in Van Nuys instead of speeding through?

4 thoughts on “Escape From Van Nuys? Call Yourself "Lake Balboa"!

  1. In all the years I’ve lived here its the LA way to deal with a problem. Let a neighborhood “nicer” or “better” somehow change its name to disassociate itself with its “falling down” sections.
    I was in Canoga PArk and missed becoming “West Hills” by a 50 feet. I was in “lucky” and got to be “Valley Village” when it removed itself from North Hollywood.
    ITs all economics…name changes bring about increase realestate value and higher property taxes. The city wins. AND its much cheaper to spend $500 on a few new name signs than to address the real problems. Its a well entrenched pattern here.
    Let them do it…could back fire just like the old “sepulveda” into “north hills” fiasco where the entire area got the name change.
    Wouldn’t that be funny.


  2. Then again…

    North Hollywood was called Lankershim until real estate developers thought that, despite it being over some mountains and north a bit from Hollywood, people might not notice.


  3. It’s actually funny how all of this started, and this is something that hasn’t been covered in the LA Times or Daily News.

    I live in the area that they are proposing to be turned into Lake Balboa, and attend the West Van Nuys/Lake Balboa neighborhood council meetings on occasion. Last year, the president of the council wanted to change the name to simply Lake Balboa NC, because the old one was really a mouthful, and was told by the city council that they couldn’t because Lake Balboa didn’t actually exist. So they petitioned to officially make the whole West Van Nuys neighborhood called Lake Balboa so they could change the name of the neighborhood council

    There are certainly real estate mouthpieces who supported the idea, and now it’s become fodder for ridicule, but they aren’t the ones who actually started it. It’s a pipe dream to think it’s going to raise real estate values for West Van Nuys, really, it’s proximity to Ventura Blvd. that makes them go up.

    I like the idea of living in Van Nuys. It’s named after a quasi-historical figure in the Valley, and the name stands for “drabness” of suburbia that people often make fun of. I’m proud of that tag.


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