Another Neighborhood Wants to Abandon Van Nuys.

It is not surprising, that some Californians, who have fled and shed unhappier lives from other countries and other states, might also cop out when it comes to Los Angeles.

According to the the Daily News’ Rick Orlov, the southernmost section of Van Nuys, bordering Sherman Oaks, would like to join that klassy section of Los Angeles whose charms are most apparent along plastic signed, billboard pockmarked, Ventura Boulevard:

Now, another group of residents is launching an effort to break away from Van Nuys. The 1,855 homeowners in an area bounded by Sepulveda Boulevard and Hazeltine Avenue, and Burbank Boulevard and Oxnard Street, want to declare themselves part of the far tonier Sherman Oaks. Laurette Healey, a Valley businesswoman who has run unsuccessfully for local offices in recent years, has collected signatures from about 800 residents and is bringing the proposal to the City Council for a final decision. Healey — one of the leaders of the Valley’s secession effort in 2002 — said the community is energized over the issue. She said most of the parents in that neighborhood already send their children to schools in Sherman Oaks and that the name change will help attract young couples.

What’s ironic is that many of the unpleasant Van Nuys properties cited in this blog, from the shabby slum mall on the NE corner of Kester and Victory (owner: Ori B. Fogel) to the badly kept “Dare Management” buildings are owned by people who live in Sherman Oaks and Encino. Merabi and Sons destroyed the oldest house in Van Nuys in 2007 and now the lot is empty. These absentee landlords do not care about Van Nuys, but continue to profit by exploiting it. Of course, they don’t live in VN but they don’t mind grinding out a profit from its poorer and less powerful residents.

Instead of fighting for the betterment of Van Nuys, these real estate driven fear mongers rally residents to run away from those social issues that should rightly compel them to more noble political and moral action.

The grand game of name changing, which has seen parts of North Hollywood turn into Valley Village and Valley Glen, does nothing to improve the quality of life in Los Angeles. It further decentralizes and alienates residents from the historic shopping districts which should be gathering places for all Angelenos.

Nobody knows where Valley Glen is, and few will know of the future section of Sherman Oaks that was once a part of Van Nuys, but everyone will suffer as the most well off abandon the fight to improve their neighborhood, and instead ride off into a fantasy sunset of superficial name changing.

25 thoughts on “Another Neighborhood Wants to Abandon Van Nuys.

  1. I lived in Van Nuys for 25 years and loved every minute of it. Van Nuys was always my favorite place to go in the Valley. I used to hate having to go into Sherman Oaks because of the congestion and snooty people. Van Nuys always had a certain undefinable charm about it. It’s where I grew up. I have since moved away and even today, when I think about the valley, it is always Van Nuys that puts the smile on my face.

    Thanks for your blog!


  2. Please email your council members about this Van Nuys secession movement.
    They still need to vote on it and need to know there is vocal opposition. Even Wendy Greuel hasn’t voted yet


    1. Lydia — you are flogging a dead horse. Wendy Greuel has endorsed the name change, the LA City Council Education & Neighborhood Committee unanimously voted to recommend the name change, the Sherman Oaks Chamber of Commerce endorses it, and this is the will over 1,800 homeowners.

      Why not focus on real change within the heart of Van Nuys, instead of tethering an outpost neighborhood that has no effect on Van Nuys’ future?


      1. Why don’t you help to focus on real change in the heart of Van Nuys since your neighborhood is immediately adjacent to downtown Van Nuys, one of the main problem areas.

        Those in your movement are the ones making all the noise and garnering all of the attention, you could make area improvement a point.

        The problems that your neighborhood has will not magically disappear because you are called something else.

        But go ahead and ignore actual fact, it is what you do best, isn’t it?


      2. Okay, a small neighborhood has left Van Nuys. The problems the city faces still remain. Will the passion seen her and other places opposing this movement be focused on making change for VN or will it remain dormant until the next neighborhood asks for secession?


    2. Another Neighborhood Wants to Abandon Van Nuys.
      That is not true. Merabi & Sons was waiting for the permit to built 18 units APT building, with three affordable units for the elderly people.
      The comment the writer has made on the above artic about Merabi and sons is unfair.
      We help comminutes, and bring prosperity to Van Nuys we would never abandon it .


      1. Dear Mr. Merabi:

        You bulldozed a historic home, one that belonged to the founder of Van Nuys.
        You destroyed history, and therefore you wiped out a significant piece of Van Nuys.

        Your bulldozer speaks louder than your lies.



        This is from the Daily News, June 20, 2007:

        Byline: DANA BARTHOLOMEW

        Staff Writer

        VAN NUYS — In 1911, William Paul

        Whitsett built a small clapboard bungalow to launch the first land boom in the San Fernando Valley


        Ninety-six years later, preservationists want to block another builder’s plans to raze

        the oldest known home in Van Nuys.

        “It’s a shame — there are so few of these buildings,” said Laurie Lavine, president of the Valley Glen Improvement Association and a member of a loose-knit coalition to save the home.

        “This is the original Van Nuys, the humble beginnings started by a grand visionary. … It all started here. It’s incredible.”

        On Tuesday, Lavine joined fellow preservationists outside the 1,000-square-foot house at 14628 Sylvan


        They marveled at its gabled roof, hacked up by firefighters ahead of a planned demolition.

        They marveled at its solid bay window. Its dormer

        vent. Its modest proportions. Its humble front porch, now overgrown

        with bushes.

        A growing number of historic preservationists hope to obtain landmark status for the last of 10 homes built before a land-auction barbecue bonanza Feb. 22, 1911. Angelenos, lured by Whitsett to a barren wheat field with a few token structures, were sold Van Nuys as “the town that started Right.”

        Plan is for condos

        Time is short. The developer, Merabi & Sons LLC

        of Encino, has pulled a permit to demolish the home to build condominiums.

        Kami A. Merab, head of the company, referred all calls to his attorney, Jeffrey Sklan, who was unaware of specific plans for the property.

        “The property is going to be developed into a condominium project,” Sklan said. “My understanding is the city and the (Department of Water and Power) are aware of it.”

        Three days before Merabi obtained his demolition permit, the city Cultural Heritage Commission had agreed to consider the home as a historic-cultural monument.

        A monument application could postpone demolition one year. Monument status would require an environmental review ahead of the wrecking ball.

        A hearing had been scheduled for Thursday, then postponed until July 12. Until then, Merabi has the legal right to destroy the home, bought last fall for $1 million from Barbara Benoit Baron, whose family had owned the house since 1933.

        Looking for


        City officials said they are exploring all legal options to save the house before a formal landmark application can stop demolition.

        “I am committed to preserving the unique character of our neighborhoods and am looking into every lawful possibility to save this home,” Councilman Tony Cardenas said in a statement.

        Officials say the last-minute effort to save the pioneer home is the chief reason the city has launched a citywide survey of its historic gems.

        “This appears to be the last remaining house from the William Paul Whitsett land sale in Van Nuys in 1911,” said Ken Bernstein, manager of the city Office of Historic Resources. “Unfortunately, historic preservation in Los Angeles often occurs in reaction mode … for structures that are under threat.”

        Mike Buhler of the Los Angeles Conservancy, a preservation group, agreed. The building, he said, should at least be preserved long enough to be considered as a landmark.

        “Once it’s gone, it’s gone,” said Buhler, director of advocacy for the conservancy. “Irreplaceable.”

        The Whitsett home shares a street lined with pepper trees and historic bungalows, newer apartments and such landmarks as the old Van Nuys post office and library.

        It was once home to such Van Nuys pioneers as Wayne and Adah Bechtelheimer, the town’s first druggists, and civic leaders Mark and Stella Sutton.

        Richard Hilton, who discovered the sleepy home while planning a historic walking tour, is founding a nonprofit group that hopes to buy the house and make it home to a Van Nuys historical museum.

        “These are the touchstones of the past,” said Hilton of Valley Glen. “Without these touchstones, we won’t be able to know who we are.”

        “It is the gateway to Van Nuys,” added Diana Lipari, his wife. “It’s not just about the rich movers and shakers. It’s about the working middle-class people who built this city.

        “I think they deserve to be remembered.”


        (818) 713-3730


  3. Amy posted this comment and it did not show up. Here it is:

    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.


  4. Points made by Jeff and Willis Avenue accurately describe the reasons for the desired recognition. Simply stated, the lives of the proposed name change area residents will not be greatly altered by the name change. However, they will finally be recognized as members of their community. We will all continue in our collective efforts to better the City of Los Angeles in which we live. We the residents simply wish to correct the oversight made in 1993 when the border of Sherman Oaks was redrawn.


  5. I utterly agree with Rob’s comments, above. My family and I too live in the described area which we are calling “part of Sherman Oaks”. My children go to elementary school in Sherman Oaks, and our entire lives and buying power is concentrated in Sherman Oaks: our supermarket, dry cleaner, restaurants, banks, house of worship, video store, movie theater…….nearly every taxable dollar we spend ends up in Sherman Oaks (with the exception of Costco, frequented by many “towns” in the Valley).
    The natural dividing line between our community and Van Nuys, delineated by the Orange Line but, in almost fortress-like manner, buttressed by industrial buildings all along Oxnard, means that we have little relationship with the community to the north of us. We do not walk there (while we DO walk in Sherman Oaks), no do we frequent businesses or entertainment in Van Nuys. Without any disrespect to Van Nuys whatsoever, there is no commonality between our neighborhood and this city.
    Opponents of the neighborhood name change movement paint us as greedy, snobby homeowners interested only in property values and the perceived social status of living in Sherman Oaks. While a minor bump in home value (5%) may be a byproduct of a renaming our neighborhood, this is not the raison d’etre for being annexed to Sherman Oaks. Nor does status play a big part, although it would be dishonest to say that Van Nuys does not have its share of perception problems.

    No, the real reasons are those previously mentioned, that of community pride and cohesion with our neighborhood……..which is Sherman Oaks.

    What compelling reason does Van Nuys have for us to stay aligned there? We are perhaps 5,000 residents in a town of over 80,000, a small, unnoticed group that the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council has never shown any interest in, until our residents petitioned to leave.


  6. Karen’s point that changing the name of an area will not solve the underlying problems is true. However, to say that we all live in in Los Angeles and pretend that there is no difference in how people perceive the different areas is just ridiculous. If you live in L.A. you know quite well that different areas are perceived VERY differently, and that this can have a huge impact on home values, business, and a sense of pride in one’s community.

    The people that live in the disputed area feel as though they already live in Sherman Oaks based on a variety of things: their children go to school in Sherman Oaks, they vote in Sherman Oaks, they do most of their shopping in Sherman Oaks, they buy gas in Sherman Oaks, they share the same city council person as Sherman Oaks,etc. They are also physically separated from the rest of Van Nuys by a large industrial area, the orange metro line, and what is essentially a ghetto-like area north of Oxnard St.
    Furthermore, the current border makes no sense – half of Burbank Blvd. is in Sherman Oaks and the other half is in Van Nuys? This is inherently unfair to businesses since people perceive the areas so differently.
    The residents of this area don’t want to “join a Van Nuys neighborhood group to improve Van Nuys” because they don’t really live in Van Nuys, except for by name. They spend the vast majority of their lives in Sherman Oaks, and would much rather be associated with, and work to improve the community they live actually live in.
    If you drive around the area it becomes very apparent that there is a huge difference once you go north of Oxnard.

    If you still don’t understand the impact of having a community name that accurately describes the area in which you live, ask any of the owners of the mansions along Chandler Blvd if they prefer their neighborhood be called Sherman Oaks or Van Nuys. Until the mid 90’s, they were part of Van Nuys too. They didn’t have to ‘move to Sherman Oaks’ as Karen suggests in order to have a community name that accurately reflected the area.

    The residents don’t want to change the border of Sherman Oaks so that “a few people don’t have to say they’re from Van Nuys”. They want to have a community name that gives them a sense of pride and accurately reflects the complexion of the area in which they live.

    Finally, changing of the Sherman Oaks border by a few blocks will have a tremendously positive effect on a community of people, but will have no negative impact on anyone. Why would someone oppose this?

    Karen, with all due respect, you seem to have some unspoken agenda and reason for opposing the name change, but your comments demonstrate a very superficial understanding of the situation.

    Whether the name change is approved or not, the residents of the area will continue to live 99% of their lives in Sherman Oaks, so why not acknowledge this and make a few thousand people happy?


  7. Rob, you merely reworded my point: that it is moot to quibble over where neighborhood lines are drawn since we all live in the city of Los Angeles. If the city is going to change the Sherman Oaks border just so a few people don’t have to say they’re from Van Nuys, why not just eliminate the name altogether and add all of Van Nuys to Sherman Oaks? Will that instantly solve the crime and blight problems here? Is South L.A. any better since it stopped being called South Central L.A.? Playing with neighborhood names may make people feel better about how others perceive an area, but it does nothing to solve the underlying problems the area had to begin with.


  8. Karen, when people ask which city I live in, I answer Van Nuys (and usually that is what people are asking to know). If we all live in Los Angeles, then it seems a moot point to quibble over where neighborhood lines are drawn. However, if you wish to correct my statement, feel free: “Since virtually all my money is spent in that [region/area/town/”Karen’s preferred description here”/etc.], I would prefer to officially be part of it”. However it’s stated, I hope the City Council does allow the change.

    Sadly, I agree with Sara when she states there is something embarrassing in saying “I live in Van Nuys.” One need only look at the January 2, 2009 entry here entitled “Around Kester & Victory” for an example as why some people may prefer the name change.

    It certainly is a pity… and, hell, if I had enough money to buy South of the Boulevard I would. I imagine many other’s would too.


  9. Rob, you do not spend virtually all your money in the “city” of Sherman Oaks. Sherman Oaks and Van Nuys are both part of the city of LOS ANGELES, as are North Hollywood, Valley Glen and Valley Village. I hope the City Council does not allow this ridiculous change. If you want to live in Sherman Oaks, move there. Otherwise join a Van Nuys neighborhood group and work toward improving the quality of life for you and your fellow residents.


  10. I too live in the disputed area. I am down for the name change. It is embarrassing to say I live in ‘Van Nuys.’ I am not a property owner…just a per renter. But my children go to school in Sherman Oaks and we do all our shopping in Sherman Oaks.


  11. I live in the disputed area as well . . . but I am against renaming the area Sherman Oaks.

    Years ago at a Neighborhood Watch meeting, shortly after Valley Glen was formed, we took a lighthearted straw poll of possible monikers we might accept for ‘our’ neighborhood’.

    ‘Van Oaks’ won . . but not far behind was ‘Sherman Nuys’!! :o)


  12. During the Valley secession debate one unanswered question was what to call the new Valley city, if it become independent.

    What is considered the most prestigeous place name in the Valley? Should the entire Valley be renamed Sherman Oaks? Or Encino? Or maybe “Back to the Future”‘s “Hill Valley”?!


  13. I currently live in the section of Van Nuys that wishes to secede. While I understand your point, I would prefer my address to be in Sherman Oaks. Being less than a block from Burbank Blvd. (the current border), I do nearly all my shopping, eating, and entertaining in Sherman Oaks. Since virtually all my money is spent in that city, I would prefer to officially be part of it.

    Besides, I’ve been joking that I live in “Sherman Woods” for years (in reference to Toluca Woods co-opting of Toluca Lakes name).


  14. I still laugh at the history of “North Hills”. Following the lead of West Hills breaking away from Canoga Park, the northern part of Sepulveda became North Hills.

    Which left the remainder of Sepulveda feeling left out, and now all of Sepulveda is North Hills, never mind the highest hill in the mid-Valley is the 405 freeway embankment.

    Will Sherman Oaks eventually spread to North Hills?


  15. Imagine…it is to be called Valley Oaks…where I live was once Van Nuys West, now that Lake Balboa boundary has moved 3 blocks away to the West, I am considered to be in Van Nuys East! Wow, Saticy and Haskell is Lake Balboa…looks the same to me.


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