Part of Sherman

Facts are being marshaled, and selectively cited, to support the secession of an area of Van Nuys so that it can officially call itself “Sherman Oaks”.

On a blog “Part of Sherman Oaks” you can read this:

San Fernando Valley neighbors have banded together in an effort to become officially recognized as a part of Sherman Oaks. A core group of neighbors living in the 91411 & 91401 zip codes organized themselves in order to spread the word throughout the entire community that we the neighbors residing east of Sepulveda Blvd, west of Hazeltine Ave and south of Oxnard Blvd down to Burbank Blvd are a Part Of Sherman Oaks.

Lawn signs are quite numerous now. I drove along Hatteras Street from Van Nuys Boulevard (still has that horrible name) to Kester and there are “Part of Sherman Oaks” signs planted on many lawns. It reminds me of some sort of a latter-day Anschluss, where, in 1938, Germany invaded and then absorbed neighbor Austria. The difference here is that the richer and more powerful residents of Sherman Oaks could care less if a few hundred homes in Van Nuys joined them.

What distinguishes the disputed area of Van Nuys that would make it want to go south?

I live north of Victory, near Van Nuys High School, on a street that has large homes on large lots and is home to a number of discreetly wealthy and creative people. (I only fall into the second category). But when I drive off of my street, I enter the slum of Kesterland, with its armies of men waiting on corners for work, the filthy and unkempt businesses that cannot sweep the gutters daily, badly maintained apartments that leave trash and toys all over, and lots of cars that emit smoggy exhaust. This is Van Nuys and this is what is looks and feels like on its busy boulevards. It is, yes, it is, disgusting.

And the people who keep up their homes, and don’t park their cars on their front lawns and don’t blare mariachi music when they wash their cars, they also don’t seem to shop or eat tacos or buy their shoes North of Oxnard. It seems that the neighborhood committee, which lists factual reasons why there is some sort of physical barrier separating them from the rest of Van Nuys, really think that culture and immigration should not be mentioned.

An industrial zone is not a “natural barrier”. Greater Glendale and Burbank both have industrial areas within their communities, and there has been no outcry from Hollywood Way and Magnolia to secede from the rest of Burbank. That is because Burbank has a positive connotation and “Van Nuys” does not. And when one drives through Burbank, one is transported, magically, back to the 1950s, in a city of crew cuts, American flags, and Bob’s Big Boy.

And lest one believes that mostly white homeowners are better at keeping up their properties, I invite them to come to my street where the best maintained houses are owned by natives of Guatemala and Mexico and the worst kept places are inhabited by whites. I would venture to guess, and indeed I know, that the ugliest aspects of urban decay in my neighborhood, other than tagging, involve billboards, above-ground power lines, and that endless stream of automobile traffic made possible by under investment in public transportation. The slum apartments are “managed” by those who come from east of the Meditterranean, not south of Texas.

I frankly do not think that any community group which expends its energies, not on improving its community, but rather in superficial Potemkin village, Orwellian name changing will ever achieve anything positive. The fortunes of Sherman Oaks are going down, along with the rest of the world. And there is litter on Ventura Boulevard, and criminal activities galore in the real estate, pornography and entertainment industries whose prosperity built up the great glories of Sherman Oaks.

But hell, if you think you can make a go of it, why not call yourself “North Beverly Hills”?

24 thoughts on “Part of Sherman

  1. BUT–in the end, POSO (Part of Sherman Oaks) will never count with the real SOB’s
    (South of the Boulevards, Ventura that is) who run Sherman Oaks.


  2. No, name changes have nothing to do with the sense of community. The sense of community comes from a series of neighbors that show care for where they live and for each other. I don’t care about my neighborhood because it is or is not called a particular thing based on what happens to be considered better or worse at this particular point in history. I just wish that that same amount of effort could be placed towards something that would actually improve the city of Van Nuys instead of making such a concerted effort to be removed from it. I do most of my business in Sherman Oaks but try to make a real effort to support businesses in Van Nuys because I feel it is important to do so. Los Angeles as a whole seems to have become a place where people place great pride in talking about where they live, consequently looking down on those who do not live in an area deemed as favorable. How much time and money is being spent on this campaign? How much time and city money will be devoted to what it will take to see this happen, as I am sure it eventually will. I just think that this lacks vision of a bigger picture.


  3. tbb, I agree, a name change itself does nothing. I ask, though, why can’t the evolution of an area be reflected in a name change? It happens all the time and is responsible for all the wonderful communal niches we have around us. It seems as though you have a special niche of your own, and that’s wonderful. It might come as a shock to those who think this is all about property values, but I would be saying the same thing if the entirety of Van Nuys were a more sweet “Beverly Hills of the San Fernando Valley.” Why? Because we local residents truly value our vibrant local community and simply would like to see it strengthened.


  4. A Van Nuys by any other name would smell as sweet? It seems that it really is the name that people are really hung up on. If it doesn’t change what school your children attend or any of the other places that your community revolves around then what the community is called shouldn’t matter. Maybe a lot of people are tired of the look that they get when they tell their future potential co-citizens of Sherman Oaks that they live in Van Nuys. Oh how humiliating!


  5. abh1wordpress, your feedback is useful as it helps me to clarify even further.

    Clearly, a community is not comprised by all of Los Angeles, and you wouldn’t object to the local communities of Larchmont Village, NOHO, Marina del Rey, Pacific Palisades, or West Hollywood, before it became a city of its own, would you? If you do, then perhaps you see Los Angeles more as a sprawling urban homogeneity instead of a patchwork of small communities that just happen to abut each other.

    You say, in part repeating my words, ‘ “It’s the sense of community and the way people act and look out for each other.” What exactly is wrong with remaining a part of Van Nuys and simply saying, “We have a well kept community that is in Van Nuys and this proves that what people say about Van Nuys is not completely true? ’

    Well, then, I think you have missed my point. Those people looking out for each other? They are from either side of Burbank Blvd., some in Sherman Oaks, some in Van Nuys. The children from both sides attend the same schools and play together on weekends. Our “neighborhood parties” know no boundary at Burbank Blvd. What would we say, that we are well-kept community, part of it in Sherman Oaks, part of it in Van Nuys, and that we really don’t have a singular and unique identity? Hmmm, that doesn’t really roll off the tongue, now does it?

    Instead of a community pulling together, you would rather have it split up even further and have yet another local government establish oft-differing regulations to inject even more confusion into the region? And how exactly does your approval of an independent entity resolve with your desire for more non-artificial diversity? Diversity is wonderful, but it doesn’t trump what really brings a community together.

    abh1wordpress, sorry, but I don’t think I am the one in denial here.


  6. I live in Van Nuys, a few blocks away from the disputed area in a really nice neighborhood at Victory and Sepulveda. Personally I think my neighborhood is nicer than any of the areas that are being discussed, so nice in fact that there are movie and commercial shoots going on here constantly.

    Let them go if they want out so badly. I have no problem living in the VN as I look out over my pool, attend my neighborhood parties and walk through the gorgeous streets in my hood.

    By the way, once my neighborhood was referred to as the “Beverly Hills of Van Nuys.” I laughed really hard at that one, wondering where the Van Nuys of Beverly Hills would be.


  7. Your point about community is well spoken and I believe that what you say about your area of Van Nuys is true.

    However, you propose that somehow by leaving Van Nuys and renaming yourself “Sherman Oaks” that this will strengthen your communal life.

    All of Los Angeles shares the same schools, mayor, councilman, police and fire departments. We are not walled off from the concerns of each other when we artificially rename ourselves “Valley Village” or “Valley Glen”.

    Ironically, the very sense of caring that you speak of, in the old Van Nuys and in the blocks that surround you, are now being neglected and forgotten as you pack up your psyche and try to gain legal recognition to divorce yourself from the actual community that you belong to.

    I could understand if the “Hatteras/Kester” district proposed to completely create a new entity like the City of West Hollywood. You would then have the power to tax and self-govern yourselves.

    “It’s the sense of community and the way people act and look out for each other.” What exactly is wrong with remaining a part of Van Nuys and simply saying, “We have a well kept community that is in Van Nuys and this proves that what people say about Van Nuys is not completely true. Diversity strengthens a city and we will work to better all of Van Nuys and Los Angeles instead of withdrawing into a little world of denial.”


  8. Here are just some hopefully clarifying thoughts from someone who lives in both Sherman Oaks proper and the “part of Sherman Oaks” (POSO) area in question. (Yes, I have two houses.) It is true that the sense of both areas is strikingly similar, and both very different from the region north of the Orange Line. I grew up in Van Nuys, but Van Nuys has changed. Sherman Oaks is more like what the old Van Nuys used to be, and I’m not talking about skin color percentages. It’s the sense of community and the way people act and look out for each other.

    It strikes me that the dissenters have downplayed or ignored many key factors that define a community. The residents of the two areas share the same councilwoman, the same zip code, the same schools, and frequent the same parks, shops and restaurants. About the same percentage of my neighbors in the “POSO” area commute over the hill as do my neighbors in Sherman Oaks proper.

    While POSO might be two miles from what is now considered the “downtown of Sherman Oaks,” I would like to point out that the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council meets regularly at the Kester Avenue Elementary School, one block south of POSO. Perhaps they should hold their meetings closer to “downtown?”


  9. What they won’t say out loud: Our neighborhood closely resemble S.O. in in many ways including the fact the we are mainly a white neighborhood in a largely Hispanic community.


  10. 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.


    1. Dear Amy,

      In your response about why your community wishes to rename itself “Sherman Oaks” when it currently is designated “Van Nuys” you write:

      “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.”

      This is the first honest admission that anyone has written concerning why the district would like to leave Van Nuys. And the very lack of honesty about the compelling reasons is what bothers me in the first place.

      The San Fernando Valley has many blighted old areas including North Hollywood, Canoga Park and Van Nuys. In the past fifteen years, rather than confront these problems, the more affluent and able
      residents have decided that it would be easier to just rename their neighborhoods: Valley Village, West Hills, Valley Glen, Lake Balboa.

      Yet, the underlying problems of our region deserve to be confronted and changed by those people who reside here. We cannot wish away illegal immigration, bad schools, overcrowded hospitals, and
      an unresponsive government by simply cocooning ourselves and pulling the blankets of identity change over our collective heads.

      If “Part of Sherman Oaks”, which is only five blocks south of downtown Van Nuys, and therefore within walking distance from the heart of the San Fernando Valley Municipal Government, banded together with hundreds of protesters, and demanded that our city enforce immigration laws and increase police presence in our area, then your group would have my admiration and appreciation. But your passion seems to be driven by home values and a desperation to join a name rather than fight for real political and social improvements.

      You are not just “40 yards from Sherman Oaks”, you are over two miles north of downtown Sherman Oaks, which is unofficially agreed to be roughly around the area of Van Nuys Boulevard and Ventura. And as I wrote earlier, you are five short blocks from the Valley Municipal Building, the seat of government for the City of Los Angeles in Van Nuys. If you believe that your quality of life will be improved greatly by associating yourself with affluent residents whose McMansions climb the mountains to the top of Mullholland Drive, then perhaps you are right to join Sherman Oaks.

      But from what I’ve seen of the contested area in which you live, your well kept district is full of modest little houses, built for post-war Veterans coming back from serving their country in World War Two.
      These men and women who originally lived in your homes 60 years ago would have laughed if anyone told them that they were purchasing homes in “Sherman Oaks”. They knew better, those practical people who believed in pride of country and were unashamed of the name “Van Nuys”.

      I have no doubt that residents, who vote and can influence Wendy Gruel, will somehow persuade her that a new name may satisfy them. And she may buy those cultural and social reasons as a de facto geographical certainty. But everyone, north and south of Oxnard, is smart enough to see through racial and ethnic preferences that disguise themselves in such terms as “where we worship” and “where we shop”. For every reason you cite why you belong in “Sherman Oaks” I can cite ten reasons why you belong in “Van Nuys”.

      And please elaborate on how your neighborhood “more closely resembles Sherman Oaks”?


  11. I’m not a part of any group.

    I actually live in the area that is contested.

    I have pride in my community . . . and don’t see the need for a name change.

    Because that’s all you’re asking for — AFTER you bought your home in Van Nuys.


  12. This is to Dave:

    It seems that the Van Nuys protectionists cannot keep from resorting to mean-spirited descriptors of our group as “whining”, “greedy”, that we are “ashamed” (of Van Nuys), among others.

    It is in no one’s interest in this discussion to be antagonistic. If Van Nuys, its Neighborhod Council in particular, wants to keep us so badly, then why have they called us names, insulted us in the press and blogs, and treated a community of 1,800 homes without any respect when reviewing and voting upon the neighborhood name change?

    Our community, which Van Nuys virtually ignored before our peitition to leave it, has certainly not been welcomed by the Van Nuys local leaders. It is interesting that they want to keep us considering this is not the will of nearly 5,000 people. That, as psychologists would say, is a dysfunctional relationship.

    To clarify another point, no one in our group has come together to “flood this blog with their whining”. Perhaps it is a surprising anomaly in these times to see some cohesive, civic activism not having to do with electing anyone, nor the gay marriage issue, nor solar energy, etc. These are independant, determined stakeholders in Part of Sherman Oaks who are of like minds.

    There is pride in our community. Just drive along one of our streets and you’ll see the that pride of ownership, the sense of a REAL neighborhood, almost a “back to the 1950s, Leave It to Beaver” type of community. Neighbors who have block parties, 4th of July and Halloween parades, who are block captains for neighborhood watches, and there are emergency response teams that grew after 911. Residents who successfully banded together to push, over a long haul of 2-5 years, to get our streets repaved. Neighbors who will stand up together this Friday to protest a 60 foot cell phone tower that could blight our area.

    What you are unhappy with is that our community spirit is something that Van Nuys’ leadership wishes it could harness, capitalize upon, duplicate to improve the wellbeing of Van Nuys. That is totally understandable. But perhaps you should look to encouraging other Van Nuys neighborhoods to exhibit civic and residential pride rather than penalize a small community that has been geographically orphaned from Van Nuys proper for a long, long time.

    Forty years ago Van Nuys began at Magnolia Boulevard. Sixty years ago citrus groves still covered many parts of the Valley. Much has chanaged. And nothing is as constant as change.


  13. I guess it must have been suggested at the recent meeting of this group to flood this blog with their whining.

    I had to laugh at the Daily News article where a spokesperson for this group kept citing ‘pride of community’ when the exact opposite is true — you people are ASHAMED of being labelled Van Nuys residents.


  14. In reply to Live in 91411, a handful of the Part of Sherman Oaks were placed on City property at busy street corners.

    But fully 98% of the signs gracing our neighbors lawns are there because the owners support this name change and were happy to pay for their signs with donations. In fact, there continue to be requests by owners for more signs.


  15. Residents in the area have donated $5 to have a sign on their front lawn. In fact, the requests for signs keep coming and we are almost out of signs. The community pride and involvement shows by how many signs line the streets.


  16. Your stab of “why not call yourself North Beverly Hills” implies that the desire for this name change is ridiculous, but it clearly shows your ignorance of what the disputed community is trying to accomplish.

    Residents are not simply attempting to elevate the perception of their neighborhood by changing the name. Instead, the goal is to have a neighborhood name that accurately reflects the community to which they already belong.

    If residents of the area (or of southern Sherman Oaks) lived their lives as part of the Beverly Hills or Bel Air community, then they may have reason to push for such a name change. The fact is that residents of Sherman Oaks and/or Van Nuys do not do all their grocery shopping in Beverly Hills, they aren’t mandated to vote in Beverly Hills, their nearest gas stations and post offices aren’t in Beverly Hills, etc.
    Residents of the disputed area do all these things in Sherman Oaks because that is what is convenient for them…because that is their community/neighborhood.

    Homes in Sherman Oaks are not listed as ‘Beverly Hills adjacent’ but homes in the disputed area are either listed as such or as ‘Sherman Oaks’ proper.

    The residents of the area simply want to be able to have a clear sense of identity and community.


  17. The community that is expending its energy pushing this “Orwellian name change” as you call it, has already achieved many positive things. Among them, a stronger bond among many of the residents, which can and will lead to further improvements in the community.
    The group and many of the participants are dedicated to improving their community…they simply feel that their community is Sherman Oaks – where they shop, vote, live, and send their kids to school.
    The area has been ignored by Van Nuys in terms of beautification and clean-up (among other things), yet now is effectively being held hostage against the will of the residents.

    You’re right that ‘Burbank’ has a positive connotation but ‘Van Nuys’ does not, and that certainly plays into the community’s motivation to change their name. However, you ask ‘what distinguishes the disputed area that would make it want to go south?”.
    The answer is that this area is connected with Sherman Oaks and separated from the rest of Van Nuys – both physically and demographically. The residents live 99% of their lives as part of the Sherman Oaks community, not the Van Nuys community.
    The industrial zone may not be a ‘natural barrier’ but it is certainly a formidable physical barrier. It is also a clear and sensible point at which to draw a border.
    One can also not ignore the important business aspect of this name change. The current border of Burbank Blvd. is completely unfair to businesses. Those on the south side are Sherman Oaks and those on the north are Van Nuys. As you point out, ‘Van Nuys’ has a negative connotation…is it fair that businesses on the north side of Burbank Blvd. should suffer because the border is the middle of the street?
    Many of these businesses have resorted to falsely listing their address as Sherman Oaks for this very reason.

    99% of the businesses in the area have given their written support for this name change. Considering the state of the economy right now, why not do something to help these businesses out? Especially something that has no negative impact on anyone.


  18. Van Nuys has a right to be dismayed about the decline of what was a bright and cheerful middle class environment – but the animosity toward a small group of residents who are geographically more affiliated with Sherman Oaks and seperated from Van Nuys by a mile wide industrial zone intersected by the Orange line – are not to blame. Factually, the residents of this area have no effect on the betterment of Van Nuys. They are less than one percent of the stakeholders of Van Nuys and therefore cannot affect Van Nuys’ statistics one way or the other. Their children are mandated by LAUSD to attend Sherman Oaks schools because Sherman Oaks and not Van Nuys is within walking distance. They are the only section of Van Nuys that is South of the Orange line and in Wendy Greuel’s not Tony Cardenas district.

    Yes, Van Nuys deserves support, but that should come from City Hall. This is a case of misplaced anger against a group of people who simple want the right to self determination. Pure and simple.


  19. It seems that Van Nuys proper stands to lose nothing by seeing this community go. Apparently this neighborhood represents at most 5,000 people out of Van Nuys’ over 83,000 residents? Considering their community seems to want this renaming, why should Van Nuys stand in the way?

    With both Easter and Passover approaching I couldn’t help but think how their themes apply to this neighborhood. Easter is about rebirth, renewal. At Passover the theme is “Let My People Go”.

    Just let these people go….


  20. Well-written and explained as always! I couldn’t agree more with the sad foolishness of this venture.

    I know your street — it is charming and mysterious – at least when I run down it on my pre-dawn jogs.

    Do you know the history of your street and why it is so different than anything else in that neighborhood? (It’s more like the stretch of Weddington that lies between Hazeltine and Woodman.)

    (Those three blocks could possibly be called North Beverly Hills! :o))


  21. The reason why there are so many of the ‘part of Sherman Oaks’signs in lawns is because the group is going around and putting them in peoples yards without asking the resident homeowner.

    I ended up with one in my yard and nobody asked me. I personally don’t care if my house is in Sherman Oaks or remains ‘Sherman Oaks Adjacent!’


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