(Almost) Everything You Wanted To Know About The San Fernando Valley
The Los Angeles San Fernando Valley (colloquially known as
“the Valley” by Angelenos) is suburban communities located mostly in Los Angeles defined by the dramatic mountains of the Transverse Ranges circling it. Home to 1.76 million people, it lies north of the larger and more populous Los Angeles Basin.
More than half of the city of Los Angeles’ land area lies within the San Fernando Valley. The other incorporated cities in the valley are Burbank, Glendale, San Fernando, Hidden Hills and Calabasas.
The San Fernando Valley is about 260 square miles (670 km2) bounded by the Santa Susana Mountains to the northwest, theSimi Hills to the west, the Santa Monica Mountains and Chalk Hills to the south, the Verdugo Mountains to the east, and theSan Gabriel Mountains to the northeast. The northern Sierra Pelona Mountains, northwestern Topatopa Montains, southernSanta Ana Mountains, and Downtown Los Angeles skyscrapers, can be seen from higher neighborhoods, passes, and parks in the San Fernando Valley.
The Los Angeles River begins at the confluence of Calabasas Creek (Arroyo Calabasas) and Bell Creek (Escorpión Creek) atCanoga Park High School beside Vanowen Boulevard in Canoga Park. Those creeks’ headwaters are in: the Santa Monica’sCalabasas foothils; and the Simi Hill’s Hidden Hills, Santa Susana Field Laboratory, and Santa Susana Pass Park lands. The River flows eastward along the southern regions of the Valley. One of the river’s two unpaved sections can be found at theSepulveda Basin. The seasonal river, the Tujunga Wash, drains much of the western facing San Gabriel Mountains, and passes through the Hansen Dam Recreation Center in Tujunga south along the Verdugo Mountains through the eastern communities of the Valley to join the Los Angeles River in Studio City. Other notable tributaries of the River include Dayton Creek, Caballero Creek, Bull Creek, Pacoima Wash, and Verdugo Wash. The elevation of the floor of the valley varies from about 600 to 1,200 ft. above sea level.
Most of the San Fernando Valley is within the jurisdictional boundaries of the city of Los Angeles, although a few other incorporated cities are located within the Valley as well; Burbank and Glendale are in the southeast corner of the Valley, Hidden Hills, Calabasas, and Bell Canyon are in the southwest corner, and San Fernando, which is completely surrounded by Los Angeles, is in the northeast valley. Universal City, an enclave in the southern part of the Valley, is unincorporated land housing the Universal Studios filming lot. Mulholland Drive, which runs along the ridgeline of the Santa Monica Mountains, marks the boundary between the Valley and the communities of Hollywood and the Los Angeles Westside.
Government and political representation
San Fernando Valley is composed of six incorporated cities. The majority of the valley is governed by the incorporated City of Los Angeles. The unincorporated communities (Census-designated places) are governed byCounty of Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles city section of the valley is divided into seven city council districts. They are City Council districts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 12. Of the 99 neighborhood councils in the city, 34 are in the Valley. The valley is represented in the California State Legislature by seven members of the State Assembly and five members of the State Senate. The valley is divided into five congressional districts. It is represented in Congress by senior figures from both parties including Representative Henry Waxman (D), Representative Howard Berman (D), and RepresentativeHoward McKeon (R). In the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, it is represented by two supervisorial districts.
The San Fernando Valley votes largely for Democratic candidates in local, state, and national elections. However, along with the Los Angeles Harbor district, it also elects Republican candidates.
The Los Angeles satellite administrative center for the valley, The Civic Center Van Nuys, is in Van Nuys. The area in and around the Van Nuys branch of Los Angeles City Hall is home to a police station, municipal and superior courts and Los Angeles city and county administrative offices. Northridge is home to California State University Northridge (originally named San Fernando Valley State College).
Branch libraries of the Los Angeles Public Library are in many of the “Communities of the City of Los Angeles” in the “Municipalities and districts” list below.
For independent libraries see “Incorporated Cities (independent)” in the “Municipalities and districts” list below.
Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and independent valley city departments.
Los Angeles Fire Department, Los Angeles County Fire Department, Burbank Police Department, and independent valley city departments.
City of Los Angeles Neighborhood Councils: Valley Councils Finder.
Main article: History of the San Fernando Valley to 1915
Mission San Fernando: in a circa 1900 postcard
The Tongva, later known as the Fernandeño=Gabrieleño Mission Indians after colonization, and the Tataviam to the north and Chumash to the west, had lived and thrived in the Valley and its arroyos for over 8,000 years. They had numerous settlements, and trading and hunting camps, before the Spanish arrived and took their homeland in 1797 for the Mission San Fernando Rey de España and Las Californias ranchos.
The first Spanish land grant in the San Fernando Valley or El Valle de Santa Catalina de Bononia de los Encinos, called ‘Rancho Encino’ (present day Mission Hills on the Camino Viejo before Newhall Pass), in the northern part of the San Fernando Valley. Juan Francisco Reyes built an adobe dwelling was built beside a Tongva village or rancheria at natural springs, but ‘Rancho Encino’ was short lived with the land traded so a Mission could be sited and built there. Mission San Fernando Rey de España was established in 1797 as the 17th of the twenty-one missions. The land trade granted Juan Francisco Reyes the similarly named Rancho Los Encinos, also beside springs (Los Encinos State Historic Park in present day Encino). Later the Mexican land grants of Rancho El Escorpión (West Hills), Rancho Providencia and Rancho Cahuenga (Burbank), and Rancho Ex-Mission San Fernando (rest of valley) were established to cover the San Fernando Valley.
The Treaty of Cahuenga, ending the Mexican-American War fighting in Alta California, was signed in 1847 by Californios and Americans at Campo de Cahuenga, the Verdugo Family adobe at the entrance to the Cahuenga Pass in the southeast San Fernando Valley (North Hollywood). The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the entire war.
Statehood and beyond
The valley, not ‘a desert,’ was naturally a “Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands Biome” of grassland, oak savanna, and chaparral shrub forest types of plant communityhabitats, along with lush riparian plants along the river, creeks, and springs. This Mediterranean climate meant that post 1790s European agriculture for the mission’s support was primarily limited to cattle and sheep grazing, with small vineyards, crops, and orchards the exception. This continued with subsequent Mexican, Californio, and American ranchers while the Valley became part of Mexican Alta California (1821), the California Republic (1846), and a U. S. State (1850). In 1874 ‘dry wheat’ farming was introduced by J. B. Lankershim andIssac Van Nuys and became very productive for their San Fernando Homestead Association that owned the southern half of the Valley. In 1876 they sent the very first wheat shipment from both San Pedro Harbor and from the United States to Europe.
Through late 19th century court decisions, Los Angeles had won the rights to all surface flow water atop and aquifer groundwater beneath the Valley, without it being within the city limits. After the construction and opening of the Los Angeles Aqueduct (Owens Valley Aqueduct) in 1913, pressure was put upon the residents of each independent Valley town to vote for annexation to the city with the ‘benefit’ being connected to the municipal water system. Concurrently and perhaps pre-aware, the Los Angeles Suburban Homes Company, a syndicate led by Harry Chandler, Hobart Johnstone Whitley,Predident of the company, James B. Lankershim, and Isaac Van Nuys, extended the Pacific Electric Railway (Red Cars) through the Valley to Owensmouth (now Canoga Park and West Hills) and laid out plans for roads and the towns of Lankershim (now Toluca Lake), Van Nuys, Marion (now Reseda) and Owensmouth. The rural areas became annexed by Los Angeles in 1915. The growing towns voted for annexation, for example; Owensmouth (Canoga Park) (1917), Laurel Canyon(1923), Lankershim (1923), Sunland (1926), La Tuna Canyon (1926), and the incorporated city of Tujunga (1932); more than doubling the size of the city. A fictionalized story based on these events is told in the 1974 film Chinatown.
The Aqueduct water shifted farming from wheat to irrigated crops such as corn, beans, squash, and cotton; orchards of apricots, persimmons, and walnuts; and major citrus groves of oranges and lemons. They continued until the next increment of development converted land use, with post-war suburbanization leaving only a few enclaves, such as the ‘open air museum’ groves at the Orcutt Ranch Park and CSUN campus.
Also the advent of three new introductions and industries in the early 20th century – motion pictures, automobiles, and aircraft – spurred urbanization and population growth. World War IIproduction and the subsequent post war boom accelerated this growth so that by 1960, the valley had a population of well over one million. Los Angeles continued to consolidate its territories in the San Fernando Valley by annexing the former Rancho El Escorpión for Canoga Park-West Hills (1959), and the huge historic “Porter Ranch” at the foot of the Santa Susana Mountains for the new planned developments in Porter Ranch (1965). The additions expanded the Los Angeles portion of San Fernando Valley from the original 169 square miles (438 km2) to 224 square miles (580 km2) today.
Six Valley cities incorporated independently from Los Angeles: Glendale (1906), Burbank (1911), San Fernando (1911) Hidden Hills (1961), and Calabasas (1991). Universal City is an unincorporated enclave that is home to Universal Studios theme park and Universal CityWalk. Other unincorporated areas in the Valley are Bell Canyon and West Chatsworth.
Main article: 1994 Northridge Earthquake
The 1994 Northridge Earthquake, striking on January 17, 1994, measured a significant 6.7 on the Richter Scale. It was one of the few major earthquakes to originate and strike directly under a large city in modern times. Its epicenter was ‘precisely’ located just east of the intersection of Elkwood Street and Baird Avenue under Reseda.
Parks and recreation
The San Fernando Valley is home to numerous neighborhood ‘pocket parks,’ city parks, Recreation areas, and large Regional Open Space preserves. Many preserves are maintained as public parkland by: the National Park Service’s Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, the California State Parks, and local county and municipal parks districts. A place to enjoy the big overview is the Top of Topanga Overlook, as shown in the photo at page-top here.
Small garden parks
Gardens: The CSUN Botanic Garden, and Sepulveda Basin Sepulveda Park: Japanese Garden are mid-Valley for garden ideas and relaxation.
Gardens at Adobes: The Orcutt Ranch Horticulture Center historic house and garden, with a community garden and annual public citrus picking; the Leonis Adobe; Andrés Pico adobe; Los Encinos State Historic Park; and the evocative Mission San Fernando.
Griffith Park: The largest of Los Angeles’ municipal parks, lies at the southeastern end of the valley in the Hollywood Hills of the Santa Monica Mountains.
Recreation areas: Two large areas dedicated to sports and recreation are the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area and Wildlife Preserve behind Sepulveda Dam, and the Hansen Dam Recreation Area behind Hansen Dam.
Los Angeles River: There is an emerging bikeway, and numerous parks of various sizes, along and near the Valley’s stretch of the River, and also the Tujunga Wash.
Santa Susana Mountains: In the northern Valley the O’Melveny Park above Granada Hills preserves Bee Canyon; andRocky Peak Park at the west , all are protected parks in the Santa Susana Mountains for enjoyment.
Simi Hills: In the northeastern Valley’s mountains are the Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park, Chatsworth Park South, and Sage Ranch Park . The sizeable recreation areas in the west Valley at Bell Canyon Park, El Escorpión Park, and Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve at the end of Victory Boulevard in West Hills andWoodland Hills give a large greenbelt and miles of hiking, mountain-biking, and horseback riding in the southern Simi Hills. They adjoin the Palo Commado-Cheeseboro Open Space Preserve and El Escorpión Park for an immense system of trails, with others in the Hills.
Verdugo Mountains: In the east side mountains are; Deukmejian Wilderness Park, La Tuna Park , Brand Park, and Verdugo Mountains Open Space Preserve, among other Verdugos parks.
Santa Monica Mountains: In the southern Valley Marvin Braude Mulholland Gateway Park, Wilacre Park Wilacre Park, Laurel Canyon Park, and numerous others allow exploration of the ’close in’ Santa Monica Mountains’, withTopanga State Park nearby.
Future Valley natural area
The Backbone Trail System, Rim of the Valley Trail, and Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail are each in incremental land acquisition and construction through and around the Valley, with future completion dates. The City of Los Angeles :: Los Angeles River Revitalization Plan andCity of Los Angeles :: River Improvement Overlay District – RIO are in planning stages for returning the River to an aesthetic and ‘green’ amenity’ with safe and accessible recreation, among many goals, for the ‘upper river in the Valley and downstream.
Many future large tracts of undeveloped or ranch lands in the mountains surrounding the Valley are in the priority sights to be transformed into parkland. The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and its affiliated agencies contract property trades, conservation easements, land donations, and outright purchases – of small to substantial natural lands in all the Valley’s surrounding Ranges; the Santa Monicas, Santa Susanas, Simi Hills, Verdugo Mountains , and San Gabriel Mountains.
Municipalities and districts
Incorporated Cities (independent)
Communities of the City of Los Angeles
Lake View Terrace
La Tuna Canyon+
NoHo Arts District
Ventura Business District
+ Common usage of the term San Fernando Valley include these communities that are in Crescenta Valley.
The Valley is home to numerous companies, the most well-known of which are involved in motion pictures, music recording, and television production. The former movie ranches were branches of original studios now consisting of CBS Studio Center, NBC-Universal, The Walt Disney Company (and its ABC television network), and Warner Bros.
The Valley was previously known for stellar advances in aerospace technology and nuclear research by companies such as Lockheed, Rocketdyne and its Santa Susana Field Laboratory, Atomics International, Litton Industries, Marquardt, and TRW’s predecessor Thompson Ramo Wooldridge.
The Valley became the pioneering region for producing adult films in the 1970s and since then has been home to a multi-billion dollar pornography industry earning the monikers “Porn Valley”, “San Pornando Valley,” or “Silicone Valley” – a play on Silicon Valley with Silicone breast implants. The leading trade paper for the industry, AVN Magazine, is based in the Northwest Valley, as are a majority of the nation’s adult video and magazine distributors.
According to the HBO series Porn Valley, nearly 90% of all legally distributed pornographic films made in the United States are either filmed in or produced by studios based in the San Fernando Valley. Most studios are based in Chatsworth, Van Nuys and Canoga Park.
The automobile still remains the dominant form of transportation in the region of the Valley, though gridlock of freeway and surface street transport networks grows. Major freeways cross the Valley, including Interstate 405 – San Diego Freeway, U.S. Route 101 – Ventura Freeway / Hollywood Freeway, State Route 118 – Reagan Freeway, State Route 170 – Hollywood Freeway, Interstate 210 – Foothill Freeway, and Interstate 5 – Golden State Freeway. Most of the major thoroughfares run on a cartographic grid: notable streets include Sepulveda Boulevard, Ventura Boulevard,Laurel Canyon Boulevard, San Fernando Road, Victory Boulevard, Reseda Boulevard, Riverside Drive, Mulholland Drive, and State Route 27 – Topanga Canyon Boulevard.
Rapid, rail, and public transit, provided by many agencies and reaches of service, are growing in ease of use, flexibility options and ridership in the Valley. Ironically it is the historic Pacific Electric Railway urban ‘Red Car’ system, that first accelerated population growth here, whose former right-of -ways give locations for new systems.
Metro systems (LACMTA)
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority acronyms: LACMTA; MTA; and METRO, and “name of a color” LINES.
The Valley has two Metro Red Line Subway stations; located at Universal City and North Hollywood, which connect the Valley directly to Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles, with continually updated Metro Red Line Timetable. With transfers, they connect the Valley to the entire Metro regional light rail and subway network; with many stops en-route toMid-Wilshire, San Gabriel Valley, LAX adjacent, and Long Beach terminuses.
The Metro Red Line’s two Valley subway stations are also multi-system junctions for travel: nationwide - Bob Hope Airport, statewide - Amtrak, inter-county - Metrolink, regional - Metro Rapid, citywide - Metro Local, and valley-long - Metro Orange Line.
Valley’s Orange Line
The Valley’s Bus Rapid Transit Metro Orange Line uses a dedicated transitway route, running the east-west length of the Valley connecting the North Hollywood (Los Angeles Metro station) (subway – eastern) to Metro Rapid-Metro Local Warner Center Transit Hub – (Woodland Hills – western), with a continually updated Orange Line Timetable & Map. An extension is under construction through Canoga Park to Chatsworth. Another inter-county Metrolink access junction will be created at Chatsworth. The Orange Line features a very high frequency of service, using train-like” long articulated buses on its dedicated transitway with parking and bike lockers at many of its modern stations.
Six Metro Rapid bus rapid transit lines serve the Valley area on its major boulevards, with widely spaced only at major intersections, unlike Metro Local. more planned. The ‘San Fernando Valley Sector’ plans and operates Metro service in the Valley, under the policies and oversight of its Governance Council. The six cross-valley Metro Rapid route numbers are 734, 741, 750, 761, 780, and 794) Numerous Metro Local routes crisscross the entire Valley, with many stops for local destinations and reaching rapid system stations.
Daily ‘Metro Rapid’ bus service between Sylmar and the Santa Clarita Valley in Santa Clarita to the north is operating commute service also now, with a Route Map & Schedules.
Metro Local routes can be found on the List of current Metro Local bus routes, with Valley service help and current updates via S.F. Valley Metro Local available.
Rail and air
Metrolink commuter rail has two Valley lines, the Antelope Valley Line and Ventura County Line, connect the Valley and beyond to downtown Los Angeles and south, becoming one line at the Burbank station. These Metrolinks serve commuters during regular work hours, operating on a focused limited Schedule.
Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner long distance rail line has stops at Glendale, Burbank Airport station, Van Nuys, and Chatsworth station, before proceeding on to Ventura County, Santa Barbara, and upper California (north) or Union Station and San Diego (south).
The California High Speed Rail is planning two stations in the Valley, in downtown Burbank and in Sylmar – with an initial section possibly opening in 2020.
Air service is located at the Bob Hope Airport Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena airport (scheduled public flights), and the Van Nuys Airport (private planes). The Van Nuys – Airport FlyAway Terminal provides non-stop scheduled shuttle service to LAX and back to the Valley, with parking.
Valley independence and secession
Through late 19th century court decisions, Los Angeles had won the rights to all surface flow water atop and aquifergroundwater beneath the Valley, without it being within the city limits. With the opening of the ‘Owens Valley Aqueduct’ in 1913, pressure was put upon the residents of each independent Valley town to vote for annexation to the city with the ‘benefit’ being connected to the municipal water system. Concurrently and perhaps pre-aware, the Los Angeles Suburban Homes Company, a syndicate led by Harry Chandler, Hobart Johnstone Whitley, James B. Lankershim, and Isaac Van Nuys, extended the Pacific Electric Railway (Red Cars) through the Valley to Owensmouth (now Canoga Park and West Hills) and laid out plans for roads and the towns of Lankershim (now Toluca Lake), Van Nuys, Marion (now Reseda) and Owensmouth. Over the 1920s most of the growing towns voted for annexation. Half a century later some reconsidered the decision, and took action.
The Valley had attempted to secede in the 1970s, but the state passed a law barring city formation without the approval of the City Council. In 1997, Assemblymen Bob Hertzberg and Tom McClintock helped pass a bill that would make it easier for the Valley to secede by removing the City Council veto. AB 62 was signed into law by Governor Pete Wilson. Meanwhile, a grassroots movement to split theLos Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and create new San Fernando Valley-based school districts became the focal point of the desire to leave the city. Though the state rejected the idea of Valley-based districts, it remained an important rallying point for Hertzberg’s mayoral campaign, which proved unsuccessful.
In 2002, the San Fernando Valley portion of Los Angeles again seriously campaigned to secede from the rest of the city and become its own new independent and incorporated city. The movement gained some momentum as many San Fernando Valley residents within city limits felt they were not receiving Los Angeles city services on par with the rest of the city and their tax contributions.
Before secession could come out for a vote, the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) studied the fiscal viability of the new city and decided that the new city must mitigate any fiscal loss incurred by the rest of Los Angeles. LAFCO concluded that a new San Fernando Valley city would be financially viable, but would need to mitigate the $60.8 million that the remaining portion of Los Angeles would lose in revenues. Secessionists took this figure as evidence that the Valley gave more money to Los Angeles than it received back in services. This triggered a petition drive led by Valley VOTE to put secession on the ballot. Measures F (the proposed new SFV city) and H (the proposed new Hollywood City, which was on the same ballot) not only decided whether the valley became a city but voters also got to pick a new name for it. The proposed names on the ballot were as follows: San Fernando Valley, Rancho San Fernando, Mission Valley, Valley City, and Camelot. Along with Measures F and H, elections were held for fourteen council members and a mayor.
Valley politicians such as State Senator Richard Alarcon and City Council President Alex Padilla opposed the initiatives. The leader of the LAUSD breakup and former congresswoman and busing opponent Bobbi Fiedler also campaigned against secession. Supporters pointed out that the Valley suffered from many of the same problems of poverty, crime, drug and gang activity as the rest of the city.
Measure F did not receive the necessary votes to pass for the Valley to secede. The proposal passed with a slight majority in the Valley, but was defeated by the rest of Los Angeles due to a heavily-funded campaign against it led by then-Los Angeles mayor James Hahn. Republican Assemblyman Keith Richman of Northridge was voted in as mayor of the stillborn city, which according to vote returns would have been named San Fernando Valley. Richman and other activists behind the secession movement attempted to redirect their civic energies toward influencing Los Angeles city politics, but their efforts largely fizzled. Hertzberg’s 2005 mayoral campaign, which received heavy support in the Valley, nonetheless finished in third place (only a few percentage points behind incumbent Mayor Hahn), and no secession supporters were elected to positions on the Los Angeles City Council.
Had the measure passed, the southern portion of the city would have remained as the city of Los Angeles, with about 2.1 million people. The northern Valley portion would have created a new municipality of 211 square miles (546 km2) with about 1.3 million residents. Then the ranking at that time in 2002, if secession had passed, would have had the nation’s most populous cities as: New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia, and the new “City of San Fernando Valley” .
Internal renaming secession
Many neighborhoods of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley have ‘seceded’ from one another in the form of renaming and reforming known community boundaries. Groups are motivated by the desire to disassociate themselves from undesirable connotations that some communities have inherited and, in the process, increase property values. Lake Balboabroke away from Van Nuys. Valley Village separated from North Hollywood. Valley Glen included portions of both Van Nuys and North Hollywood. West Hills and Winnetka separated from Canoga Park. Porter Ranch seceded from Northridge. Arleta broke off from Pacoima but failed to establish its own ZIP code. The new separatist districts are so in name only, none of them gained any governmental authority and remained districts within the City of Los Angeles, merely with new names.
According to the 2008 San Fernando Valley Census Report the population of the San Fernando Valley is 1.76 million, as of 2007. Of the population 43.4% were Non-Hispanic White, 40.8% were Hispanic or Latino, 3.4% were African Americans and 10.1% were Asian. The largest cities located entirely in the valley are Glendale and Burbank. The most populous districts of Los Angeles in the valley are North Hollywood and Van Nuys. Each of the two cities and the two districts named has more than 100,000 residents. Despite the San Fernando Valley’s reputation for sprawling, low-density development, the valley communities of Panorama City, North Hollywood, Van Nuys, Reseda, Canoga Park, and Northridge, all in Los Angeles, have numerous apartment complexes and contain some of the densest census tracts in Los Angeles.
Latinos and non-Hispanic whites are nearly even in numbers. In general, communities in the northeastern and central parts of the Valley have the highest concentration of Latinos. Non-Hispanic Whites live mainly along the communities along the region’s mountain rim and in the northwestern, southern and southeastern sections of the valley. The city of Glendale has a largeArmenian community.
Asian Americans make up 10.7% of the population and live throughout the valley, but are most numerous in the city of Glendale and the Los Angeles communities of Chatsworth, Panorama City, Porter Ranch and Granada Hills. African Americans compose 5.1% of the Valley’s population, living mainly in the Los Angeles sections of Lake View Terrace, Pacoima, Reseda, Valley Village, Van Nuys, and Northridge. Another large ethnic element is the Iranian community with 200,000 people living mainly in west San Fernando Valley such as Tarzana, Calabasas,Woodland Hills, Tarzana, Encino, & Sherman Oaks. The valley is also home to a large Jewish community, with a large part of its population in the North Hollywood and Valley Village areas.
Poverty rates in the San Fernando Valley are lower than the rest of the county (15.3% compared to 17.9%). Nevertheless, in eight San Fernando Valley communities, at least one in five residents lives in poverty.
The Pacoima district of Los Angeles is widely known in the region as a hub of suburban blight. Other San Fernando Valley communities, such as the Los Angeles sections of Mission Hills, Arleta, and Sylmar, have poverty rates well below the regional average.
Many wealthy families live in the hills south of Ventura Boulevard.
The Valley suffers from California’s state-wide housing affordability problems. In August 2005, the median price of an average one family home in the San Fernando Valley reached $600,000. In 1997, it was only $155,000. In the summer of 2003, it reached $400,000 and by July 2005, it reached $578,500. From July to August (one month) 2005, it rose by $100,000. A cooling off was noted in 2006, when between November 2005 and November 2006, median prices rose by the smallest amount of any 12 month period since mid-1997. Indeed, November prices were lower than October prices, and sales for November had fallen 19.1% compared to a year earlier. The United States housing market correction affected the San Fernando Valley in 2007-2009 making housing significantly more affordable in the area, the median sales price fell from $660,000 at the peak in May 2007, to $500,000 by March 2008, stabilizing in 2009 at around $330,000 – $340,000.
Valley in the Media
The Valley in the movies
See also: List of films set in Los Angeles
Numerous films were shot from the 1920s-50s at the Movie ranches located in the east and west Valley hills, within the 30 mile Studio zone union range, making some of the Valley scenery very familiar around the world.
Motion pictures set in and about life in the San Fernando Valley have been filmed and produced by many companies in the San Fernando Valley, including:
The Children’s Hour (film) (1961), filmed at Shadow Ranch,
Thank God It’s Friday (1978),
The Onion Field (film) (1979)
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982),
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982),
Valley Girl (1983),
Private Teacher (film) (1983),
La Bamba (1987),
Earth Girls Are Easy (1988),
Encino Man (1992),
Clueless (film) (1995)
2 Days in the Valley (1996), Boogie Nights (1997),
Mulholland Drive (2001),
Punch-Drunk Love (2002),
Matchstick Men (2003),
Crash (2004 film),
A Cinderella Story (2004),
Down in the Valley (2005),
The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005),
Superbad (2007) and Knocked Up (2007).
Also taking place in the San Fernando Valley were:
The first and third Karate Kid films (1984 and 1989 respectively) were mostly filmed and about it, while the second entry (1986) starts there but in the six-month flashforward, moves its story to Okinawa.
Alpha Dog (2007) was based on a true story that happened in the San Fernando Valley in 2000, and it was mostly filmed in the valley in Fall 2004, but, for legal reasons, it was fictionalized within the film to take place in the San Gabriel Valley instead.
In the 1994 movie Pulp Fiction directed by Quentin Tarantino, the valley is referenced by Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Jules, as being a place where Marsellus Wallace had no friends. This was in response to John Travolta’s character, Vincent, accidentally shooting a man named Marvin, point blank in the face there in broad daylight.
During the second Ghostbusters movie (1989) Bill Murray’s character (Peter Venkman) mocks a ghost warlord with this statement: “You know, I have met some dumb blondes in my life, but you take the taco, pal! Only a Carpathian would come back to life now and choose New York! Tasty pick, bonehead! If you had brain one in that huge melon on top of your neck, you would be living the sweet life out in Southern California’s beautiful San Fernando Valley!”
Valley songs and recordings
Bing Crosby had a #1 hit song in 1944 called “The San Fernando Valley”, written by Gordon Jenkins
Randy Newman’s song “I Love L.A.” mentions Ventura Boulevard and Victory Blvd.
Roy Rogers’ song “Make My Home the San Fernando Valley.”
The lifestyles of Valley teens, the iconic Valley Girl in the 1980s, and their slang (Valspeak), were satirized in the Frank Zappa song “Valley Girl.” The song featured his daughter,Moon Unit Zappa, performing Valspeak (example: “Like, grody to the max!”). Joe’s Garage takes place in Canoga Park. “Dummy Up” and “The Blue Light” mention Reseda, both in a drugs-related theme.
The protagonist of Tom Petty’s song “Free Fallin’” has ended a relationship with a valley girl, and mentions various locations and landmarks associated with the area: “It’s a long day living in Reseda,” “all the vampires walkin’ through the Valley/ move west down Ventura Boulevard,” and “I wanna glide down over Mulholland.”
Soul Coughing’s song “Screenwriter’s Blues” describes a person who is “going to Reseda to make love to a model.”
The Sovernty’s debut album “Turning The Page”, was recorded in Northridge.
Waking Ashland has a song named Reseda.
Bryan Ferry mentions that “Canoga Park is a straight safe drive” in “Can’t Let Go” on The Bride Stripped Bare.
“Van Nuys” by Sixx:A.M. released in 2007 on the album “The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack.”
“Van Nuys (Es Very Nice)” by Los Abandoned is a lament about the many immigrants who have left their country for the seemingly mundane and uncomfortable lifestyle in Van Nuys: “The summer’s hot, it’s hell the bus is always late/ The great big cloud of smog that makes you choke and hate/ Y dejaste tu pais por esto?”
Phantom Planet sang about the Sherman Oaks Galleria in “The Galleria.”
Rock band Smile Empty Soul’s 2009 album Consciousness features the song “Ban Nuys”- referring to the community of Van Nuys.
Punk band Bad Religion have a song called “Fuck Armageddon… This is Hell” written about growing up in Woodland Hills.
Rap rock band Hollywood Undead feature the song “California” in their 2008 album Swan Songs, in which the first two lines after the chorus say “Comin` straight out of Cali (what)! the 818 valley (what)!”
Rap group JV released the single “SFV” on their “SFV EP.” The song serves as an anthem to the San Fernando Valley as a whole.
Valley in books
The Onion Field; Joseph Wambaugh (1973)
“Tortilla Curtain”; by T. C. Boyle
‘various books’; Catherine Mulholland
Klein, Jake (2003). Then and Now: San Fernando Valley. Gibbs Smith. ISBN 1586852299.
Mayers, Ph.D., Jackson (1976). The San Fernando Valley. Published by John D. McIntyre, Walnut, CA.
Roderick, Kevin (2001). The San Fernando Valley: America’s Suburb. Los Angeles Times Books. ISBN 978-1883792558.