The San Fernando Valley (colloquially known as the Valley, 818, Valle or SFV) is an urbanized valley located in Southern California, United States. More than half of the city of Los Angeles' land area lies within the San Fernando Valley. Other incorporated cities in the valley include 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, the Simi Hills to the west, the Santa Monica Mountains to the south, the Verdugo Mountains to the east, and the San Gabriel Mountains to the northeast. The Sierra Pelona Mountains (to the north) can be seen in parts of the San Fernando Valley from the gap between the Santa Susana and San Gabriel (Newhall Pass).
The Los Angeles River begins at the confluence of Calabasas and Bell Canyon creeks behind Canoga Park High School in Canoga Park and flows east along the southern areas of the Valley. One of the river's only unpaved sections can be found at the Sepulveda Basin. Another waterway, the Tujunga Wash, drains much of the western San Gabriel Mountains and, after passing through the Hansen Dam Recreation Center, winds south through the eastern communities of the Valley before merging with the Los Angeles River in Studio City. Other tributaries of the River include Caballero Creek, Bull Creek, Pacoima Wash, and Verdugo Wash. The elevation of the floor of the valley varies between about 600 and 1,200 ft. above sea level.
Most of the San Fernando Valley is within the jurisdictional boundaries of the city of Los Angeles, California, although several other incoporated cities are located within the Valley as well; Burbank and Glendale are in the southeast corner of the Valley, Hidden Hills and Calabasas 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 Los Angeles' westside.
Los Angeles' administrative center for the valley 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).
The official first rancho and adobe settlement in the southeast part of the San Fernando Valley was occupied by the Reyes family, in what is now Encino, California, but a rancho settlement in the northeast part of the San Fernando Valley was occupied by the Cota Family, near the mission at San Fernando, California.
The treaty ending the Mexican-American War in California was signed near the mouth of the Cahuenga Pass (at the southeast corner of San Fernando Valley) at an adobe owned by The Verdugo Family at Campo de Cahuenga in 1847.
Prior to development, before the arrival of the Los Angeles Owens Valley Aqueduct water, the valley was a bleak semi-desert, too dry for extensive agriculture over more than a small part of the valley. The water brought farming with some major crops including corn, cotton, persimmons, lemons, oranges, and walnuts. The advent of three new industries - motion picture, automobile, and aircraft - spurred urbanization and population growth. World War II and a subsequent post war boom accelerated this growth so that by 1960, the valley had a population of well over one million.
After the construction of the Owens Valley-Los Angeles Aqueduct, the mostly rural area was annexed by the city of Los Angeles in 1915, more than doubling the size of the city. A highly fictionalized story based on these events is told in the film Chinatown (1974). Los Angeles continued to consolidate its territories in the San Fernando Valley by annexing Laurel Canyon (1923), Lankershim (1923), Sunland (1926), Tuna Canyon (1926), the incorporated city of Tujunga (1932), and 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 cities incorporated independent from Los Angeles: Glendale (1906), Burbank (1911), San Fernando (1911) Hidden Hills (1961), Calabasas (1991). Universal City is an unincorporated enclave that is home to Universal Studios theme park and Universal CityWalk.
The 1994 Northridge Earthquake (January 17, 1994 which measured 6.7 on the Richter Scale), one of the few major earthquakes to have struck directly under a major city, was epicentered in neighboring Reseda just east of the intersection of Elkwood Street and Baird Avenue.
In 2002, the San Fernando Valley portion of Los Angeles attempted to secede from the rest of the city and become an independent city of its own. The movement gained some momentum as many Los Angeles San Fernando Valley residents felt they were not receiving city services on par with the rest of the city. Had the proposal passed, the southern portion of the city would have remained as the City of Los Angeles, with about 2.2 million people. The northern Valley portion would have created a new municipality of 211 square miles (546 km2) with about 1.3 million residents. If the movement had succeeded, the nation's most populous cities, at that time in 2002, would have been: New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia, and the new Valley city. The measure, however, did not muster the necessary votes for the Valley to secede.
The Valley had attempted to secede in the 1970s as well, 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 the Los 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.
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 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.
The proposal passed with a slight majority in the Valley, but was defeated by the rest of Los Angeles voters due to a heavily-funded campaign against it led by former 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 was to be 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.
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 Balboa broke 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 separate districts are in name only as none of the communities have actual governmental authority and all of the districts remain part of the city of Los Angeles.
San Fernando Valley is composed of six incorporated cities, but the bulk of the region is governed by the City of Los Angeles. The unincorporated communities such as Universal City are governed by County of Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles 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 Representative Howard McKeon (R). In the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, it is represented by two supervisorial districts.
The San Fernando Valley votes largely Democratic in local and presidential elections. However, it is one of the other region of Los Angeles besides the Harbor area that regularly elects Republicans into office.
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 large and influential Armenian 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 Calabasas, Woodland Hills, Tarzana, Encino, & Sherman Oaks. The valley is also home to a large and influential 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.
Communities of the City of Los Angeles
+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, recording, and television production, including 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 by companies such as Lockheed, Rocketdyne, and Marquardt.
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 and silicone breast implants). The leading trade paper for that field (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 based in Chatsworth, Van Nuys and Canoga Park.
Although most of the valley is part of Los Angeles, its development pattern is almost exclusively suburban, and the automobile is the dominant mode of transportation. Several freeways criss-cross the Valley, most notably, Interstate 405, U.S. Route 101, State Route 118, and Interstate 5. 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).
Despite the dominance of the automobile, the valley has two Metro subway stations, in Universal City and North Hollywood, which opened in 2000 as an extension of the Metro Red Line Subway connecting the Valley to Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles. The Orange Line, an east-west Bus Rapid Transit bus-way was opened in October 2005, connecting the North Hollywood Metro station to Warner Center in the west Valley. The new line features "train-like" articulated buses and very high frequency of service. Long-promised daily bus service between Sylmar and Santa Clarita began operating in 2006. Two Metrolink commuter rail lines connect the Valley to downtown Los Angeles, merging into one at Burbank. These operate on a limited schedule serving commuters only during regular work hours. Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner has stations at Glendale, Burbank Airport, Van Nuys and Chatsworth. Six Metro Rapid bus rapid transit lines (734, 741, 750, 761, 780, and 794) serve the area, with more planned. Metro service is planned and operated by the San Fernando Valley Sector under policies and oversight of its Governance Council.
The San Fernando Valley is home to several large and many small parks. Griffith Park, the largest of Los Angeles' municipal parks, lies at the southeastern end of the valley, straddling the eastern end of the Hollywood Hills. Two large recreation areas occupy the flood control basins behind Sepulveda Dam and Hansen Dam. O'Melveny Park above Granada Hills protects the upper reaches of Bee Canyon, at the eastern end of the Santa Susana Mountains. There is also a sizeable recreation area in the northwest valley, Chatsworth Park.
In the past decade, many large tracts of undeveloped or ranch lands in the mountains surrounding the Valley have been acquired for parkland. The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and its affiliated agencies have purchased or otherwise acquired many of these lands, which are maintained as parkland by the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, California state parks, or local parks districts. In 2003 the Ahmanson Ranch, a 2,983 acre (12 km2) property in Ventura County at the west end of the valley, was purchased by the State of California, and dedicated as the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve on April 10, 2004.
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.
Several motion pictures about life in the San Fernando Valley were produced by many companies also in the San Fernando Valley, including Chinatown (1974), Thank God It's Friday (1978), Foxes (1980), Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982),Valley Girl (1983), Private Teacher (1983), La Bamba (1987), Earth Girls Are Easy (1988), Encino Man (1992), Safe (1995), 2 Days in the Valley (1996), Boogie Nights (1997), Magnolia (1999), some scenes of Mulholland Drive (2001), Punch-Drunk Love (2002), A Cinderella Story (2004), Down in the Valley (2005), The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), some scenes of Superbad (2007) and Knocked Up (2007).
Also taking place in the San Fernando Valley were: Clueless, Crash, and Matchstick Men.
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!"
The lifestyles of Valley teens 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.
Bing Crosby had a #1 hit song in 1944 called "The San Fernando Valley", written by Gordon Jenkins.
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."
Roy Rogers' song "Make My Home the San Fernando Valley."
The Sovernty's debut album "Turning The Page", was recorded in Northridge.
"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?"
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)!"
Most of the following communities are actually neighborhoods of the city of Los Angeles.
Burbank, Glendale, San Fernando, Calabasas, and Hidden Hills are all independent cities lying within the San Fernando Valley. All others are districts of the city of Los Angeles. Locals refer to the San Fernando Valley simply as "the Valley".
The stereotypical "Valley Girl" speak is actually prevelant among most teenage girls influenced by pop culture all over the USA, and not just limited to the San Fernando Valley. San Fernando Valley residents are diverse with Spanish, Korean, Thai, Armenian, Farsi, Russian, Hindi, and many other languages being common besides English.
The CA-118 Freeway enters the San Fernando Valley from Simi Valley and Ventura County. The US-101 runs through from Thousand Oaks in Ventura County to Hollywood and the Los Angeles Basin. The I-405 runs north south from the I-5 to the basin, connecting with the 101 in Sherman Oaks. The I-5 runs along the eastern edge of the Valley serving Burbank and other eastern communities. Burbank airport offers domestic flights. Amtrak stops in the Valley at Chatsworth, Van Nuys, and Burbank. Metrolink commuter trains stop in Chatsworth, Northridge, Van Nuys, San Fernando, Sun Valley, Burbank Airport, and downtown Burbank. The Metro Red Line can get you into Universal City and North Hollywood from points south.
The majority of streets are arranged in a grid with streets running east-west and north-south. The car is the main method of transportation but Metro buses and Metro Rail, Metrolink commuter trains, and Amtrak will all get you around. The Metro Orange Line is a busway that runs east-west from the North Hollywood Metro Rail station to the Warner Center business district in Woodland Hills. Many bike paths and bike lanes can be found. Flyaway buses connect Van Nuys to LA International Airport and run every half hour. Free parking is available at the station and tickets usually cost around 3 dollars each way. Walking can be an option in denser neighborhoods such as Downtown Burbank, the NoHo Arts District, and along Ventura Boulevard. Most taxis are regulated by the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation and can be ordered by phone or picked up at taxi stands such as at the Van Nuys Airport Flyaway Station.
Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Citywalk, Mission San Fernando, NoHo Arts District, Van Nuys Japanese Garden, O'Melveny Park. There are also many places to hike in the mountains that surround the Valley.
The Wild Parrots of... the Valley?
In an area where odd sightings are the norm, one of the oddest sightings may be huge flocks of exotic parrots loudly squawking outside of your window. While seldom seen, there are over a thousand wild parrots living in the Valley, many of them descended from escapees of shipments to pet stores and parks. Other birds are believed to trace to the now-closed Busch Gardens that was once located in Van Nuys. While small, the populations are healthy; sightings can be reported to the California Parrot Project , which tracks wild parrot populations throughout California.
The Valley is known particularly for Indian and Mexican food and for dozens of sushi joints (especially along Ventura Boulevard). For a cheap but delicious authentic Indian experience, try India Sweets and Spice in its Northridge location or Canoga Park location. Mexican restaurants range from the simplest take out taco trucks to expensive and elaborate, and everything in between. For a great Mexican meal, try La Fogata on Van Nuys Boulevard in Sherman Oaks. Several Korean BBQ restaurants can be found in the West Valley, especially Northridge and Reseda. Sherman Way west of the 170 freeway is home to a strip of several popular Thai restaurants. Expensive restaurants of all types of food can be found along Ventura Boulevard. Chains abound, but an authentic old '50s Valley experience can be had at Bob's Big Boy (the original location) in Toluca Lake, Beep's in Van Nuys, as well as at one of several In 'n' Out Burger locations. The Valley also includes a substantial number of Jewish delis, especially in Studio City, Sherman Oaks, and Encino ; Art's Deli in Studio City, which goes back to the 1950s, is highly recommended.
The Valley isn't always the sweet little suburban haven it is made out to be in popular culture. It still retains a largely middle class existence but has shed the Brady Bunch-esque lifestyle long ago. Certain areas are best avoided at night such as Panorama City, Pacoima, North Hills, San Fernando, and parts of Van Nuys, Sylmar, North Hollywood, Canoga Park, and Sun Valley. The rest of the Valley is mostly safe, though dauntingly devoid of foot traffic after sunset (the exception is nightlife hotspots such as along Ventura Boulevard). Law enforcement is provided by the Los Angeles Police Department in the Los Angeles city limits. Other cities have their own police departments. The Los Angeles County Sheriff supplements service.
The San Fernando Valley has a centralized location for attractions such as the Getty Center Museum, Six Flags Magic Mountain, the beaches of Santa Monica and Malibu, and The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
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