Time to revise your mental map of the San Fernando Valley again. The real estate industry's name for my old neighborhood in Northridge has gained official status at City Hall. Blue signs marking Sherwood Forest as LA's newest community should be going up shortly. The area, known for its large leafy yards and stands of older trees, began to be converted from walnut orchards in the 1930s and, like much of the West Valley, really started to fill in during the 50s and 60s. Many of the ranchettes and larger estates along Parthenia Street have been subdivided more recently with newer homes, a trend that accelerated after the 1994 earthquake forced a lot of remodeling. (Parthenia also used to be lined with almost a half-mile of deodar cedars, but they were torn down to widen the street decades ago.) The hidden residence where the late comedian Richard Pryor lit his face on fire while freebasing cocaine in 1980 remains; the neighborhood also has been home through the years to Oscar winner Walter Brennan, actor Jim Davis of "Dallas" fame, retired Angels infielder Doug DeCinces, Hollywood animator Abe Levitow, rock music writer Robert Hilburn and the former congresswoman Bobbi Fiedler. Among others.
Rick Orlov covered the new designation in the Daily News:
"This is an important issue for the people who live there and I'm glad to support it," Councilman Mitch Englander said. "It is the truest form of democracy, where people go around and collect petitions to force a governmental action."
The community of Sherwood Forest has existed, informally, for decades. It's the neighborhood bounded by Nordhoff Street, Balboa Boulevard, Lindley Avenue and the Southern Pacific railroad.
"I'm going to change my name to Robin Hood," City Council President Herb Wesson joked as Councilman Eric Garcetti called the area one of the hidden gems in the city.
Donnal Poppe, past president of the Sherwood Forest Homeowners Association, said the area was one of the original named tracts in the city, and the official recognition has support from the Northridge South Neighborhood Council
"What this shows is that a strong homeowner's association can work with the neighborhood councils," Poppe said.
Here's a link to the Sherwood Forest Homeowner Association.
Buried in the news story is a community news nugget that sort of slipped by quietly, compared to other transfers of allegiance in the Valley. Another corner of North Hills has left that name behind and joined Northridge, meaning the original town name centered on Reseda Boulevard and Parthenia (invented in 1938 as a more suburban-sounding replacement for North Los Angeles) now extends all the way east and north to the corner of Lassen Street and Woodley Avenue. When that area was developed, it was known as Sepulveda — the VA hospital on Woodley and the local middle school still use the Sepulveda name. North Hills was invented to trick people into thinking there was no Sepulveda anymore, once that name lost its attractiveness to home buyers, and now homeowners angle to get out of North Hills.
Steve Greenberg gently skewered the Valley's longtime game community shopping in a 2009 cartoon for LA Observed that bears repeating, below: