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The burr of Scotland and the whir of cameras
Tucked among rolling green hills and tree-lined avenues, Cheviot Hills is a bedroom community with the Westside at its doorstep. Below the hub of Fox Studios and Century City, it is about a mile from Beverly Hills. With distinctive homes ranging from Aiken cottages to stunning estates, Cheviot Hills is also a residential development from a bygone era.
Modern-day Cheviot Hills is a collection of five tracts that began construction in the early 1920s, each with a separate identity and developer, according to Jonathan Weiss, Cheviot Hills history buff.
The Cheviot Hills Homeowners Assn. represents 1,450 households, covering most of the area defined by the original tracts. The association recently added signs that say, "Now entering Cheviot Hills."
Named for a region bordering Scotland and England, Cheviot Hills is true to its namesake in architecture, landscaping and such street names such Troon Avenue, Wigtown Road and Bannockburn Drive. Homes with angled roofs, classic brickwork and lush gardens reminiscent of England are noteworthy, especially those created by shipbuilder Edmond Aiken. McConnell and Forrester avenues feature grand estates, some on quarter-acre lots.
Large lot size has opened the door to new construction and renovation. Stunning homes in the million-dollar range flank Motor Avenue.
Celebrities have long enjoyed the charm and privacy of the area, including stars from nearby Twentieth Century Fox studios.
Comedian Stanley Laurel, who lived on Glenbarr Avenue in Cheviot Hills, filmed several Laurel and Hardy films in his neighborhood.
Cheviot Hills is about 1 1/2 square miles yet abundant in recreational choices. To the north on Motor Avenue, the Cheviot Hills Recreation Center features swimming, tennis, an indoor gym, basketball, children's playground plus weekend sports league activities. Classes are available year-round. Rancho Park Golf Course shares the park with extensive golf and recreational choices. On the other end of Motor Avenue is the Beverly Hills Country Club, established by Merv Griffin's late uncle, Elmer Griffin, in 1926. Early club members included Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn and Jack Lemmon.
Good news, bad news
Longtime residents can sell their homes and retire on the equity, but high prices have driven out many potential first-time buyers and young families. Nearby growth has also increased pass-through traffic in Cheviot Hills, but speed bumps and additional stop signs have eased the problem.
The schools are part of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Scores on the 2002 Academic Performance Index at the two elementary schools were 739 and 810 out of a possible score of 1,000. Palms Middle School scored 732 and Hamilton High scored 616.
In the works
Because of increasing traffic noise along the 10 Freeway, sound wall construction is pending. Airplane traffic to and from Santa Monica Airport is steadily increasing, with airport officials working on plans to lessen noise and traffic. Graffiti, an ongoing problem under the 405 Freeway, has been painted over for 15 years by longtime resident Tom Mitchell.
On the market
Homes vary as much in style as they do in price — from $659,000 for a home on Esther Avenue to a Club Drive listing for $2,195,000 that has more than 6,000 square feet of living space, according to the multiple listing service. About 16 homes are on the market in the Cheviot Hills area.
Single-family detached resales:
*year to date
Sources: DataQuick Information Systems; Cheviot Hills Homeowners Assn.; http://www.cheviothills.org ; Los Angeles Parks and Recreation; http://www.themls.com ; Beverly Hills Country Club, http://www.beverlyhills cc.com; L.A. Unified School District, http://www.lausd.k12.ca.us .