When your real estate agent used to be your baby-sitter, you know it's a stable community. In a city known for its transient population, the Westside community of Brentwood Glen stands out for its deep roots and neighborhood ties.
In the early 1920s, the four Ratteree brothers, transplants from the South, bought a walnut orchard between what is now the Veterans Affairs complex on the west and the 405 Freeway on the east, just south of Sunset Boulevard. In the late 1920s and early '30s, streets and sidewalks were poured and the first houses were built.
The majority of original structures in the area were built between 1935 and 1942 to house UCLA faculty. At that time, UCLA had outgrown its Vermont Avenue location and was establishing a new campus in what is now Westwood. The first buildings were completed in 1929 and the university continued to grow rapidly. The 405 Freeway was constructed between 1954 and 1960, effectively isolating what was then known as Ratteree Tract from Westwood. A neighborhood association formed in 1969 and changed the name to Brentwood Glen, known as simply "the Glen" by residents.
What it's about
Pride of ownership and an intense neighborhood loyalty are apparent, even just walking down Beloit Street, the main north-south artery of Brentwood Glen. Parents stroll with their children; residents of all ages walk their dogs, stopping to greet one another. The shady streets and well-kept houses and gardens lend a lazy feel that helps you forget that busy Sunset Boulevard and the rushing 405 are close by.
The Garden Tour is but one of the neighborhood events that bring residents together. There's an annual block party and the occasional blood drive and CPR class.
You almost have to live here to understand all the neighborhood connections. James Hewitt moved to the neighborhood three years ago with his wife, Rachel Barack, and two young children. Barack grew up in Brentwood Glen. When it was time to move back to Los Angeles from the Bay Area, she wouldn't consider any other area, her husband said.
They recently sold their house in the neighborhood, trading up to a larger home a few blocks away. Hewitt and Barack's house was listed by Lisa Mansfield of Sotheby's International Realty, who also grew up in Brentwood Glen and bought a house close to her parents, who still live there. She used to baby-sit Barack when Barack was a child.
"You hear stories like this all the time," Mansfield said. "It's just that kind of community. Everybody here knows everybody and even knows each other's dogs' names."
The streets on the western side of the neighborhood curve around the hillside that marks the boundary with the VA complex. Thick stands of eucalyptus trees combined with the lush gardens favored by the residents create the feeling of a true glen.
The neighborhood consists of 560 residences, mostly single-family homes and a few duplexes, triplexes and apartment buildings. The majority of the lots are about 5,000 square feet. Many of the homes are of Colonial design and have a solid, traditional look to them. No mansionization here; most homes are original to the tract or tastefully remodeled.
Only a handful of homes are currently for sale, most of them just a few houses in from the 405. On the market is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,243-square-foot home for $995,000; a two-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,300-square-foot house with a pool, a separate studio office and skylights for $1.39 million; and a three-bedroom, three-bathroom home of about 2,000 square feet for $1.495 million.
Good news, bad news
Such is the strength of neighborhood loyalty here that few residents even find anything negative to say about living so close to the freeway. "It sounds like the ocean," said Pamela Hebert, who has lived in the neighborhood for 28 years.
"For people who live here, it's a nonissue," Mansfield said of the freeway noise. However, like the elephant in the parlor, the freeway is undeniable and threatening to make trouble. Caltrans has proposed some plans for easing traffic on the 405, one of the most congested freeways in California. One proposal would add a high-occupancy-vehicle lane; another, an elevated viaduct. All proposals are opposed by the Brentwood Glen Assn.
It's easy to see why. Any widening of the freeway would cut into an already narrow neighborhood and bring the freeway even closer.
On the plus side, and perhaps because of the freeway, single-family home prices are among the lowest in Brentwood.
The neighborhood is served by Kenter Canyon Charter School, the local elementary school, which scored 941 out of 1,000 on the 2005 Academic Performance Index. Paul Revere Middle School scored 797, and University High School, 648.