"The first lynch mob is going to be coming down the hill down Beverly Glen Boulevard," he predicted as he studied the preliminary map. The area the newspaper is calling Beverly Glen includes upscale areas north of Beverly Hills that use a Beverly Hills mailing address.
"You'll also get some blowback from Van Nuys -- it's been chopped up. For some reason Pico-Union is being pushed west. No way west of Hoover can be considered Pico-Union."
Westwood historian Greg Fischer, who since the late 1980s has researched original Los Angeles subdivision tract names and sparked a campaign to memorialize them around town with officials city signs, noted that the neighborhood of Little Tokyo is missing from The Times' map.
"If Chinatown is there, Little Tokyo would certainly seem to have a place," Fischer said. "Rancho Park is not really a good name. It's actually 'South Westwood.' Beverly Glen is very suspect -- 'Beverly Crest' would probably be better."
There will be space for recognition of original housing tract names in a "sub-neighborhood" list that will be attached to each of the 87 communities the Times' map recognizes. Eventually, the map may become an electronic entryway to detailed neighborhood information -- crime statistics, census information, economic data and links to Times stories, said Times Database Editor Doug Smith, the map project's coordinator.
Smith, a veteran Times reporter, said the map was compiled with information drawn from such references as a mid-1990s mayor's office map, a 2001 Times map that plotted potholes in the city, the Thomas Guide, U.S. census tracts and Times staffers' personal experience and knowledge.
"To be honest, it's more seat-of-the-pants than scientific," Smith said. "We didn't go to original Spanish land grant maps. The authority is the collective wisdom of the L.A. Times."
California Editor David Lauter, who pushed to give readers an opportunity to review and comment on the project, urged that the map's basic communities be limited to 100. He said "sub-neighborhoods" could list historic or ceremonial names found in the city.
There was lengthy debate over many districts. "Mount Olympus" or "Hollywood Hills West?" Where does Porter Ranch end and Chatsworth begin?
Web designer Ben Welsh wondered whether a small section of the Los Feliz area should be singled out as a neighborhood that locals know as Franklin Hills. Cautioned researcher Maloy Moore: "I've met people who are very adamant that they live in Franklin Hills, not Los Feliz."
Smith said adjustments will continue to be made to the map when readers and users submit convincing arguments and as demographics and situations change.
Even as Smith spoke, his colleagues were incorporating some of Westwater's suggestions and rethinking such decisions as the use of the South-Central Los Angeles name.
"This will be a work in progress," Smith said.