Since the expensive little enclave of Valley Village was built more than half a century ago, its residents have never really felt a part of North Hollywood, no matter what the maps said.
To outsiders, it was just another nameless neighborhood squeezed into a blue-collar part of San Fernando Valley.
On Tuesday, city officials and leaders of local homeowners groups watched with satisfaction as city crews installed signs that ended their identity crisis.
It is officially Valley Village now, complete with seven signs and a specific plan of its own to prove it.
“We feel like we’re giving birth,” Elke Garman, co-president of the Valley Village Homeowners Assn., said as the first blue reflective sign designating the entrance to Valley Village was affixed to a lamppost on Laurel Canyon Boulevard just north of the Hollywood Freeway.
The gestation of Valley Village--about two square miles between North Hollywood and Studio City bounded by Burbank Boulevard, the Tujunga Wash and the Ventura and Hollywood freeways--took more than 18 months. Residents fought to have their neighborhood officially recognized, as are others such as Hancock Park, West Hills and Arleta.
Garman said the neighborhood began in the 1930s, when workers at the nearby movie studios built homes there. For as long as residents can remember, it has been called Valley Village by the people who live there. The post office on Magnolia Boulevard uses a Valley Village postmark.
For the last five years, residents have worked with city officials on a plan to keep towering apartment blocks and runaway commercial development out of their shady streets. City Councilman Joel Wachs, who represents much of the community and headed the campaign to install the signs, said the plan is expected to come before the City Council in the next few months. In the meantime, development is strictly limited by an interim ordinance.
Real estate agents said homes in the area sell for about $100,000 more than comparable houses in other parts of North Hollywood.
“The name of the game is location, location, location,” said Mitch Rubin, manager of a Century 21 real estate office on Magnolia Boulevard. “That area, because of the name alone, will bring more money.”
Residents said it was not the desire for increased snob appeal or higher property values that fueled the drive to have their community recognized. Homes already cost more, with or without the signs, they said.
“We want it to be a cohesive neighborhood,” said Lori Dinkin, co-president of the Valley Village Homeowners Assn. Dinkin moved into the neighborhood nearly 30 years ago, attracted by the then-country atmosphere and its accessibility to downtown Los Angeles and other parts of the San Fernando Valley.
“In addition to an actual physical identity, the signs give people who live here a sense of identity and a sense of place,” Wachs said.