One hundred years ago, Reseda was a sheep ranch. Later farmers planted wheat and other crops until, in the 1930s, Reseda was known as one of the country’s prominent lettuce-growing regions.
A 7.5-square-mile community in the west San Fernando Valley, 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, Reseda is bounded on the west by Corbin Avenue, on the north by Roscoe Boulevard, on the east by White Oak Avenue and on the south by Topham Street.
Once a part of the San Fernando Mission’s vast land holdings, Reseda today is a thriving multicultural community of 62,000 people and part of the city of Los Angeles. At least 27 ethnic groups from around the world live in Reseda, according to Ann Kinzle, executive director of the Reseda Chamber of Commerce. Kinzle says Reseda has 65 churches, some of them operated from homes. “The community rallies around everything we do because we have big hearts,” Kinzle says.
Recently, Reseda has welcomed several Kurdish, Armenian, Iranian and Central American immigrants. Spanish, Armenian and Arabic signs are common on shops along Reseda Boulevard.
Reseda Park: This park at the corner of Reseda and Victory boulevards is the hub of the community. On Friday nights, business and community leaders gather at the park to treat about 80 local children to dinner after a game of softball or basketball. Billed KYDS, Keeping Youth Doing Something, the program was started several years ago with a federal grant “to take care of our kids,” Kinzle says. Now local groups such as the Kiwanis and Elks clubs and the Police Activity League Supporters (PALS) take turns paying for the week’s food--mostly pizza and soda. It’s a year-round activity, Kinzle says, unless it rains.
A new youth center, adjacent to the LAPD substation on Reseda Boulevard, provides several after-school programs for local children, including computer training and mentoring.
West Valley YMCA:
Reseda suffered heavy damage in the 1994 Northridge earthquake that rendered several structures unusable. One of those worst affected was the West Valley YMCA. Rebuilt and reopened in April 1997, the YMCA now offers a full fitness center. According to Mike Tierney,a YMCA official, activities include roller hockey, basketball and swimming, and classes in nutrition, karate and yoga. Located at 18810 Vanowen St. at Wilbur Avenue, the Y has 2,000 members. Membership is $45 a month for a family and $29 a month for an individual.
If Los Angeles City Councilwoman Laura Chick--who represents the area--has her way, Reseda will soon have a more vital business core. “Revitalizing the business district, making it safe and attractive, is our No. 1 local issue,” Chick says.
Chick hopes the City Council will soon approve a proposed Business Improvement District for Reseda. “Governments can’t deliver all of the answers. We have to have partnerships with businesses and BID is a partnership of local businesses.” Chick says the Business Improvement District, which is funded by additional levies on property taxes of local businesses, will focus on the area’s security, cleanliness and marketing needs.
A $200,000 plan to spruce up the signs and storefronts in Reseda’s business district is already underway. Under the program, a local business can receive a grant of as much as $25,000 to upgrade its storefront in target areas along Sherman Way and Reseda Boulevard.
Reseda will receive another $300,000 in federal money to clean up its streets and build and repair area bus shelters. Part of that grant will pay for planting trees along street medians in the business district on Reseda Boulevard.
One of Reseda’s well-kept secrets is its program to rub out graffiti within 24 hours after a citizen reports it to the local Los Angeles Police Department’s community relations office. Two years ago, the city started a pilot program in Reseda called Zero Tolerance for Graffiti. As soon as the LAPD’s community relations department receives a complaint, it dispatches a nonprofit company to remove the graffiti, Kinzle says.
In 1909 the Los Angeles Suburban Homes Co.--a developers’ syndicate headed by Gen. Harrison Gray Otis, founder-publisher of the Los Angeles Times; Harry Chandler, Otis’ son-in-law, who succeeded him as Times publisher; and Moses Sherman--began subdividing the former West Ranch into Reseda.
The developers’ chosen name for the community was Marian, after Otis’ daughter and Chandler’s wife. But when the post office protested, saying it conflicted with Mariana, another California community, they opted for Reseda, which means “Give aid or comfort” in Latin. Reseda is a botanical name derived from Reseda odorata, a white wildflower once a common sight in the Valley.
Sources: The Reseda Chamber of Commerce; Los Angeles City Councilwoman Laura Chick’s office; West Valley YMCA; 1990 Census of Population and Housing; “The San Fernando Valley Then and Now, An Illustrated History” by Charles A. Bearchell and Larry D. Fried. By RADHA KRISHNAN THAMPI, Special to The Times
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
Number of households: 21,931
Persons per household: 2.8
Owner-occupied housing units: 56.7%
Population over 18 with bachelor’s degree or higher: 16.7%
Average household income is somewhat below the citywide average.
Citywide average: $45,701
Northeast Valley: $44,444
Southeast Valley: $48,182
Northwest Valley: $56,427
Southwest Valley: $61,722
African American: 2%
Source: 1990 Census