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Toluca Lake, where the stars meet the water

Times Staff Writer

Known for its pedestrian-friendly village of stores and restaurants, 79-year-old Toluca Lake has, since its inception, attracted celebrities and others who love the upscale East Coast feel of the neighborhood. Centrally located, Toluca Lake is surrounded by Universal City, North Hollywood and Burbank in the east San Fernando Valley.

Drawing card

The town of about 3,000 residents has leafy streets with older, architecturally interesting homes, about 30 of which face the lake. Stars such as Bing Crosby and Bob Hope originally were attracted to the neighborhood’s exclusivity and private golf club. Those amenities, plus the town’s proximity to Universal, Warner Bros. and Disney studios and three television networks are a draw today for stars such as Andy Garcia, Wayne Knight, Daman Wayans and others in the entertainment industry.

Wow factor

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The lake, which covers about 5 acres, is stocked with fish but is closed to the public. It was used in the filming of the “Our Gang” series.

Report card

Public schools in Toluca Lake are part of the Los Angeles Unified School District. The two elementary schools are not the strong suit here, but Walter Reed Middle School is known for its Individualized Honors Program for gifted children, and nearby North Hollywood High School draws students citywide to its Highly Gifted Magnet and the Biological Sciences/Zoo Magnet programs.

Good news, bad news

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The town’s proximity to the Ventura and Hollywood freeways makes for easy access to Pasadena, Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles but is a source of noise and smog.

Universal City is within walking distance, so families have a safe place to go at night for movies and other entertainment. However, some of the entertainment complex’s attractions are noisy and can be heard from residents’ backyards.

Insider information

At Halloween, residents should be armed with pounds of candy to hand out to the hundreds of children who come to the neighborhood each fall to trick-or-treat and walk through haunted houses created by the locals.

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Hot spots

Homes on the lake and golf course are highly desirable but rarely on the market. Homes south of Moorpark Street, such as those on Mariota Avenue, Forman Avenue and Talofa Avenue, are in strong demand and range from $700,000 to $1.6 million.

They typically are on the market for 60 to 90 days.

Housing stock

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The community is made up primarily of single-family residences built in the ‘30s and ‘40s, from smaller white-picket-fence homes to huge estates.

There also are about 50 condominiums and townhomes and some apartment rentals, mostly on Riverside Drive, Cahuenga Boulevard and Moorpark Street.

On the market

As of Oct. 17, agent Candy Waldron at Ramsey-Shilling Associates reported 29 homes listed for sale, ranging from $459,000 to $3.3 million.

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Historical values

Toluca Lake home sales, single-family detached:

Year Median Price

1990... $597,500

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1995... $312,000

2000... $591,000

2001... $650,000

2002... $630,000*

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* Year to date.

Sources: Dataquick Information Services, Ramsey-Shilling Associates


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