Once an area dominated by beanfields, the neighborhood of Rancho Park was envisioned in the 1920s as a middle-class family development of starter homes. Tucked between the communities of Westwood and Cheviot Hills, this enclave draws young professionals and families and is home to residents working in a variety of occupations.
Developed by the Janss Co. as part of Westwood Hills, the area has predominantly Spanish-style homes created in the 1920s and '30s for first-time buyers. Homes averaging less than 1,600 square feet on lots 50 feet by 135 feet were typical.
The original residential tract spanned an area between Santa Monica and Pico boulevards. At that time, Olympic Boulevard did not pass through Westwood Hills, instead ending at the westernmost border of Beverly Hills. The neighborhood changed dramatically in 1936 when Olympic Boulevard was carved through Westwood, splitting the neighborhood into two sections.
Feeling cut off from Westwood Hills, residents south of the newly extended Olympic Boulevard clamored for their own identity by the late '30s. "We thought it was time to have our own community and separate ourselves from Westwood," said Bob Hindall, longtime area resident. "Many names were suggested, but pioneer real estate broker Bill Heyler is credited with naming the area Rancho Park." Heyler is also credited with bringing in the Rancho Park Golf Course, which opened in 1947.
Situated roughly between Pico and Olympic boulevards and ending at Fox studios to the east, Rancho Park's western border is generally considered to be Sepulveda Boulevard. But some disagree about this western edge, according to area historian Greg Fisher. "There are no hard-and-fast boundaries for Rancho Park."
Level, tree-lined streets with tidy homes appeal to those looking for starter homes on the Westside. Near the 10 and 405 freeways, the area is convenient to Beverly Hills, Century City and UCLA.
Playing a round at the Rancho Park Golf Course, with 18 holes plus putting green in front of the lushly landscaped clubhouse, is a popular pastime.
A few doors down, John O'Groat's Restaurant is a gathering place for folks craving gourmet American fare, including pumpkin or blueberry pancakes and vegetarian hash with cilantro potato pancakes.
Nearby Anawalt Lumber has been a fixture since 1923. Rancho Park Pharmacy, which opened its doors in 1929, is also home to the local post office substation.
In the heart of the business district along Pico Boulevard, and down Westwood Boulevard, hometown flavor abounds — from Marty's Hamburger Stand ("Home of the Combo") to the Apple Pan to Junior's Restaurant-Delicatessen.
"We walk to dinner all the time," said resident Amy Horton. "Convenience of the retail stores is also a great asset to the neighborhood."
A mix of mom-and-pop-type businesses, such as Children's Book World and F&S Fabric, blend with larger chain retailers nearby.
Good news, bad news
While the location is a plus for residents, it's also a burden when extra traffic crowds the streets. The area is a popular thoroughfare for commuters. In an effort to stem the flow, the city of Los Angeles has installed speed bumps on many Rancho Park roads.
On the market
Properties tend to sell quickly. Currently there are only two home sales pending. Both built in the mid-1920s and under 1,200 square feet, the original two-bedroom, one-bath homes were priced at $509,000 and $699,000. A remodeled home, recently listed at $929,000, sold in just nine days for more than $1,005,000.
Rancho Park is in the Los Angeles Unified School District. For elementary grade students, Westwood Charter is the local school, with a score of 877 out of a possible 1,000 on the 2003 Academic Performance Index.
Emerson Junior High scored 638, and Hamilton High had a score of 636.