ValleyGirlTori

  • Local Expert 15,135 points
  • Reviews 38
  • Questions 0
  • Answers 138
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Reviews

2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Better Than Old Sac"

Noralto, like its Old Sacramento neighborhood just to the south, has been hit hard by the Foreclosure Crisis. Foreclosures, many at rock bottom prices, make up a full 80% of all the homes being sold here at the time of this writing.

Unfortunately, these homes are not fantastic residences to begin with. A full half of the homes here were built before 1950. There are some newer homes, but even these are not doing particularly well. Most homes sell for around $100K around here (a little better than its neighbor to the south), but still no homes break the $300K mark (or rarely even $250K).

There are two public elementary schools (and a private one) serving Noralto. One is Harmon Johnson Elementary and it is below average in terms of test scores. The other, Noralto Elementary on the northern end of the neighborhood, however, fairs a little bit better managing to rate average overall in terms of test scores. This actually makes Noralto Elementary one of the best elementary schools in this area of northern Sacramento.

On the far northeastern end of the neighborhood you also get a number of boxy 1970’s style apartment complexes which in part accounts for the high density of Noralto.

Over all, this is not a great neighborhood where to live. Most people would choose somewhere else if given half the chance. That said, it is better than Old North Sac just to the south.
Pros
  • Inexpensive Homes
  • Okay School
  • Diverse Neighborhood
Cons
  • Old, Broken Down Homes
  • A Little Run Down and Ugly
  • High Turnover
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 1/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 1/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Childcare 1/5
Just now

"Warehouses. Loading Docks. Big Rigs."

Erickson Industrial Park?

Warehouses, Loading Docks and Big Rigs… Warehouses, Loading Docks, and Big Rigs… Warehouses, Loading Docks and Big Rigs..

That’s it. That’s all.

Ellis and Ellis Signs. McHenry Drapes. American Medical. Floral Supply Syndicate. Sears Auto Parts. Magnolia Upholstery.

Warehouses…

Loading Docks…

Big Rigs…

Period
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 1/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 1/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 1/5
Just now

"Like a Tom Waits Song"

Old North Sacramento is one of those older Sacramento neighborhoods that is definitely showing signs of age. Especially on the western end where there are some ramshackle shacks with cracked, oil stained driveways, discolored lawns and dilapidated roofs with broken shingles and drooping eves.

The vast majority of the homes here date from before 1950 many having been built in the 1920’s. Unlike in the Land Park neighborhood, however, there is little that is quaint about the structures you find here. They simply look old and ready to be torn down.

As to home prices, they are pretty much rock bottom with more than half of all homes going for under $100K (many near the $50K mark, actually). 80% of homes currently for sale are due to foreclosure.

On the eastern end of the neighborhood, the residential area gives way to an even uglier industrial park which is home to a number of parts suppliers and repair businesses. Not very appealing unless your are into rusted metal and scrap part hunting.

There are some diner like establishments in this neighborhood and the usual set of bland fast food places, but truly there is little to bring anyone in from the outside for a visit.

As far as nightlife, you do have a handful of bars including a dive by the name of Nite Hawk Tavern and a gay bar, “The Bolt.” Other than that, the pickings are slim indeed. It’s basically the kind of place you would find in a movie with soundtrack by Tom Waits
Pros
  • Rock Bottom Home Prices
  • Parts Suppliers
  • Easy Access to Exits
Cons
  • Dilapidated Homes
  • Ugly Looking and Industrial
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"A Tale of Two Neighborhoods"

Woodlake, Sacramento is a tale two neighborhoods. On the western end of Woodlake, you have a trailer park, North Sacramento Motor Home Park—scrunched right up where the light rail and North Sac Freeway fork. The older rickety homes in this western half of the neighborhood have a distinctly run down look to them, matched by the large 70’s style gas guzzlers parked in their driveways.

The flimsy 50’s style Ranch homes in this section of the neighborhood typically go for under $200K. As to rents, you can find apartments here for around $600/month.

Dividing the eastern and the western ends of the neighborhood however is a creek. On the eastern end of Woodlake, the neighborhood takes on a distinctly southern feel, somewhat resembling Savannah, Georgia perhaps. The leafy streets and irregular sized blocks give the area a certain small town feel I spots.

The homes in this area of Woodlake are much larger than their west end counterparts and the lawns are well kept. Dating from the 40’s and 50’s, the homes are fairly attractive in a classic sort of way.

On this end of the neighborhood home prices of non-foreclosed homes climb to $200K to $300K, though about half of the homes for sale are in foreclosure. They will typically go for half that amount.

Despite the nice homes on this end of the neighborhood, however, Woodlake Elementary consistently underperforms being below average in terms of test scores across the board.

Woodlake Sacramento is not just a residential neighborhood, however. Woodlake is also home to the Canterbury Inn and to KSTV, both nestled away on the southern edge of the neighborhood.

Overall, a neighborhood with definite potential if they improved the schools.
Pros
  • Nice Older Homes
  • Leafy Streets
  • Close to Ligth Rail
Cons
  • Bad School
  • Ugly Motor Home Park on Eastern End
  • No Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Retirees
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 1/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Childcare 1/5
Just now

"Plywood, Bowling Balls, Elevator Rock and Extreme Blandness"

Johnston Business Park is, as the name indicates, a commercial office park. This is not one of those newer looking office parks with the perfectly manicured lawns and glossy, tinted glass offices. This is more of an older style office park where things have a distinctly worn down look to them—more of a big rig and car repair sort of an area than a computer headquarters sort of an area.

A typical company in the area is Capitol Plywood—a lumber disturber for Sac. There are also a handful of Tech companies in the “park” as well, including Software Pacware (a medical billing software designer, I believe) and similar companies.
The two most notable companies here are Bowler’s Paradise (your number one choice in bowling balls and equipment!) and KYMX 96.1—a fairly bland soft rock radio station (basically elevator music with a DJ).

On the eastern end of the “neighborhood” there is a Radisson Hotel, an REI and a CostCo.

Put simply, this is one of those areas necessary to business and commerce in an area, but really pretty uninteresting otherwise.

Oh yeah. They have an Extreme Pizza there too. So if you want some extremely average pizza, you have found Heaven: Johnston Business Park.
Pros
  • Work Places
  • Practical Shopping Options
  • An Okay Hotel
Cons
  • Ugly Commercial Look
  • Bland Eating Choices
  • No Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"A Bit on the Dilapidated Side"

The Northgate and Gardenland neighborhood are much like the rest of the South Natomas area—filled with older homes. The neighborhoods were hit hard by the foreclosure crisis, with a full three quarters of homes for sale due to foreclosure.

This is one of those California neighborhoods, like so many others, that is filled with Ranch style homes. In the case of this neighborhood, the homes are from the two previous building booms in the 1950’s and 1970’s. You can definitely see this in the style of the homes here, with the slightly smaller 1950’s style Ranch homes really beginning to show their wear.

Northgate and Gardenland mostly have the feel of a neighborhood that has seen better days. The homes feel a bit worn down, many of the lawns are un-kept and the trees seem to droop wildly across the lawns. Many of the older homes also have a particularly flimsy look to them.

The schools also show some signs of neglect with test stores indicating slightly below average performance overall.

The restaurant selection in this area is also fairly limited with taquerias ruling the day. If you are not into Mexican food, it will mostly be pizza or Thai food here—though none of them are the kinds of places you would drive here for as far as I can tell.

Nightlife and gyms are pretty much non-existent here, though.
Pros
  • Affordable Homes
  • Low Cost of Living
  • Diverse Community
Cons
  • Hit Hard By Foreclosure Crisis
  • Old Worn Down Looking Homes
  • Below Average Schools
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Cheap Houses, Boring Neighborhood"

River Gardens is located on the south eastern end of South Natomas, and like the other parts of the South Natomas neighborhood, it is made up of older style ranch homes and has the feel of the kind of neighborhood your grandparents might live in rather than the kind of neighborhood where young couples would choose to live.

Homes here are on the lower range of prices with most of these older homes being currently priced under $200K. As with the nearby areas, River Gardens has been hit hard by the foreclosure crisis, which in large part explains the rock bottom prices in the neighborhood.

The neighborhood does have a rundown 70’s era strip mall with a drug store, a 99 cent store and giant parking lot.

River Gardens also borders Discovery Park on its southern end, so there is lots to do in terms of outdoor recreation.

The other thing that makes this neighborhood a little bit different is the presence of the Jehovah’s Witness Temple.

Other than that though, there is nothing else to write home about when it comes to River Gardens.
Pros
  • inexpensive housing
  • next to Discovery Park
  • Relatively Quiet
Cons
  • Ugly Old Stores
  • No Nightlife
  • Sleepy Looking
Recommended for
  • Retirees
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Hit Hard but Still Okay"

South Natomas is a sprawling, mostly residential neighborhood.

Home prices in this neighborhood are rock bottom. Given that most homes were built during the Reagan Era, the reasons might not be that obvious at first. But a closer look gives us a bit of a clue. Perhaps driven by White Flight, many people started to move out in the early 2000’s as the neighborhood, with its moderate home prices, began to diversify. Unfortunately, this new wave of homeowners moved in just as the conditions for the real estate crisis were being set. If you look at the market today—3 of 4 homes in South Natomas are being sold due to foreclosure. It’s a sad statistic.

The oldest part of South Natomas is in the southeast by Northgate Park. You will find a plethora of 1970’s style ranch homes here (and even a few from the 50’s and 60’s back when Natomas was a much small corner of Sac than it is today). This is the pick-up trucks and picket fences part of town, where lawns are a touch unkept and older trees have reached their shady maturity. The kind of place that you might expect your grandparents to live. Homes in this section of town hover around a very reasonable $100K.

In the late 70’s homes and apartments spread out across the top of West El Camino bringing with them even more 1970’s style ranch homes, with their perfectly symmetrical front lawns and shady front lawns. You can walk many of these street and feel like you are in the middle of the San Fernando Valley and that Jimmy Carter is still president. Except for the cars, of course, which here are mix of economy cars and muscle cars.

The western sections of South Natomas started filling up in the early 80’s and by the late 80’s the northeast section of Natomas started picking up its pace of constructions. About 2/3 of all homes in Natomas were built while the Big Gipper was prez and so during that other big real estate boom associated with the Savings and Loan debacle. These are those nice Contemporary style homes with shingled roofs, lots of windows, high ceilings and a feeling of luxury even in the more modest varieties.

After that last debacle, it was a good decade before any new homes were built in Natomas. You will be hard pressed to find a home built in the Clinton administration in Natomas.

As to schools, the Natomas High School is not really a draw, being average or maybe even slightly below average in terms of test scores as are the majority of the schools in Natomas. The heavy turn-over of homes has not helped in terms of creating a sense of community either with people moving out virtually overnight in some cases.

Restaurant choices are mediocre at best with a few Chinese food places and Mexican joints to bring a bit of flavor to what is basically fast food culture.

Nightlife is just as unsatisfying.

Despite all this, I still think this might not be an altogether bad place to raise a family if you are say a single mom on limited income. Things aren’t great, but they are affordable and far enough away from the more severe problems of urban life.
Pros
  • Very Affordable
  • Near Discovery Park
  • Diverse
Cons
  • Hit Hard by Foreclosures
  • Mediocre Schools
  • No Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Just now

"A Corporate Racket"

As the name indicates, Natomas Corporate Center is largely an office park located just to the north of Discovery Park, with I-5 just to the west. You will find the HQ for RCB Corporation, a financial industry leader in the area (River City Bank is a subsidiary) and Informatix, a tech consulting firm.

The office park is also home to schools for both young and old. For the little ones you have Merryhill private school, which serves pre-schools through 5th grade, and nearby is Childtime Daycare Center. In the middle of Natomas Corporate is Kindercare Learning Center, another curriculum based daycare. So in terms of daycare, the Natomas Corporate definitely has you covered.

As to older students, you have two main offerings: Alliant International and New Horizons Computer Learning. Alliant in Sacramento offers mainly psychology and education classes. New Horizons offers IT training in everything from the basics (like Windows 7) to more complicated networks (Cisco Training).

There are also a few very inexpensive 80's style apartment buildings in the area. One bedrooms go for $700 and two for about $800.

My favorite part of this area, however, is the Natomas Racquetball Club with its nearly two dozen tennis courts and Olympic sized swimming pool.

Located just to the north of Discovery Park, Natomas Corporate has something for everyone.
Pros
  • Great Racquet Ball Club
  • Just North of Discovery Park
  • Useful Daycare and Education Centers
Cons
  • No Nightlife
  • No Good Eats
  • More than a Little Bland
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Students
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Just now

"Stalled Out"

Okay so it is Ranch house city around here—mostly of the run down variety. On average the southern part of the neighborhood, the median price of the homes is around $325K. These homes are not ugly or terribly small, but the neighborhood feels a little out of the mainstream of Napa somehow.

On the northern end and up in the hilly areas of the neighborhood there are several larger newer homes, some still being constructed. (Some which came to a fairly abrupt halt when the financial crisis hit.) On average the prices in the hills are closer to $650K and they seem much newer.

I can only guess, but it seems as if much of the newer construction here was hit fairly hard by the Recession and that may explain the partially built homes I saw in the area.

Silverado Middle School is the central school in the neighborhood. It is a middling school with so-so test scores—neither impressive nor horrible. Phillips Elementary in the neighborhood, however, is even worse, with tests scores indicating a school that is below average and that perhaps is not fully able to deal with the diversity of its students.

Overall this looks like a neighborhood that may do well in the future, but that currently feels rather stalled out.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Some Nice Newer Homes
  • Good Potential
Cons
  • Mediocre Schools
  • A Bit Run Down
  • Too Many Unfinished Homes
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Childcare 1/5
Just now

"For Cars and Home Supplies"

This swath of land by the river is mostly just known as the home of Home Depot and Target. Those two big stores and a couple of satellite stores like Starbucks are basically all that is here.

On the northern end of this area there are a number of auto dealerships—Chevy, Nissan, Suburu; and some auto repair and smog shops.

As far as places to live, the only that I know of in this area is a trailer park named Valley Estates. It’s up on the northern end as well and looks about as decrepit as you can imagine.

Basically, this is a purely functional area where you only go if you have car needs or want to buy something for your home.
Pros
  • Car Dealerships
  • Auto Mechanics
  • Home Depot and Target
Cons
  • Trailer Park
  • Ugly
  • Not Much Here
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 2/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"College, Golf Course, Industrial Area"

This southeastern area of Napa is all about three things: the college, the golf course, and the industrial area.

Although you may think of Napa as being wine growing 24/7, the 75,000 residents of Napa do have lives that are occasionally independent of the whole grape culture thing. One such sign of this is Napa Valley College. Napa Valley College is the local community college; it offers a variety of preparatory classes and two year programs for students.

Just south of the campus is one of the many Napa golf courses. There are so many golf courses in the area that this one is noteworthy only for being named after the city itself, although it is a perfectly passable golf course as far as I can tell.

To the south of the golf course is an industrial area filled with warehouses and non-touristy sorts of businesses like a granite supplier and a dental equipment supplier for the local area. There is also a large lot where refuse is piled, the local DMV, and even some non-descript wineries.

On the far southern end of the “neighborhood” (if we can even call this grab bag a “neighborhood”) is the Meritage Resort and Spa and another smaller college—Boston Reed College a career training institution.

Put simply, this is one of those areas that no one comes to visit on a wine tour (for the most part anyway) but that is necessary to keep the city going. It is the unseen gears of the machine which is Napa.
Pros
  • Economic Engine
  • Low Cost College
  • A Nice Hotel and Spa
Cons
  • A Little Ugly in Spots
  • No Real Residential Area
  • Nothing Particularly Interesting
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"The Heart of Napa"

Central Napa is big enough that you could practically consider it to be three neighborhoods rather than one. For the most part Central Napa is a middle class neighborhood filled with older ranch style homes dating to the 1950’s. This gives the neighborhood somewhat of a rundown feel in spots.

At the same time this feels like the heart of the Napa. There are, for example at least a half dozen holy institutions here, from the Lutheran Church, Catholic parish and Jewish Temple.

There are also a number of schools here, including the very high rated New Technical High School and some private schools as well.

A number of businesses are also located in this neighborhood, including everything from mechanics to a pilates joint.

This is the place to go if you want to eat out in Napa whether you decide to go with super classy (and expensive) French restaurant like La Toque or just for some tacos at Tacos Michocan. There are a number of ethnic food restaurants here from Chinese to sushi to Italian (Oenotri). So you do not have to get out of Napa to find some quality dinner spots.

Napa is not particularly known for its nightlife, but there are some bars here beyond the wine bars that you might expect. You have Henry’s Cocktail Lounge here for example, Stone’s Sports Bar and Silo’s Wine and Jazz Club.

The neighborhood also exhibits a bit of variety on its southern end where homes have docks on the back and where home owners keep their motorboats.

And of course, one cannot leave this neighborhood without mentioning the Wine Train that has its station here. Overall, this is the active heart of Napa. Although catering mainly to tourists, the area does have a number of offerings for locals as well.
Pros
  • Very Good Restaurants
  • Affordable Homes
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • A Bit Rundown in Spots
  • Overly Touristy
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Tourists
  • Trendy & Stylish
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"A Bit Shabby but not too Hairy"

Slightly run down looking and very suburban, this neighborhood looks like it jumped out of 70’s movie. In terms of homes it is just about all 70s/80s style Ranch homes and tract housing of various kinds and qualities from those that look virtually identical to the trailer park style homes. You have nicely kept sidewalks throughout and the favorite automobile here is, without a doubt, the pick-up truck in all its larger manifestations.

The main drag is Jefferson and between it and the Trancas that forms the northern border of the neighborhood, you can find virtually all the amenities you expect from the suburbs—including just about every fast food place imaginable. KFC, Jack-In-the-Box, Sizzler, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell—they are all represented here.

Napa High School is in this area. Napa is a solid school serving a diverse community of students from multiple ethnic and economic backgrounds and doing a good job of it. Although not spectacular, Napa HS’s test scores are above average. They offer a full slate of AP courses, extracurricular activities and sports and they have good facilities. McPherson Elementary is also in this neighborhood.

Home prices in the area are on the lower end of the scale with the median around $350K and the high end around $550K. Very affordable though, as previously mentioned, the homes here are mostly uninspiring.

There is nothing particularly spectacular about this neighborhood. It is mostly just a lower middle-class suburban neighborhood like a thousand others in California. Most of the restaurants are chains that you can find anywhere else (except for Trancas Steakhouse which is okay) and the entertainment are about what you would expect in this kind of neighborhood. In other words, it’s just okay.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Good School
Cons
  • A Bit Run Down
  • Fast Food Culture
  • Unappealing Homes
AnnetteM1
AnnetteM1 hmm, while driving through Beard I see many unique custom homes built long before the 70's-80's era that you mention. Over on Adrian, Main etc and also up off Pueblo. Some large estate homes and some cute 1940's cottage type as well. Some areas of Beard have the tract homes you mention, true, but that is only a part of the area I would say. Beard is also very close to walking distance to downtown which I fine very appealing as well. I think Beard is being sold short here.
2yrs+
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4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Just now

"Very 70s--In a Good Way"

I suppose what gives it a rural feel is the picket fences that row some of the leafy streets and the windblown quality of the streets. It’s very quiet on a weekday here, though I’m sure you hear the kids playing in the yards during the weekends. There are also some newer houses sprinkled in here and there, but mostly it feels like the classic California neighborhood.

The southern end of the neighborhood is bordered by Tulocay Cemetery—which is as old as Napa itself, I think. The northern end of the neighborhood by the East Reservoir is considerably more woody and has the best views of the entire neighborhood and probably some of the best in Napa. Here and to the east as you head into the hills is where you are most likely to find the multi-million dollar homes. There is a beautiful Tuscan Villa up there, for example, which makes you feel as if you have been transported to Italy.

The average home price in the rest of the are--where homes are far more modest--seem to hover around the $600K range though occasionally one or two will drop down to ~$300K. On this part of the neighborhood near the cemetery few homes rise beyond the $1 Mil mark.

The central school here is Alta Heights Elementary, right in the middle of the neighborhood. It is an above average school according to test scores and seems to have strong community involvement as far as I can tell. There are a few churches in the neighborhood as well, including the Napa Korean Seventh Day Adventist Church and on the far northern border of the neighborhood, the Creekside Community Church.

Overall, this area has kind of classic California semi-suburban neighborhood feel of the kind those of us who are Gen-Xers remember from our childhoods. Basically it is the kind of middle class neighborhood you would like to raise kids in.
Pros
  • Quiet
  • Good School
  • Nice Homes
Cons
  • A Little Boring
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 5/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Golden Girls by the Beach"

There are few places more beautiful along the California coastline than Morro Bay. The long, half-moon bay with the long strip of beach mostly walling it off is stunningly beautiful—so much so, that you might expect this to be the province of the fabulously rich. Morro Bay is protected from such intrusions however by its relatively remote location in Central California. This location does a fair amount to restrain the rise of property prices. In addition, because so many of the residents who live here are older and have settled roots in the area, the rise in property prices does not reflect the price at which they bought their homes. So even though the home they occupy may be currently valued at $600,000, back when they bought their homes they signed for not even a third as much.

That said, there is really no such thing as an inexpensive coastal town in California that doesn’t have something substantially off about it. Morro Bay doesn’t have a lot of renters—its mostly a tourist spot in the summer. People come here for the outdoors. But the residents are really more in the senior citizen range than anything else. Put simply, this place is nice for a visit, but year round this is a pretty dead location. Very foggy and sometimes just down right cold.

You could perhaps rent a place and go into San Luis Obispo, but then you might as well go farther south towards Santa Maria.

As far as things to do, there are some fairly bland seaside restaurants. The kind of places that serve fairly standard fare and don’t worry too much about wowing anyone with much more than the amazing seaside views. There is a sprawling golf course, kayak rentals and well-located natural history museum in an interesting building surrounded by Monterey cypresses.

Unfortunately, the northern end of the bay by Morro Bay State Park with its almost iconic stone mound, is marred by the stacks of some kind of power plant.

Morro Bay is made up of mix of hotels, older beach style homes and the occasional mobile home park. The hotels vary from beachside resort to the more traditional roadside motel. Many people end up here when tiring from Pacific Coast Highway on their way between SF and LA. (This is roughly the halfway point.) Some people also stop here before heading over to see William Randolph Heart’s Castle, San Simeon right off Cambria—this is just forty to fifty miles north of here.

The homes here all face towards the sea, of course, and the rising slope of Morro Bay makes it ideal for this kind of tiered setup. You can somewhat tell that some of the occupants are indeed wealthy by the luxury cars parked out front. This is not however the predominant level of income for most residents of Morro Bay. This is a fairly middle class area—although given the high number of retirees, statistics are more than a little bit misleading.

A portion of the residents live in pretty old looking mobile homes. They very much remind me of some of those 1970’s movies where old people retired to back in the day.

Overall, this is the kind of sleepy community that would be perfect for someone who wanted to get away from it all—say you wanted to write the next great American novel and while not being bothered.
Pros
  • Beautiful
  • Quiet
  • Nice Homes
Cons
  • Remote
  • Boring
  • Bland Restaurants
Recommended for
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
  • Beach Lovers
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Copenhagan California"

Despite having become way too touristy, Solvang is still one of my favorite places to stop off when I am in this neck of the woods—which is usually only when I am headed up to the Bay Area. Solvang was founded as a Danish Colony and has capitalized on this European heritage by making their little town into a replica of the kind of place you might find on the outskirts of Copenhagen.

The main drag has everything made up as if you had just stepped into a Brueghel painting—lots of half timbering like you usually see on Tudor homes, those thatched, tiled roofs shaped like milk-made hats and, of course, purely decorative windmills. It is all, of course, more like Disneyland than Denmark, but it is at once wonderfully charming even as it is super-kitschy.

The theme is carried through everything from the parks—“Hans Christian Anderson Park”—to the theater, “Hamlet Theater.” There are a number of restaurants, bakeries and stores here as well. My favorite of these is the Cabernet Bistro. (Though for lunch you should head over to nearby Buellton and go to Anderson’s Pea Soup—it is our ritual to always stop off there whenever we go to SF.)

The time to go is in September when they have Danish Days. For a couple of weeks they give you as much Danish Culture—from stuffing your face contests, to milkmaids hoofing it in wooden clogs. It’s completely silly and ridiculous—kind of like a family friendly Oktoberfest (I know, I know! Oktoberfest is German).

The other attraction that often gets overshadowed is the Santa Ynez Mission, one of California’s 27 Mission Museums. If you are a fan of Spanish California, it is definitely worth checking out. And if growling hogs are more your speed, try the Classic Motorcycle Museum that is also in town.

So what is it like living it this little slice of Denmark by the Pacific? Solvang is a tiny town of barely 5,000 residents. It’s an older town, with the average resident being in their forties. These are mostly store owners and operators looking to capitalize on visiting tourists. When you get beyond the main drag, you leave the windmills and dormer windows behind, and you get a pretty straightforward So Cal town. In other words, its Ranch House city. Except for the occasional street name, this could be Chatsworth or Reseda in terms of appearance. On the western end of town you have Rancho Santa Ynez Estates—which is a pleasant, leafy mobile home park. (It is about as nice looking as a mobile home park gets but it is still a mobile home park nevertheless.) The nicest residential section of Solvang is on the northern hillside. It is still Ranch House city, but these are the larger Brady Bunch style Ranch Homes (though not split-level) with big yards, prairie fences and wide lanes.

Crime in Solvang is virtually non-existent. There has not been a murder here in more than a decade, rapes and violent crimes are about as rare as they get, and even petty theft is low. Rarely does the crime index break into the triple digits.

There is a hospital on the northern end of town (often a concern for country living) and supermarkets and auto repair shops. In other words, you have all of the basic amenities you need for suburban living in the 21st Century.

The local high school is Santa Ynez Union High in neighboring Santa Ynez. If test scores are a good indication, the school is ranked as high as any school around, getting an 850 API rank and having the majority of its students testing proficient on standardized tests.

Put simply, if you can find work in the area, this is a great place to live and raise kids (though I suspect the whole Danish thing probably gets old pretty fast).
Pros
  • Great Danish Festival Town
  • Great Schools
  • Crime Free
Cons
  • A Little Boring
  • Expensive
  • Remote
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Perfect For Beach Loving College Students"

West Beach in Santa Barbara is home to Santa Barbara City College—the local community colleg--and to the moderately well-known West Beach Music Festival. Santa Barbara City College, to begin, is more than just your regular community college. It really doesn’t have the feel of a community college at all. From its beach side location to the active nature of the students, you feel more like you are at a regular four year college than just your average 2-year. (There is definitely nothing “junior” about this college.)

The West Beach Music Festival is also a pretty good event. Happening right at the end of summer as people are just getting into the swing of things at school. Last year’s festival featured Rebelution, UB 40 and Bright Lights among others. It is a very Santa Barbara event.

Homes to the west of campus are pretty standard California fair: Ranch houses dating from the 1950’s for the most part. The streets are leafy and nice in a modest sort of way. It’s a good mix of students, young families and some older residents around here. With the beach so close, it should be prime territory for developers but the proximity of the college keeps them from rebuilding the whole place.

Overall, it is a pretty cool place to live and a great location for beach lovers.
Pros
  • Great School
  • Relatively Affordable
  • Nice Neighborhood
Cons
  • Get's a Little Loud Sometimes
  • Crowded
  • Parking Problems
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now
Editors Choice

"Zookers and Moon Doggies on the Sand"

Carpinteria is a tiny seaside town just to the southeast of Santa Barbara. When I was a teenager, I had a friend that would spend half her summer here and I would occasionally go along to make her company. Unlike a lot of seaside communities in So Cal, this is definitely not the domain of the super rich. Partly this is because of Carpinteria’s proximity to very unromantic Oxnard (ick, just the name is unpleasant off the tongue, “Ox” and “nard”). Partly this is because this has the feel of an older community—sort of your grandparents’ vacation town.

It’s really apartment city around here. Lots of boxy seventies style apartments and 80’s style town homes, but this is not like the kind of places you get in Manhattan Beach, where even though the apartments are small, you feel as if you are getting a cool, seaside flat. Here, if it were not for the weather and the not too distant sand, you would really not notice much difference from anywhere else. You could be in Van Nuys for all you know.

But, of course, the sound of the breakers, the drizzly beach weather and the shorts and flip flops dress code are a constant reminder of the nearby Pacific.

Although the year round population of Carpinteria is only 13,000, in the summertime it must double as all the people who keep their summer apartments here descend on the little coastal village. Catering to these vacationers are a number fairly square restaurants like Zookers and Sly’s Steakhouse. I am not putting them down. I actually like Sly’s—it is definitely the place to go for steak. I am only saying that they are not exactly cutting edge cuisine.

As to my favorite spots to go in Carpinteria, I would recommend The Spot—a beach town burger stand. Very yummy. As far as somewhere to go out for drinks, I would forego the better known Island Brewery in favor of The Palms and I have heard that Moondoggies is good for a kind of beach dive bar vibe, but have no first hand experience of said lunar poaches.

In terms of safety, locals often warn about there being gangs in the area both from Oxnard and from Santa Barbara. They also warn not to be taken in by the bucolic beach setting. This may be the case, but the crimes statistics for Carpinteria don’t seem to validate their claims. The overall crime rate in Carpinateria is about a third of the national average and murders and other violent crime are relatively rare. There is some property crime but it is not that significant.

The local schools also get a pretty bad rap with a lot of locals sending their kids to private school as they hit middle and high school because they consider Carpentiria High School a recruiting ground for local gangs. Supposedly there are a lot of fights and such at these schools. Again, however, the objective statistics don’t seem to paint such a bleak picture. CHS’s API score for example, ranks it just above average as far as California schools are concerned. Its STAR tests give a similar impression with students testing just slightly above average in all subjects except for science where they fall off precipitously for reasons I can’t explain.

Put simply, I don’t know whether the apprehension I have heard regarding gangs in the area is not just a reflection of fears having to do with the diversity of the city (Carpinteria is roughly half white and half Hispanic).

My read on it is that this is a great, affordable place to live, whose main problem/blessing is that it is too far away from the really main urban areas to draw on those who would drive rent and property prices up. I would certainly not mind living near the beach like this.
Pros
  • Beach Side
  • Affordable
  • Good Eats
Cons
  • Boxy Apartments
  • Average Schools
  • Too Close to Oxnard
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
  • Beach Lovers
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Still in the Shadow of the Riots"

Even today, when people here the name “Watts” they still think of the 1960’s riots that set the city ablaze. Even the 1990’s Rodney King riots have not wiped away the shadow of those events. But is Watts today still an urban ghetto?

Unfortunately, Watts is now not much different than it was fifty years ago—not in terms of socio-economic status, anyway. Though now this is a predominantly Latino neighborhood. This is the forth poorest neighborhood in all of LA, with only Chinatown, Downtown and University Park coming in lower. It is a densely packed neighborhood as well, with about 17,000 people per square mile.

Homes of this flat grid of a neighborhood take on the typical look of urban poverty, Los Angeles style: small homes on small lots, fenced yards and barred windows, trash strewn streets bordering unkept lawns.

Even worse is the fact the fact that more than a quarter of the population growing up in these conditions is under the age of 10—that’s more than 10,000 kids born into a world of high crime and limited opportunity.

Crime is just as bad now as it ever was. If you just look at the last six months, you find that there have been close to 400 violent crimes, including 8 murders. That puts it in the top ten most violent neighborhoods in all of LA. Since 2007, Watts has been the site of some 65 murders—mostly having to do with gang violence. When you take into account that one in four residents is under 10 years of age and that the vast majority of murder victims are at least in their teen years if not older—that means that the average Watts resident of adult years has a 1 in 1500 chance of being murdered on any given year. Pretty scary.

With the exception of King Drew Medical High School and a few others, the educational system also offers little chance of escape from a cycle of poverty. I say King Drew because although it is far from a great school it does offer some glimmers of hope. Though it missed 7 of its No Child Left Behind standards last year, it did manage to get half of its students to pass the STAR test in English and the SAT scores for its graduates are only about 100 points below the state average. That said, it has long way to go in terms of math where only 1 in 5 test proficient.

Overall, however, this is definitely not where anyone would choose to raise a family if given another option.
Pros
  • Lots of Children
  • An Okay High School
  • Lots of Parks
Cons
  • Crime
  • Poverty
  • Overcrowded
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"As Safe as Grandma's Mansion"

This is among the top ten safest neighborhoods/cities in the greater LA area. East of Monrovia and north of Duarte, on the far inland reaches of the greater LA area, Bradbury is among the top ten safest cities in all of LA—certainly in terms of violent crime. (Curious what the other nine are? Here they are: West San Dimas, Val Verde, San Pasqual, Rolling Hills, Ramona, Leona Valley, Hidden Hills, Hasley Canyon, and Green Valley).

How safe is it in Bradbury? Well there has not been a murder here in at least five years, possible longer. And in the last six months, there has not been a violent crime reported of any kind: no assaults, no robberies, no rapes. What about property crime? It barely registers. Just a handful of thefts and auto break ins. Basically, this is as safe as it gets.

But what is Bradbury like otherwise? HOT! This is one of those inland areas where you no longer get the cooling influence from the Pacific—so you might as well be in Arizona. Summers are pretty unbearable here.

People here however can definitely afford to blast their air conditioners to cool their mammoth dwellings. Bradbury is among LA’s most affluent communities, with the average household earning well into the six-figures. It really is about on the same level as Bel-Air but without the cooling ocean breezes and the prestige.

The homes here are not Ranch homes—they are actual ranches. Well sort of, anyway. These are basically mansions set up on a ranch model. Think giant horse choral with immaculate white fencing and beautiful greens and you get the idea. Of course, you will also find perfectly sculpted French gardens, tennis courts and long entry ways meant to make you feel like you are approaching Versailles. (So Cal ranch versions of Versailles.)

Given what I’ve told you, you might expect the local schools to be outstanding, but this is not exactly the case. The local high school, Duarte High is below average by objective standards. It actually missed 4 No Child Left Behind Standards last year. SAT scores are about a hundred points below the state average, and its API is only about average. The really big deficit seems to be in Math where, on the STAR test only about 1 in 5 students manage to pass—pretty dismal given the local resources.

I guess the poor schools should not come as a total surprise. The average age of Bradbury residents is 46. Only about 250 of Duartes’ 1500 residents are under the age of 18. So this is really more your grandparents community, than a young family community. Besides which, with the amount of money the average Bradbury resident brings in, they can afford to have their children tutored by Nobel laureates if they would like. (I only slightly exaggerate.)

That said, it’s a bit too hot for me or my pocket book, but if you are in the whole Ronald Reagan Hollywood cowboy lifestyle—this is the place for you.
Pros
  • Very Safe
  • Beautiful Mansions
  • Country Club Feel
Cons
  • Very Expensive
  • Hot
  • Out of the Way
Recommended for
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"It Won't Gag You With the Spoon"

The San Fernando Valley is the northwest section of Los Angeles County. It is separated from most of the rest of Los Angeles by the mountain range that moves inland from Malibu and ends in Griffith Park.

“The Valley,” as everyone from the LA area calls it, has been my home for most of my life and like most of the 1.5 million people who live here I am more than a little ambivalent about it. On the one hand, it is very much a part of me, and I have grown comfortable here. On the other, I’ve always thought of the Valley as a Wasteland with nothing particularly unique or interesting about it.

Most of the Valley is a giant strip mall, with the usual set of 7/11’s and Target stores. Just about every neighborhood in the Valley is dominated by 1950’s style Ranch homes. For those who don’t know the Valley that well, you could be dropped into virtually any of the 34 “neighborhoods” and you would have a hard time telling the difference between it and anywhere else in the Valley.

Once you live here for a while, you start to notice subtle and not so subtle differences between the different neighborhoods. The not so subtle differences have to do with income and opportunity. If you think of the Valley as a bowl, what you find is that those in the middle of the bowl are poorer than those along the rising hills at the edge of the Valley.

I certainly know this first hand. I have lived in four neighborhoods in the Valley: Northridge, Reseda, Van Nuys and Woodland Hills. Except perhaps for Woodland Hills all of these neighborhoods have been in steady decline for most of my life, with incomes in steady decline.

Which is not to say that Woodland Hills and similar places have thrived, exactly. Woodland Hills is fairly typical. I moved here in the 80’s and went to Taft High School. Back then, the hill behind the school was empty grassland. By the time I graduated there were office buildings being built. When I came back from college at UCLA, Woodland Hills was crowded and you could even come across occasional homeless types wandering around. You no longer had the feeling that you were at the edge of the county. It was as if the tide of the city had swept up and swallowed the neighborhood.

Woodland Hills, however, has taken some steps to hold off some of this tide and to keep the suburban feel that it once had. We’ve had mixed success, but I still think that this is a pretty good place to live, mostly without the major urban problems you come across as you head south towards downtown.

Not only is there a big difference between the interior Valley and the hills at the edge, but there is also a big difference between the eastern side of the Valley and the west where I live. Burbank, for example, where my mom lives should be considered as its own entity and would be if it were not so close to Los Angeles. Like Pasadena and Glendale, it has more than 100,000 people in population and really is self-sufficient. North Hollywood and Studio City both have more of an urban feel than the west Valley.

You could also make a distinction between the north Valley (especially the northeastern Valley) and the southern Valley. On the north, things get considerably dustier and more western looking than in the southern Valley. Places like San Fernando (city not valley) and Sylmar with their dirt sidewalks and flat look against the stark, chaparral filled hillside, just feel very Southwestern. While on the southern valley, tucked away against the leafy mountains, there is much more of a Californian feel—if that makes any sense.

Of course, whenever you are talking about anywhere near LA, the influence of the entertainment industry will be felt. So, it was that the name “Valley Girl” arose out of the Sherman Oaks Galleria and the funny, suburban girl culture that came out of the early 80’s. (I know, I was one of those girls once—my hair still suffers from the damage of too much hairspray and too many perms.)

The most affluent neighborhood in the Valley, Porter Ranch, also has been immortalized by being the setting for Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The Valley is the kind of place where you are never too far from the celebrities, from Britney Spears and Kristen Stewart living in Calabasas and Hidden Hills to friends coming into contact with the odd luminary. I have personally met Howie Mandel (he really doesn’t like physical contact), gone to school with minor celebrities and had friends who dated the likes of Marcus Allen. It is just a part of life living here. It doesn’t happen every day, but if you live here long enough, you will inevitably have a star cross your path.

The Valley has also been immortalized in movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Boogie Nights and is the porn capital of the world. If you have watched a porn movie in the last 20 years, the home it took place in was probably here in the Valley. (Though I doubt the background architecture was the center of your attention if you are in that crowd.)

As to issues like crime, it is pretty much as you might expect it. In interior neighborhoods it can be pretty bad. A place like Pacoima gets close to 9 or 10 murders per year, while Woodland Hills gets only one. Even adjusting for Pacoima doubly large population, you can still see that living on the edge of the Valley is a lot safer than in the interior neighborhoods. Hidden Hills is, in fact, tied for the safest neighborhood in all of Los Angeles.

The schools in the Valley follow a similar pattern with the strongest schools being on the hills and the ones with the most problems being in the interior neighborhoods. This is not to say that all the schools in the hills are great. My own alma mater, Taft High for example, only gets mediocre ratings these days.

Overall, however, the Valley is still a relatively affordable option for those who live near LA.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Relatively Safe
  • Okay for Families
Cons
  • Strip Mall Culture
  • Boring
  • Smog and Traffic
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Good Country Living LA Style"

If you want to have a hilly rural feel right by the action of Downtown LA, then the closest you can come is Mount Washington, a hillside neighborhood just to south of Glassell Park and west of Highland Park. The homes in this middle class neighborhood are mostly of the Ranch home variety dating to the Fifties and this gives the neighborhood a sort of a western feel—a lot like Chatsworth for those that know the San Fernando Valley like I do.

On the Highland Park side of the Mount Washington, the narrow lanes that force SUV’s to squeeze by their neighbors take on much more of a Hollywood Hills kind of feel, with homes perched hillside and garages left curbside in the usual walk up (or down) arrangement that you get on such uneven terrain.

Despite bordering the high crime area of Cypress Park, Mount Washington doesn’t get a lot of spillover. It is actually statistically safer than average for Los Angeles neighborhoods—quite an accomplishment its location. In fact, since 2007 there have only been two murders in Mount Washington—both right on the border with Cypress Park.

Unfortunately, there are no high schools in Mount Washington, so residents have to send their kids to Franklin High in Highland Park. Franklin, despite having a strong staff of veteran teachers with years of experience, really doesn’t hold up in terms of academics, falling a good 100 points below average in terms of API scores. In terms of the STAR test, only 1 of 10 Franklin students pass the math portion and only a third pass the English and the college bound students score 200 points beneath the California average on the SAT. There is a Magnet program at the school where 1 in 5 pass the math portion and 2/3 pass the English, but this is still fairly weak overall.

So, this is probably the kind of neighborhood that is best for singles or older couples. The lack of sidewalks also makes having kids who love the outdoors a problem as well.

Although, there are certainly no lack of parks within Mt. Washington. You have Elyria Canyon Park on the west, Carlin Recreation on the south, Moon Canyon on the north and Sycamore Grove on the east. Not to mention that Mount Washington feels like a park all over and that you are just to the east of Elysian Park and to the south of Griffith Park. In other words, if you like urban parks, you will certainly have a number of options.

In terms of entertainment and fun, you are also not far from Silver Lake, Echo Park and all the excitement of the LA area. You will have to leave Mount Washington of course, but it is probably better to keep that kind of excitement at a little distance from where you live in my opinion.
Pros
  • Great Parks
  • Close to the Action
  • Nice Fifties Homes
Cons
  • Hillside Problems
  • Bad Schools
  • Not Much Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Hipsters Wanted"

Squeezed between leafy Elysian Park and Mt. Washington, at the point where the 5 and the 110 meet, bordered by both aqueduct and rail, Cypress Park might seem like a shoe-in to be one of those cool neighborhoods where yuppies build their lofts or where hipsters and artist flock to create a little artistic community just slightly away from the city. Echo Park and Silver Lake are just a hop skip and a jump away after all.

But Cypress Park is none of these things. Instead, Cypress Park has become a fairly typical low income area where violence is high and an oppressive sense of futility hangs in the air. It is quite tragic actually, because the area is actually quite beautiful and has all the basics on which to build a strong, interesting community.

One of the attractive aspects of this neighborhood are the California bungalows that make up the vast majority of the housing in the area. These older homes with their low roofs and shady walk-up terraced entrances evoke pre-WWII Los Angeles. Despite the below average incomes here, the homes are well-kept, with leafy front lawns and along wide laned of streets of the kind developers looking to pack more homes into smaller spaces don’t design anymore. The neighborhood actually does not feel particularly danger.

Looks can be a bit deceiving however, as this community of 10,000 experiences about 2.5 murders every year and has one of the higher violent crime rates in Los Angeles. (I believe there is even a gang that goes by the moniker, Cypress Park.)

The nearest high school is Lincoln, I believe, Cypress itself doesn’t have anything higher than a junior high, Florence Nightingale Middle School. Florence Nightingale is below average, but not terrible. On the STAR tests, for example, Florence Nightingale students pass at about a 1 in 3 rate in both math and English. This is good for math but bad for English—though both are beneath the state average by a bit.

One thing that Cypress Park has managed to pick up from its hipster western neighbors is a bit of nightlife. I am referring to a cool dive bar, Footsies, that makes its home here. If you want to play some pool and get drunk cheap, it is definitely the place to hang out in Cypress Park. If the tables are taken, you can also head across the street to El Recreo, a seedy pool hall. And if you get the munchies, try El Ataqor down the street on Figueroa—the tastiest potato tacos you will ever taste. (Of course, given the 1970’s Tijuana décor and mariachi music, they had better be great.)

You will also find the usual sorts of fast food places and automobile repair shops that seem to be omnipresent wherever you go.

Overall, this is a neighborhood with a lot of unrealized potential that seems to be headed in the wrong direction. If only some hipsters would move here, colonize this place, and drive the gangs out, you might have something going.
Pros
  • Affordable Housing
  • Close to Everything
  • Attractive Area
Cons
  • Violence and Gangs
  • Poor Schools
  • Unrealized Potential
Recommended for
  • Hipsters
  • Country Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Poor But Hope Inspiring"

Lincoln Heights definitely has a kind of southwestern feel to it. This is largely an immigrant area with the majority of residents here being born south of the border. Three quarters of those who live here also rent rather than own their dwellings. Both of these are testaments to the ever-changing face of this neighborhood.

Despite this every changing cast of residents, Lincoln Heights has a fairly strong sense of of place. People from here, generally have a strong sense of having been from an unusual place. In part, it is the look of the place. Despite being near the heart of Los Angeles, Lincoln Heights also has a certain amount of open space to it where you see undeveloped hills behind main drags. There are spots where it feels like you are deep in a rural area or in a cowboy sort of a town. Of course, most of the neighborhood is the usual set of older style Ranch homes, but even there, you have a feeling of being away from truly urban areas.

One way that you see this sense of place is in the relatively mild crime rates in this area. Despite the fact that the average income in the area is a very low $30K (usually a correlate for high crime in an area), Lincoln Heights is just about average in terms of violent crime. It has a relatively high number of murders compared to say the suburbs, but not so bad compared to many of its nearby neighbors. I don’t want to overstate it, I would definitely feel unsafe living here, but if I were low income and had to find somewhere to live, I would much rather live here than say Avalon Gardens, West Adams or Watts.

Unfortunately this doesn’t really translate to the local high school’s general student body. Lincoln High gets very poor ratings. It has consistently missed about 10 of its No Child Left Behind standards and is about 150 beneath the norm in terms of its API scores. In terms of the STAR test that all California students take only about one in 10 student test proficient in math, and, given the high number of non-native English speakers, less than 1/3 pass the English portion. SAT scores, on the other hand are only about 200 below the state average which isn’t as bad as many other schools with similar challenges.

Lincoln, however, does also have a Magnet devoted to science and technology and it does much better. In terms of math, the one of three students who pass places Lincoln only 10% beneath the state average, and in terms of English—surprisingly given that 4 of 5 students come from Latino families they actually beat the state average, with 2/3 passing that portion of the test.

This is kind of the wrap on this neighborhood, then. It is sort of a mixed bag. On the one hand, there are the usual crime and poverty problems you might expect, but on the other, there is also enough pride in community and sense of place that gives students a chance to escape the traps of poverty. In some ways, you might think of this as a positive model for a neighborhood with enough support that it can give us hope for the future.
Pros
  • Strong Sense of Community
  • Affordable Housing
  • Nice Semi-Country Feel
Cons
  • Gangs and Violence
  • Poverty
  • Weak Schools Generally
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Terrible but With Hopeful Signs"

Firestone Park is the neighborhood just adjacent to Avalon Gardens, and like it, also has a pretty bad crime problem. In fact, 67 people have been murdered in this neighborhood in the past four years. Given that that is about equal to the population of this neighborhood, that means that you have roughly a one in 4000 chance of being murdered here on any given year.

It is, in fact, among the most crime-ridden neighborhoods in all of Los Angeles with a high number of assaults and burglaries as a commonplace in this area.

Of course, when you drive through you might not actually feel the danger and the menace. The neighborhood looks much like Reseda or Van Nuys (which are dangerous in their own rights but not quite on this level). There are lots of older Ranch homes here on tiny lots—often with fences. There is, of course, a Latin flavor to the neighborhood as 90% of the residents are Latino and half of those were born south of the border.

The schools in the area are pretty awful as well. The students at South East High for example, fall a good 300 points below the California average on the SAT, and only 5% pass the math portion of their STAR test. They do a little better in English (like at most schools) but still end up passing only about a quarter of the time. The school has shown some dubious signs of progress, however if you take into consideration the No Child Left Behind standards. After an all time bad year in which they missed 13 of 19 standards, they bounced back this previous year missing only 6 of the standards. Of course, getting close is not really the goal here—it is passing all of them without difficulty like most ordinary schools do.

Despite these problems, there is a positive attitude among residents who live here. I know a couple of people from here and they both say they see signs of improvement in the area. Things are being better taken care of and some businesses have been brought in thanks to Magic Johnson—the Lakers great who has turned into a sort of entrepreneur and advocate for the poor.
Pros
  • Hopeful Residents
  • Affordable Housing
  • Good Public Transportation
Cons
  • Crime
  • Bad Schools
  • Poor Property Values
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Depressing"

Let me begin by saying that I have only driven through this neighborhood. I have never actually gotten out of my car here. So take that into your evaluation of my review.

As you would expect for a neighborhood just to the northwest of Watts, this is a high crime area. In fact, the 28,000 residents of this neighborhood experience about 13 murders per year. That’s about a one in 2000 chance of being murdered here every year. Pretty terrible! It is one of the top ten most dangerous neighborhoods in all of LA. In the last six months there have been 5 murders, 5 rapes and over 300 robberies and aggravated assaults. There have been more than 400 thefts of other kinds (burglaries, automobile thefts etc.) In other words, it doesn’t really matter what else I have to say about this neighborhood, it is simply too dangerous to live in. If you can avoid it, do.

All the other things you might expect about a neighborhood like this are basically bourn out by looking at any other statistics about this neighborhood. It is a very poor neighborhood where most of the residents have not completed even high school. The unemployment rate is high here and it is densely packed. The streets have that dingy worn out look to them, and it is not unusual to see garbage strewn about in parts (though I hasten to mention not everywhere—I assume that even in a crime plagued area like this there are a substantial number of residents fighting to have a decent way of life).

I would like to say that there is some hope in terms of the local schools, but unfortunately that is not really the case. Fremont High, one of the main local high schools is exemplary of the kind of problems here. Fremont ranks at the very bottom of standards. It ranks a good 200 points below the California average in terms of it API. Its STAR testing is even worse. Despite supposedly having 40% of its students in advanced math, only 2.5% of students pass the math portion of the STAR test. (How can that be with 40% in advanced math?) English is little better with only about 15% passing that portion of the test. SAT scores are just as bad with students barely breaking 1000—a good five hundred below the state average. Needless to say, Fremont has missed virtually all of its No Child Left Behind standards.

All of this suggests a school and a neighborhood where things are just not functioning properly by any standard.
Pros
  • Affordable Housing
  • Good Public Transportation
Cons
  • Crime
  • Terrible Schools
  • Poverty
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Dangerous and Poor"

Park Mesa Heights is a neighborhood just slightly north of Inglewood (adjacent to Park View). Often considered a part of Hyde Park, Park Mesa is a working class community made up largely of small plotted 1950’s style Ranch homes. It is a high density neighborhood where homes are often divided between separate tenants and where driveways are often placed where the front yard would be—partly as a prevention against auto break-ins.

Crime rates in the area are twice the national average and murder rates are three times the national average, making it, sadly, a pretty typical South Central neighborhood. Even worse is automobile theft rates at nearly five times the national average. The intersections of Crenshaw and Slauson, and 54th and 2nd are especially dangerous with 3 murders occurring at each during the last four years.

The schools in the area are similarly atrocious, Crenshaw being the local high school. The dismal ratings move right on through the entire education cycle however, even to the lower levels. Horace Mann Junior High in the area is typical. Its API scores are 200 points below the state average and has failed to meet 13 of 25 No Child Left Behind standards for each of the last four years. In addition, only 19% of students test proficient in on the English portion of the STAR test and 15% on the math. Put simply, this is a pretty terrible learning environment.

Overall, this is not the kind of place you would want to live.
Pros
  • Affordable Rents
  • Okay Public Transportation
Cons
  • Dangerous
  • Poor
  • Terrible Schools
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Pretty Depressing"

Vermont Harbor, or Vermont Square as it is sometimes known, is a fairly poor neighborhood a bit to the south of the USC campus. The average household brings in only $30K per year. The homes here are tiny bungalows with tiny front and back yards. Homes almost all date back to WWII.

The neighborhood is in many ways a poster child for urban problems of South Central. Violence and crime ravage the area. Since 2007, there have been 40 murders here, one for every thousand citizens. Aggravated assaults and other mayhem are also a common feature of the area. In the last six months, for example, there have been 4 murders, 15 rapes, 139 assaults and 209 burglaries reported in the neighborhood. That is almost enough to have one incident for every hundred people living here.

Except for a few small charters, schools are dismal across the board as well. Test scores are low and teachers are charged with spending the majority of their time maintaining discipline.

Residents also complain about the area being dirty, with many residents leaving heaps of refuse outside their homes. I have heard these complaints but the few occasions when I have been in the neighborhood, I have not seen it. Homes look relatively clean, though the barred windows and doors were a bit of a downer. The dingy looking stores along the main arteries also looked fairly uninviting.

Along the streets however, you always see people walking around. On the occasions that I have passed by there were some that looked rather scary, playing the gang-banger role to the hilt. But most people seemed to be just going about their days, walking kids home from school, that sort of thing. In fact, there seems to be a lot more foot traffic here than in a lot of neighborhoods, which is a good thing for the environment, I think.

That said, this is a fairly depressing neighborhood. About a third of those that live here are under 18. I imagine that as they get older, those who can manage it, will find a better place to live. I know I certainly would.
Pros
  • Affordable Housing
  • Side Walks
  • Good Public Transportation
Cons
  • Dangerous
  • Dirty
  • Poor
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Okay Neighborhood, Bad Schools"

Located just to north of Inglewood and adjacent to View Park with which it is often paired, Windsor Hills is an affluent African American neighborhood that in many ways resembles nearby Ladera Heights.

The homes in Windsor Hills are not quite as large and stately as those in View Park. There are a lot more large split-level Ranch homes here. These are not the tiny rundown looking Ranch homes that you find throughout much of Southern California, but the larger, 1970’s styles Ranches like the kind found on TV shows like The Brady Bunch. Many homes here however are more unusual than this, and it is not uncommon to find an odd boxy looking modernist type home with tall front windows or unusual terraced front lawns highlighted by bushes sculpted into geometric shapes.

The neighborhood is on a hillside so many of the homes also include a pretty good inland view of South LA (much better than the oil fields that make up much of the view of Ladera Heights). Up atop the neighborhood is one of the major arteries—Stocker--which is bordered by a green space where there is a trail many residents like to hike or jog along because of its greenery and views.

Past Stocker there is yet another slice of residential Windsor Hills where many of the older homes are located. You can even find some fairly old apartment buildings here. The streets up on this section have a bit of a Spanish theme with names like Don Miguel, Don Lorenzo, Don Valdez and my personal favorite as a lit geek, Don Quixote. Though the homes are not as large and the streets are much narrower here than below Stocker, there is something very attractive about this neighborhood. The tightly packed homes and yards make the neighborhood feel somewhat like a Florida vacation home area for some reason. Unfortunately, there are also some reminders that that this is not the safest of neighborhoods: many of the homes have bars across the windows and doors.

Following the green space next to Stocker you come to Norman O Houston Park which is a nice grassy park with a basketball court, well-maintained exercise stations and a sandbox with play area for the kiddies. Unfortunately, local gangs will also hold parties here as well.

On the far western corner of the neighborhood is Windsor Hills Elementary. It is an interesting story. It used to be well liked by the surrounding community, but starting in about 2007, the combination of budget cuts and an off putting principal have diminished parental support. Some parents have gone so far as to pull their children out of the school. Among the complaints is the fact that the students are left relatively unsupervised during recess and lunch and that overall discipline is lacking.

Unfortunately many of the upper levels schools—middle schools and high school are equally bad if not worse.

Overall, this is a good neighborhood to live, but it would be better if schools were better and the gangs not so prevalent.
Pros
  • Good Homes
  • Good Park
  • Nice Park
Cons
  • Gangs
  • Some Violence
  • Bad School
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Attractive Neighborhood but Bad Schools and A Little Dangerous"

Located in the hills northwest of Inglewood, View Park is one of the hidden gems of the LA area. Although it is widely overlooked by LA residents, View Park is an affluent, predominantly African American neighborhood filled with large classic manors. It is one of the few places in LA where you can find large Georgian homes painted White House white and highlighted with redbrick front walks, two and half story high Corinthian columns and decorative period lamps. The neighborhood also has the occasional modernized Cape Cod, complete with gambrel roof.

Residents consider the neighborhood to be safe and claim they have no problem walking their dogs at night. Murder stats would seem to bear them out—with no murders in the neighborhood since at least 2006 (perhaps earlier, I just don’t have any stats before then). Other stats point to a different picture however. Looking at the last six months, for example, there have been 11 aggravated assaults and 15 robberies thus putting into the category of one of the more dangerous than average neighborhoods. In terms of property crimes it is even more of a target with 57 burglaries, 23 autothefts, 54 thefts from vehicles.

This is not to overstate matters and imply that this is one of the most dangerous areas in LA—it certainly is not. But, it is also not completely insulated from the nearby crime problems.

Another problem with living here is that the local schools are also not as strong as one would like. The public high schools in the area, in fact, rank as some of the worst in LA. Take nearby Crenshaw High whose API is 200 points below the state average and only manages to get one of five of its student to test proficient in English (according to 2010 STAR tests). Even worse is the math proficiency where only one in forty test proficient. As you would expect Crenshaw students taking the SAT fall 500 below the state average and the high school has missed at least 14 No Child Left Behind milestones four years in a row. (In 2008, they missed all 25.) Put simply, mediocrity would be a positive accomplishment for this school.

Given how beautiful this neighborhood is, it is a shame that crime and education are not stronger in the area. I doubt it would remain a “hidden gem” if they were.
Pros
  • Beautiful Clasic Homes
  • Nice Neihborhoods
  • Not as Expesnsive as it Looks
Cons
  • Nearby Crime
  • Poor Public Schools
  • Old Home Problems
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Trendy & Stylish
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"A Dangerous and Poor Area"

Located just to the south of Downtown LA, Central Alameda is low income majority Latino neighborhood. The neighborhood is named after the north-south arteries that function as its borders.

This is a densely packed neighborhood, one of the most densely packed of all the neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Most adults here are married. This is mostly a family area, with households averaging 4. More than half of the residents are foreign born, and 4/5 of these come from Mexico. The neighborhood skews young with the median resident being in his or her early twenties.

On the eastern side of the neighborhood there is the edge of a vast commercial area filled with non-descript factory buildings—many of the classic redbrick variety, though the majority in pastel creams.

Homes in the area are mostly of the circa WWII era bungalow and Ranch home variety with tiny square yards (often bordered by metal fencing) and old style squarish apartment buildings.

Unfortunately this neighborhood has most of the problems that we associate with densely packed, low income neighborhoods. Crime is, first of all, a huge problem here. Since 2007 there have been 42 murders in the area. The crime rate for the area is among the cities worst in terms of violent crime. Assaults are high and murders also. If you take it in terms of overall population, you find that your chances of being murdered in this neighborhood on any given year are one in 4,000. Given however that a quarter of the population is under 10, and that few such victims are in this age group, you chances increase precipitously.

Schools offer little hope as well. Schools here are, as you would expect given the density, overcrowded with your typical middle-school having 2,000 students. High schools are just as bad by all objective standards. Take Santee Education Complex (technically in South Central, though it gets many of the students on the northern end of the neighborhood). Santee’s Academic Performance Index scores (a general rating of the overall school’s performance) show that it is among LA’s worst lagging a good 200 points behind the state average. STAR test scores are even worse with only 15% testing proficient in English and barely 1.5% doing so in math. Santee, not surprisingly, has failed on 18 of 22 No Child Left Behind standards and students here average about 1000 on their SATs—500 points behind the state average. Truly dismal.

Despite this, there are some mild reasons for hope. One is the fact that these families are largely intact. Another is that there does seem to be a growing sense of community in the neighborhood (despite the fact that 70% or residents are renters). Recently for example, when a local representative decided to sell public lands that had been planned for a large urban garden, locals organized protests and raised objections. The plan went through any way, I think, but the fact that people cared enough to make a stink is a good sign for the future.
Pros
  • Affordable Homes
  • Good Public Transportation
  • Growing Sense of Community
Cons
  • Violent Crime
  • Crowded and Poor
  • Terrible Schools
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Great Palos Verdes Neighborhood"

I’m not sure why this only designates one section of Palos Verdes, really it should be an overview of all of Palos Verdes which it seems to me occupies the entire Peninsula. As it is designated however, Palos Verdes Peninsula designates a particular residential section of Palos Verdes.

Like all the rest of Palos Verdes, this is strictly the province of the filthy rich. Not that there is anything filthy about this or any other neighborhood in Palos Verdes. In fact, if anything, Palos Verdes is probably too clean and immaculate. There is actually something rather off-putting about such sunny perfection. It is kind of like the teacher’s pet in class, who knows every question and raises their hands at every opportunity. (Not even the teacher likes that busy body.)

Living here just feels a bit like living on a sitcom version of life. The streets are just wide enough to allow comfortable driving; the lawns are uniformly green, the hedges are perfectly trimmed into cubes with each lawn has its own tree—often a palm—to give homes their own individual flare. Thankfully, this is not one of those planned communities where all the homes are in the same architectural style. The majority of homes here are of the flat variety. Quite a few are of the split level Ranch variety, but there are also some that resemble the main home in the film American Beauty. I am not sure what that is called but their some attractive boxy versions of that here. Some of the homes here actually resemble variations on Eichler homes with flat roofs that rise at the center where there is a recessed central entrance way. It is actually a really attractive neighborhood that manages to avoid looking overly planned.

The neighborhood also has a little restaurant, a multi-screen movie theater and a bit of a shopping area—so you get all of the pleasures of suburbia almost within walking distance. There are also sidewalks which make this a great neighborhood for kids and families in general so that they can stay healthy.

There are also some really great schools here. Palos Verdes Peninsula High School is the main high school for Palos Verdes and, as you would expect, continues the trend of great seaside schools. Palos Verdes High always ranks at least a hundred points higher than the state average on API scores and 250 higher on the SAT. 2/3 of PVH students test proficient on the Math portion of the STAR test and 4/5 do so in English. Put simply this is one of the great schools around.

Overall, however, there is definitely a bit of conservative streak here and it does feel a little bit like Orange County. A bit too conservative for my taste.
Pros
  • Great Clean Neighborhood
  • Great Schools
  • Good Suburban Entertainments
Cons
  • Very Expensive
  • Lacks Public Tranportation
  • A Bit Snooty
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
Kathytyndall
Kathytyndall PRO Having lived in Palos Verdes for 35 years, I have never found it to be an intimidating place. I moved to Palos Verdes from having grown up in the Pacific Palisades which WAS very status conscious. What I love about PV, as the locals call it, is the mix of people who live here. Some of the earliest homeowners to "the Peninsula" were aerospace engineers who came in the 50's and 60's and never left. There are may immigrant families who came for the excellent school system and the English As a Second Language program. And, now there are kids who grew up on "the hill" returning with their families to live.
2yrs+
mmegowan
mmegowan PRO Although homes in Palos Verdes are expensive, there are many residents who have lived here for many years that bought homes 30 years ago and that could not be classified as "filthy rich". To buy a home in Palos Verdes Estates now requires the ability to pay at least $900,000 (for a fixer ) and up.
The homes in Palos Verdes Estates are all custom homes built in the 1920's through today, with varying architectural styles. Many are of ranch , contemporary modern, Spanish or Mediterranean design, but several neighborhoods include Tuscan, English Tudor, and even French Normany.

Most neighborhoods in Palos Verdes Estates do not have sidewalks and also do not include street lights. I , for one, like this as I can see the stars at night. There are two shopping plazas in the City in Malaga Cove and Lunada Bay providing local shops including markets and restaurants.

It is a wonderful city to raise children, and has one of the highest rated school districts in the State. The incredible beauty of the city, with its spectacular ocean and city light views never gets old, even after 28 years of living here !!
2yrs+
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4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Lots of Greenery, Greens, and Green"

Rancho Palos Verdes is the seaside city along the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Palos Verdes Drive, the shoreline drag, takes the place of the Pacific Coast Highway through Palos Verdes, offering up the ocean views that the PCH claims on most other sections of the Pacific coast.

This is a highly affluent city though it skews just slightly younger than the hillside residents inland.

Many of the communities in Rancho Palos Verdes are joined together into seaside enclaves of layered streets with similar looking homes. There are lots of Mediterranean style homes packed together into planned communities—al very cleaned and well-organized, but lacking any real feeling of individuality to my mind. Like most things in Palos Verdes, everything is immaculate and beautifully maintained. And, of course, everything will cost you an arm and a leg.

There is no lack of entertainments for the residents who live in Rancho Palos Verdes. There are a number of very expensive restaurants that take advantage of the view to keep prices inflated and portions small. Mar’sel a Donald Trump restaurant, is a typical example. (Like all things Donald is a lot more about phony baloney image than actual value.) Actually, you are much better off heading up to Redondo Beach for food than sticking around in Palos Verdes.

One of the major features of this affluent area is the Los Verdes Golf Course. This sprawling facility offers amazing greens that overlook the ocean. Amazingly, for Palos Verdes, it’s a public course. Golf purists will find the course a touch beaten down from over use, but if you love a good view while you making your way to the next hole, then you will love this golf course.

For those looking for an amazing wedding venue, you might try the Wayfarer’s Chapel. The chapel is made of glass with redwood beams and is nestled in a woodland groove and garden right at the edge of the ocean. It is a stunningly beautiful spot to get married. The chapel is sponsored by the Swedenborgian Church and focuses on creating harmony between nature and spirituality. Another interesting footnote is that it was designed by the son of the famous architect Frank Llyod Wright.

On a personal note, I remember coming here as a child, and being amazed by its beauty. In fact, it was so beautiful that as an adult I thought that I must have just dreamt such a location. But a few years ago I went to a friend’s wedding here and rediscovered these beautiful grounds all over again.

A beautiful location but way overpriced.
Pros
  • Great Golf Course
  • Immaculate Setting
  • Great Wedding Venue
Cons
  • Very, Very Expensive
  • Poor Public Transportation
  • Monotonic Planned Neighborhoods
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
Kathytyndall
Kathytyndall PRO Mar'sel is not a Trump owned property. It is located at the Terranea Resort which is approximately three miles from Trump International.
2yrs+
pamjensen
pamjensen PRO I've had the pleasure to dine at Mar'sel several times since it opened, and the food is excellent. This is a great restaurant for a special occasion meal. Yes, it's spendy, but sitting outside on a summer night, watching the moon rise over the sea, is priceless!
2yrs+
JayJ2
JayJ2 Rancho Palos Verde ,this is place for Child from the President ,Who can paid the rent of $ 3000 ????????????? And buying house of 800.000 ?????? WHO I have not bread in house and my child is hungry.
2yrs+
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4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"For Hill Rollers With Lots of Verde"

Like all of Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills (not to be confused with Rolling Hills Estates) is extremely wealthy. The name for this area is in fact perfect given the hilly terrain. The homes run the gamut of styles from long flat Ranch homes to Mediterranean styles. All, however, share perfectly manicured lawns that form the edges of wide gently curving lanes.

The majority of people who live here are older than average—in fact, you might call this one of the richest retirement communities in the country. More than two thirds are married and nine of ten own their own homes. So, as you might imagine, this is a highly stable area that is perhaps more than a little bit on the conservative side.

One of the draws of the area is the great education system. From kindergarten through high school, there are no shortcomings in the schools here—they always rank at the top of the charts.

You are close enough to the ocean (Portuguese Bend will take your right down the beach of the same name) that the town has the feel of a kind of sleepy beach town. The cooling fog often rolls in during the summer offering some welcome relief from heat waves. On clear days the hills also offer views not only out to the pacific, but south to the harbor and north to the famous beaches leading up to LAX.

My entire life, Palos Verdes has always had the feel of a hyper-exclusive country club where you never quite feel as if you are wealthy or well-connected enough to make the membership. It is still that today. It also resembles a country club in the high prevalence of pools and tennis courts. Rolling Hills brings this point home with virtually every home having a swimming pool and every other one seeming to have a tennis court. Not that you need an individual court for yourself, the parks and green spaces also have hard courts. In fact, what you have trouble finding here is a basketball court.

Overall, if you have money to burn and you like to get away from all the hustle and bustle of LA, Rolling Hills is definitely the place for you.
Pros
  • Great Manicured Homes
  • Great Schools
  • Quiet and Secluded
Cons
  • Hyper Expensive
  • Lacks Diversity
  • Hillside Problems (Wildfires, etc.)
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
mmegowan
mmegowan PRO Homes in Rolling Hills are generally limited to one story ranch homes, painted white, with white rail fences and shingles.
2yrs+
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1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Poor Schools and Dangerous"

Unfortunately as you get into this area of LA, the first thing that you really have to address when it comes to the neighborhoods is violent crime. Willowbrook is, simply put, a high crime area. The LA Times ranks it as one of the top twenty most violent neighborhoods in LA. The murders in this neighborhood back this up. Since 2007, there have been a whopping 48 murders here. Given that the population is about 40,000, that means that you have a roughly one in 3,000 chance of being murdered here every year. Pretty bad. There are also a high number of assaults and burglaries here as well.

The schools in Willowbrook are just as bad, with most all of them carrying the worst possible ratings in the LA area. Alain Leroy Locke High is a prime example. It’s near three thousand students consistently score a few hundred points below the state average on the Academic Peformance Test year after year. In addition, ita scores on the STAR test are similarly atrocious with less than 3% passing the math portion while less than 10% pass the English language section.

The neighborhood itself has that older California look to it with a number of old Ranch homes. It is not dirty but it does look worn out. The cars in the area are older model as well giving the whole area a sort stuck in time feel.

Put simply, this is not where anyone would choose to live.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Good Transportation
Cons
  • Crime
  • Terrible Schools
  • Old, Dingy Homes
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Bad Schools but Safe Overall"

Lomita is one of the most densely packed neighborhoods in this area of Los Angeles. In less than two miles you have about 20,000 people. How do they fit them all in? In the usual ways that you would expect. There are, of course, a number of the boxy apartment complexes that you come to expect in this kind of a neighborhood. In the northeastern part of Lomita you will also find a couple of immense walled-in trailer parks.

This, of course, does not make Lomita very inviting. There are some nice residential neighborhoods on the northern end of the Lomita however. The modest ranch homes here are on flat surface streets with sidewalks—perfect for walking and biking—and front lawns are generally tidy and well kept.

Right around the middle of Lomita, the neighborhood feels a bit run down. The homes here mostly date back to the Fifties and are largely showing their age. Mostly things just feel overcrowded in this section.

On the southern end of Lomita, things pick up again a bit with more nicely kept ranch homes and lots of trees as come to the southern border and the uninhabited area to the south of Lomita.

You can definitely find some nice places to live here. Unfortunately, the schools around here are not great either. Narbonne High is a pretty lousy school by most standards. SAT scores at Narbonne average a good 200 points below the state average. STAR tests are even worse. Only one in ten Narbonne students test proficient in math and only one in three pass the English portion. On the bright side, Narbonne does have a magnet section which fairs a little better with 2 of 5 testing proficient in math while 2/3 do so in the English portion. (Unfortunately, this still puts them below average in Math which is supposed to be the focus of the magnet.) Students from the school also complain of racial tensions and fighting on campus and a general environment of complacency from the teaching staff (though this is subjective of course). Narbonne does have a substantial number of AP classes which suggests things may not be completely bleak for those students who are motivated to succeed.

As to that other humbug of crowded areas, crime, Lomita is actually not that bad. Generally speaking, crime is relatively low in Lomita. In the past four years, five murders have happened here. That is a ratio of roughly one in ten thousand per year, which is an okay ratio compared to some of Lomita’s more gang ridden neighbors. If you look even farther into the numbers you find that only 3 of the these recent murders are attributable to gang violence (one incident involved two deaths, so really we are talking about one incident per year roughly). The others fall into different categories—one was an abused 2 year old accidentally killed, another a was an older woman murdered by her son because, it seems, he thought his mother had had his father killed. These ghastly events mostly do not fit into the usual gang and property related violence we find most concerning. Another odd fact about these events is that all the gang violence type events occurred on the same street—Narbonne. Put simply this is not that violent an area overall.

Also, around the Pacific Coast Highway there are few good places to eat.

Overall, however, I would not really want to live here.
Pros
  • Safe
  • Affordable
  • Good Family Homes
Cons
  • Overcrowded
  • Terrible Schools
  • Out of the Way
Recommended for
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 1/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Not as Expensive as Redondo Beach"

If you follow Calle Mayor down to the ocean, you find the small stretch of beach that makes up Torrance’s one connection to the Pacific. The beaches are very nice sandy stretches, nowhere near as crowded as their more famous northern neighbors—here it really is more about the sand and surf than the other entertainments that sometimes accompany California breakers. There are ample parking spaces as well, making this a convenient spots for those outsiders who decide to venture this far.

On the northern end of the beach you will also find Miramar Park—basically a green space right by the ocean. There is not much to it, not even a swing set. It is just some statues of a dolphin and frog and nice views all the way down to the bluffs of Palos Verdes and up to Redondo Beach.

The smaller two story homes just beyond the lots stare out onto the blue of the ocean from second story balconies. There are also a number of older, somewhat scruffy-looking apartment buildings and attractive palms interspersed here and there. Overall, you do not get the overwhelming feeling of wealth that you get from Manhattan Beach or Hermosa, this feels more organic and less planned to attract those with the means for seaside living. There is a feeling of authenticity here—a bit of an overlooked spot, perhaps.

Overall it is as close as you can come to an affordable beach area in this part of So Cal.
Pros
  • It's a Beach
  • Somewhat Affordable
  • A Little Secret
Cons
  • A Bit Away From the Main Action
  • Boxy Old Apartments
  • Poor Transportation
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Just now

"Great Beachy Torrance Town"

In many ways, this Torrance neighborhood can be described much like many of the others—quiet, leafy streets and Ranch homes. But Seaside is just a touch different. The homes here are a little bit larger and better kept than many of those in other sections of Torrance. The streets are a little bit leafier than those in other sections. And the sea air is just a little bit stronger around here.

Another thing about this area is that although you do get your fair share of larger Ranch homes, you also get quite a bit more variety than in other Torrance neighborhoods. Mission Revival and Prairies styles are not uncommon here. In addition, these homes are larger than normal, often incorporating a second story in order to make the most of space. There are also a number of modernist reinterpretations of traditional homes. For example, along some lanes you will find what look somewhat like bungalow style homes, but they have clearly been refashioned with newer materials to create an odd mix of traditional and contemporary. Some homes here take on the look of office buildings or even firehouses even though they are just residences. Very unusual and difficult to describe.

The residents here also have a taste for the unusual. It is not uncommon to see vintage cars around town. There is a bit of the seaside hippy town in Seaside.

The schools here like in the rest of Torrance are also quite good. Seaside Elementary receives top marks across the board.

There is also a little bit of choice when it comes to eating out and shopping. There are a number of restaurants and stores for example along the strip malls on Lomita Blvd. You can get Chili and Indian food there. You can also go there for dance lessons, to get the dogs groomed or to buy cookware. The affluence of the local population draws a lot of businesses to this area.

Overall this is a good high end place to live.
Pros
  • Beautiful Leafy Lanes
  • Great Schools
  • Close to Beach
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Poor Public Transportation
  • A Bit Out of the Way
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Just now

"Boring, But Close to the Beach"

Southwood is yet another one of those bland 60’s style neighborhoods filled with flat, leafy streets and Ranch homes—kind of the signature of Torrance neighborhoods. This is good neighborhood for kids because it offers them sidewalks and calm peaceful streets where parents can feel somewhat assured their kids won’t get run-over or shot while they are out front playing. The streets create this peaceful insulated effect by curling the surface streets in on themselves and by having a series of interior cul-de-sacs. It’s actually a very simple but ingenious set-up for creating a calm, safe feeling.

The elementary school, Anza Elementary, has the highest rankings around and there is also a private high school at the far western end, Bishop Montgomery which is well regarded, though of course, since it is a private school, finding objective standards for evaluation is difficult.

Just north of the elementary school is Paradise Park, a good little green space with a play area and tennis courts. There is an even better park on the western end of the neighborhood, Hopkins Wilderness Park. There are lots of trees and squirrels and you can even feed the ducks (be sure to buy their food not give them human food that is bad for them).

The other nice thing about this neighborhood is that you are close enough to the beach to smell the sea in the air and get a refreshing cooling in the summer. A definite plus for an otherwise rather dull neighborhood with only the most run of the mill restaurants and businesses to offer as enticement for new residents.
Pros
  • Good Schools
  • Good Parks
  • Close to the Beach
Cons
  • Boring
  • No Good Restaurants
  • No Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Beach Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Just now

"Good Family Living"

Let’s start with one of the standouts of the neighborhood, the high school. South High, like many of the schools in Torrance is really outstanding. To begin, the objective measures are great. South High has not only a really high Academic Performance rating (8 of 10) but also very good SAT scores (1600 on average). South High students also do remarkably well on the STAR test, with about a third testing proficient in Math and two thirds in the English. It’s not all about academics for the South High Spartans, however. The school offers more than a dozen individual sports, many of which have done well in the past—as the girls soccer team did this last year, for example. The marching band is also quite strong. Finally, it was also the location shoot site for one of my favorite films: American Beauty.

As to the Southwood Riviera neighborhood, it is also like much of the rest of Torrance. This is a neighborhood that had its big growth boom during the Fifties and Sixties. This means, of course, lots of split-level Ranch homes. It is also the kind of place that still has a 1970’s feel to it. On the far south of the neighborhood, there is a park without a name as far as I can tell. The Riviera Little League uses the baseball courts here and there are also a pair of basketball courts.

The very south end of the neighborhood is also a bit of an apartment city. These are largely some of those somewhat nicer 1960’s style apartments with a center court that stretches like a long wide aisle to the back with the two tiers of apartments staring in at it from both sides.

The Pacific Coast Highway forms the southern border of the neighborhood. Along it, a number of businesses can be found inside of bland looking strip malls. Eateries here are largely parts of chain restaurants like Subway and Fusion Sushi. The businesses are of a similarly forgettable variety. Nothing that is really unique to this area.

On the north side of the neighborhood, you find Star View Adolescent Center. This is a psychiatric treatment center that caters to teens in crisis. This is an accredited hospital and most of the patients here are in-patients trying to find a resolution to their problems. They also run a private high school, South Bay High, especially designed to help their trouble teens.

Overall, this is a solid though unremarkable neighborhood. Exactly the sort of place that is good for raising kids.
Pros
  • Great High School
  • Good Psychiatric Home
  • Good Parks
Cons
  • Too Many Apartments
  • No Nightlife
  • Boring
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Students
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Mediocre So Cal Neighborhood"

This tiny neighborhood on the southern portion of Torrance is a fairly typical middle-class neighborhood, filled with Ranch homes and pleasant leafy streets of the kind you might have found in the Valley some 30 years ago. I’ve not spent much time in this neighborhood, but it looks like a pretty standard So Cal neighborhood—pretty much like a million other places.

As far as the offerings that Hawthorne and Sepulveda might offer to potential residents, they too are largely of the mediocre variety. You can find all the usual things you would like out of a middle-class suburban area—a See’s Candy, a place to fix your car, a supermarket, the whole boring shebang. Even Torrance Heights’ attempts at breaking from this mold are middle of the road. For example, as far as nightlife in this neighborhood, all you will find pretty much is National Sports Grill—a very run-of-the-mill bar-n-grill that depends on its many screens to attract a clientele. (Another tacky feature of this bar is that it requires its female wait-staff to wear referee uniforms.)

In my opinion, the only place I know of that somewhat breaks away from this bland mood is Sully’s on Hawthorne. It has a Hawaiian theme and can sometimes be fun.

Overall, however, I would not go out of my way to visit anywhere here.
Pros
  • Good Homes
  • Okay Neighborhood
Cons
  • Boring
  • Bland
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Coming Around Again"

I remember when I was a kid in the 1970’s my parents were always talking about how great Redondo Beach was. I don’t know if this was specific to my family but I don’t think so. Redondo Beach, I think, was one of those “it” places to live. Redondo Beach now has a crowded field to contend with—Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Huntington Beach. Those all seriously give Redondo Beach a run for its money. But Redondo more than holds its own.

There is, of course, the obvious thing that all of these neighborhoods have going for them: great beaches. Redondo is especially good because it has a little bit more going on than Manhattan or Hermosa. Not only does Redondo have great beaches where you can take an early morning jog or get a tan, it also has a marina to rival that of Marina Del Rey and a pier that is second to only Santa Monica. Redondo Beach is also a bit more affordable than Manhattan and Hermosa.

On the other hand, Redondo Beach is much more family friendly than most of its northern neighbors. Redondo is, first of all, safer than Santa Monica and much safer than Venice. Consider, for example the murder rate. Since 2007 there have only been two murders in Redondo Beach. Although one was a drive by, the other should not be considered in the same category with run-of-mill crime. It involved a former Redondo High School grad who didn’t realize she was pregnant, gave birth, killed her newborn, and dumped the body in a pier side garbage can. The body was found. Everyone who lived around here heard about this case on the nightly news. A truly horrifying occurrence on a number of levels, but the kind of outlier that should not really be counted in with regular forms of crime. Overall Redondo Beach has a much lower crime rate than the national average.

The other thing that makes Redondo Beach much more kid friendly are the schools. Redondo High, for example, regularly gets 33% of kids to pass the math portion of the STAR test and despite having a fairly ethnically mixed student body manages to have 2/3 pass the English portion. SAT scores are a good 100 points above the state average. It missed two No Child Left Behind Standards this last year but this is atypical—usually it passes all such standards.

Redondo Beach is a fairly densely packed place to live in the residential areas. Homes here run the gamut from boxy apartment buildings on the neighborhood’s northern end, to expensive condos nearer to the beach. Because much of Redondo Beach is on an incline, this produces many more opportunities for homes with a view. Some of the best of these are homes in the Mediterranean style with tile roofs and trimmings.

Redondo also gives up very little when it comes to nightlife. You can find everything here, from cool little bars to elegant seafood places to cool little seaside burger joints.

Overall, this is one of the best places in LA to live.
Pros
  • Great Beaches
  • Great Schools
  • Great Living
Cons
  • Expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Belongs In the OC!"

Pacific Colony is a gated community in the find the tradition of the OC. The simple idea is to create a little community behind protective walls and a security guard so that those within can feel safe. (You know like in Medieval times when the village would close its gates at night to avoid being sacked by marauders.) There is something about this set of arrangements that makes those of us of a more liberal persuasion more than a little nervous that the real reasons for wanting to hide behind these protective walls are more reprehensible. It is a no coincidence that gated communities should be so popular in the conservative OC to the south.

Before I continue, I should also admit that I have never actually been past the “guard house” of their little citadel so my review is purely based on what I could find out through other sources. Overall, the whole thing feels somewhat like a vacation resort from my perspective (at least when looking through binoculars from the trees across the way). They have a palm tree lined pool, for example, whose high back bushes could give you the impression that you are in any number of resorts south of the border. There is also a clubhouse (that can be rented, I’m sure they would like me to advertise). It has an exercise room and a little living room area with some of the ugliest furniture I have ever seen—I think they are going for a sort of safari theme and not quite getting there.

The condos here are very similar, but, you do get your driveway and dedicated palm tree. And each floor plan has slight variations so you can really feel like an individual once you enter your “home.” (Wait! Be sure to check the number so that you don’t end up in your neighbor’s house. Remember how embarrassing that was last time when you spent half the evening ignoring his wife instead of yours, before you both realized that you are Stan the stockbroker, not Dan the banker. Ohhhh! Good times... Good times...)

I’d love to tell you demographic information about this location or even sales prices, but they keep those locked up just like everything else.

When residents dare to venture forth into the dangers of Torrance (whose crime rate, by the way, is way lower than both the state’s and City of Los Angeles’ crime rate), they can cross the busy street to the high school, to grab a burger, or to play some tennis. Then they can hurry back to the safety of their walls and armed protection.

The high school across the street, Bishop Montgomery, residents will be happy to hear, is a private school so you can avoid the riff raff there as well.

If you love pristine streets and the feeling that you are living in completely artificial environment, then you have found home.
Pros
  • Clean
  • Safe
  • Secluded
Cons
  • Claustrophobic
  • Sterile
  • Homogenous
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Very Good but a Snoozer!"

On the eastern end of the neighborhood, you have a pretty industrial looking section of Torrance (the heart of the city, actually) where you find factories and chemical plants including some place called Polypeptide Laboratories (which synthesize amino acids for various purposes) and the Panasonic Disc factory. It is not very attractive, but every city needs to have its economic base and this is Torrance’s.

The rest of Delthorne, is fairly typical middle class neighborhood. On the northern end you get a fair number of 1980’s style condos with the garages tucked underneath. Delthorne Park, for which the neighborhood is named perhaps, stretches along the eastern end, offering a nice green space as a buffer to the more commercial eastern portion of the neighborhood. It has a great sandy play area for the kids, a basketball court and nice pathway with quaint little bridge over a tiny little artificial pond.

The homes in Delthorne are in a mix of architectural styles. The most common type of home here is the split-level home—especially Raised Ranch homes as they are called. This was a popular style in the 50’s as a variation on the typical Ranch. The neighborhood here is designed around a series of cul-de-sacs which the split level makes good use of and which give residents an added feeling of safety and enclosure. No through traffic driving by, its just you and those dozen or so neighbors who you see virtually every day. Of course, like in most neighborhoods in the area, you will also find a number of very well-kept Ranch homes. All very nice. Very Brady Bunch.

There are also some strange flat looking homes that I’m not sure how to describe. They might be a form of 50’s style model homes, prefabed somewhere else and just plopped down on the lots here. They don’t look quite right somehow. More than a little ugly in my opinion.

Hawthorne and Torrance boulevards are basically strip mall city, offering an assortment of bland entertainments, from supermarket and “ethnic” restaurants to the usual set of banks and gyms. Over all it is like a million other suburban neighborhoods with their usual set of commercial offerings. Zzzzzzzz....

I don’t mean to down play it. If you work in the area, this is a solid neighborhood that would make for the perfect place to raise a family: great schools, low crime, boring in just the right way for parenting. But nothing to write home about.
Pros
  • Great Schools
  • Safe
  • Solid Suburban Living
Cons
  • Borrrinnnng!
  • Run of the Mill Restuarants
  • Ugly Industrial Section
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
  • Beach Lovers
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 1/5
Just now

"Now That's Industrial Chic!"

If you have always wanted to live just a few yards from a gigantic chemical plant, big enough to be a neighborhood in itself, this is definitely where you want to move. Pueblo is not so much a neighborhood as it is one strangely located block right at the heart of the what most people would consider to be an industrial area. Now you don’t notice the huge vats when you are on Del Amo Blvd. You could convince yourself that you are just on a regular suburban street filled with 50’s style homes—kind of like when I lived right next to a freeway and would pretended that the constant on rush of traffic just outside my double paned window was actually the lap of ocean waves. I mean, think of all the family time you could have playing board games during the shelter-in-place warnings. However, if you worry a little bit about living so close to who knows what, you probably won’t like it here.

Of course, its not that way to the south. To south you have a giant office park. Pleasant but not very homey.

Quite frankly, I have no idea what to make of this set up. Perhaps these are the last hold-outs who didn’t want to sell their homes to the local chemical company? I don’t know, but its definitely not for me.
Pros
  • Different
  • Okay Homes
  • Clean Office Park to the South
Cons
  • Adjancent to a Giant Chemical Plant
  • Possible Chemical Emissions
  • Did I Mention the Chemical Plant?
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Not So Great"

Stretching out on the western end of the Harbor Freeway, West Carson is a long stretch of a city that is home to some 21,000 residents. You can roughly divide the city into 7 areas:

At the far northeastern end is the Alpine Shopping Center.

Surrounding the shopping center from the west to the south are residential neighborhoods characterized largely by 1950’s style Ranch homes.

Just to south of this area there are more neighborhoods of the same kind except that on the western end of the city, you find factories and planned communities with model homes plopped down just a pair of feet from one another so as to maximize spatial use.

Busy West Carson Blvd. marks the border of the next area. West Carson Blvd. also has a number of establishments like a Pizza Hut and an Ihop, that give it a distinctly 1970’s feel to it.

This next section is focused around the medical facilities that operate here, including a satellite of the UCLA Medical Center. This generally means strong medicine though I have no first hand experience of this specific facility.

South of these, gated communities take over and you find a series of seemingly identical condominiums and tract homes all stacked together. These are most likely the buildings that this generation will be remembered for in the way that those boxy apartment buildings mark the 1970’s.

To the south of this is a nursing home with 1950’s style ranch homes hemming it in.

At the very south of the city is a gigantic trailer park.

Put simply West Carson runs the gamut. You can find everything from trailer parks to condos and Ranch homes. The neighborhood also runs the gamut in terms of races and ethnicities with no single group forming the majority.

Overall, this is a pretty average neighborhood. Unfortunately, it is not really all that family friendly for two main reasons. First, the schools here are simply terrible. Carson High, for example, has consistently terrible scores (despite only missing 6 of its No Child Left Behind standards). On the STAR test, less than 10% of the Carson’s students test proficient on the math, while a meager 1 of 3 pass the English portion. In addition, SAT scores average a good 200 beneath the California average.

The other problem is crime. There is simply put a bit of gang problem here. Now, I don’t want to exaggerate this. There are not that many murders in West Carson, for example. But violence is still more on the negative side than the positive.

I wouldn’t feel comfortable moving my family here.
Pros
  • Good Hospital
  • Close to Freeway
  • Good Shopping Options
Cons
  • Crime
  • Terrible Schools
  • Crowded
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Retirees
  • Students
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"A Beautiful Beach, But Expensive"

Like many of the coastal communities in LA, Hermosa Beach is one of the really great places to live, if you can afford it. Of course, the beaches and weather are fantastic. Who doesn’t want to live close enough where within five minutes you can be running on the beach. And even when you’re not on the beach, you get that great coastal weather, where even at the height of summer you are cooled by the offshore breezes. Nothing beats that.

But it is not just the sand and surf. Lot’s of places have great sand and surf. Hermosa Beach also is great for family living because of its schools. There really is no bad school here. The two local high schools for example, Mira Costa in Manhattan Beach to the north, and Redondo High to the south, are some of the best in LA. Let’s take the slightly weaker of the two for a second. Redondo High has an API rank of 8 and its students regularly rank a 100 points above the state average on the SAT. The STAR tests are less impressive, only a third test proficient in math, while two thirds do so in English, but this is still above average.

Hermosa Beach, however, is more about apartment living than family friendly housing and it tends to be a fairly commercial area, with lots of businesses and restaurants near the breakers. As with other coastal cities rents are a good three to four hundred higher for similar apartments in less desirable areas.

As far as nightlife and restaurants go, Hermosa Beach is a great location. There are, first of all, a number of watering holes near the shore that cater to young professionals and laid back singles. Places like The Lighthouse offer not only drinks but music, with everything from Ska and Reggae (on Sundays) to Blues, Jazz and Rock. For those who prefer their drinks mixed with a bit of Irish brogue (or the closest approximation you can get in sunny So Cal) you might try Hennessy’s right on Pier 8. Another great place for a relatively cheap drink and some funky music, go to Café Bungaloo—its an eclectic mix that won’t give your pocketbook quite as much of a hangover. Bungaloo is also good for the morning after brunch. A couple of other watering holes worth mentioning are the Underground Pub (with its British theme) and the self-explanatory Comedy and Magic Club.

In terms of restaurants there also a number of good choices. Silvio’s Brazilian Barbecue is one of my favorites—if you have not had Brazilian barbecue it is well worth it. There are also a lot of cheap restaurants where you can get everything from a burger (Good Stuff) or pita (the Pita Pit) to Cajun (Ragin Cajun) or sushi (Oki Doki Sushi). I could go on and on like this. There are enough restaurants in Hermosa Beach where you could literally eat a different one each day for a year.

So what are the drawbacks of the area? Cost. Its pretty expensive to live here. The average resident makes a salary in the six digits. Like Manhattan Beach, this is more of a singles area really, because its mostly small apartments.

Another drawback is that it is really crowded, especially in the summer. The tiny streets can make parking a challenge and space in all its forms is definitely at a premium.

You are also a bit out of the way here. If you work north of LAX, this could become a bit of a commuting nightmare.

If you are willing to live with these things, however, there are few places more beautiful to live than this.
Pros
  • The Beach
  • The Schools
  • The Restaurants and Nightlife
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Crowded
  • Apartment Centered
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Forgettable"

Like much of Torrance, Northwest Torrance is yet another conglomeration of 1950’s style Ranch homes. It reminds me of the Valley of my youth, circa 1980. It has that kind of slightly boring middle class feel to it.

Alondra Park is just to north, which means that much of the northern border is a sprawling golf course. El Camino College is also there, though it is not the kind of college that draws students to live close by. Being a community college, it just draws from the nearby populace.

One thing this area definitely does not lack is shopping malls. There are strips malls within its border and the Galleria Shopping mall to the west. (Not to be confused with the famous Sherman Oaks Galleria up in the Valley. This is not the one made famous in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.) In fact, this is a fairly uninspired mall with not much to it. (Unless you think TJ Maxx or Target are amazing stores.)

There are also a number of auto dealerships along the edges of this neighborhood.

On the south of the neighborhood is the behemoth Exxon Mobile Refinery. It stretches across the southern border like a city onto itself. Its proximity is part of what drives would-be residents away.

The 405 cuts diagonally across the neighborhood, packing with commuters twice a day.

North High is the local school. It’s pretty mediocre.

Overall, this is a pretty forgettable neighborhood, with nothing particularly great or terrible about it. If you like a sort of middle class existence of this kind, then you may have found home.
Pros
  • Malls
  • Near the Beach
  • Near the Freeway
Cons
  • Boring
  • Flat
  • Average Schools
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Students
  • Beach Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Not So Great for Torrance"

You can exactly divide the box which is this neighborhood into four smaller boxes with Van Ness and W 182nd Street being the bisectors. (The parameter is made up of Artesia on the north, Crenshaw on the west, 190th on the south, and Western Ave. on the east.)

The primarily residential area is on the northwestern section of the neighborhood. It is made up of fairly average looking Ranch homes and is for all intents the same as it was some fifty years ago when Torrance was finishing off its big population boom following WWII. The homes here are rather bland, with nothing particularly good or bad about them. There has been a murder here in the past few years—a case of gang violence spillover—but this area of Torrance, like most of Torrance itself, is pretty safe, with this occasion being the exception that proves the rule.

The homes in the north of this northwest section of Northeast Torrance, tend to have slightly newer Ranch homes, along more pleasantly planned areas. Along Artesia Blvd. there are more strip malls with rather bland selections.

Power lines also cut across the northern end of the neighborhood. Underneath theses are planted a number of what appear to be crop rows. They act like a physical barrier however between the slightly nicer homes on the far north and older homes to the south.

The Ranch homes on the northeastern end quickly give way to trailer parks on the far east of the neighborhood. The area is still technically middle class, although this is by far one of the least affluent areas in Torrance. In addition, with the high crime areas of Gardena, Compton and Carson right on the border here, this is also one of less safe areas of Torrance.

North High School is located in the southwest section of Northeast Torrance. It is a solid school, light years ahead of the Gardena High to the north which is atrocious, but still one of the worst schools in Torrance. Put simply, it is mediocre. SAT scores are almost exactly equal to statewide tests, about a third of students are proficient in math and despite the lack of ethnic diversity at this school, only 2/3 of students pass the English section. All of these are okay and would be great for some areas, but they are on the lower edge of expectations for Torrance as whole.

The Honeywell Aerospace company takes up the portion of this area that sits to the south of freeway. I believe they are the fourth largest employer based in Torrance, employing more than a thousand workers.

The southeastern portion of Northeast Torrance is largely made up of the same kinds of older Ranch homes that make up the rest except for the small section cut off by the 405 freeway. It is some kind of factory area—I believe it is the headquarters of Toyota America another big employer in Torrance.

Overall, this is not one of the better parts of Torrance, though a still a step up from its northern neighbors.
Pros
  • Okay Ranch Homes
  • Honeywell and Toyota
  • Freeway Access
Cons
  • Mediocre High School
  • Power Lines
  • Nearby Crime
Recommended for
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Hidden Gem of South Bay"

This small strip of a neighborhood located on the far west of Torrance on the border with Redondo Beach is one of the true hidden gems of little regarded Torrance. Consider just one cul-de-sac in the neighborhood:

The long flat homes are a mix of Ranch styles with even a couple of Eichler style homes thrown in for good measure. This is the kind of seventies style neighborhood with wide sidewalks and well-kept front yards that encourages kids to be outside enjoying the cool sea breezes and ample sunlight. On this particular cul-de-sac there is not one mounted basketball hoop, but three—yet another testament to the neighborhoods commitment to physical health (something sorely lacking in many of the neighborhoods around the US if you are to believe obesity rates).

The residents also express their individuality through the way they decorate their yards. Each home seems to have a different kind of tree shading in its front yard for example. Here and there, an occasional palm tree rises up, while some yards have hedges perfectly trimmed into cubes or rising up next to the front door like green fountains of shooting water. The luxury cars that sit parked on the front drives on weekends and weeknights are also a testament to the neighborhood’s affluence.

For the kids who live here, they hardly need the basketball hopes along the drives. Just to the east in West Torrance, Entradero Park with its half dozen baseball courts and just to the north in Redondo Beach is the center for Redondo Beach Little League association, so summer days are sure to be filled with SUVs shuttling white-uniformed shorties to fun in the sun. That is, when they are not in bathing suits heading for the nearby beaches. (The neighborhood also has a small park, Sunnyglen, where many mom’s take the really young kids during the week.)

Just to the west of the neighborhood is a shopping center with a supermarket, gym and a few Asian food restaurants so that you could practically leave the car at home to get everything that you need done. Also located in this same area are a series of doctors’ and dental offices. Basically, you have just about everything you need within walking distance.

As to nightlife, residents look to the west towards the beach side restaurants or farther south into the rest of Torrance.

With the great local schools, outstanding weather and relative proximity to LAX, Pacific South Bay is a perfect little residential pocket for families whose main provider must often fly off on business (well to do pilots for example—this area LA is big aviation and aerospace hub).
Pros
  • Proximity to Beach
  • Very Healthy Neighborhood
  • Insulated from Troubles
Cons
  • Expensive
  • A Litte out of the Way
  • Too Close to LAX
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"21st Century Leave It To Beaver Neighborhood"

Given the high crime, high density neighborhoods to its north, little regarded Torrance is a welcome break from the area’s troubles. West Torrance, right by Redondo Beach, is a solid residential area.

This is an affluent neighborhood that really had its boom in the 1950’s. This is partly reflected in the homes you will find in West Torrance. Many are 1950’s style Ranch homes—as you would expect. They have nicely kept lawns and well place topiary. This is not really a big renter neighborhood. Two thirds of those who live here own the homes in which they live. So the streets are well-kept and people are here to stay.

Another big attraction of West Torrance is the schools. West High School, which serves the neighborhood, for example, has an API rank of 9 and an average student SAT score of 1,500—a good 200 above the California average. This performance also carries through to the STAR test on which half of the students test proficient on the math and more than two thirds on the English (both are way above average, especially given that West’s student population is a fairly diverse mix).

The other thing you will not find wanting in Torrance are baseball fields. Not only do the schools provide them but two local parks also provide a number of these for local leagues.

As far as restaurants and nightlife the offerings are fairly mediocre within West Torrance itself. Along 190th Street on the northern border of the neighborhood however, you will find Belecan Grill, a Malaysian bistro with really good variety (though I am a fan of the Tamarind Shrimp, myself). Unfortunately if you want something more than pizza or burgers, you will have to go further down into Torrance or west into Redondo Beach. The North Torrance Mall (little more than a glorified strip mall really) is not terrible but it lacks imagination. It is the kind of mall that is like a million other malls.

Overall, however, though a bit on the boring side, West Torrance is a good, relatively quiet place, perfect for raising kids.
Pros
  • Great Schools
  • Good Parks
  • Near the Beach
Cons
  • Boring
  • Close to Dangerous Areas
  • Expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Beach Lovers
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 5/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Great Seaside Town"

Manhattan Beach is one of those great So Cal beach cities where you can literally walk out your door and be on the beach in just minutes. Like most seaside communities, this is a super wealthy community. Unlike many of the seaside communities where beachside mansions are spread out far and wide, Manhattan beach is packed with seaside homes (many looking more like apartments than stand alone homes). Many of these look out onto narrow alleyways, like in Venice but much cleaner and safer. Some are lucky enough to stare out directly onto the ocean.

The streets here roll down to the beachside. Parking for outsiders without homes here can be a bit difficult in spots—especially on summer weekends when the beaches are crowded.

But this is not just a community for beach bums. Many families live in Manhattan Beach as well, and it is not unusual for families to choose the area because of the schools. Mira Costa High is one of the best high schools in the LA area, having an API of 9 (of a possible 10) and SAT scores a good 200 point above the national average. In addition 60% of students test proficient in Math on the STAR test and 80% in English. (The math score sounds bad but anything over 50% is great.) As you would expect in any area this affluent, there are also several private school choices as well—among them, American Martyrs Catholic School, a well-known religious school with students from all over the South Bay area.

Manhattan Beach is also one of the safest communities in the area, with a crime rate well below the national average. In terms of violent crime, the rates are similarly below the national average. Only three murders have occurred in Manhattan Beach in the last decade and even these crimes are not of the typical gang related variety. In the most recent of these, for example, the girl was murdered by a would be lover that she tried to break things off with. These are terrible occurrences but they are not the kind of violent crimes most of us worry about in more violent neighborhoods. This is definitely a much safer neighborhood than Venice, for example.

Lest you think this is just another Pacific Palisades, an upscale little seaside town with no nightlife, however, you should know that a little inland you will find lots to do without leaving Manhattan Beach. There are a number of bars for example, from cool little beach town style dive bars (like Side Door and the Shellback Tavern) to outright great restaurants (like Café Pierre and Petros)—you will definitely have no shortage of great date spots. Its sort of a young thirty-ish feel to the area, laid back but not immature.
Pros
  • The Beach
  • Great Restuarants
  • Great Schools
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Terrible Parking
  • A Bit Crowded
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
  • Beach Lovers
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Yawn... Nod... Yawn... Snore..."

In the 70’s, just the name Lawndale was enough to put insomniacs to sleep. If ever there was a community devoted to mediocrity, this would seem to be it.

In terms of incomes—its middle class, a bit on the lower end. In terms of rents, its about $1000 on average, which is about average. Even the high school manages to be about average. Lawndale High’s 1200 students can look forward to a school with a API of 4, with about average SAT scores, where about one in five are proficient at math and half at English (according to the STAR test). Though much better than the abysmal rankings at nearby Leuzinger High, this is still nothing to write home about.

Lawndale even manages to be average in terms of crime. There has been a recent spike in crime in Lawndale (two murders in the last six months and a general rise in assaults). Generally, however, if you look back at the last decade you find that Lawndale’s 32,000 residents only experience a little over one murder per year. In terms of property crime, it is even better than average. Lawndale is actually in the above average category in terms of that when compared to LA as a whole. And the crime rate? Relative to the national average Lawndale just about hits it every year. Like I said—yawnnnnnn!

Here’s a couple of ways that Lawndale manages to be uninterestingly uncommon. First it is packed, completely and totally packed. Its two square miles have nearly 17,000 residents per mile and they largely manage it without apartments—though, of course there are lots of these boxy boarders as well. How? With itsy bitsy, teeny-weeny, tract homes, squished up against each other along narrow little streets with tiny little sidewalks and segmented with rectangular little lawns (or, in many cases foregoing grass for topless carports). Many of the streets are further chopped up by little alleys along which they pack even more tract homes rammed between the backyards of other homes. Some have little, plastic pools, barely larger than a couple of your average bathtubs—so refreshing in the blazing summers. (Though of course, they are wholly unnecessary with Manhattan Beach right next door.)

So if you want to live somewhere so boring you’ll need ten cups of coffee just to get going in the morning, you have found your home.
Pros
  • Average
  • Somewhat Affordable
  • Close to Beach and Freeway
Cons
  • Boring
  • Tiny Homes
  • Kind of Ugly
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Students
  • Beach Lovers
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Terrible Schools, Some Crime, Okay Homes"

Just to the west of Gardenia, is the small Alondra Park neighborhood. Besides the park where it derives its name, Alondra Park’s main features are the golf course and El Camino College—abbreviated ECC by students and locals alike. ECC is a community college that serves as a preparatory school for many of the local four year colleges (like UCLA), with which it has transfer agreements. Because Alondra Park is not well known, ECC is usually listed as being in neighboring Torrance. The campus is attractive for a community college and the education is pretty good.

Unfortunately, Alondra Park’s middle class residents don’t have public schools to equal ECC’s strong record. Leuzinger High has, like many schools in the area, the worst ratings in the area with an API of 1 (of 10) and average SAT scores well below the national average. In addition, only a quarter of Leuzinger students pass the STAR test in English and only 10% in math. Leuzinger’s No Child Left Behind standards are even worse. It regularly fails to pass half the standards; last year it was even bad by its low standards, failing to pass 19 of the 22 standards. Truly awful.

There is a charter school in the area as well, for those that can manage to escape Leuzinger, but it only manages to achieve mediocrity with an API of 5, SAT scores well below average, only 15% passing the STAR math, and 50% the STAR English, and only one year in the last four did it pass all of the No Child Left Behind standards.

To the west of the college is Alondra Park itself and the Alondra Golf Course, a huge sprawling grounds that takes up a full quarter of Alondra Park’s area.

North of the college and golf course, the rest of Alondra Park is a residential area packed with hyper-symmetrical tract homes dating from the Baby Boom era. These are the kind of homes that were carefully parceled out and probably built by one contracting company so that each lot is exactly the same size and dimensions as its neighbor. It is stunningly exact—almost cubist really. Despite this, the actual homes, even though they are all standard Ranch homes, achieve some individuation by having slightly different layouts and décor. Residents have further differentiated their dwellings through fencing, decorative patterns on driveways and varieties of front lawn topiary—palm trees and bushy hedges being the favorites. All in all, it reminds me—like many of the areas around here—of the Valley in the 70’s. As a matter of fact, if I were trying to get that feel for a movie, this is where I would go to get it.

If the city government could find a way to address the education problem in the schools and lower crime just a tad further, this neighborhood could actually start to thrive. Unfortunately, there seems to be little chance of this.
Pros
  • Nice Community College
  • Kind of Quiet
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Terrible Schools
  • Spillover Crime
  • Giant Golf Course
Recommended for
  • Students
  • Beach Lovers
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Too Much Crime For Me"

Gardena is a fairly average city in terms of this inland area of Los Angeles. On its northern end Gardenia is largely industrial, being home to a number of construction and construction related factories and companies. This northern area is characterized by flat, wide streets with large, usually one story facilities where works assemble the accessories used in construction.

The deceivingly placid looking 1950’s style Ranch homes of Gardena’s northwest corner hide what is actually gang territory. Rowley Park, in the center of the community, is known as a magnet for the Crips Shotgun street gang. Despite this, the homes in this area are nicely kept with well watered lawns and sculpted topiary. It has the feel of the Valley in the 1970’s or some of the better areas in Reseda—its very strange really.

Crime in Gardena is above the national average, but no longer significantly so. (As it was about a decade ago.) For the last decade, Gardena has averaged about 4 murders per year, with the 8 murders in 2006 being the highest. Given the approximately 60,000 residents that is about one in 15,000, a bit on the high side but no where near the one in 3,000 of LA’s most dangerous neighborhoods (some of which border it).

At the center of Gardena, it is mostly densely packed apartment complexes with a rather uninviting look to them. This is the kind of area where the front lawns have been converted into driveways and fenced in so that the cars are kept nice and close to the front door so that the distance crossed is short and any foul play to the car can be heard by the residents inside.

The southern part of Gardena is mostly more 50’s Ranch homes of uneven quality.

One of the best qualities about Gardena is that it is one of the most diverse areas in all of LA with one in three residents being Latino, one quarter African American and one quarter Asian. Gardena was once a Japanese neighborhood until World War II changed things. Around then is when the tract housing started to come in and soon after—in the 50’s, the Ranch homes.

As far as entertainment? For a while they tried to make Gardena the big gambling area in LA—where people could come to play poker and that kind of thing, but it didn’t really work out. A few places on the east side of Gardena still carry on this rather seedy tradition, the most notable of which is the Hustler Casino. I have never really been there—not really my kind of joint—but given that it was created by Larry Flint I can only imagine. Along the same lines there’s a casino—Normandie, a pool hall—Gardenia, and a tattoo parlor, wonderfully named Yer Cheatin’ Heart.

Not exactly a family neighborhood (especially given Gardena High’s dismal rating).
Pros
  • Affordable
  • Good For Guy's Nightlife
  • Some Nice Ranch Homes
Cons
  • Shotgun Crips
  • Crime
  • Terrrible Schools
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Just Too Dangerous"

When I was little, Compton had the reputation of being Gangland. It was the kind of place that you didn’t want to be a part of at any time of the day, but especially at night. I would like to say that it is no longer the kind of place that average middle class folks are afraid of today, but that is simply not the case. Compton and West Compton remains one of the more dangerous areas in LA. West Compton is in the top forty in both violent and property crime categories. In terms of murders there have been 7 since 2007, though this is a little misleading. 6 of the seven happened in 2008 and the vast majority of these were within a few blocks of one short stretch of Tarrant Avenue that I can only assume to be a gang territory. Most of these were drive by shootings.

Driving along this section of Tarrant, you might not, at first, think of it immediately as being a gang neighborhood. The squat, cozy 50’s era Ranch homes don’t seem particularly gang-like. But a closer look reveals bars on the windows of many of the homes, and many dried up lawns of homes that seem to have been abandoned. In fact, this description of this section of the neighborhood can be carried over to whole neighborhood.

West Compton is home to some 6,000 people and is one of the less dense areas in this area of LA. Largely this is because the entire western half of the neighborhood is made up of office and factory buildings. There are several businesses here dealing with things like metal work, and glass works. You will often see lots with pieces of scrap metal just laying around.

The schools in the area are also ranked as some of the lowest in the area, with terrible objective criteria.

One of the few positives of this neighborhood, however, is JayBee’s BBQ. It’s a bit of an ugly hole in the wall but the BBQ is great. Well worth braving Compton.
Pros
  • JayBee's BBQ
  • Affordable Homes
Cons
  • Gang Violence
  • Crime
  • Poorly Kept Home/Yards
livingthedream5
livingthedream5 Hey I grew up in Compton, and I can pretty much tell you like most of the cities in California that have their bad parts if you don't really have any buisiness there do not make yourself a target. I live in Lawton Ok now with wife and kids. I can live there like it is no thang but it is not about me no more. It also has some good parts aswell. Some of the bad rep is media driving. I am not going for example I would not drive through Oakland at night at same with Compton at night. So I understand where you are coming from
2yrs+
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4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"If Not for LAX, It Would Be El Primiero"

El Segundo is an upper-middle class beachside neighborhood just to the south of LAX. About half of the residents in the area rent and about half own their homes. Much of what defines this city has to do with its unusual location. Residents throughout El Segundo—but especially on its northern end—have to deal with the fairly constant noise of living next to a major international travel hub, LAX. Most of the homes in this northern section are double and triple paned to try to drown out some of this racket. But really, if you are a light sleeper or prone to insomnia, you will probably not find a good night’s sleep in this area.

To the south is a huge factory/refinery area that stretches up along the beach as well. There is also some kind of a sewage plant nearby that occasionally spews a foul stench over parts of the adjoining community (or so I am told) so this is maybe not the best place for those with keen senses of smell. (So no one with acute hearing or acute sense of smell. Hmmm.) You do have beaches beyond this column of refining pools (the source of the occasional stink) and they are okay—but most prefer to go down to Manhattan Beach or up to Venice and Santa Monica.

To the east is Del Aire and Hawthorne and increasing crime and violence especially as you get into West Athens, Inglewood and Westmont. So most residents here don’t venture in that direction unless they are driving through to get somewhere else.

The vibe in this neighborhood is decidedly conservative. One out of ten of the residents are former military, some pilots, some in the aerospace industry, some engineers. Northrop Grumman the aerospace and electronics defense contractor has a facility here that employs many of the residents, so you definitely get that kind of narrow minded, paranoid sort of a mentality in the area. This is also a majority white neighborhood—the kind of place where Pro-Prop 8 lawn signs were common place though, as a whole, El Segundo went 2/3 for Obama. Less conservative residents often note that racially insensitive comments are also a fixture of El Segundo—a little strange for a neighborhood with a Spanish name—but such are the contradictions of Los Angeles.

As to the actual look of the neighborhood? It is really quite attractive. Partly it is the weather. The seaside location means lots of fog covered days when the streets feel like that of a sleepy seaside town—except for the plethora of houses. The homes themselves are Baby Boom era Ranch Homes and there are a good portion of the residents that have actually been here since then. There is some variation to this. A few bungalow style homes are sprinkled throughout as are the occasional newer Mission Revival styles. Working partly as porous defense against the stentorian blast of engine noise from the runways beyond, a stalwart line of boxy Seventies style apartment buildings form a wall along the northern border of the city—a good place to find deals on rent.

There are also a number of parks, a hospital and great schools. El Segundo High is actually the gem of the area. With an API of 9, El Segundo High regularly has over 50% of its students passing the Math portion of the STAR test and about 75% passing the English portion. Its average score on the SAT is above the national average as well. Put simply, its one of the crown jewels of the LA School system.

Overall, if you can deal with the noise, stink and high property values, El Segundois a great place to set down roots—definitely not a second rate city.
Pros
  • Great Schools
  • Safe
  • Beach Climate
Cons
  • LAX Noise
  • Refinery Stench
  • A Touch Narrow Minded
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Beach Lovers
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"You Can Probably Do Better"

Overall, Hawthorne is a dense poor neighborhood. More than 80,000 people live in this 6 square mile “city”. That, of course, means lots and lots of apartments and that feeling of being stacked one on top of another.

Since I was little, I have always had a negative impression of Hawthorne. I don’t remember anything specific, but I do know that by the time I was an adult I would immediately think that Hawthorne was not a good place to live when I heard it brought up. In the last couple of years however, things seem to have quieted down a bit in Hawthorne. There have only been 4 murders here in the each of the last two years (though before that murders were regularly in the double digits for a good decade). Hawthorne still has an above average crime rate and would hardly be called a “safe” neighborhood, but thinks are trending up in that regard.

This is a renter city—three quarters of the residents rent and don’t own. There are a lot of young people here, biding their time and looking for their breaks so that they can move somewhere else. There are also a fair number of poor families here, undereducated and poorly paid (the unemployment rate is also higher than average here (14% as opposed to the statewide 10%). The schools in the area are pretty terrible—unable to keep up with high population and the multitude of problems presented in trying to educate Hawthorne’s diverse community. (Another disturbing fact for those trying to raise families in the area is that some 90 registered sex offenders live here—roughly 1 for every 1,000 residents. Of course, many are no doubt not pedophiles, but even if only half are, it is enough to keep you up at night.)

There are lots of fast food places and unremarkable businesses, but no one comes to Hawthorne for the nightlife. In fact, the main attraction of Hawthorne for those that have some options, is its location. It is close to El Segundo but with lower rents. It is close to the beach and LAX. The 405 is right on the western end of the neighborhood so the commute is relatively easy if you don’t mind the freeway traffic.

Put simply, if you are single and work in El Segundo or the airport, this might be an okay place to live for a while. But if you are a young family or can afford better, Hawthorne is probably not the place for you.
Pros
  • Close to the Beach/LAX
  • Affordable Apartments
  • Close to Freeway
Cons
  • Crime
  • Crowded
  • No Character
Recommended for
  • Singles
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"That's Right, Del Aire with a "D""

Not to be confused with the super-rich Bel Aire about 25 miles north, Del Aire is a middle class neighborhood to the east of El Segundo. The smallish neighborhood with a population of 9,000 is, for the most part, a pleasant alternative to the crime-ridden neighborhoods just to its east. Unlike neighborhoods like Westmont, Inglewood and West Athens that rank among LA’s worst neighborhoods in terms of crime, Del Aire is safer than average having only had four murders in four years.

And when you look further into these murders you find that all four were located around a housing project on the neighborhood’s eastern border with Hawthorne (by the 405 Freeway). Generally however, the neighborhood is relatively quiet.

The flat wide streets of Del Aire are characterized by having smaller, Baby Boom era Ranch Houses with well trimmed though often faded lawns (perhaps because of water conservation?) and a smattering of palm trees spaced every 25 yards or so. These are nicely preserved homes, often having lawns decorated with shorter palms or idiosyncratic shrubbery.

Though this is a family neighborhood, seemingly perfectly suited to raising kids in an old-fashioned sort of way, the schools are bit of a mixed bag. The central high school is Hawthorne High, which is, unfortunately a pretty terrible school. Hawthorne has an API score of 2 (of a possible 10). Only 6% of the students passed the STAR test in math, and only about a quarter passed in the English portion. Hawthorne consistently misses about half of the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND standards. Put simply, this is not a school you want to send your teen.

There are however, several smaller public alternatives to Hawthorne that fair much better on both subjective and objective standards. Hawthorne Math and Science Academy (a magnet school perhaps?) has only 500 students (as compared to Hawthorne’s 3,000), has a 9 API, never misses any NCLB standards, and has almost half its students passing the Math and English portions of the STAR test. (SAT scores are not significantly better but no one is perfect.) Other smaller private and public alternatives in the area like Hawthorne Academy and Environmental Charter give parents some options that make this a workable neighborhood in terms of education. (Though nearby Lawndale High is even worse than Hawthorne.)

Though not really the place to live if you want a super happening nightlife within walking distance, Del Aire is a low cost alternative to pricier sea side neighborhoods that doesn’t sacrifice safety for lower home values. Put simply, it’s a nice older neighborhood with a pretty good upside for younger families looking to set down roots.
Pros
  • Safe
  • Affordable
  • Close to the Beach/Airport
Cons
  • Mixed Bag of Schools
  • Freeway Noise/Traffic
  • No Nightlife
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Beach Lovers
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"A Gang War Zone"

Like West Athens to the south, Westmont is another highly dangerous gang neighborhood. According to the LA Times, it ranks 7th in terms of most dangerous neighborhoods in all of LA. Given that hundreds of people get murdered in this city every year, this is not something to take lightly. How bad is it? In the last 6 months 7 people have been killed in this neighborhood. There have been 4 rapes reported as well, and hundreds of robberies and aggravated assaults. Since 2007, there have been 68 murders in this neighborhood of 31,000. 68! That means that they average 16.5 murders per year. So if you live in this neighborhood, your chances of getting shot are 1 in 2000. Your chances of being assaulted, 1 in 90 (and that is just in one year).

Even more depressing, many residents say that things are getting worse, not better.

The schools in the area are just as bad. George Washington and Morningside High are both ranked at the very bottom of academic standards. Both having API’s of 1 out of 10 and showing only very small percentages of their students as passing the STAR test. The one positive thing to say about Morningside is that despite its inability to fully prepare its students, it has managed to pass all of its No Child Left Behind standards last year—which means that it is slowly beginning to improve (certainly doing much better than George Washington).

Given these conditions there is little point in me telling you about the Ranch homes that make up the neighborhood or to me talking up the palm trees and the pleasant stopped-in-time quality of many of the streets in this neighborhood. Unfortunately, when crime is out of control as it now is in Westmont, there is little that will draw people here to notice the finer point of this neighborhood.
Pros
  • Nice Trees
  • Okay 1970's Style Homes
  • Diverse
Cons
  • Violence
  • Terrible Schools
AlanFradkin
AlanFradkin That is why she is a Valley Girl, there are what 1970 homes where? Terrible Schools? That is your opinion. The homes are tract style constructed in the 1940s and 1950s for the most part or west of Western Avenue north of Imperial Highway with res. income properties along Imperial Highway. The schools are not terrible. There is crime but for the majority this area is nice and quite. I know I grew up there starting in 1955. It has well established commercial shopping areas, n/e corner of Crenshaw Blvd. & Imperial Hwy., s/e corner of Imperial Hwy and Crenshaw and s/w corner of the same streets which has been remodeled. SpaceX is nearby as is the Hawthorne Airport. Highly Dangerous not true.
2yrs+
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1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Can't Judge a Book by Its Ranch Homes"

According to the LA Times, West Athens is the 4th most dangerous neighborhood in all of Los Angeles. In this neighborhood of just over 9,000 there have been 10 murders since 2008. So in the last 3 years, your chances of dieing in a shooting were roughly 1 in 3000. That combined with the number of assaults and burglaries have lead to the neighborhood’s designation as 4th most violent. To be fair, not all of the violent activity in the area was of the usual kind that we associate with gangs and robberies. For example, two of those murdered were a mother and son who were shot by the father in a dispute that got out of control.

There are other ways in which this doesn’t seem like the typical gang territory. The average household in this area makes almost $50—so this is close to a middle-class neighborhood. This is not your typical rundown neighborhood like you get in some other areas where gang shootings are a major problem. The houses here are largely Ranch homes from the 1950s and 70’s, squat and in many cases long. The streets are wide and the front lawns are well-kept. If I did not know the crime statistics, I would not guess that this neighborhood had a problem with crime.

It is also a neighborhood popular with LA firefighters—which, again, doesn’t mesh with my sense of what I expect from a “dangerous” neighborhood.

Unfortunately, something that does mesh with an area that is known for high crime and gangs, is the quality of the many of the local schools. There is no high school in West Athens, but George Washington Prep in Inglewood serves the population of West Athens. George Washington is, without a doubt, one of the worst schools in all of Los Angeles. All you have to do is look at it objectively. Its API score—a common measure used to judge schools—is as low as it gets, 1 out of 10. Test Scores were similarly abysmal for the school, with only 1% passing the math section of the STAR test in 2010 (up from .6% in 09) and only 17% passing the English section. SAT scores were similarly low, with the average being 1076—way below the national and state average. I suppose, if you are looking for a bright spot, George Washington is improving on No Child Left Behind. In 2007, it missed all 22 benchmarks. It has steadily worked itself up—missing only half the benchmarks this previous year.

In case that is not enough to convince you not to move here, you should also consider that back in 2005 this was voted the Number One Ozone Area in LA because of the bad air quality. It is really a shame, because it really looks like a nice 1970’s style neighborhood.
Pros
  • Nice Ranch Homes
  • Clean Streets
  • Diverse
Cons
  • Crime
  • Terrible Schools
  • Violence
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Living Here is Like Playing Russian Roulette"

Back when I was growing up, Inglewood was associated with two things, the Great Western Forum where Magic and Lakers were in their heyday, and gang violence. So what is it known for today? Unfortunately, for the exact same things. (Not that I have anything against the Lakers, regardless of what I may think of Kobi).

Now Inglewood is a very crowded place. More than 100,000 people live here. It really is a city onto itself. So that needs to be kept in perspective when I tell you how many people have been murdered there in the last four years. 92. That’s right, that not a typo. 92 people have met their makers through violence in the last four years. Even if you just consider this in terms of the yearly average—23 murders per year, this is pretty high. That is basically one out of every 5000 residents roughly. If you were told you had a one in five thousand chance of being killed each year that you lived somewhere, you might not want to live there I think.

How does this compare to other places in LA? Let’s take Glendale with roughly twice the population of Inglewood. How many murders have they had in the same period? 10. Not 10 per year, ten total. So you are 18 times more likely to die in a violent way in Inglewood than in Glendale. But perhaps this isn’t fair, Glendale after all is known as one of the safest areas in all of LA. In all categories of crime, compared to the overall LA average and national average Inglewood comes out on top in every category for the entire previous decade (the only exception being rapes where Inglewood came out below the average twice).

Put simply, when you go to the Lakers game, just get back in your car and get out of town, because this is just short of a war zone. (I realize I am slightly exaggerating the threat. I know that most of this violence is contained to rival gangs, but people do get caught in the crossfire and armed burglaries are common as well.)

I should say that some of the residents that I’ve met say it isn’t any worse than anywhere else (though I think the statistics speak for themselves). There is also a general feeling that with their newly elected mayor things will begin to improve again. I hope so, but frankly, until the issue of crime is addressed I don’t think there is much point in talking about the positives of the neighborhood.
Pros
  • The Forum
  • The Weather
Cons
  • Gang Violence
  • Murders
  • Burgaleries
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 3/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Little Mexico"

Surrounding the tiny Lennox Park is the little known working class neighborhood of Lennox. This is a densely packed neighborhood filled with squat stores with storefronts written in Spanish, and two level 1970’s style apartments with stained rundown looking facades. Nine of ten residents of Lennox are Latino. It is a very young neighborhood with over a third of the residents being under the age of 20. Of those who are adults, less than 400 have college degrees of any kind. The majority of the population was born south of the border in Mexico.

Those who don’t live in the crowded boxy apartment complexes, live in small Ranch Style homes dating from the fifties. The lots are small, but the homes are well kept, often incorporating touches that remind one of the Latino heritage of those that live within (e.g., squat cactus or palm trees in the front yard and metal fencing painted white along the edges of the front yard.)

The park that bears the neighborhood’s name is not only at the physical heart of the community but its emotional center as well. Lennox Park has both a very popular after school program that helps local working families juggle their busy lives, but also a senior center, a swimming pool for summer heat waves and the usual sports to boot.

Unfortunately, like many poor communities in the LA area, Lennox is plagued by violent crime. The 22, 000+ residents of this neighborhood have experienced 9 murders since 2007, with 2008 being a particularly bloody year (5 murders). Perhaps because of the limited resources or because of the fear of law enforcement among the undocumented workers that make up a large portion of this community, Lennox has a very low incidence of property crime, being in the bottom 20 of all neighborhoods in that category.

Most of the high schools that serve this neighborhood are not promising routes to escaping the cycle of poverty that is inherent in such areas, with school like Hillcrest ranking among the very worst schools in the LA area. There are two notable exceptions to this however, Middle College High and Lennox Academy. Both are smaller enrollment (about 300 students) charter schools catering to those lucky enough to gain admission. Even at these schools, however, the SAT scores and other objective measures are below the State average and in some cases abysmally low (like in Middle College’s math scores where less than 10% passed the test).

Overall, I would not want to live in this neighborhood and try to raise a family, although as a second generation immigrant from South America myself, I fully sympathize with the struggles of those who live in this neighborhood—those that feed us, care for our children, clean our homes, maintain our lawns and gardens, for little pay and no respect, and whose perseverance in the face of adversity is what is at the heart of what makes California the 5th largest economy in the world all by itself.
Pros
  • Good Park
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Crime
  • Poverty
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Better than It Seems"

Westchester is an upper-middleclass neighborhood that stretches to the northeast of LAX—which it also technically encompasses. The neighborhood of 40K+ is mainly known for being adjacent to the airport and for high crime. A closer look at the neighborhood, however, reveals a different picture.

Let’s begin with crime. Westchester is only about average in terms of violent crime, far from the high rate associated with places like Hollywood or Venice. There have only been four murders in Westchester since 2007. In addition, the community has formed a motivated and determined neighborhood watch to keep an eye on things.

Where the crime problem still remains true, unfortunately, is when it comes to non-violent property crime. In this regard, the impression is accurate. Westchester is ranked in the top ten of LA neighborhoods in terms of property crime. So this is definitely the kind of place where you don’t want to leave anything valuable in your neighborhood.

Westchester is much more than just LAX—though LAX is certainly worth mentioning in its own right as the central West Coast hub that it is. However, Westchester is also home to Loyola Marymount University on its western border with Playa del Rey. The century old Catholic university known for its basketball team is one of great LA universities offering world class Jesuit liberal arts education.

Unfortunately the weaker public school system doesn’t quite keep up with the strong standard of Loyola—most of the schools in the area perform poorly on standardized tests. Such is the case with Westchester High School in neighboring Playa del Rey—one of the main high school student from Loyola attend—and tiny Hillcrest and Animo high schools are little better all having similarly dismal scores. The exception to all this is El Segundo High which has outstanding scores, and the private schools, lead by St. Bernard’s that are excellent if you are willing to pay for them.

The neighborhood is filled with nice Ranch and Mission Revival style homes—many of them stored away up in the hills. The lots are only average sized but they are really well kept. You can tell that the residents here care about their neighborhood and take the time to show it with their lawn maintenance and home repairs.

The word on the street is that the neighborhood is up-and-coming, with lots of younger people moving in. Things are looking up for it.
Pros
  • Nice Older Homes
  • Good Catholic University
  • Proximity to airport
Cons
  • A Bit Bland
  • Airport Noise
  • Traffic
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Pretty Good Except for LAX Noise"

Squeezed between Marina Del Rey and LAX, Playa Del Rey is an upscale community made up of older professionals. The beach front properties raise the prices in this area, making up for the aircraft noises. Many families are also attracted to the area because of the strong schools. El Segundo High (to the south of LAX), for example, has a 9 out of 10 API ranking—one of the highest in the LA area. Students from El Segundo average slightly higher than students statewide on the SAT and much higher on STAR testing with over 50% ranking as proficient on the math and three quarters passing the English portion. There is also a well-respected catholic private school to the north of LAX.

Of course, not all schools are great in the area. Westchester High School in the heart of north Playa del Rey, is actually the mirror opposite of El Segundo, ranking 2 on the API scale, and having some of the worst SAT and STAR tests in LA. As far as the STAR tests go, they barely manage to get one of ten students to pass the math portion. (This is part of the reason why many residents of Playa del Rey opt for the St. Bernard’s in stead.)

Many of the Mission Revival and Ranch style homes that cover the gently sloping hills of the neighborhood also offer good views of the ocean and airport, and pools--not that the pools are needed with the cooling ocean breezes and nearby beaches.

Though the neighborhood has become slightly more diverse over the last couple of decades, this is still a community made up of older, white families—only about a quarter identify themselves as minorities here. Most were born in the United States with only about one in eight being born in another country (of which, about one in eight of those who are foreign born are either Iranian or British).

Except for two strange shootings of women back in 2007, this is a pretty safe neighborhood with some of lowest assaults and murder rates in the LA area. Newer apartment buildings have also made this a slightly more accessible area for newer families. And there are also a smattering of restaurants so that residents no longer have to take to the crowded freeways to find a place to eat.

Overall a pretty good spot to live.
Pros
  • Nice Homes
  • Good Schools
  • Safe
  • Proximity to the beach
Cons
  • Airport Noise
  • Lacking Diversity
  • Remote
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Beach Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now
Editors Choice

"Where LA Fashionistas Come to Die Happy"

Imagine a street where you can find side by side boutique stores with pretty dresses, designer shoes, unusual exotic frocks, vintage hats and handmade jewelry. And imagine that interspersed between these stores are little coffee shops and eateries just to give you extra energy for your epic shopping spree. Now, imagine a neighborhood where you get street after street like this—as if the stores of ten hyper-cool, gigantic, cosmopolitan malls had released their stores and let them flock to this urban neighborhood. Well, this is LA’s Fashion District—an unbelievable smorgasbord of clothing and accessories on a scale that only the premier West Coast city of the Americas can offer. Whether it is a dress made in Bahia, Brazil, or the latest Candies shoes, you can find them here. In fact, there are so many stores that I could spend hours listing and talking about them. As a matter of fact, I could start a blog, adding a new store with a new review each day, and probably have steady work for the better part of an entire decade. So, let us just say that if you are a shopaholic, this is where you go to o.d.

Now, I would not recommend living here. Although about 2,000 people call this small area home (it’s a little less than one square mile total), when I think of the fashion district, I think of it as a wonderful place to go and buy cool new shoes. But I would definitely not want to have apartment here. First, it really feels like a commercial district. Apartments might be hidden above storefronts, but those aren’t really very appealing places to live. Also, this place is packed—especially on weekends. Traffic is like a barely moving parking lot most of the time.

In addition, crime is a problem in the area, as is obvious by the metal curtains that descend in front of the glass storefronts every night, making you feel as if you are Luke Skywalker flying through the canyons of the Death Star. (I just thought I would throw that reference in for you Lucas fans out there who could care less about fashion unless it involves hair bun ear muffs—which by the way, you can probably find somewhere in this neighborhood).

Towards the edges of the neighborhood, things get pretty industrial with large warehouses lined with delivery trucks just adding to the overall traffic in the area.

There are also some churches in the neighborhood—vainly trying to draw people’s attention way from infinite worldly temptations that glut this area—and even an oddly placed elementary school, 9th Street Elementary. 9th Street, by the way is a bit of a mixed bag. If you take purely the scores of students from this school on standardized tests, it ranks very poorly with less than half being proficient in math and only a quarter passing the English portion of the STAR test. If you look at the effect of the teachers on these students according to the LA Time’s value added analysis, you find that the six of the eight teachers score very well—meaning basically that the teachers are doing the best they can with students from an area that has other community problems, such as second language issues.
Pros
  • Okay Restaurants
  • More Shopping
  • And Even More Shopping!
  • Cheap shopping
Cons
  • Not Where you Want To Live
  • Crowded
  • Dirty
  • Scary at night
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 1/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 1/5
Just now

"Rattlesnake, Villains, Gun Play and Prison Girls"

Sometimes a place has a name that no longer represents its true self. That is the reason why lots of places try to start anew by coming up with a new name for their areas that no longer carry the old connotations. That is why many people have come to call this area (or part of it—it’s a bit vague) the “Loft District.” Now, this definitely looks like Skid Row—it is filled with the industrial detritus of LA which seems to have accumulated here in these worn down warehouses and factories.

And yes, there are definitely a ton of homeless people and shady looking types here.

However, there are also a number of really cool nightspots in this area that capitalize on both the low rents of this down-and-out section of town and on the cache of being in possibly the seediest part of town. Among the places worthy of mention in this regard are Wurstkuche a sausage dog place with German craft beers. Definitely the place to be for Oktoberfest, Oktoberfest has the kind of unusual menu that appeals to hop head and sausage lovers. My suggestions in terms of food choices—the Classic Bratwurst and Kielbasa, unless you are in an adventurous mood, in which case, go for either the Rattlesnake and Rabbit with Jalapenos, or the Alligator and Pork. (To answer your question, the first tastes like chicken and I haven’t tried the second.) As to what to wash that rattler down with? Try the Aventius if you want a full pallet taste. And if you want something more straight forward go for La Chouffe—or any of the Belgian craft beers. (They also have wine and vegetarian dishes, but going for either one of those is a little like going to Idaho and not having the potatoes or going to Paris and eating at McDonalds every day.)

One of the places that plays off the reputation of the area is Villains Lounge at the far eastern end of the neighborhood. It pretends to be a sort of down-and-dirty biker lounge, though the crowd is more in it for laughs (mostly young college kids in sneakers) than you might expect at a real dive bar.

It’s not all about eating and drinking though if you want to channel your inner Dirty Harry while you are among the “scum” (I am quoting Harry, I obviously don’t think the down-and-out of LA are “scum”), then you might try the LA Gun Club on 6th. Being more of a First Amendment than a Second Amendment kind of girl, I haven’t ever been, but my NRA friend who thinks Sarah Palin is “the Bomb,” really likes this place and goes there to keep up her gun skills--just in case society ever falls apart and she has to shoot squirrels from helicopters or something along those lines.

Just to make sure you know where my politics are, you should know that this is also the neighborhood that is home to WriteGirl, an organization that pairs teen girls in prison with women writers, in an attempt to not only improve the girls’ writing skills but also to give them positive female role models that help them open up their vistas to what the world can offer. Definitely worth checking out if you are a local female author looking to make a difference.

You shouldn’t get the wrong idea about this place, however. It is still a functional industrial area with restaurant supply areas and trucking companies and the whole deal. Even though many of the newer establishments have started to cater to the local gentrified areas, having places like a Loft Supply store where you can get all the cool sorts of things you might want for you loft, to make it look rugged and lived in—or establishments like the Cirrus Gallery, hidden away behind a fence topped by barbwire fencing in a building that looks more like a factory than a gallery, the neighborhood is still actually an industrial area.
Pros
  • Cool Restuarants and Nightspots
  • Good Shopping
  • WriteGirl
Cons
  • Not for the Meek
  • Crime
  • Dirty
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Hipsters
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Comtempory Art, Sushi and Japanese Fondue"

The tiny Little Tokyo neighborhood has benefited greatly from its central location in what is basically Downtown LA. I don’t know much about living in this area, its mostly hotels and high rises around here, but as far as coming here—this is a great spot for eating out and going to museums. Two thirds of the buildings in this area date from the 1970’s and after, so this does not have that old, run down look of much of the Downtown area.

You, of course, have a number of great Japanese restaurants here from the sinus clearing Curry House to cheap but yummy Mr. Ramen. If you want something a little more unusual try Shabu Shabu, (Japanese fondue). Those are just a few of a number of places, I could go on and on about--like Chin Ma Ya, Kushi Shabu, Teishokuyo and Shehiro. And, if you are just looking for cool nightspots to have some saki or take in the atmosphere, here are two recommendations, The Lazy Ox and Sushi Gen, I have great memories at both. In addition, with the nearby hotels and the great though overpriced shopping at little malls like Weller Court Shopping Center (where Curry House is located), this is a great part of town to stay in if you are tourist here (and have the dough to pay the higher prices).

As you might expect this is also the location of the Japanese American Museum. The museum is kind of fun—if slightly small—place to visit. They offer compelling exhibits celebrating Japanese life and achievements in the United States and fun programs like their popular sushi making working shop so that you can buy your own ingredients and make your own home made sushi. Much larger and fairly impressive is the Geffen Contemporary Museum (one of whose facilities is here in Little Tokyo). The Geffen Contemporary features contemporary art done after 1940 and has not only a large selection of contemporary art in its collection but also a fair representation of architectural exhibitions. For those of us who are amateur lovers of architecture like I am, this is just smorgasbord of intellectual and aesthetic delights.

In fact, the whole area in the Downtown area has really grown to reflect the central place that Los Angeles has come to occupy on the West Coast. No longer can San Francisco or Seattle claim to have a leg up on Los Angeles in terms of culture or commerce. This is the New York of the West Coast.
Pros
  • Great Japenese Food
  • Good Contemporary Art Museum
  • Good Hotels
Cons
  • Pricey
  • Crowded
  • Parking Hassles
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Strangely Safe Unless You're Behind Bars"

Chinatown in Los Angeles simply does not have the attractions of Chinatown in San Francisco. It is simply not a as walkable as its Northern California. Los Angelinos and tourists simply don’t flock to LA’s Chinatown the way they do to the Chinatown in SF. This is not to say that LA’s Chinatown doesn’t have anything to offer. If you want to experience ethnically authentic Chinese food (I am told, I have never been to China), you certainly might go to Chinatown here. There are a number of Chinese (and even some Vietnamese) restaurants. As for recommendations, here are three: Spring Street Smoke House (a BBQ, as the name indicates), and Thien Houng and Hoan Kiem, both excellent Vietnamese places.

Of course, the time to come here is Chinese New Years.

But what I am curious about is the demographics of the place. Not so much the ethnic breakdown—it is actually what you would expect with almost ¾ being Asian and the rest being mostly Latino--but the crime to poverty comparison. Here is what is really strange. Usually when you get an area where the average income is below $40K (it is only $20K in Chinatown), the rate of violent crime sky rockets. If you look at the worst crime ridden neighborhoods, about half fit this demographic (while others are like Hollywood—places where people go to party and things get out of hand). In Chinatown, however, the crime rate remains about average. (The murder rate is actually even lower, or would be, if the county jail were not included in the statistics. LA County at the eastern end of the neighborhood accounts for 5 of the 7 murders that have occurred here in the last four years with 2007 being a particularly bad year when three murders happened at the prison.)

In addition, in low income areas, you usually find an area where people get packed in large apartment complexes—a neighborhood which tends to be dense. Chinatown on the other hand has lots of homes (despite the low per capita incomes) and only an average density for LA. 9/10 residents rent here.

The explanations for these anomalies would seem to be cultural as far as I can tell. But just as I am not sure what authentic Chinese cuisine tastes like, I also don’t claim to understand why these anomalies seem to hold true here.
Pros
  • Good Restuarants
  • Inexpensive Rents
  • Relatively Safe
Cons
  • The Prison
  • Poor Schools
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Hipsters
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Just now

"Kartmen and Kenny Would Not Feel Safe Here"

South Park is the home of the massive LA Convention Center, one of those gigantic spaces where they hold everything from automobile exhibitions to comic book conventions. It has multiple halls so they can hold multiple conventions at once.

As to the rest of the neighborhood, the first thing that has to be mentioned is the crime. Although many residents claim that things have improved since the 1980s, in the last six months this has been ranked as one of the top twenty most dangerous areas in terms of violent crime. Despite its relatively small population (about 32,000), South Park experiences about 8 murders a year. Since 2007 there have 32 murders in this area, the vast majority due to gunshots.

You can see the effect of crime fears anytime that you drive through the streets of South Park. When not in use the shops here roll down metal curtains and have barred windows. The buildings here are mostly flat one story deals, with a very non-descript and industrial feeling. But mixed in with these you do find those odd pastel colored gentrified apartment buildings with seemingly no ground floors.

The effects of gentrification are also evident in the many restaurants and nightspots. For example, if you want a steak you might try Palm, an Italian steak place with nice intimate tables and booths and very corny head shots of famous Italians all over the walls. A couple of the cooler lounges in the neighborhood are the J. Restaurant and Lounge and the Corkbar—a great place for wine lovers.

For breakfast, a good place to try is the Original Pantry Café, a Fifties style diner complete with metal barstools and formica counter.

For entertainment, the Grammy Museum is also in the neighborhood.

There used to be the dance place, Crash Mansion, here, which was a pretty cool place, but it seems it has not survived the Recession.

If it were not for the crime this could be a pretty cool place for young people to live.
Pros
  • Good Restuarants
  • Lots of Convention Places
  • Cool lofts
Cons
  • Dangerous at night
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Old Buildings, Young Crowd"

Four of five buildings in this area were built before 1939. When you watch old Hitchcock films, you can probably see many of the buildings from this area in them.

The Historic Core, however, is bustling with activities with hundreds of stores and businesses, dozens of restaurants, a handful of hotels and nightspot thrown in for good measure as well.

Here are some of my favorites:

There are a number of dance and live music clubs in the area worth checking out, the foremost of which is The Mayan, a Latin dance club which has a venue designed like a Mayan temple—very cool and fun, though expensive with a cover of close to $20 and parking across the street costing $5, you’re out $25 before you’re even in the door. Nearby you can also find the Conga Room, a somewhat more reasonably priced dance club. And if you prefer a dive bar sort of feel when you are getting down, you should try La Cita, a tiny Latin inspired dive bar dance place. The night to go is on Mustache Mondays—if you like your dive bar dudes with whiskers, of course. More handle bars than at the Tour de France.

The Orpheum Theater is also just blocks away. This giant venue makes you feel as if you have stepped back into the 19th century with it high coffered ceilings, pendulous chandeliers and neoclassical balcony arcades. For TV fans, this is where they hold auditions for So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Got Talent.

If you are in Downtown for lunch, a great place to check out is Clifton’s, a cafeteria straight out of the 50’s with lots of relatively inexpensive food, and a very kitschy Redwood Room where the columns are done up like redwood trees and the mural on the wall is supposed to make it seem as if you are in the forest—just makes you want to go over and paint a little camp fire on the wall to warm you hands and tell stories by.

Another good place to have lunch on nice days, if you work in the area, is Pershing Square, always crowded during lunch hour during the week. On weekends they have a farmer’s market there I am told, and they have a tiny little ice rink there where, if you have a Big Apple sized imagination you can imagine, or pretend to imagine, you are in Madison Square Garden—if your imagination is only Cleveland sized though, it won’t be enough to get past the postage stamp sized skate space.

As far as hotels go, one that I have been to is the Kyoto Grand. I haven’t seen the rooms, but I was once in their banquet room for a convention and they are quite nice—very classic sort of a hotel hall. The Japanese Garden was nice as I remember it, but nothing that I would go out of my way to see unless there was really nothing better to do.

If you are looking for a spot to get married, you could definitely do worse than Vibiana, a large hall with classically arcing coffered ceilings and center stage set up as if you were in church. Went to a friend of a friend’s wedding here a while back and really found the space to be ideal for an event like a wedding. Definitely the kind of place that can make you forget that you look like a peach if you are a bride’s maid.

You will definitely not run out of things to do in this section of town. The only thing it really lacks is a place where you can feel as if you are home (excluding the hotels of course).
Pros
  • Great Hotels
  • Great Dance/Music Venues
  • Great Public Transportation
Cons
  • Noisy
  • Dirty
  • Crowded
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"The Promise Land for California Performing Arts Lovers"

The Civic Center is the place you go for performing arts. The Mark Taper Forum and the LA Opera are both located here. Mark Taper has long been at the forefront of West Coast dramatic creations being the place that first produced Tony Kuchner’s Angels in America in 1991. Mark Taper is part of the Los Angeles Music Center, along with the neighboring Ahmanson Theater and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The beautiful complex, built in the New Formalist style of architecture that emphasizes clarity of line and integrity of shape, with its iconic water spouts and high thin columns that form a colonnade along the entrance to the venue is perhaps the most impressive center for the arts on the Pacific Coast. Both the Ahmanson and the Mark Taper premiere first run plays, with the Ahmanson’s more intimate hall being better suited to smaller, lesser known plays.

The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is the home of the LA Opera, probably the central temple of West Coast Opera with one of the “Three Tenors” as it director, Placido Domingo. The center is not afraid to take chances. Last year, they put on Wagner’s Ring Cycle, drawing criticism from local politicos because of Wagner’s association with the Nazis. The center held strong and even managed to get an extra $14 Million when the Recession hit them hard.

Also, in the neighborhood is the Los Angeles Cathedral, the home base for Cardinal Mahony, the central figure of LA Catholic Church, I believe. I’m not Catholic, but I personally find it a strange looking church. First of all, it doesn’t look like a church at all. It has a strange post-modernist design to it—no real steeples or towers pointing us to the Heavens. In fact, to me it looks more like the kind of building you would use for a museum than a place of worship. A very strange choice for a church having difficulty recruiting new worshipers.

In fact, the nearby Walt Disney Concert Hall, home to the LA Philharmonic has a far more spiritual feel to it than the LA cathedral. Both were built at about the same time in the same general Post-Modernist architectural style, but the curving, petal-like shape of the Disney is far more likely to draw us upwards than the Catholic Church’s very terrestrial building. In addition, on the inside the concert hall has a gigantic five story high organ perfect for Bach. I suspect the Phil will have a lot easier time attracting new followers.
Pros
  • Performing Arts Center
  • Cool Architecture
  • Great Transportation
Cons
  • Parking
  • Crime
  • Crowded
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 1/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Swanky Hotel City LA"

The New Downtown is a swanky hotel city. It includes a dense number of fancy international hotels such as The Standard, the Biltmore and the Sheraton. All very upscale and filled with a UN’s worth of foreign visitors on any given day. My favorite is the Bonaventure where my prom took place—although that isn’t the reason why, necessarily. I have always liked the glass elevator shafts of this hotel. If you saw the Clint Eastwood film, In the Line of Fire, this is the hotel where the climactic final scenes take place. (The area was also used in that real time Johnny Depp film with a similar plot from the nineties.)

Like any other kind of major metropolitan downtown this is an area filled will glassy high rises with lots of street level ground floors rented out by designer clothing stores and restaurants and coffee shops looking to capitalize on the lunch rush from local offices and the theater crowd coming to visit Mark Taper or one of the other venues in the area.

There are several notable restaurants and nightspots. Here are some of the ones that I like.

Casey’s Irish Pub is a fun place to hang out before or after a nearby theater date. Talk, drink Guinness and let darts fly while getting to know each other—perfectly low key. Another pretty cool place is The Library Bar, a bar that uses the theme of a library as a gimmick—and it works. You get lots of local professionals and preppy USC types here. It is a big singles scene on weekends. (By the way, the actual LA Library is located nearby.)

If you really want to impress, then you might take in the Rooftop Bar at the Standard. Very swanky and hosting international hotel crowd virtually every night of the week.

On the western end of the neighborhood there is this lounge that has a good concept but that isn’t quite working. The Flat Lounge at what used to be (or maybe still is?) The Blue Velvet, has a pool party set up in the middle of apartment complex. This could make for a really fun kind of an atmosphere—unfortunately they haven’t gotten the mix right. If you really want to have overpriced drinks at a pool, stick with the Rooftop Bar at the Standard—they have better views too.

There are also a number of places to get a bite to eat as well. Beyond the hotel restaurants, I would check out Engine Co #28 and Redwood Lounge—both are perfect place for pre- or post-theater meals.

Like most downtowns, this is not really where you want to raise your family. Not that many people actually live down here. But if you are looking for a great night out or to meet someone visiting from an exotic locale, then this is the place to go.
Pros
  • Great Nightlife
  • Great Restaurants
  • Great Watering Holes
Cons
  • Noisy
  • Have to Pay for Parking
  • A Little Dangerous in Spots
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Trendy & Stylish
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 1/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 1/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"A Cake Left in the Rain"

This area is definitely not to be confused with Westlake Village to the far west of the San Fernando Valley. In fact, you might say that this is the exact opposite of that area. Whereas Westlake Village is filled with the rich and the affluent, Westlake near Downtown LA is poor; where the Village is filled with home owners who have, in many cases, paid off their homes, 19 of 20 residents of Westlake are renters; where as the average age in Westlake Village is close to 40, Westlake is much younger, averaging 27. So it is definitely a study in contrasts.

Those familiar with the much maligned song, MacArthur Park, will be interested to know that this is also the neighborhood that is home to the park that gave inspiration to that song. For those of you have forgotten the lyrics, here’s the part you must know about:

Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it
'Cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again

Ahh! Wonderful aren’t they? No wonder so many artists have chosen to cover it. It is always good to put cakes in songs, makes them sweeter. Like when Sting rewrote the ending of his famous Police song, “Every Step you Take,” and ended with “Every cake you bake/Every leg you break.” But I digress.

Unfortunately Westlake, and the MacArthur Park area (which was once known as the Champs-Elysees of Los Angeles) have taken a turn for the worse. There have been 50 murders in this neighborhood in the last four years. That’s 12.5 per year. In the last six months there have been 6 murders, so they are right on pace to meet their sad average. In the past six months, there have also been two dozen reported rapes, and hundreds of assaults, and just in the last week there have been warnings about spikes in violence in this neighborhood. Even if we take into account the large population of this neighborhood—120,000, making it as big as Pasadena, though all crammed together—we still have to consider 50 murders as an extreme number.

The neighborhood is basically still a gang epicenter. Several of these gangs use the suffix, “Locos” at the end of their location name, as their gang name. So, for example one of the granddaddies of the modern gangs was known as the Macarthur Street Locos.

If that hasn’t scared you away yet, then you should also consider that the local public schools—outside of the magnets—simply aren’t cutting it in this area. Belmont High, for example, misses Federal and state assessments on the order of 20 every year with virtually no sign of progress.

That said, I have met Westlake residents who say that this whole view of the area as dangerous is overblown—that it is perfectly fine place to live and that they have not had any problems. Some even say that it is the fault of police and clanking down on them too strongly. I am more than a little dubious of these claims, especially since they will follow this up by talking about prostitutes they saw near their homes or how the sound of gunfire woke them in the night. Sometimes we just don’t want to admit what is obvious to everyone else.

Given all these problems, no one in their right mind would want to live in this neighborhood. Put simply, you would have to be a “loco” to want to live in this neighborhood.
Pros
  • Affordable
  • The park
Cons
  • Dangerous
  • Dead at night
  • Remote
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Under Rated"

Touching the southeastern portion of Echo Lake, Angelino Heights is often considered a part of Echo Park which surrounds its eastern end. This is largely a low income residential neighborhood, although there are some businesses along Sunset Blvd. which forms its northeastern border. It is actually fairly surprising that this neighborhood should be a low income neighborhood given its location. Echo Lake is one of the most beautiful parts of LA, with amazing views of LA’s sky line.

This is one of those places where I have a hard time believing that the rents are as low as they are. The homes in this area are very old, most of them having been build before WWII, but they are really gorgeous. Just off the lake, are built Mission style homes along a steeply rising hill, no doubt offering great views of the city and surrounding landscape. You get some of that great architecture here with lots of stone used, large bricked retaining walls and long cement stairs climbing straight up to the front of homes and then an attractive stairwell folding up to the high seated front porch, or first floor garages with windows posted above them. And lots of balconies and terraces to take advantage of the views, giving the whole place a rather Mediterranean feel for me.

Much of the rest of the neighborhood is on much gentler slopes, and is made up those Craftsman bungalows with the thick columned terraces with little sets of steps and big, heavy looking roofs that make you feel as if you slipping into a bunker for the night.

The streets curve around in this area, for no apparent reason other than they decided concentric circles might be a good way of organizing the neighborhood. Most homes have some kind of an interesting front lawn garden, often with interesting patterns to their greenery. The sidewalks through out are lined with shade giving trees that add to the beauty and walkability of the neighborhood.

With Echo Park as the surrounding area and Wilshire Blvd. not too far, Angelino Heights residents will certainly not be at a loss for things to do and see. But residents need not leave the neighborhood (not more than across the street anyway). On Sunset, they will find a number of places to eat, from Barragans and El Compadre for Mexican, to Patra’s Burgers. My suggestion would be The Park for lunch—steak or salmon, either one is tasty.

Night life is equally strong with Club Bahia, The Short Stop and Little Joy right on sunset as well.

All in all, this is great, inexpensive neighborhood where you can live if you are young and not yet attached. You are close to all the action and the low rents will make it easy to go out and enjoy yourself.
Pros
  • Some Nice Views
  • Affordable
  • Beautiful old homes
Cons
  • Some Crime
  • Old Home Problems
  • Terrible Nearby Schools
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Good Bars and Korean Restaurants"

I should have mentioned Echo Park as part of “Hipster Heaven,” the set of neighborhoods in this section of LA that has a high percentage of the skinny-jeaned, vintage shirt wearing crowd. It definitely has its share of hyper-cool nightspots, like El Prado, a wine-bar that is more like a neighborhood watering hole (mostly locals) and The Short Stop, which is more dive bar than sports bar, drawing a lot of leather jackets and scruffy looking types. (There are also the dive bars, The Gold Room and Little Cocktails, just to name a couple.) If you are into dancing, The Echo or Bootie LA are the places to go.

Its easy to take Echo Park for granted because it has been an artists’ enclave for so long that we just come to expect it. But for a while it stopped being known for its dive bars and for being home to Eagles singer Don Henley, poet Charles Bukowski and movie makers, and came to be known for gangs and shootings. That was Echo Park in the late 80’s and 90’s—a place you heard about on the local news nightly. Its calmed down now and is returning to its true Bohemian self, with a great ethnic mix and lots of old and young hipster artist types mixing it up. It’s a great messy environment perfect for the postmodern punks of today.

As far as living there, the hilly area of Echo Park is very cute. It has leafy sloped streets and tiny Ranch and Mission-Bungalow hybrid style homes with well kept gardens. Everything in this area is micro-sized, little homes, little lots, little cars—its kind of like a munchkin village—which is part of what is so appealing about it. The homes all seem to be well-kept with attractive lime greens and pastels—as if the city planner had Georgia O’Keefe’s palate. The farther you move up into the hills, the narrower the streets and the more attractive and diverse the architectural styles of the homes become. You still get ranch houses and the tiled roofs of Spanish styles, but now as you stare past the bushy hedges, you can see the pointy tips of Tudors and even occasional Victorians sticking up from behind these privacy barriers.

Even if you go down near the flats, you will still find lots of these cute little houses—many of the them pre-WWII bungalows. The area has been the site of a number of period movies for this reason. (Actually, before the film industry moved to Hollywood it was based here. Lots of silent pictures were filmed in the area—Laurel and Hardy, even Gilligan’s Island.)

Echo Park Lake is the heart of the neighborhood. Its beautiful waterspouts and palm tree filled island, make for one of the most picturesque frames for the LA skyline. It also has a great play area occasionally frequented by celebrities in a family way.

There are definitely some downsides to this neighborhood, however. One is the crime. It is not so much that it is high—if you look at most ratings, the neighborhood is actually about average for LA, but the dense living situation means that you are just much more aware of it than in other areas. There are nightly car alarms and if you are light sleeper, you will be woken by the sounds of the helicopters buzzing by overhead. In terms of violent crime, it slightly on the upper end of average with about four murders per year, about one for every 10,000 residents—most having to do with the gang problems that you get in the area.

This is also far from ideal family living. Not only do you worry about the gang and drug elements in the area, but the schools are also sub par. Belmont and the main middle school that serve the area are ranked at the very bottom of most objective measures, earning the lowest possible 1/10 API rating, and having missed more than a dozen government bench marks year after year. Even the elementary schools rank low in the area. Put simply, you don’t want to try to raise kids here—move to nearby Glassell Park with all the other former twentysomething hipsters when they get in a family way.

All in all, this is one of the really great neighborhoods in LA—not perfect for everybody, but ideal if you are a twenty something free-spirit.
Pros
  • Good Restaurants
  • Good Bars
  • Gay Friend in Northeast
  • Proximity to everything
Cons
  • Crowded
  • Crime
  • Traffic
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Strong Echoes of Bohemian Past"

I should have mentioned Echo Park as part of “Hipster Heaven,” the set of neighborhoods in this section of LA that has a high percentage of the skinny-jeaned, vintage shirt wearing crowd. It definitely has its share of hyper-cool nightspots, like El Prado, a wine-bar that is more like a neighborhood watering hole (mostly locals) and The Short Stop, which is more dive bar than sports bar, drawing a lot of leather jackets and scruffy looking types. (There are also the dive bars, The Gold Room and Little Cocktails, just to name a couple.) If you are into dancing, The Echo or Bootie LA are the places to go.

Its easy to take Echo Park for granted because it has been an artists’ enclave for so long that we just come to expect it. But for a while it stopped being known for its dive bars and for being home to Eagles singer Don Henley, poet Charles Bukowski and movie makers, and came to be known for gangs and shootings. That was Echo Park in the late 80’s and 90’s—a place you heard about on the local news nightly. Its calmed down now and is returning to its true Bohemian self, with a great ethnic mix and lots of old and young hipster artist types mixing it up. It’s a great messy environment perfect for the postmodern punks of today.

As far as living there, the hilly area of Echo Park is very cute. It has leafy sloped streets and tiny Ranch and Mission-Bungalow hybrid style homes with well kept gardens. Everything in this area is micro-sized, little homes, little lots, little cars—its kind of like a munchkin village—which is part of what is so appealing about it. The homes all seem to be well-kept with attractive lime greens and pastels—as if the city planner had Georgia O’Keefe’s palate. The farther you move up into the hills, the narrower the streets and the more attractive and diverse the architectural styles of the homes become. You still get ranch houses and the tiled roofs of Spanish styles, but now as you stare past the bushy hedges, you can see the pointy tips of Tudors and even occasional Victorians sticking up from behind these privacy barriers.

Even if you go down near the flats, you will still find lots of these cute little houses—many of the them pre-WWII bungalows. The area has been the site of a number of period movies for this reason. (Actually, before the film industry moved to Hollywood it was based here. Lots of silent pictures were filmed in the area—Laurel and Hardy, even Gilligan’s Island.)

Echo Park Lake is the heart of the neighborhood. Its beautiful waterspouts and palm tree filled island, make for one of the most picturesque frames for the LA skyline. It also has a great play area occasionally frequented by celebrities in a family way.

There are definitely some downsides to this neighborhood, however. One is the crime. It is not so much that it is high—if you look at most ratings, the neighborhood is actually about average for LA, but the dense living situation means that you are just much more aware of it than in other areas. There are nightly car alarms and if you are light sleeper, you will be woken by the sounds of the helicopters buzzing by overhead. In terms of violent crime, it slightly on the upper end of average with about four murders per year, about one for every 10,000 residents—most having to do with the gang problems that you get in the area.

This is also far from ideal family living. Not only do you worry about the gang and drug elements in the area, but the schools are also sub par. Belmont and the main middle school that serve the area are ranked at the very bottom of most objective measures, earning the lowest possible 1/10 API rating, and having missed more than a dozen government bench marks year after year. Even the elementary schools rank low in the area. Put simply, you don’t want to try to raise kids here—move to nearby Glassell Park with all the other former twentysomething hipsters when they get in a family way.

All in all, this is one of the really great neighborhoods in LA—not perfect for everybody, but ideal if you are a twenty something free-spirit.
Pros
  • Hipster Heaven
  • Cute houses
  • The lake
Cons
  • Crime
  • Noise
  • Terrible Schools
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Lots of Games Going on Here"

Elysian Park is home to Dodgers Stadium. Not being a baseball fan, I have only been here once—way back in the 80’s for a daytime Depeche Mode concert (Pet Shop Boys opened up for them). It’s a huge stadium that seems like it would be well-suited to a sporting event, especially, a baseball game. It is not, unfortunately, a very good stadium acoustically. Depeche Mode didn’t carry particularly well in that venue. Not to mention the fact that they strike me as the kind of band that is best suited for the nighttime.

Other than the stadium, the vast majority of this neighborhood is made up of the parking lot for the stadium and the park and reservoir that give the neighborhood its name. In fact, like Griffith Park, Elysian Park would just be a park if it were not for the crescent swath of this neighborhood that extends over the Golden State Freeway to the east, to the border of Glassell.

This stretch is mostly made up of nicely kept smaller homes, like small mission style homes and tiny Ranch homes, much like Atwater Village to the north. The residents here are largely immigrants from China and Mexico, and the neighborhood is largely working class.

The parks could be nice. During the day there are a fair number of the young families from nearby Glassell (a hotspot for young families) bringing their kids out to the play area. There are also jogging trails in some portions of the park that are well used and even some good equestrian trails. Unfortunately, the scene is quite different at nighttime, as anyone who has ventured along the less well-trodden trails will tell you. These areas of the park are dirty, filled with beer bottles, general garbage and used condoms and wrappers. Apparently the park is used as a motel by gay males. (A year or two ago there was a big news story about the return of 1970’s style cruising going on in the parks.) Another community that enjoys the park as well are homeless people. They set up camp there, have little fires to warm themselves and often leave their sets of garbage as well.

This neighborhood is generally considered to be fairly dangerous. Often ranked as one of the top ten most crime ridden in terms of property crime and having a pretty bad rating due to the number of assaults reported from this area relative to the meager population. There have not been any murders in this neighborhood in four years and though I would definitely not feel safe taking a hike by myself in the park here, there have not been any rapes reported in the last six months (all I could find statistics for).

That said, I think it has a ways to go before I would have a midnight picnic here. Then again, I can’t think of too many big parks where I would feel completely safe out at night.
Pros
  • Dodgers Stadium
  • Good Kids Play Area
  • Nice Views
  • Secluded
Cons
  • Homeless Problem
  • Garbage
  • Scary at night
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Just now

"Magnet for Young Couples"

Glassell Park is a middle-class, majority Latino neighborhood just south of Glendale where Forest Lawn cemetery is located. It is a sprawling neighborhood with a variety of different types of homes from bungalows down in the flats to Ranch Homes up in the hills. There is actually a fairly big difference between the apartments and semi-urban feel of the northern end of the neighborhood and the hilly, suburban feel of the southeast of the neighborhood where ranch homes line gently twisting streets with views north to Griffith Park. Rents and home prices have a similar variation in this area.

One of the main draws to this neighborhood for many residents is its relatively low rent and home prices and its central location. You can rent a place in the flats for under $1,000. From Glassell Park, you have easy access to all the major and minor freeways in LA. The neighborhood borders Glendale and is minutes from Pasadena, Downtown LA, Westside, Hollywood, South LA—basically, you have a nice little oasis right in the middle of things.

In addition, the neighborhood is relatively safe. There have only been six murders here in the last four years (and only one last year). Violent crimes and property crimes are about average which is unusual in a part of LA where usually one or the other is in the negative range.

The local high school is Glendale High, a solid school and diverse school. (Some residents end up going to Eagle Rock High, also a good school.) In addition, several private schools and daycares are also in the neighborhood.

In other words, this is a nice, affordable neighborhood in which to have a family and several young couples have gotten the word and are locating here. In addition, since the bordering neighborhoods on the west are hipster heavy, it is probably only time before you get some spillover into Glassell Park, which will help improve the nightlife.

Another great feature of this neighborhood are the parks. Not only are you extremely close to Griffith Park (just outside the neighborhood to the northwest) but you also have Elyria Canyon Park and a handful of other green spaces throughout the neighborhood. These parks are great for hiking, biking and jogging. Strong neighborhood counsels are actively trying to improve these even further. A proposed freeway extension is currently being opposed by the NIMBY’s in the area—a good sign, regardless of whether you believe in the particular project or not.

As far as restaurants go this is a great spot for Mexican food with El Pescador (a yummy Spanish seafood place), Gorditas Laputa, and the taco stand on Verduga being the standouts in this category. You also have all the typical fast food places and supermarkets as well.

There are a few night spots and bars here such as the Eagle Rock Brewery and New Tops Bars, but the neighboring hipster lounges haven’t really emigrated into this area at this time. You do have a couple of dance clubs here too—Los Candiles and Kali Club, but I have not been to or know anyone who has been to either, so I could really tell you much about those places.

There have been crime problems in parts of Glassell in the past, and those unfamiliar with the area should get a good sense of it before setting down stakes, but overall this seems to be a neighborhood that’s on its way up.
Pros
  • Close to Everything
  • Good Homes of Various Kinds
  • Good Schools
Cons
  • Little Nightlife
  • Some Rough Spots
  • Bit Bland
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Country Lovers
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Another Hipster Village"

Yet another of the neighborhoods that I consider part of “Hipster Heaven,” because of its large population of artsy hipster types. Atwater Village is squeezed between Griffith Park on the west and Glendale on the east. On its northern end the streets start to break down, so most of the homes and shops are on the southern end.

It is there that you will find the really nice, smaller bungalow style homes that make Atwater popular. This is a pretty middle class neighborhood, though the push towards gentrification may yet push prices up and change its character. It is also a pretty diverse neighborhood.

Down by Los Feliz Blvd., you get a lot of the nightlife that makes this is popular destination for hipsters. There is The Roost, a dive bar, and the Griffin, a cool lounge. You also find a number restaurants like the Acapulco and Canele.

Overall this is a great little neighborhood that looks like it is up and coming.
Pros
  • Cute
  • Shopping
  • Some fun bars
Cons
  • Pretty sedate
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"A Well Named Neighborhood"

Nestled up against the southern border of Griffith Park, Los Felix is one of the three neighborhoods in the area I like to call “Hipster Heaven.” I say this because lately the skinny jeaned, vintage t-shirt set has claimed this area as their own and in response a number funky dive bars and similar nightspots have opened up to cater to their alternative tastes. In other words, if I were just out of college and wanted to spend a little bit of time just enjoying the company of other artsy alt types with enough disposable income to have a good time, I would definitely head to Los Feliz, Atwater or Silverlake.

Los Feliz specifically is a relatively safe area, with only 3 murders in the last four years and none in 2010. A pretty good average considering that it borders the Hollywood area. Overall the crime rate in terms of violent crime is pretty average and only a bit worse than average for property crime—this is actually pretty good considering how many nightspots are here and the tendency of crimes of opportunity to occur in such spots.

So what is so attractive to hipsters about Los Feliz? It mostly has to do with Hillhurst Avenue. This is one of those big city avenues that is just crammed with cool restaurants, boutiques and watering holes (mostly of the lounge variety here in Los Feliz). For example, you can dine at the Vinoteca Farafalle, a really snazzy Italian place with an excellent selection of wines; or get Japanese food at Mako; or get really delicious Mexican food at Yuca’s—which is just a shack actually.

In terms of boutiques, you have Little Boutique of Los Feliz—good for clothing and lingerie, though for lingerie I would try Panty Raid—just because that is a great name for a lingerie store. Of course, since you are in Hipster Heaven, you have a number of vintage clothing stores like American Vintage and Oou, both good places to go to keep your wardrobe from getting fresh.

There is also a great indie bookstore, Skylight and a great movie theater, Vista.

But where Los Feliz really rocks is in the cool lounge department. The top three that I would recommend are The Good Luck Bar (a lounge that makes you feel like you are in China), Covell—a very sophisticated wine bar that makes you feel like you are in a Post-Modern version of Madmen, the Drawing Room, a great dive bar, and, of course, the Dresden—the joint that you may know from Swingers. It is definitely worth a visit in and of itself.

In terms of actually living in the area, it is a typical tale of two cities. South of Los Feliz Blvd., you get a lot of apartment buildings—many of them of the hideously ugly boxy variety that could only seem glamorous to someone who has spent the last for years in a college dorm or living with very unpleasant roommates.

North of Los Feliz Blvd., nestled up against the hills by Griffith Park are some really beautiful homes from various architectural styles, but all exuding a feeling of wealth. You get everything from really cool looking Tudors to Spanish Revival, to Ranch Homes up in this area. There is one odd section of the neighborhood built on a horseshoe set up that just has a plethora of these homes that most anyone would consider themselves lucky to live in. There is also a section of the neighborhood that has a high percentage of Fairytale Cottages—quite wonderful.

Most people who live in the area will also tell you that it is a very walkable neighborhood in way that few LA neighborhoods are. If you want to take an early evening walk, check out the sunset and the Hollywood sign, and some of the Frank Lloyd Wright homes in the area, you can spend a pleasant evening doing so.

There are also several schools, the private ones being fairly good, and a fair amount of diversity. Lots of people from the creative professions live here and many people from different cultures. (You can find a large Armenian population, for example.)

Overall, it is a gem hidden right in the middle of Los Angeles. Unfortunately the word is out, so it is just a matter of time before rents start driving out some of the more interesting artsy types.
Pros
  • Beautiful Historic Homes
  • Cute
  • Great Bars
  • Great restaurants
Cons
  • Starting to Get Expensive
  • Proximity to the beach
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 1/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
Just now

"Great Observatory, Terrible Zoo"

Griffith Park is a great spot to go experience the outdoors right in the heart of Los Angeles. It has great hiking trails the LA Zoo is there and the Griffith Observatory. I don’t know much about the LA Zoo—I’ve heard bad things about the zoo here so even though I have lived here all my life I have never actually been to it. I just hear the facilities are very outdated and the animals look sickly. When I go to zoo I generally head down to San Diego Wild Animal Park, where the animals get to live in similar conditions to those of their natural habitat.

That said, the Griffith Observatory is really fantastic. As a teenager, I used to go up there to watch the Pink Floyd Laser Light show—basically, they use the planetarium facilities to play Floyd songs and to project a light show up onto the dome ceiling. Even in the 80’s this was considered a little hokey, but if you like Pink Floyd and are in the right state of mind (I don’t necessarily mean “stoned”), then it is really rather enjoyable. As I remember it was always held late, so by the time you got out it was either Denny’s or—if you didn’t mind the crowds—Jerry’s Famous Deli on Coldwater. (I don’t know if they do the light show anymore.)

The observatory is also famous for having been the location for the knife fight in Rebel Without a Cause—Dennis Hopper fans will know that he was one of the knife wielders in that. And, more recently it was in that Jim Carrey movie, Yes Man.

On the outside of the observatory you get great views of Burbank and Glendale. The architecture is sort of Art Deco, I think. On the inside, you get the typical exhibitions. My favorite is the pendulum that swings and slowly knocks down the domino like pieces.

Overall it, and the rest of Griffith Park during the day--is a great place to go with kids or if you have an interest in astronomy. At night, the park gets a little dicey. I once had a midnight picnic there—but quite frankly I felt more like I was in a Friday the Thirteenth film than a Romantic comedy. It is hard to enjoy that kind of a romantic gesture when you think someone might grab you, chop you to bits and feed you to the squirrels.
Pros
  • Great Observatory
  • Kids like it
Cons
  • Dangerous at Night
  • Caged animals
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Country Lovers
ValleyGirlTori
ValleyGirlTori I forgot to mention. The Greek Theater is also up here. It is a great place to go and see live shows. A really ousstanding facility.
2yrs+
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3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Very Urban"

You might be surprised to learn that the section of LA known as Koreatown is actually made up mostly of Hispanic residents. According to demographic numbers only about one in three identifies themselves as Asian. The area, nevertheless, does have a lot of Korean signs and restaurants.

This is an extremely crowded and largely poor area. About a hundred thousand people live in this small area—its about the population of Pasadena all packed into just a few miles. The fact that this is a poor area however, also means that rents are lower and many people come to this area specifically to take advantage of the more affordable rents.

In other words, this is one of those neighborhoods where you have tons of apartment buildings.

Of course, you might think that crime would be an issue in such a poor area as it is in many others. Crime is a complicated matter for this area. This is definitely an urban area with lots of homeless people and sirens at night and it does have the feel of New York City. But I am not sure how to gage the level of danger here. On the one hand, the per capita crime rate is actually fairly average—right within the ranges you would expect. On the other hand, there have been 32 murders in Koreatown since 2007--that is 8 per year roughly (though last year they only had two murders). That too, is misleading however when you consider the population of the area. Once that is considered, the per capita murder rate makes this a fairly safe location. Yet, I have a hard time saying that a small area where some 32 people have been murdered is not dangerous. The fact that Koreatown also has a dirty unkept look isn’t reassuring either.

There are also a couple of cool places to check out in the neighborhood, R Bar and the Honey Pig.

Overall, I don’t think I would like living here, but if you are on a very tight budget, or like a hyper urban setting, you will love this place.
Pros
  • Good Transportation
  • Diverse community
  • Cheaper rent
Cons
  • Crowded
  • Dirty
  • Traffic
Recommended for
  • Singles
  • Hipsters
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Only the Architecture is Ivy League"

Just to the west of Rosedale Cemetary is Harvard Heights.

Although this is a fairly poor, run-down neighborhood, perhaps its saving grace is the older architecture in the area. You can really get a sense of what pre-World War II Los Angeles looked like from a drive through this neighborhood. S. Harvard Blvd. is by far the most aesthetically pleasing of the streets in the neighborhood. This palm-lined street has lots of well-kept older looking constructions with attractive decorative touches like Corinthian columns lining the entrance ways of some homes and interesting asymmetrical homes. There is even a home in the neighborhood that looks like the Munsters house. I don’t know what these buildings are called but they are very cool to look at. (There are also a fair number of Craftsman homes here.)

Unfortunately, this is a very dangerous neighborhood both in terms of property crimes and in terms of violent crime. Unlike other neighborhoods where gangs seem to be the central cause of the violence, here it seems evenly divided between gangs and robberies gone awry. There have been six murders in the last four years which, given the population of 18,000 makes this just as dangerous as neighboring Arlington Heights. That’s the thing about this neighborhood. No matter how impressed I am with the classic homes here, I could never bring myself to live in a place that had a crime rate like this. If I can’t feel relatively safe in my own home, I could never have piece of mind. Every time one of my kids was late getting back from somewhere I would imagine the worst.

In addition, this is a less than ideal place for schools as well. There isn’t one in the neighborhood itself and the ones that are nearby are sub par. There is a college of some kind in the neighborhood, but I am not sure of its quality—I’ve heard (I don’t know if its true) that they are not accredited in certain programs. Not a promising rumor.

That said, I have met a couple of folks from this neighborhood who say it isn’t that bad so long as you don’t go for a stroll in the middle of the night or leave stuff in your car that someone might want to steal. That doesn’t sound particularly reassuring to me.

I should acknowledge, however, that you do have fast food places, a CVS pharmacy, a Food-4-Less, and those kinds of places. The neighborhood is not wholly barren. I would, however, feel safer living in Reseda or Van Nuys that are similar kinds of neighborhoods (and which I have lived in) and that just give you less of an urban feel.
Pros
  • Cool Older Homes
  • Close to Everything
  • Good Transportation System
Cons
  • Dangerous
  • Run Down
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 1/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 1/5
  • Shopping Options 1/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Once a Well-Loved Neighborhood"

On the upside, this is a very diverse neighborhood, about half of the residents are Latino and a quarter are African American. There is also lot of historic architecture in this neighborhood. Most of the homes seem to date from before WWII and occasionally you get some real treats in terms of these smallish working class homes. There are lots of those Craftsman style homes with the thick columns and heavy looking overhanging porches with walk up steps.

I’ve met a lot of older timers who grew up here and have fond memories of it back in the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies. They mention how there used to be a great bowling alley, and how one of the first Sizzler Restaurants opened here. They mention how they used to walk to school by themselves and there was no problem.

Unfortunately, now it is one of those typical high crime neighborhoods like Mid City to the west. I am not talking about property crime. Most people here don’t have a lot in terms of high value material goods—this is a fairly poor neighborhood in terms of per capita income. I am talking about violent crime. There have been 8 murders here in the last four years. That doesn’t sound like a lot relative to some neighborhoods, but given there are only 22,000 residents, that makes it on a par with Mid-City. (Or if you compare it to my own neighborhood of Woodland Hills where we have three times the population but only half the number of murders in that time period—it basically means that your chances of getting killed in Arlington Heights are six times that of Woodland Hills.)

As you might guess, this is mostly gang violence and crimes related to gang activity. Residents will tell you that there are spots in the neighborhood that are worse than others, but I would not want to live in a neighborhood where a block or two away you are in danger of being killed on any night of the week.

Even worse is the schools in the area. The local high school for example, Los Angeles High has the worst API scores I’ve ever seen, ranking rock bottom.

All this adds up to a neighborhood that might be centrally located and close to everything, but that most people would rather not even pass through to get where they are going. Sad, but true.
Pros
  • Diverse
  • Centrally Located
  • Nice Historic Houses
Cons
  • Dangerous
  • Poor
  • Terrible Schools
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Where I Get My Culture Fix"

Once the center of commercial shopping and in many ways the granddaddy of the American shopping strip, Miracle Mile is now all about Museum Row and the restaurants—at least for me anyway.

The LA County is a mammoth construction—probably the greatest, most extensive museum on the Pacific coast. It contains everything from Ancient Chinese art to avant-garde exhibitions of the latest trends in contemporary art, from the classics of European Art to a huge collection of Indian and Japanese pieces, from traditional paintings to utilitarian tools and clothing items. You not only find paintings and sculptures at the museum but films screenings and music recitals. It is an amazing cultural display, that is to art what Disneyland is amusement parks. In fact, one day is simply not enough to take in everything contained at the LA County, just one building can take up several hours if you are an art lover and there are half a dozen of them.

There is also a wonderful park adjacent to the museum where you can often catch live music from street performers. Along with the nearby Museum of Design and Architecture, you can spend many a morning here—I used to go about once a month when family responsibilities didn’t keep me out here in the Valley.

You can also take your cultural discoveries into the culinary arena on Miracle Mile. Along Wilshire you can find a number of outstanding international restaurants. You can sample everything from Greek mousaka at Ulysses’ Voyage and the goat cheese fondue at Luna Park (just off Wilshire on La Brea) to the amazing Korean joints on the eastern side of the Mile.

This is also a frenetic nightspot, with a number of local watering holes well worth the trip by themselves. Molly Malones is an outstanding Irish pub type of a joint where you can also catch the occasional alt-Rock act; Busby’s East is good if you looking for a good sports bar, and the Little Bar—a pretty cool place your inner hipster might enjoy.

All in all, it is great place to get your culture fix.
Pros
  • The Best Museum Around
  • Great Restaurants
  • Great Pubs
Cons
  • Busy
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 5/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"Kitfo, Harambes, and Skateboards"

Although this area is officially recognized, it is really not a true neighborhood—not yet anyway. More than anything else this is an attempt to draw business to the stretch of Ethiopian restaurants along Fairfax Blvd. near Olympic. There are, of course, many Ethiopians in the area. They moved here in the 90’s and have helped create the restaurants.

Regardless of the motivation behind designating the area Little Ethiopia, the restaurants certainly do make it worth the attention it has received. If you go onto Fairfax you can find a great kitfo (sautéed beef with spices and yogurt) at Addis, doro wot (spicy chicken) at Messob, Akara (spicy ground black-eyed peas) shrimp at Rosalind’s, tibs at Meals by Genet (sautéed onions and green peppers with a main dish), or a kita firfir for breakfast at Little Ethiopia (onions and butter on pita bread). That is just a taste of the smorgasbord of Ethiopian delights offered on this three block stretch of Fairfax.

If you want to build up your appetite by doing some shopping before hand, then you can definitely do that as well. You can dress yourself in the latest Rastafarian chic at Jah Lions and Lambs, or you can get an Ethiopian Coffee Dress at Safari Ethiopian. And, in a rather strange choice for this location, Tony Alva’s skateboard store is here as well.

If you want to prepare your own Ethiopian meal or dish at home, you can get authentic ingredients (or as authentic as you can get them States-side) at Merkato, a great little corner market type of grocery store with attached restaurant.

Overall, this is great place to have lunch and spend the afternoon after a morning at the nearby LA County Museum—an excellent cosmopolitan adventure of the kind only a handful of American cities can offer.
Pros
  • Great Restuarants
  • Close to Miracle Mile
  • Cool Stores
Cons
  • Busy
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 2/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 5/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Too Dangerous for Me"

Mid-city is an economically disadvantaged area of Los Angeles the sits just to north of the Santa Monica 10, looking somewhat like a beached whale from an aerial view. This is sort of an average urban neighborhood—it is neither truly horrible, but definitely not the kind of place most people would choose to live if given other options.

Let’s begin with crime. In terms of burglaries and petty theft—like breaking into vehicles, that kind of thing—the neighborhood is about average for Los Angeles. (Actually, in terms of property crime, you often find they are highest in some of the areas most Angelinos think of as affluent—probably because there is more to steal, I don’t really know.) In the last six months, for example, there have been hundreds of such reports from this area.

In terms of violent crime, however, the neighborhood is pretty bad, approaching the very worst neighborhoods in LA (though not quite reaching it), though no where near as dangerous as Hollywood. Since 2007, there have been 22 murders in the area.

The vast majority of the slayings here had to do with gang-related violence—either the victims were themselves gang members (or former gang members) or they were with gang members and simply got caught in the cross-fire.

Education is unfortunately just as poor. For example, the three high schools in the area—Hamilton, Dorsey and LA Senior High—all have some of the worst API ratings in LA. Hamilton has a Humanities Magnet extension that does a pretty good job, but even the extension has terrible math scores and overall the school is failing to meet “No Child Left Behind” standards. Dorsey is even worse with supposed Math Magnet getting barely one in twenty of their students to pass the proficiency test.

Put simply, I would not feel safe living here or raising a family here
Pros
  • Good Transportation
  • Central location
  • Cheap rent
Cons
  • Bad Schools
  • Noisy
  • Dangerous at night
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 5/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Just now

"A Touch of Moorish Spain and Ethiopia"

This section of the Mid Wilshire West neighborhood is an ethnically and racially diverse upper-middle class neighborhood, within walking distance of the LA County Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits.

This is really a beautiful older neighborhood with just as much diversity when it comes to architectural styles as for races. One of the really nice aspects—beyond the well kept Mission Revivals and Ranch homes—is the high number of pointy roofed Tudors with wood beam ribbing. In addition, the leafy streets are clean, and though the lots for the homes are on the smallish side they are so well-kept that you hardly notice their small size. Many of the homes also have attractive details. Some of the Spanish Revival homes, for example, have round towers at their center front which mark them as in the style of Wallace Neff (a renown Los Angeles area architect whose style came to be known as California Style Homes). The neighborhood is sure to keep this look as well, because Carthay is part of Los Angeles Historic Preservation plan—thus, it is against the city regulations to “modernize” the housing here.

Carthay Square is mostly a quiet neighborhood in its residential area and because of this crime is about average for LA despite its location in the middle of higher crime areas. Mostly you just have to worry about the kinds of property crime that are common in all the relatively well-off neighborhoods in the area. Lots of car break-ins and that kind of thing, but virtually no violent crime (there hasn’t been a murder here in more than half a decade).

At the eastern edge of the neighborhood, along S. Fairfax Avenue, you find a number of Ethiopian Restaurants and boutiques. This is because the area here is also known as Little Ethiopia. If you want to experience the cuisine of Addis Ababa—this is the place to go.

The local public elementary school, Cathay Center Elementary is ranked fairly low when it comes to test scores, but much of this may have to do with the high number of non-native speakers that make up the school’s population. Independent evaluations of the teachers themselves at this school show that they have a fairly even mix of effective and ineffective teachers (and everything in between). For those parents that want more than mediocre for their kids, a number of private schools—mostly Jewish schools and some separated by gender—serve the area.

One of the exciting prospects for the area is the extension of the Metro Rail Purple Line to nearby Miracle Mile (and perhaps eventually to Santa Monica) which would make the area near Carthay Square even more of hub of activity.
Pros
  • Great Homes
  • Great Ethiopian Restaurants
  • At the Heart of LA
Cons
  • Property Crime
  • Busy Surroundings
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Beautiful Homes in the Middle of LA"

To the east of the Wilshire Country Club, is Windsor Square, one of the historic neighborhoods of Los Angeles. It is an old neighborhood and is the home neighborhood for the Los Angeles Mayor’s residence.

The homes in this city/neighborhood are large and manorly, with immaculate lawns and tall spindly palms. Occasionally, a lawn will have some other sort of topiary as decoration. The homes themselves are large, with mostly flat two story facades that I have heard described as Craftsman style homes but that don’t strike me as fitting into this category. They seem more like classic kinds of homes. Some of them have red tiled roofs and stucco like Spanish Revivals. In a few cases the front of the home was highlighted by Corinthian columns white trimmings, making it look somewhat like a miniature White House.

Despite the large manor like homes here, Windsor Square is pretty much a middle-class neighborhood when it comes to income. The reason for this is probably its location at the heart of the city. Residents often complain about the noise of LAPD helicopters cutting across this community’s airspace on their way to a police action.

I say “cross over” because, despite being in the heart of LA—a city that averages over 300 murders a year, Windsor Square has not had a murder in years. Some property crime does occur here but it is only of the minor car break-in variety, not of the more serious violent kinds.
Pros
  • Great Homes
  • No Violent Crime
  • Clean
Cons
  • Property Crime
  • Middle of LA
  • Helicopter Noise
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Cedars, Melrose, Renoirs and a Trip Down Amnesia Lane"

Apologies for yet another monster size review, but there is just so much here.

Mid-City West is actually what most Los Angelinos call a number of neighborhoods with several other names: Beverly Grove (sometimes called Beverly Center), La Brea, and Melrose, Fairfax, Hancock Park, Fairfax village etc. Grouping them into one neighborhood is not actually that bad of an idea since they are in many ways similar and since there is little agreement about what this area should be called even among those who live here, but it may white wash some of the more distinct aspects of these neighborhoods. So in an effort to keep some what of a distinction Ive divided my review into two sections: Beverly Grove on the west and Fairfax on the east.

Beverly Grove

Beverly Grove (sometimes called Beverly Center) is the neighborhood to the far west end of Mid-City West. The most significant feature of this neighborhood is Cedars-Sinai Medical Centerone of the premier hospitals in So Cal. I know because my mom worked there for about fifteen years in the NICU. It is really a great facilitythe place where hospitals feed their most challenging cases.

Despite having the word Beverly in it, this neighborhood is actually not as highly affluent as you might expect. It is just an average, middle-class neighborhood for the most part. There are lots of college graduates here but they are not bringing in the bank like in other hillside neighborhoods.

The other big attraction for this neighborhood is the Beverly Grove Shopping Center, another reason that this neighborhood is sometimes mistakenly believed to be an affluent neighborhood. The shopping center brings in a lot of well-heeled shoppers from the nearby hills like Bel Aire and Brentwood. In addition, restaurants and pubs abound in the neighborhood, thriving as satellites to the hospital and shopping center. Notable, is the 3rd Stop gastro pub, a watering hole just across the street from the hospital that caters to medical staff and shoppers.

In terms of property crime, the Beverly Grove neighborhood is one of the worst with lots of break-ins to cars near the shopping center. Crime is only average when it comes to violence, however. Much of it has to do with the nightspots in the area. In a recent case, for example, an up and coming Atlanta rapper that went by the name of Dolla was shot outside of a local bar by a rival. This is relatively atypical for the neighborhood, however, with few similar cases occurring here.

Fairfax

On the eastern end of the neighborhood is the Fairfax area. You could easily break this down into three (maybe four) distinct neighborhoods, with Melrose in the north, La Brea on its eastern side, and Fairfax on the western side (around Fairfax Blvd.).

Melrose up on the north, isas you probably already knowa hip, shopping district filled with boutique shops like Original Penguin, Kiki de Montparnesse, Foley and Corinna, Miss Sixty and Xin. It also is a magnet for modeling agencies, acting studios and upscale hair salons.

During the day, Melrose is a great place to go for walk, window shop, or just stand around, jaw agape, gawking at the freaks of nature that are the currency of the entertainment industry.

A plethora of restaurants and nightspots make their homes here as well. Good choices are Xooro, the Improv Club for some laughs, or Red O.

The epicenter of all the action is at Fairfax and Melrose where Fairfax High sits right across the street from an Ed Hardy. (Can you imagine what it is like to go to high school just off Melrose? What would that do to your sense of perspective when every day you feel like you are walking through the latest issue of Cosmo and Vogue? So much for a healthy sense of body image.)

Fairfax has some really great restaurants in the Melrose area as well. The famous Kanters Deli is here (everyone who visits or lives in LA should be required to visit this deli at least once in their lives). You can also find the Silent Movie Theatre (an eccentric Indie movie theater that movies lovers like me cherish) and Animal restaurant, an equally eccentric culinary adventure where you can eat things like pigs earstotally the place to go if you want break out of a dietary rut.

Farther south is the area that is indisputably called Fairfax. The dominant feature of this area is CBS, whose studios are located here. This partly account for the high density celebrity eye candy decorating the streets on any given day. Beverly Blvd. in the middle of this area is kind of a minor Melrose Blvd. onto itself with its own set of boutiques and eateries.

The area of the neighborhood that I know best however is La Brea, which stretches down along the eastern edge of what we are calling Mid-City West. At the southern corner of the neighborhood you will find part of Miracle Milethe really cool, Art Deco area of Wilshire that a lot of people think of for its shopping. For me, personally though, this area is about the LA County Museum of Art (and to a lesser extent, the La Brea Tar Pitswhich is more for little kids). When I first came here on a high school field trip, a whole new world opened up for me. It was the first time really that I had left the Valley and explored a place on my own (it roughly coincided with getting my drivers license). Up until then I had thought that LA was just lots of Ranch style houses broken up by strip malls and Chuck E. Cheeses. The L.A. County is a monster four story museum that has examples of every period of European art, an entire floor of Eastern art, a movie theater for truly rare films, and regularly rotating exhibitions of both modern and classic art. I probably would never have stayed in LA had it not been for more cultured areas like this.

By my senior year of high school, I was driving over the hill to this area with my best friend regularly. We would spend the day at the museum or checking out some cool old Hollywood film or foreign flick, getting something to eat at one of the restaurants, and then, at night checking out the coffee houses in the area. The coffee house wave was just beginning to crest back then (around 1989) and they offered teens like us the perfect hang out spot. We were too young to drink and wouldnt much have liked the bar scene, but coffee shops were perfect because they were a place you could sit and pretend to read or study while you just sat around.

There was this place on La Brea that I particularly lovedThe Pick-Me-Up (a little hole in the wall now completely gone). It was just some tables and some couches in a little room with a formica bar. It would get packed, even on a Tuesday night, and we would get high on coffee (our new found mind-altering drug of choice) and just sit and joke and check out the teens and college kids. I actually did get picked up at The Pick-Me-Up once (or maybe twice). I remember once with this guy I met there we left our friends and went for a walk on the abandoned night streets of Fairfax. It was all foggy, and the street lamps made these hallows of light where we stopped and smooched a bit in the public sort of way that only teenagers canit all seemed wonderfully romantic at the time. I guess it still does.
Pros
  • Great Museum
  • Great Hospital
  • Great Shopping and Nightlife
Cons
  • Property Crime
  • Super Busy
  • Expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
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4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 1/5
  • Parking 1/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"LA's Night Club"

This is a single’s play land. When you think of West Hollywood, the first thing that comes to mind is all the classic nightspots—like the Whiskey-a-Go-Go, the Troubadour, the Viper Room and the House of Blues. West Hollywood certainly does not disappoint when comes to night life—it is the number one destination for singles looking to mingle whether gay, straight, bi, or undecided.

In terms of living here, you will find that WeHo, as locals call it, is basically a middle class neighborhood. It is predominantly white (4 out of 5 residents), and very single—4 of five men, and 2 of 3 women. I think, however, that if Prop. 8 is overturned and marriage is expanded, you will see the proportion of “singles” in this neighborhood go down.

Of course, West Hollywood, like everywhere else, has its problems. One problem has to do with parking. Because so many people descend on West Hollywood every weekend, and because LA is car culture, you should not expect an easy time finding parking. Not only that, but WeHo is infamous for draconian parking enforcement. If you are five minutes late getting back to your car—expect to have a ticket.

As you would expect in place where the proportion of per capita bar stools is comparable to Texas’ proportion of per capita firearms, West Hollywood would seem to be one of the most dangerous and crime ridden neighborhoods in LA. According to crime statistics, it ranks in the top thirty in terms of violence and almost in the top ten in terms of property crime like automobile break-ins. In the last six months, for example, there have been 3 murders and 5 rapes. Given that the population is only about 25,000 that seems pretty high. Of course, though, you must factor in that every night West Hollywood swells with partiers and tourists of every stripe. So perhaps the crime rate is not quite as bad as it seems at first glance. In addition, the murders are a little misleading. There have only been 7 murders in West Hollywood since 2007. The 3 recent murders turn out to all have happened during a single botched drug deal where the dealers were shot by a robber.

Finally, there are lots of older homes around here, but because of rent control many of these are not fully kept up. Landlords simply don’t want to put in the money to keep up there properties when they can’t charge as much as they might get for them. Newer buildings are plentiful but highly expensive.

Despite these drawbacks, WeHo is the place go on weekends or if you have just graduated college and want to live the good life for a while.
Pros
  • Bars
  • Restaurants
Cons
  • Crime
  • Crowded
  • Traffic
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 2/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 2/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"The Dream Machine"

I apologize in advance for the monster review, but this area is at least two distinct sections—the Hills and the Flats. The Flats is the part everyone knows about—the Hills are the part that people hear less about. But actually, the Hills could easily be broken down into a series of fairly distinct neighborhoods: Beachwood, Whitley, and the Outpost Estates. And Hollywood Flats is a galaxy onto itself, not just because it is filled with stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but because there is so much there that it is hard to mention anything without missing a hundred other things.

Up in the Hollywood Hills you have one of the many affluent hill areas—though not as wealthy as Bel Aire or Beverly Glen. This is definitely hillside living, with homes dropping down the hill on one side of curving lanes and perching up above on the other. This means great views and good privacy, but also rock slides, erosion and wild fire threats in a lot of spots. Its not particularly woodsy on its western end, more of a chaparral but at night the twinkling lights of Tinsel Town make for lovely views.

There is a general feeling here of “you stay out of my business and I’ll stay out of yours.” Many of the people who live here are involved in the entertainment industry and put a high premium on their privacy.

Traffic here can be a bit of hassle both because many people use Laurel Canyon as an alternate to the freeway and because everyone thinks their time is more important than safety, so despite the narrow, winding roads the latest model luxury cars will zoom down it like they are filming the latest 007 film. Watch out if you are driving here.

A couple of the truly historic LA neighborhoods are perched up in the Hollywood Hills: Outpost Estates and Whitley Heights. In much leafier Outpost Estates area, you can feel at times as if you have jumped back to classic Hollywood. The narrow roads lead you by what look like small Mission Revivals pushed up right against the street, but which are actually sprawling estates that slide down the hill behind these humble outer facades. Tree cover and ivy-curtained walls hide the residents from view, making it a favorite for celebrities looking for privacy and an exotic feel right in the USA.

Even more exotic feeling is the Whitley and Hightower area of the hills. You are more likely to feel as if you are in Tuscany than in Los Angeles, not only because of the many Mediterranean Revival style villas but also because of the tight curves and floral décor. In addition, there are quaint steps between the homes that make for a wonderful place for a stroll for tourists and locals alike. Here is good website to check out if you are interested in this area:

http://www.la-la-land.net/2008/11/hidden-hollywood-hightower-and-whitley.html

If you have a poetic heart, like me, you will especially love the hills when it rains and low laying clouds hang along the twisting roads like boas off show girls (okay, maybe a bit much in the metaphor department—but it is beautiful).

Of course, I barely need to tell you about the Flats—everyone knows about it already: the Hollywood sign, the Chinese Theatre, Sunset Blvd. and that whole scene. But here goes anyway.

As far as things to do there is the obvious: the Hollywood Bowl, the great movie theaters and a vast assortment of cool lounges and bars and dance places. Here are some you might want to try: Bo Ho (a great gastro-pub), the Room, the Parlour Room and Scorpion just to name a few.

Here are some restaurants: Arclight, Magnolia, Hungry Cat, Les Balcones de Peru, Ivan Kane’s, Tender Greens, La Poubele, Birds, Musso, Kitchen 24, and I could go on and on like this but, you get the drift. If you are a culinary connoisseur, Hollywood is definitely the place to be. (Oh yeah, and the ever popular Café 101 by the freeway for breakfast—if you can find a table.)

If you are a country lover than here is a great place to be a Hollwyood Hillybilly with Runyon Canyon and its great hiking and views (also great for staring at the gorgeous wannabe actors who come here to stay in shape and walk their designer doggies) and Griffith Park just to the east. If you’re into organic veggies, there is the great Selma St. Farmer’s Market on Sundays.

Hollywood, of course, is known for its gay friendly community—but actually it isn’t gay friendly, its everyone friendly, except for those that are closed minded or bigoted. If there is one thing that Hollywood doesn’t tolerate, its intolerance. But whether you are a transvestite or a cellist of LA Phil (or even a transvestite cellist for the LA Phil) you can find acceptance here. One sign is the great racial and economic diversity of the neighborhood—there is no majority culture here, everyone is represented in substantial numbers. The Hills are where the upper middle-class and wealthy live while down in the Flats you get the struggling rockers and actors with night jobs as waiters and go-go dancers.

The Flats is definitely a place for the young and young at heart. With the many gastronomic and social temptations down on Sunset and Hollywood Blvd., you would be hard pressed to cozy up with a good book on a Tuesday night, much less a Friday or Saturday. It’s a place that people come for a while and then move on from as they get older and want to downshift into the slower lanes of life. Nine of ten residents here are renters and most of them here for the short term fun of it. About half of those who live here were born in another country.

I don’t want to over romanticize things—Hollywood—especially the Flats—is far from perfect. It is first of all one of the more dangerous places in LA—ranked 28 out of 208 in terms of violent crime—this is pretty bad when you consider that most places that are more dangerous than it are basically gangland type places. It’s even worse when it come property crime where it is one of the top twenty worst neighborhood in LA. In the last four years there have been more than thirty murders—three in the last six months. (And 23 reported rapes since July 1, 2010, so its not the sort of place you feel safe alone at night as a woman.)

In addition, you would not want to raise a family here not only because of the violence but also because the local schools are pretty bad and there are just too many ways that teens can get in serious trouble around here. (There is a good grammar school up in the Hills and you can, of course, send you kids to private school if you can afford it, but overall it’s a bit of problem in the Flats.)

That said, Hollywood—in all its complicated contradictions—is like the movies of the industry it is known for: at times it’s a real horror show, but it can also be an exciting adventure, a beautiful love story, or a charming parable about freedom and the American spirit. To paraphrase that wide fool and chocolate expert: “You never know what you gonna get.”
Pros
  • Great Hillside Living
  • Where the Action Is
  • Nightlife
Cons
  • Crowded all the time
  • Dangerous late at night
  • Loud
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Just now

"Not Just for Little Old Ladies"

In most other places in the country, Pasadena (like Burbank and Glendale) would be considered either the premiere location around or the strongest secondary city. It is a testament to how monstrously large and powerful Los Angeles is that it sustains so many satellite cities in its orbit.

Pasadena, however, truly has the size and complexity to be considered in its own terms. It has a commercial sector, a beautiful hill section with a grand football stadium and amusement park. It has more than one excellent museum, two very good colleges, and also a run down area where shootings and police aircraft are a common occurrence. It has a main shopping drag where you can get great first class food, or go at night to dance and get a drink. It has great historic buildings and neighborhoods, and it also has boring suburban neighborhoods filled with Ranch Homes.

Put simply, Pasadena is a microcosm for the whole So Cal area, containing in miniature, the complexity of the entire South Land. If you can’t find it in Pasadena, then it probably doesn’t exist in So Cal.
Pros
  • Great Historic Neighborhoods
  • Great Shopping
  • Great Choices
Cons
  • Some Crime
  • Expensive
  • Some Boring Spots
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Students
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 5/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Just now

"A Bit of Everything"

On the northern end of South Pasadena, you have one of the best avenues in Pasadena and perhaps in all of So Cal. First, East Colorado offers you a world of great restaurants, from Italian at Louise’s Trattoria and the healthy Mediterranean food at NeoMeze to Peruvian food at Choza Mama.

There are several nightspots on this drag as well. If you like the classic, fake dive bar experience, try Freddie’s 35er, where you can have cheap drinks and good times. For something a touch more sophisticated try the Bodega Wine Bar (it has great tapas too).

If you love shopping and have a taste for the expensive, you will find several jewelry stores and boutique clothing stores like Therapy on Colorado. If you are a bit of a book worm, like me, there are two great choices: Cliff’s and Book Alley. Both pretty good spots to lose a couple of hours.

On the eastern part of the neighborhood, just a couple of blocks from Pasadena City College, is Caltech, one of great science oriented universities in the country—kind of the MIT of the west in some ways.

On the northwestern end of the neighborhood, to the south of Colorado, you will find lots of office buildings, which account for the heavy lunch crowds during the week, and make up much of Pasadena’s commercial power.

You also start to get lots of condos and apartments as you move south—many are shoddy looking 1970’s style boxes, but many are newer, more well kept and well decorated places with underground garages and pleasant outwardly appearances.

As you pass south of Glenarm Blvd., the neighborhood suddenly changes character and goes from an apartment neighborhood to an upper class neighborhood, with wide avenues, quaint stone lampposts, and long, flat front lawns decorated with palms and curving driveways. At times the décor makes one feel as if you are in the ritzier parts of Miami. Though many of the large manors in this area have the distinctive red clay tiles common to Spanish Revival type homes, one often finds them atop homes that are not otherwise in the Spanish Revival style. The effect can be quite striking.

You can find a number of other architectural styles, like Tudors and some that I can’t even name. Unfortunately, a good portion of the homes hides away behind high hedges in this area as well.

Despite this, it can be quite enjoyable taking a little joy ride through the neighborhood, and imagining what kind of lifestyle those within must have.
Pros
  • Has Everything
  • Great Restaurants
  • Great Shopping
Cons
  • Expensive
  • A Little Flat
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Just now

"West Central's Little Twin"

Mid-Central occupies roughly the same swath of territory that West-Central does but removed about a mile to the east. Mid-Central however is in many ways a very different neighborhood than its western neighbor. Both Mid-Central and West-Central are largely residential neighborhoods to the north of the freeway. Whereas West-Central is largely made up of moderately priced apartments, Mid-Central has a very different make up.

Mid-Central is largely characterized by older houses. Although many of these homes are California Bungalows (for which Pasadena is renown and can be seen in the section of North Central dubbed “Bungalow Heaven”), there are various other kinds of architectural styles to the homes here as well—from Mission Revival to occasional Chateau style homes.

One of the distinctive qualities that draws people to this neighborhood beyond the classic architecture is the clean, palm-lined look of the streets in this northern section of the neighborhood. Even on streets where other types of trees are in equal abundance you will still find the carefully spaced palms—and the classic cement lamp posts that mark many of the historic neighborhoods in So Cal.

On the north eastern end of the neighborhood, the palms give way a bit as lanes widen and homes expand, Bungalows giving way to Ranch homes and longer squatter Mission Revival styles. Rents rise accordingly.

South of the 210 Freeway, the neighborhood shifts distinctly. As with its western neighbor, Mid-Central becomes significantly more commercial south of the freeway. Unlike its western neighbor, however, in the place of museums, boutiques and corporate offices, Mid Central is home to far less attractive offerings. For example, instead of swanky restaurants, you find Carls Jr., El Pollo Loco and Jack-in-Box. This is not to say that this part of Colorado does not have its culinary draws. You can find, Masa for example—a good sushi joint—and Heidar Baba—a solid Persian food place.

By far, however, the two main types of businesses that dominate Colorado and Walnut (the main east-west consumer lanes in this part of Pasadena) are auto repair shops and motor inns. A countless number of such shops and inns crowd these lanes, ugly eyesores that push pedestrians away and give a very different feel to this area of Pasadena.

One thing that this part of Pasadena definitely does not lack is schools. Just across from Pasadena City College (in south Pasadena) is the French school, Lycee International de Pasadena. Also in the neighborhood is Jefferson Elementary, a solid school by all accounts.

Overall, you might think of Mid-Central as West-Central’s little brother. Mid-Central would be a pretty great neighborhood in most other areas of Southern California, but because it happens to be adjacent to West-Central, it gets more than a little bit overshadowed.
Pros
  • Nice Homes on North
  • Good Schools
  • Good Restaurants
Cons
  • Too Many Auto Repair Shops
  • Too Many Cheap Inns
  • Busy and Loud
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Students
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 5/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"A Tale of Two Neighborhoods"

The 210 Freeway runs right down the middle of West Central and, in addition to adding to the noise and traffic for local residents, it creates a dividing line between the two distinctly different halves of this neighborhood. On the northern side, you find yourself in a predominantly residential neighborhood where the average income is around $39,000--if you did not know any better this might make you think that this is a poor neighborhood. When you look at the average rent, however, ($1,100) you begin to see that something else is going on. In fact, it is the heavy student population of the is area (lots of Trojans) that makes what is basically a middle class, apartment heavy neighborhood look like a poor neighborhood.

However, an actual drive through the neighborhood reveals a fairly bland middle class area with lots and lots of newer apartments. In fact, compared with some of the other neighborhoods in Pasadena, West Central has a higher percentage of newer buildings with about half of the structures dating from after 1970.

The streets tend to be wide and the apartments are fairly well-kept. The houses tend to be older and there is a certain amount of variation in how well they are maintained but you can find a number of interesting structures on quiet, leafy streets.

South of the freeway, the neighborhood’s character changes dramatically. There are office parks and a definitely more urban feel to the streets. Several corporations make their West Coast headquarters here. Parsons Corporation for example, a leading engineering and construction company, has a large facility here.

The southern end of the neighborhood is bordered by Colorado Blvd., Pasadena’s main shopping lane—this area is known as “Old Pasadena” though little remains of the actual structures that once were located here. What you will find is the usual suspects that pop-up in such high-end consumer hubs—Restoration Hardware, Il Fornaio, and Barney’s Burgers for example (and also Target and Pep-Boys farther to east). There are also cinemas (Academy), cafes (Beanery) and bookstores (Barnes & Noble). Vroman’s Bookstore, the longtime Pasadena landmark is worthy of special attention in these days of decling independent bookstores. You will also find some unique eateries and nightspots along Colorado. Most notable is the French place, Technique and the LIV Lounge—both the kind of highly sophisticated places that are almost worth the inflated prices. And, if you just want an outstanding steak, try Ruth Chris Steak House—yum, yum. Put simply, Colorado is Pasadena’s version of the Third Street Promenade.

This area is also home to the Pasadena Museum of California Art which is good if you are into California art—I’m not (much better is the Norton Simon just on the other side of the 210 Freeway.

This area, south of the 210, is also home to Pasadena’s seat of government. So you will find all the major government office buildings in this area, and the Pasadena Public Library.

The major Pasadena Hotels also make their homes here. The Pasadena Westin is, for example, here, right by city hall.

Churches are also well-represented throughout both northern and southern halves of West Central, with All-Saints Episcopal Church in the south right by the Fuller Theological Seminary.

In a nutshell, if you are looking for something to do, you can probably find it here.
Pros
  • Outstanding Shopping Area
  • Good Apartment Living
  • Good Cultural Options
Cons
  • Noisy
  • Busy
  • Expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now
Editors Choice

"Ranch Homes, Mega-Church, Mall"

Unlike some of their neighbors to the west, this part of Pasadena is a bit newer—at least when compared to Bungalow Heaven. This is a neighborhood that clearly broke ground in the Fifties—as you can tell from looking over the sea of Ranch Style homes on its northern half. As one climbs up the gentle grade into the foothills of northern Pasadena, one finds wide leafy streets and the long flat homes that are so associated with the suburban America of the post-War period. The farther north you head, the wealthier the neighborhood becomes, but the difference in terms of homes is minimal and the only real sign of income differential are the automobiles parked outside of the bushy front lawns.

At the heart of the neighborhood is the First Nazarene Church—an immense place of worship that dominates the landscape just south of Hamilton Park. The church and its large congregation run several programs in the neighborhood—and do good works as far away as Peru.

Farther to the south, near the 210 and along Foothill Blvd., the neighborhood becomes very commercial and has all the usual suspects you would expect to cater to a well-off suburban neighborhood. The Hastings Village Shopping Center is home to Best Buy, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Whole Foods, and a number of restaurants (like Shogun and El Torrito). There is even a pretty good watering hole—Esquire Lounge.

All in all, however, this is like a million other places in the U.S.—same stores, same houses, same fast food suburban culture. If you like that sort of a complacent life-style, you will be comfortable here. If you are a hipster at heart, you will find this place soul-deadening.
Pros
  • Clean, Safe Streets
  • Strong Shopping Mall
Cons
  • Fast Food Culture
  • Very Bland
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 2/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Just now

"Bungalow Heaven"

East Central is home to one of the most historic neighborhoods in the area. Locals call it “Bungalow Heaven” because of the large number of California Bungalow style homes. Many of these homes date to before the Great Depression and, in fact, more than half of the homes in the neighborhood were built before 1945. The streets in this section are filled with modestly sized classic homes, with small yards often featuring big bushy hedges. Unlike some of the newer neighborhoods in So-Cal, East Central still has its shady sidewalks, making it an especially walkable neighborhood.

There is quite of bit of variation from street to street and block to block in East Central. Some streets are quite well-kept and leafy, while others have a more of a run down look to them. On some streets, the narrow Bungalow Heaven streets give way to wider lanes with palm trees and older style cement street lamps. The buildings are still old here but the look is fairly pleasing and gives you a sense of mid-century Southern California. The diversity of architectural styles as one moves farther east in the neighborhood is one of its draws—you can find everything from California Bungalows, to Mission Style homes, to large Edwardian style manors. This is definitely not one of those Ranch Style homes as far as the eye can see neighborhoods.

There are a number of schools (and parks) throughout and at the edges of the neighborhood as well, so that residents have choices between several kinds of public and private schools. Marshall Fundamental is the local high school and although its students only get average scores on statewide tests the school is well-regarded for its music program and largely avoids many of the city wide problems with crime and gangs. It also has a wide assortment of AP Classes and extra-curricular programs including sports and clubs.

There are not a lot of choices when it comes to restaurants—mostly just Mexican food and some Italian—but you can find a Lebanese restaurants and couple of Thai places. Overall, this is a solid neighborhood with nice older homes.
Pros
  • Interesting Architecture
  • Good Schools
  • Quiet Neighborhood
Cons
  • Old Home Problems
  • Some Unkept Streets
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Retirees
  • Tourists
1/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 1/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 1/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Pasadena's Most Dangerous Neighborhood"

Thirteen of the twenty one murders that have occurred in Pasadena in the last four years have happened in this neighborhood. In at least three quarters of these cases, the killings were gang-related. All but two of these killings were due to gunshots. In most cases the shootings occurred at night when individuals were parked or hanging outside. The victims were all either black or Hispanic, and two-thirds were under 25 years of age—one was a girl, aged sixteen, who seems to have been caught in the crossfire. Two of the killings were because police officers shot gang members they claimed pulled weapons on them and two other murders were stabbings due to romantic complications.

Put simply this is just a dangerous neighborhood where on any given night you are likely to here police helicopters overhead and have streets blocked off for police actions during the day.

There is also a great deal of variation in incomes and rents from block to block. Many of the California Bungalow style homes that characterize Pasadena are in this neighborhood. Many individual blocks are absolutely charming, with unusual architectural combinations, palm fronted yards and leafy sidewalks. It is like a picture of Pasadena in the post World War II era. Over a third of the homes in the area date to before WWII, so this is about as close as you get to a neighborhood representing that period.

Unfortunately, the problems are such that it makes it difficult to raise a family in this neighborhood. The gang activities and social problems extend to the local high school, John Muir High, which has the lowest API score possible (indicating very poor test scores) and from the two or three kids that I have come across that actually attended the school, the environment is bad indeed: demoralized teachers, scared students, bewildered parents.

Put simply, North Central is not the Pasadena neighborhood where you want to live—much less drive through after dark.
Pros
  • Nice Older Homes
  • Diverse Neighborhood
  • Good Freeway Access
Cons
  • Dangerous
  • Gangs
  • Bad Schools
5/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 5/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 4/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 4/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 1/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 2/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"The Norton Simon and Beautiful Homes"

The Norton Simon. That’s where I have to start if I’m talking about South Arroyo. The Norton Simon is one of the really great museums in not only Southern California but on all of the West Coast. It doesn’t have the sheer size of the L.A. County Museum or the great views that you get at the Getty, but what it loses in size it makes up for in elegance. It is just a beautiful setting for the museum and the way that they organize the space just puts you in the right mental place for looking at the exhibitions. I haven’t been to it as much as I used to go before having kids, but I remember several memorable exhibitions—my favorite was of a series of sculptures by Rodin. Really exquisite. It is still a great museum, however. At the time of this writing for example, they have a Raphael portrait on loan from the National Gallery, an exhibition of Degas horse sculptures and an exhibition of historic Japanese art. (The Norton Simon always goes out of its way to get non-Western exhibits so that you get a well-rounded experience on every visit.)

The neighborhood to the south of the Norton Simon is a great historic neighborhood with palm-lined streets packed with Craftsman Style homes and occasional Chateau types. As you go farther up into hills past the water way that scars the center of the neighborhood and gives it its name, you get narrow lanes with lots of bushy or ivy-draped fences obscuring the beautiful homes that hide away in this area. This area is forested and hidden away, and it gives you the feel of being at a ski resort, though you are right on the edge of the largest west coast city in the Americas.

The neighborhood is also filled with schools and parks. It is home to Pacific Oaks Children’s School and San Rafael Elementary—both good schools. Westridge School for Girls is also in the neighborhood (a private school for girls). You will find a series of small but leafy parks, hidden away on streets where you might not expect them.

At the southern end of South Arroyo you will also find some really nice apartments. Rents are fairly high in the neighborhood because of how nice it is but well worth it if you can afford it.
Pros
  • The Museum
  • Great Historic Homes
  • Very Leafy Neighborhood
Cons
  • Expensive
  • A Bit Snobby
  • Maintanance of Old Structures
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Tourists
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Hipsters
  • Students
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 4/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 5/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 5/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Just now
Editors Choice

"Safest City in So Cal Perhaps"

Not to be confused with the city of the same name in Arizona, Glendale is a city of 200,000 just to the north of Los Angeles. Not that well-known to outsiders, Los Angelinos view Glendale as a bastion of solid, suburban living. When we in So Cal think of Glendale, we think of sun coated banks on palm tree lined streets. We also think of lots and lots of Ranch Style homes and of classic homes from LA’s past.

Glendale remains, in fact, much of what it has been through my entire lifetime. It is still all of the things I mentioned above. Despite the spike in gang violence just to south of Glendale during the 1980s, Glendale managed to largely keep their gang problem under control. (There was a spike in Glendale as well but in was no where near the level of blood letting in the high gang neighborhoods to the south.) For example, in the last three year there have only been about a dozen murders recorded in the City of Glendale. If you take into consideration the population of the area—200,000, this is a remarkably low rate. (Oakland in Nor Cal, for example, routinely has murder counts rising into the triple digits in a single year and only has twice as many residents.) (The exception to this was 2005 when 19 murders happened in Glendale. Other than this there has not been more than half a dozen murders in the city in any year this decade.)

It did not do this by pricing out the poorer elements as some cities have done. Glendale’s population south of the Ventura Freeway is mostly working class and the neighborhoods are crowded. More than half of the population lives here in tightly packed apartment buildings that fill this area. Perhaps Glendale has just managed to apply the Broken Windows theory better than its southern neighborhoods. The streets in Glendale are just more generally well-kept than those to the south.

For a long time, Glendale was known as a fiercely white city, to the point of being more than a little scary for those of who were not WASPs. The neo-Nazi party in California, for example, largely based itself in Glendale where it found many disaffected recruits. As with most of California, however, Glendale has become a much more diverse city. As of the 2000 census, Latinos have become a major part of the city, accounting for a fifth of the overall Glendale population (two thirds were still white, but this number is sure to have declined by our current census).

One of the major demographic shifts to the city has been the influx of Armenians in the past years. The strong representation of Asians in the population stats may have a lot to do with Armenians choosing Glendale.

Glendale has also changed in terms of commerce. It is no longer just about the malls, though the Glendale Galleria is still going strong. There are now a number of ethnic restaurants and boutiques in the city.

Glendale also has a very strong business community. Glendale is definitely a satellite of Hollywood and the entertainment industry. It is the home of the Dreamworks and the Disney Studios (and the local ABC affiliate).

One of the strongest elements of Glendale however, is its residential communities. It has a little bit of everything as far as choices in neighborhoods. If you go far up to the northern end of Glendale, you can find lots of San Fernando Valley types neighborhoods in which to live—Ranch homes, Ranch homes and more Ranch homes. But just south of there is Montrose, a quaint upscale neighborhood. Montrose is at the top of the Highway 2 corridor that extends south in a hilly valley area that allows locals to feel at once secluded but close enough to the freeways to make it to work without much hassle.

Glendale’s western end is one of the most beautiful historic neighborhoods in all of Los Angeles. El Miradero, Glenwood, and Grandview are virtually a living museum of classic architectural styles. The palm tree lined streets here are sublimely beautiful. At the same time, Brand Park on the northern and Griffith Park on the south offer hiking trails, historical sites and the Griffith Observatory for young students and curious adults to enjoy.

The hilly eastern and far southern side of the city have great hillside homes and relatively low population densities for those that prefer more of a country feel. South of Ventura Freeway, the opposite is the case. Downtown Glendale and surrounding neighborhoods are for the most part a thick concentration of boxy apartment complexes, where people are stacked one atop another.

Put simply, you can find just about any kind of residential area in Glendale. It really is a metropolis onto itself. The only thing it really lacks is a really strong artistic or hipster presence—but with Silver Lake just to the west, they even might be said to have this covered.
Pros
  • Great houses
  • beautiful streets
  • strong economy
Cons
  • some overly dense area
  • a bit xenophobic in spots
  • few night spots
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
  • Students
  • Country Lovers
  • Trendy & Stylish
auz
auz Glendale is also known for its countless number of Historic Spanish Style homes. You'll find beautiful Estates in Chevy Chase Canyon and a variety of beautiful homes in Glenoaks Canyon. I've lived in many different areas in Glendale, and have now settled in Glenoaks Canyon to raise our family. It is one of the most beautiful and family-friendly place to live in Glendale, with two parks, hiking trails and an excellent Elementary School within walking distance. Glenoaks Canyon dead-ends into a Golf Course and Ball Fields, which makes for a safe and very tight-knit community. It's like living in a small town, where neighbors walk with their dogs or kids, say hello as they walk by or stop and chat. It's one of the friendliest neighborhoods I've ever lived in, in Glendale or anywhere else in LA.
Oct 09, 2017
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3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 2/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 3/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 3/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 2/5
Just now

"A Jungle of Auto Dealers and a Playhouse"

Tropico is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Glendale. It was inhabited before California was part of the United States—or even Mexico, for that matter. These days, t majority of the neighborhood is commercial in a fairly practical and unremarkable way. There is an accumulation of auto dealers in this neighborhood. You can get everything from a Dodge Caravan to a Lexus or a Harley Davidson here. As far as fast food places, Burger King and Shakey’s Pizza (yes one of the remaining franchises from the pizza joints popular in the early 80’s) are typical of the eateries in the area.

There are some highlights to area however. The Amtrak Station and its tracks mark the western end of Tropico. The station is part of the city wide public transportation system that has been steadily increasing over the last few years and that now helps relieve some of the congestion on the overcrowded freeways.

Tropico is also home to the Luna Playhouse, a live Armenian supported performance theater (plays are in English, but the playbill often has Armenian subtitles) that likes to update classics like Ibsen’s Doll’s House. The theater set the play in the 1950’s—a great choice given the repressive subject matter of the play. The theater is at once a great cultural boon to Glendale and a celebration of the now strong Armenian presence in the area (Glendale has the third most Armenians living here than any other place outside of Armenia itself).

As far as housing goes, mixed among the car dealerships on the northeastern side, you will find some smaller Ranch homes, many hidden behind thick front yard hedges. They are modest, usually well-kept homes. Something about the residential streets have the sleepy older feel of Chatsworth to me—perhaps because so many of the homes seem to date from the 50’s in this area. On the southern end of the neighborhood, rents climb sharply (from around $850 to $1,100) and the homes stretch out a bit into the more traditional, long, squat Ranch homes. There are also a number of newer apartments here. The streets are more attractive in this southern area as well, being both wider and lined with palm trees.

All in all, there is a lot going on in Tropico—you might, if you are given to lame puns as I am, say it is a regular jungle of offerings.
Pros
  • the playhouse
  • good auto shopping
  • the Amtrack station
Cons
  • ugly comercial streets
  • only fast food
  • few night spots
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 5/5
  • Pest Free 2/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 1/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 5/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 2/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Great Views, the Cemetary, and Gangs?"

This partly hillside neighborhood is perhaps one of Glendale’s most beautiful and, if it were north of the Ventura Freeway near Brand Park, would probably reflect it uniformly throughout the entire neighborhood in both income and home prices. Indeed, along the hill itself, the homes perched along winding lanes named after Yale, Princeton, Berkeley and Stanford present outstanding views north up into Glendale and sometimes west to Griffith Park and Los Angeles. These hillside beauties have road side garages and then drop down some three stories, with multiple balconies over the cliff side.

This is definitely the most expensive area of the neighborhood. As the streets straighten into a gentle slop to west, the home prices drop and the neighborhood—strictly from a examination of average wages—would seem to turn into a middle class neighborhood. If you look at the well kept older homes in this area—the polished Mission style homes and occasional high roofed Tudors—you would have little clue however that this was not just as expensive a neighborhood as any in Beverly Hills.

The reason for the drop in prices has to do with the proximity to Los Angeles County and the gang problems just over the border. Fears about crime and urban creep scare off many prospective homebuyers who sense the Forest Lawn Cemetary is not much of a buffer for the bigger problems to the south. In fact, on New Year’s Day, 2008, the neighborhood awoke to the news a gang murder in the cemetery during the wee hours of the morning.

Despite these fears, Glendale itself remains one of the safer neighborhoods in LA County, with only a handful of murders in the last three years despite having a population of over 200,000. Despite this, if one maps the murders one finds that they tend to accumulate south of the Ventura Freeway and closer to the LA border than elsewhere in the neighborhood. Some may fear that south Glendale may return to the gang violence of 2005 when murders spiked to 19 in one year. Since then, however, the city has not seen anywhere near this level of violence with never more than 4 in a year since then. (Although burglaries have continued steady throughout the decade.)

Overall, however, these fear may mean some good deals for young couples or for those who don’t mind taking a bit of risk in order to reap a great reward.
Pros
  • Beautiful Homes
  • Good Views
  • Historic Neighborhood
Cons
  • Adjacent to Cemetary
  • On Border with LA Problems
  • Expensive
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Families with kids
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 4/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Good Though Boring"

The Somerset neighborhood at the far eastern (and southern, almost) portion of the neighborhood is a leafy middle class neighborhood that pushes up against Highway 2. The neighborhood is a mix of older, nicely kept homes and newer, pleasant looking—though rather snuggly packed—apartment buildings.

The neighborhood also has at least a pair of Protestant churches, a Lutheran and a Baptist congregation, bookmarking the northwest and southwest corners respectively.

In the southwest corner of the neighborhood is a big retirement community called Windsor Manor. It is one of those well-funded homes with the complete care for the residents kept in mind. Windsor sits right next to Windsor Mini Park, one of the many such small green spaces in southern Glendale.

Along Colorado Street on the north, there are number of motels and eateries including the dive bar, Coco Bango. It is not just fast food and supermarkets in the neighborhood, however. You can also get India food at Indra and some other types of ethnic food on the northern side of Colorado.

Overall, though, there is not much going on in this neighborhood. If you like that, than this is the place for you. If you want a bit more action, try elsewhere.
Pros
  • Nice Homes
  • Good Churches
  • Good Retirement Communities
Cons
  • Fast Food Culture
  • Lots of Hotels
  • Boring
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 2/5
  • Cost of Living 3/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 3/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Good Glendale Apartment Living"

The Mariposa neighborhood in southern Glendale is another working class neighborhood. There are a number of newer apartment buildings in the neighborhood and a mix of older homes as well. As with other parts of southern Glendale, the 15,000+ that make up this area are tightly packed, but, for the most part, streets are well kept and clean and one does not generally have an urban feel to the streets. There is some crime. There has been a murder at the northern end of the neighborhood in the last three years, but given the high population, this is comparable to many neighborhoods like my own as a matter of fact.

About a quarter of the working population in the area have jobs in offices with an equal amount having construction or factory jobs. This is basically a hardworking, largely blue collar neighborhood. There is a large Armenian presence in Mariposa. This is evidenced by the Catholic School (educating K-12) at the northwestern end. Mashdots College an Armenian College, is also in the area. Along S. Glendale Avenue, along with the car rental joints and tire shops, you will find kabob restaurants and Elena’s Greek Armenian restaurant—super tasty and super cheap. Well worth the visit if you are in the area.

On the eastern end of the neighborhood there is a Jehovah’s Witness temple and a Islamic Center, so this is clearly a very ecumenical neighborhood.

The local public school, Roosevelt Middle School, is in this area as well. It is a solid school and well supported by the community.

Like the bordering neighborhoods, this is yet another neighborhood filled with tightly packed apartment buildings. Despite the slightly lower rents in this part of Glendale, most streets are leafy and clean looking, with little qualitative difference from the apartment filled neighborhoods in Westwood, for example. Overall, it seems like a nice place to live—as far as apartment living goes.
Pros
  • Affordable Rents
  • Very Ecumenical
  • Strong Armenian Presence
Cons
  • Crowded
  • Some Crime
  • Ugly Boxy Apartments
Recommended for
  • Professionals
2/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 3/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Apartments, Apartments Everywhere"

The name of this neighborhood comes from the Pacific-Edison Electric Railway, one of the most historic companies in Glendale and one of the major reasons for Glendale becoming the major metropolitan center it is today. The railway was the reason why the population of Glendale grew rapidly in the early part of the twentieth century and helped it to piggy back on the growth of Los Angeles.

Along San Fernando Road there are lots of repair shops and businesses catering to mechanical equipment. To the extent there are eateries in this area they mostly cater to the workers drawn to the area on business—making the lunch hour the busy portion of the day. At the opposite end of the neighborhood along S. Brand Avenue a number of high end car dealerships make their homes—Infiniti, BMW, Acura. Along this avenue there are also a smattering of nicer eateries, such as Mamita’s Peruvian—which is tasty and very reasonably priced. There is also Eat Well a little farther south on S. Brand—it is everything you would expect from the shabby diner, both good and bad. If you like shabby diner experiences, you’ll like this place; if not, then stay away.

This is yet another sea of boxy apartment buildings packed one next to the other, jowl to jowl. There is a bit of crime and a gang problem—not huge as far as I know, but, you are bordering the more dangerous South Glendale neighborhoods where some murders have occurred in the last few years so this starts to become a concern in this area. On the other hand, the Glendale overall murder rate is still fairly low, given the near 200,000 person population, there have only been a dozen murders. Pretty low in relative terms.
Pros
  • Interesting History
  • Good Place to Get Car Fixed
  • Okay Restaurants
Cons
  • Ugly for Glendale
  • Some Signs of Crime
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 4/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 3/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 3/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Rollergirl Would Love this Neighborhood!"

Not to be confused with the town by the same name to the west of the San Fernando Valley, Moorpark is a tiny swath of middle class residential neighborhood that stretches out to the west of the Glendale Galleria.

Along San Fernando Road there is a Home Depot and some of the other kinds of stores you might expect for those trying to maintain middle class suburban lifestyles. There is also, however, a seedy strip club—The Gentleman’s Club; and just down the street a roller skating joint called the Moonlight Rollerway. Put simply, if you want to feel like you have jumped back to the 1970’s, you can definitely find disco dancing alive and well on this stretch of San Fernando. Of course, these two places don’t draw the same crowd (for the most part).

Mostly however, this is just a nice middle class neighborhood with a nice mix of well-kept homes. You get lots of Mission Style homes here (many of them are set up on the long squat foundations of what look like they used to be ranch homes—a nice effect overall), with a sprinkling of Tudors, older style Ranch homes and the occasional newer (1980s +) apartment buildings. The average rent in the area is $1,100. Racially and economically this is perhaps Glendale’s most well distributed neighborhood with the population dividing fairly evenly into thirds between whites, Hispanics and Asians and incomes (and educational attainment) filling the spectrum.

Overall, it is one of the nicest residential neighborhoods in Glendale south of the Ventura Freeway.
Pros
  • Close to Galleria
  • Good Rollerrink
  • Good Residential Neighborhood
Cons
  • Strip Joint
  • Ugly Main Drag
  • A Little Boring
Recommended for
  • Professionals
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 4/5
  • Peace & Quiet 4/5
  • Eating Out 2/5
  • Nightlife 1/5
  • Parks & Recreation 4/5
  • Shopping Options 2/5
  • Gym & Fitness 2/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 4/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 3/5
  • Schools 3/5
  • Childcare 4/5
Just now

"Dull Residential Neighborhood"

Vineyard is a lower middle-class neighborhood on the western end of Glendale near Griffith Park. It is just south of the Ventura Freeway. There are a mix of older Ranch style homes and boxy apartment buildings built on the narrow lots that used to hold more classic homes in the neighborhood’s earlier manifestations. In some of the neighborhood’s southern portions there are some new constructions, mostly of pastel colored condos.

This is largely a residential neighborhood, with more than a tenth of Glendale’s population living here. On the eastern end of the neighborhood is Columbus Elementary School, a solid though not a great school by Glendale standards.

San Fernando Road, that forms the western border of the neighborhood, is mostly an industrial area filled with warehouses and office buildings. The nicest lane is W. Broadway at the neighborhood’s southern edge—it is leafy and pleasant. Unfortunately, other than the Armenian Dance Center, there is not much all that interesting going on W. Broadway, unless you think old folks homes and law offices are interesting. There is also a childcare center, but overall not much else.

Overall, this is a pretty dull neighborhood by Glendale standards. There are, however, some nice cozy houses and newer apartments in some nooks so it might be just right for someone looking for a less expensive area to live. (Average rents are around $1,100.)
Pros
  • Close to Griffith Park
  • Affordable Rents
  • Freeway Access
Cons
  • Bland Homes
  • No Nightlife
  • No Restaurants
Recommended for
  • Families with kids
  • Retirees
4/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 4/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 3/5
  • Pest Free 5/5
  • Peace & Quiet 3/5
  • Eating Out 5/5
  • Nightlife 4/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 5/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 3/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 4/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 3/5
Just now

"Raffi's, Gauchos and an Octopus!"

As a residential neighborhood, Downtown Glendale is for the most part a working class neighborhood. Rents tend to be highest on its northern end by the freeway, and tend to drop precipitously as you head south towards Colorado St. Most of the single family homes are on the northern end, but there are apartment buildings spread throughout the entire neighborhood. Unlike other areas of Glendale where you have older nicely kept homes, here it is mostly boxy 70’s and 80’s apartments.

This being the seat of government for all of Glendale, you will find the court house and all the other city offices here. It is also home to 12,000+ residents, more than a tenth of the city’s population.

At the southwestern end of the neighborhood you will find the Glendale Galleria, one of the major shopping malls in the So Cal area, though it should not be confused with the Sherman Oaks Galleria (known simply as “the Galleria” and famous for being the filming location of the mall scenes in Fast Times at Ridgemont High”). It is, however, definitely a mammoth shopping center that gets packed for holiday shopping even during a recession. I’m not much for malls, but if you like them it has everything you could hope for in such a shopping venue, including an Anthropologie, a Cheesecake Factory and an 18-Plex Movie Theater.

Outside of the mall, there are a lot of pretty good places to eat. There is a Tony Roma’s for those that like the whole maffioso rib experience (bit pricy for me) and there is a Katsuya sushi place (also a bit pricy for me). If you want a more affordable place in the same neighborhood, try Octopus—its on the same street as Tony Roma. Sushi is solid and prices are way more affordable. My recommendation if you are in the area would be for Raffi’s Place (also on the same street). It’s a cool little middle-eastern place with nice open air seating in the veranda area. Something about the ambiance just makes you feel like you aren’t in So Cal anymore. Oh yes, and if you want a great Brazilian barbecue (though a bit pricy), made the way the South American cowboys (gauchos) prepare it—try Gaucho’s Village on N. Brand Avenue.

North Brand Avenue by the way, is definitely the central commercial artery for all of Glendale as it continues to be in this neighborhood. Lots of stores and banks and restaurants to check out there.

Overall, I would have to say of City Center, that it is a great place to go shopping but that I’m not so sure I would want to live there—unless you like apartment living that is—a bit too tightly packed for me.
Pros
  • Great Restaurants
  • Affordable Rents
  • Great Shopping Mall
Cons
  • Bland Apartments
  • Crowded and Busy
  • Noisy
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Families with kids
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Trendy & Stylish
3/5 rating details
  • Neighborly Spirit 3/5
  • Safe & Sound 3/5
  • Clean & Green 2/5
  • Pest Free 3/5
  • Peace & Quiet 2/5
  • Eating Out 4/5
  • Nightlife 3/5
  • Parks & Recreation 3/5
  • Shopping Options 5/5
  • Gym & Fitness 4/5
  • Internet Access 5/5
  • Lack of Traffic 2/5
  • Parking 4/5
  • Cost of Living 4/5
  • Resale or Rental Value 2/5
  • Public Transport 4/5
  • Medical Facilities 5/5
  • Schools 4/5
  • Childcare 5/5
Just now

"The Heart of Glendale"

In barely over three quarters of a mile, Citrus Grove packs 17,000 plus residents. The neighborhood is packed to the brim with rows and rows of boxy apartment complexes—often extending from faux fronts that fool passing motorists—with occasional residential homes to break up continuum. These are not uniform structures; they were built in different periods and have been maintained with various degrees of care. Some look a bit on the ramshackle side, while other are handsome—though rarely attractive—representatives of the signature apartments of their time period.

There is little by way of residential architecture built in this century, but many of modest homes—their meager lots dwarfed by their boxy two storied neighbors—are beautifully maintained. Overall, however, most streets have a rather incongruous feel, and the thought of so many souls living jowl to jowl as these Citrus Grovers do seems a touch depressing.

At the edges of the neighborhood there are a number of commercial draws and even some good churches. This is a working class neighborhood and many of the restaurants and stores here are rather gland chain stores that sell things at a discount to attract customers. There are also stores like Trader Joes and Whole Foods in the area along with regular supermarkets. Many of the stores are focused around the Glendale Shopping Center that is just outside the neighborhood on the west.

There are a few restaurants and nightspots, however that are better than the usual run of the mill spots. For example, Skaf’s Lebonese Cuisine is located up by the 134 and offers fantastic Middle-Eastern food, while Kim’s Kitchen on the southern end of the neighborhood is a yummy place to get Korean food. As far as night life goes there are also some interesting bars that you can check out, such as Hookah Lounge, which is a Middle-Eastern themed lounge (one of those places that some people love but most people are under-whelmed by), or Coco Bango, a true dive bar including not going out of its way to please anyone too much (and succeeding). Neither of these is good enough to draw in the Silver Lake crew but if you live in Glendale and don’t want to leave, they’ll do.

There are also a bunch of mini parks around this neighborhood that didn’t look particularly hospital to me, but I didn’t see them during the day, so who knows.

Glendale High School is here. A strong school and John Wayne’s alma mater. There are also a number of churches, daycare centers and varying educational choices in this neighborhood.

Overall, you might say that this is a thicket of apartments, fenced in by schools and shopping malls.
Pros
  • Affordable Rents
  • Good Shopping Nearby
  • Good Freeway Access
Cons
  • Crowded
  • Ugly Boxy Apartments
Recommended for
  • Professionals
  • Singles
  • Students