Friday, August 04, 2006

An American suburb with a colorful past, Encino Village (EV) is a community of about 400-houses located in the Encino area of Los Angeles, California.

Once the home to RKO studios "Encino Ranch," site of such American movie icons as "It's a Wonderful Life" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Encino Village is bordered by Louise on the West, Balboa Park on the East, Burbank Boulevard on the South and Oxnard on the North.

"In 1954, the RKO movie ranch that was located in the community of Encino was closed and purchased by the Encino Park housing development. The 89-acre backlot was bulldozed with plans to adjoin it to the growing community's needs."

Shortly thereafter, architect Martin Stern Jr.'s Encino Village was created. Although a long-time Los Angeles-based architect, Stern is most famous for the work he did in Las Vegas. When Mr. Stern passed away in 2001, obituaries for him ran in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Daily Telegraph (London) to name a few. Little is known of his Los Angeles-based work although he was the architect who designed the iconic mid-century Ship's restaurants that used to mark our skyline.

When Encino Village was ready to welcome new residents in the mid-1950's it was just after WWII and sales fliers beckoned to all the veterans to come purchase their piece of paradise for only $18,000. Although clearly a tract housing neighborhood, Martin Stern did two things that make its design stand out:

1. He designed 4 different styles of homes (traditional, ranch, transitional and modern) with 5 different floor plans so the neighborhood had 20 different styles of house right from the get go.

2. He laid out the area in two concentric circles with only three entrances creating an instantly more neighborhoody feeling that encourages its residents to walk around.

In the late 1990's and early 2000's, Encino Village began to see an influx of new young families as original owners passed away or decided to change their housing situations. You can still find some original owners though who love that a new generation of Encino Villagers, or Village People, has moved into their beloved community. Some adult homeowners actually grew up in the neighborhood and there are other homeowners who are siblings, creating a uniquely neighborhoody aura in this megaopolis known as Los Angeles.

Encino Village is also a fortunately situated neighborhood in terms of natural resources and public transportation. EV is tucked into the SouthWest corner of the Sepulveda Dam flood basin which is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers. The park area is designed to serve as a flooding overflow during LA's ocassional, but torrential, rainy periods. The other 99% of the time the park is full of Angelenos using one of the many athletic facilities or simply hanging out at the mand-made lake fed by a local water reclamation plant (designed by former LA city engineer Donald C. Tillman who wanted to prove that reclaimed water could beautify an area). Public transportation opportunities abound with the newly opened Orange Line visible zipping silently by as it crosses through the park area just north of the neighborhood.

While unremarkable in the way that many American suburbs are, Encino Village manages to be unique almost solely by the enthusiasm its residents have for their neighborhood. EV is not "cool" its not "hip." If you are here it's because you really want to be here...and if you want to be here, then you will love it. Because it's truly a place to call home, and if you ever leave you will always remember it as a halcyon period in your life.


RKO Encino Ranch:

Images of Encino Village:

Martin Stern:

Martin Stern:

Ship's Restaurant:

Writer Robert Lloyd waxes poetic about EV:

Article in LA Times July 17, 2005 Real Estate Section, tree-lined street image is Encino Village:,1,1741917.story

All Rights Reserved, Copyright 2006 EVHA


At 2:53 PM, Blogger encinoblogger said...

Nice work, though I'm not sure we really want to be called "Village People."


Post a Comment

<< Home