Jewish Journal


May 20, 2011

San Fernando Valley: Like!


It was a gorgeous spring afternoon in Woodland Hills, and I was sitting at a table in the outdoor courtyard of a small food court waiting for one of my friends to arrive from the city for a lunch date. 

“Hopefully arrive 1:15-ish,” she texted me, stuck in horrendous traffic and running late. (For the record, she was stopped at a red light on Ventura Boulevard.)

Fifteen minutes later, she texted: “1:30.”

She finally arrived at 1:45, hurling expletives at the 101 Freeway, Ventura Boulevard and Valley drivers.

A week later, she was back in the Valley, for a work-related event. It was an unusually scorching day, and the drivers were aggravating her — again.

“Not such a fan of the Valley …” she texted me.

My friend lives in a brand-new, chic, loft-style apartment building on Sunset Boulevard in the heart of what is now teeming, thriving, trendy Hollywood. She can walk to the Pantages Theatre for a Broadway-caliber show, pick up gourmet Vietnamese food around the corner, and stroll home from a raucous happy hour at the numerous wine bars dotting the Sunset strip.

So why would she be a fan of the Valley? Why would anyone?

Yoav Stein, an Israeli American chiropractor, recently moved from Hollywood to Chatsworth, soon after his wedding, because there he could buy a beautiful three-bedroom home with a pool and a dining room big enough to host a dozen rowdy Israelis for Tuesday night poker.

One of TRIBE’s contributing writers, Olivia Gingerich, an attractive, vivacious 23-year-old, felt cramped in the city, and was drawn to the Valley’s open spaces and convenient location. As soon as the opportunity presented itself, she packed her stuff and headed over the hill.

Another friend of mine, a longtime city dweller, suffers through rush hour on the 101 so that her daughter can attend Cleveland High School — a public school in Reseda. That’s public, in case you missed it. The other day, as she was teaching her daughter to drive — through their neighborhood in the Hollywood Hills — her daughter complained, “Mom, why didn’t you guys buy a house in the suburbs like all the other kids’ parents?” 

And Shahaf Avitan, a young Israeli who in this issue comments on the city versus Valley rivalry, says he likes it here in the 818 because “it’s Israel, just a little bigger.”

The Woodland Hills condo where I live may not have a rooftop patio and glass-enclosed gym overlooking a neon cityscape, but it’s surrounded by lush oak and flowering Jacaranda trees; I may not be able to walk to a glitzy movie premiere across the street, but I can take my son to the clean, beautifully landscaped park down the street; there are no hip pubs around here, yet I have frequent warm, genuine interactions at the local Coffee Bean; oh, and when my friends come to visit – and my best friend makes the drive from the city every week — they don’t have to pay $8 to park.

I grew up in the city, but I’m never going back. If the San Fernando Valley had a Facebook page, I would be a fan.

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