The names and faces may have changed since Al Jolson was honorary mayor in the 1930s, but Encino still holds a reputation as "Bedroom of the Stars." Actors Kirstie Alley and Parker Stevenson live in Jolson's house and the current honorary sheriff is Saturday Night Live comedian Phil Hartman. Tony homes in the hills, upscale retail stores and a large financial district continue to attract affluent residents, who earn the Valley's highest average household income.
But Encino has earned its fame for more than just money and stars. The Sepulveda Dam and Recreation Area is a green haven for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts only a few miles from Ventura Boulevard. And a bit of history grows right on the boulevard too, in the form of the huge 1,000-year-old Lang Oak at Louise Avenue. Encino in History The name: ON Aug. 5, 1769, members of an expedition headed by Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola crossed Sepulveda Pass to become the first white men to enter the San Fernando Valley. Encino, oak in Spanish, is derived from their name for the area--El Valle de Santa Catalina de Bononia de Los Encinos. Father Juan Crespi kept a diary during the expedition and wrote about visiting an Indian village with a spring-fed pool, an area which is now Los Encinos State Historic Park. The lost village: In 1985, the remains of what is believed to be the Indian village Crespi encountered were unearthed at the southeast corner of Balboa and Ventura boulevards. More than 2 million artifacts were recovered, including arrowheads, stone tools and beads, believed to be from an Indian community that lived in the area for 3,000 years, up until the 18th Century. Los Encinos State Historic Park: Contains a restored adobe built in 1849. Originally the Indian village, the property became a ranch in the mid-1800s. The de la Osa family , a pioneer clan, planted vineyards and orchards and raised longhorn cattle there. Community Issues Encino, along with four other Ventura Boulevard communities, faces a Tuesday deadline for choosing a design theme that would be incorporated into a plan to enhance neighborhoods along the 17-mile strip. The aim is to create distinctive designs for each boulevard community, unifying everything from street lamps to park benches to garbage cans. Ideas ranging from a "Bedroom of the Stars" motif to a more staid, historic concept have been discussed at community meetings. Debate continues on a proposal to build a $150-million water filtration plant at Encino Reservoir. Some residents want the plant along the shore, others want it built away from the scenic site. Residents have lobbied for nearly three years to have a developer fill a giant crater that was excavated at Hayvenhurst Avenue and Ventura Boulevard to remove soil contaminated by a gas station once on the site. Encino Voices "Being close to the Santa Monica Mountains is one of the great resources of the Encino community and has helped us preserve a lot of open space in the mountains....Ventura Boulevard has become substantially upgraded with more attractive buildings and shops. I'm very eager to participate in the boulevard plan....I'm hopeful we'll end up with attractive street frontage and signage and I would also like to see eventually a good bus system going down Ventura and more of us using it." --Marvin Braude Councilman whose district includes Encino "There is a long-standing tradition of activism on quality-of-life issues here. Other than traffic, quality of life in the residential community of Encino has remained much more stable than other single-family neighborhoods in the Valley." --Robert Glushon Encino Property Owners Assn. board member Community Profile Based on 1990 U.S. Census figures (including parts of Tarzana). Stats Size: 10 square miles, 3.2 miles of Ventura Boulevard Population: 66,487 Median age: 38.7 Average single-family home value: $300,000 Number of households: 28,110 Persons per household: 2.35 Population over 25 with 4-plus years of college: 40.8% (L.A County: 22.3%) Population below poverty level: 5.5% Income Average household income is 89% higher than the Los Angeles average. Southeast Valley: $48,182 Northeast Valley: $44,444 Northwest Valley: $56,427 Southwest Valley: $61,722 Citywide average: $45,701 Encino: $86,348 Ethnicity White: 86% Latino: 8% Asian: 4% African American: 2% Star Search Luminaries who call Encino home:Luke Perry Michael Jackson's family Kirstie Alley Parker Stevenson Fred Savage John Goodman Pat Sajak Tim Conway Gary Owens Wayne Gretzky Darryl Strawberry Steve Allen Sources: Encino Chamber of Commerce, Los Angeles City Planning Department analysis of 1990 U.S. Census data, San Fernando Valley Then and Now