Residents in what is now called South Winnetka are seeking a name change that would make their neighborhood part of Woodland Hills, and they have begun joining the Woodland Hills Homeowners Organization to speed up the process.
The attempt is the most recent in a long series of controversies over San Fernando Valley place names.
And it's likely to add another dimension to a long-standing muddle in the South Winnetka area over what the place is really called.
Several residents said they had always thought that they lived in Canoga Park, until informed by the post office a few years ago that their 91306 ZIP code roots them firmly in Winnetka.
Gordon Weinmann, a longtime resident who opposes the name change, said he has always thought it was Canoga Park despite persistent rumors of a Winnetka designation. "If they can get Woodland Hills stuck in there, I'd be living in three places at once," he said.
Advocates of the name change want the area south of Vanowen Street to Victory Boulevard and east of Mason Avenue to Winnetka Avenue to be listed on city planning maps as Woodland Hills.
Melanie Teeter, a resident who supports the name change, said the area feels itself to be a "left-over finger of Canoga Park" misidentified by the U. S. Postal Service as Winnetka.
Residents want to be part of Woodland Hills, she said, to gain political clout. Issues involving Pierce College and Warner Center affect the neighborhood directly, yet residents are excluded from much of the discussion surrounding them, Teeter said. Property values are also thought to be higher for those homes that can claim to be part of the Woodland Hills community, she said.
The name change is opposed by City Councilwoman Laura Chick. In a letter addressed to the South Winnetka Neighborhood Watch, Chick wrote that name changes are divisive, and suggested that members expend their energy improving conditions in Winnetka rather than trying to escape it.
The residents have shifted the focus of their efforts to the powerful Woodland Hills Homeowners Organization. More than 60 have joined in the last two weeks, said Bob Gross, organization president. So many joined that the homeowners were persuaded to name Teeter to their board of directors to represent the new neighbors, Gross said.