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NEIGHBORLY ADVICE

A hilly haven in the jungles of the Valley

February 29, 2004|Maggie Barnett | Times Staff Writer

Drawing card

Part of Tarzana's 8 square miles slopes gently up the Santa Monica Mountains. Streets tend to wind and stop in cul-de-sacs in the foothills, adding to the sense of privacy and security of the mostly sprawling ranch-style homes on large lots.

The narrow roads and lack of sidewalks give the community a rural feeling despite the reality check of the 101 Freeway, which slices through the northernmost tip. The setting, coupled with good public schools, has made Tarzana attractive to buyers, according to Realtor Jerry Humes.

Hot spots

The most desirable real estate along the 101 corridor generally lies south of "the boulevard." Ventura Boulevard itself is a draw, the address for high-rent businesses, boutiques and restaurants. The congested thoroughfare is a good place to grab a cappuccino or a new hairstyle, but not a practical route for getting across the Valley.

The basics

Many residents are well-educated young professionals with children. The annual household income averages about $110,000. Owners outnumber renters, with about 7,000 owner-occupied homes and 5,000 apartments.

Good news, bad news

Tarzana has escaped "mansionization" for the most part, Humes said, but there's no escaping the effects of the perpetually packed 101 Freeway.

Report card

Schools in Tarzana have enjoyed a resurgence from the days of forced busing in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Parents then who could afford private education for their children abandoned the public schools in droves. Local schools today perform well above average. Wilbur Elementary has applied for distinguished school status. Principal David Hirsch credits parent involvement -- from fundraising to gardening -- for much of the school's success. "We're really like a private school in a public setting," he said.

Tarzana is in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Four elementary schools and one middle school are within its boundaries: Wilbur Avenue Elementary scored the highest of the four with 875 out of a possible 1,000 on the 2003 Academic Performance Index. Nestle Avenue Elementary scored 808, Vanalden 777 and Tarzana Elementary 743. Portola Middle School, a magnet school, scored 720 on the API. Taft High in Woodland Hills, which serves the area, scored 674.

Stock report

In mid-February, about 90 homes were on the market, ranging from $205,000 for a 910-square-foot two-bedroom, two-bath condo to $2,990,000 for a six-bedroom, seven-bath 10,660-square-foot home on a 128,070-square-foot lot, with an indoor pool and spa area and a 1,200-square-foot recording studio.

Historical values

Single-family detached resales for the 91356 ZIP Code:

Year...Median Price

1990...$485,000

1995...$310,000

2001...$451,000

2002...$561,500

2003...$637,500

Sources: Jerry Humes, Paramount Rodeo Realty, DataQuick Information Systems, api.cde.ca.gov, ziprealty.com, "The San Fernando Valley: America's Suburb" by Kevin Roderick, "The San Fernando Valley Past and Present" by Lawrence C. Jorgensen.

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