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Could be tough to live here (for Trojans)

December 30, 2007|Jennifer Lisle | Special to The Times

The cozy community of Westwood Hills offers an antidote to the busy UCLA campus that adjoins it. Longtime residents, an active property owners association and a charming mix of well-priced traditional, ranch and Spanish-style homes along lushly landscaped streets characterize the area.

What it's about

Westwood Hills sits at the western edge of the university, but the area is more urbane suburbia than typical college town. Many residents value the convenience of being close to the school, Westwood Village and major commuting arteries such as Sunset Boulevard and the 405 -- even if they dread the traffic that builds up along its borders.

Carole Magnuson, president of the Westwood Hills Property Owners Assn. and a 35-year resident, calls it the "perfect urban location."

For young families, Westwood Hills offers "starter-home" lots and prices that compare favorably to nearby Little Homby, Bel-Air and Brentwood. There is also a highly rated elementary school.

Residents can tap into the rich resources of UCLA, including its recreation center, which can be joined for a nominal fee. The university also provides an ample pool of energetic baby sitters and tutors.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, January 02, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 22 words Type of Material: Correction
Neighborly Advice: The community profile about Westwood Hills in Sunday's Real Estate section misspelled the neighborhood of Little Holmby as Little Homby.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, January 06, 2008 Home Edition Real Estate Part K Page 7 Features Desk 1 inches; 22 words Type of Material: Correction
Neighborly Advice: The community profile about Westwood Hills in the Dec. 30 section misspelled the neighborhood of Little Holmby as Little Homby.

Although the 607 homes here are bordered by busy roads (Sunset to the north, Veteran Avenue to the east and Sepulveda Boulevard to the west), the gently curving hillsides and lamp-lighted streets give Westwood Hills a small-town feel. Many of the about 1,800 residents wind up staying for decades. Homes along some of the ridgelines command stunning views of the Getty and surrounding canyons.

Nearby Westwood Village offers cultural institutions, including the Hammer Museum and the Geffen Theatre, but the shopping and dining choices -- an eclectic selection of vintage- clothing and Urban Outfitter-esque stores and ethnic-food restaurants -- may appeal more to the college crowd.

The Westwood Hills Property Owners Assn. acts as an online coffee klatch where neighbors post contractor and service-person recommendations, neighborhood updates (as well as complaints), lost and found pet notices and job openings.

The network, which was started in 2001, has become a boon to residents, two-thirds of whom are currently on it. To join, residents volunteer to pay a $50 onetime fee and are given access to the e-mail network.


The land was part of the 3,300-acre parcel that Arthur Letts, who founded the Broadway department store chain and opened the first Bullock's, bought in 1919. After his death in 1923, the acreage was sold to his son-in-law Harold Janss.

As a marketing angle, developer Janss tried to entice potential buyers by building model homes in Spanish colonial and Monterey colonial revival styles and naming the area the Streets of Old Monterey in 1930. Despite the Depression, he continued to sell lots throughout the 1930s, and custom homes were built in a wide range of styles.

Several noted architects left their mark on the area, including Allen G. Siple (a favorite of Janss' who built some areas of Westwood Village), Wallace Neff, Percy Parke Lewis (who designed the Fox Theatre in Westwood) and Rudolph Schindler.

Good news, bad news

One of the area's biggest advantages -- its proximity to UCLA, the Wilshire Corridor and major commuting routes -- is also its biggest downside.

Some streets can be noisy, depending on the home's insulation and proximity to the 405. CalTrans' plans for widening the freeway, which could create more noise, remain in limbo.

UCLA and other business districts on the Westside also attract a lot of traffic on the surrounding corridors, which can make traveling at rush hour agonizingly slow.

"It drives me crazy -- it's the biggest problem here. I work at Bundy and Olympic -- three miles from my house -- and it takes me 45 minutes to get home," said Pamela Konkal, a 10-year resident.

Street parking in the village, which must accommodate a growing student population as well as those who work along the Wilshire Corridor, continues to be difficult and can turn even the most mundane errand into an extreme-sport-like challenge.

Housing stock

There were recently five active listings. At the lowest price point, a 2,913-square-foot home with three bedrooms and three bathrooms on a 7,930-square-foot lot is listed at $1,875,000. At the top end, a Colonial-style home with five bedrooms and 5 1/2 bathrooms in 4,756 square feet on an 18,530-square-foot double lot is listed at $2,995,000.

Report card

Westwood Hills children attend schools in L.A. Unified School District. Warner Avenue Elementary School scored 945 out of 1,000 points on the 2007 Academic Performance Growth Index. Emerson Middle School and University High School scored 689 and 638, respectively.



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