Neighborhood Spotlight: Shadow Hills has no plans to ride away from its semirural lifestyle
By SCOTT GARNER JUL 13, 2018 | 5:30 AM
Click here for link to LA Times Article
One of the best-kept secrets of Los Angeles is the surprising number of equestrian communities scattered along the fringes and tucked into the nooks and crannies of the city’s 469 square miles of plains, hills and mountains.
Relics of L.A.’s agricultural past, when the city was more renowned as a producer of lima beans than of movie stars, these outposts provide direct links to the days when the region was knit together by a network of dusty bridle paths that have long since been paved to make way for our latest beast of burden, the car.
Not surprisingly, the San Fernando Valley has the highest concentration of equestrian communities within the city limits. As a generally suburban island surrounded on all sides by a moat of rugged mountains and hills, it has a development pattern and geography that have conspired to produce pockets of land where horses still graze in the shade of live oaks.
In the far northeastern reaches of the Valley, where the Verdugo Mountains drive a wedge between the 5 and 210 freeways, lies what may be the most fiercely defended remnant of the pastoral past, the horse-centric neighborhood of Shadow Hills.
Actually, the term “neighborhood,” with its connotations of the cheek-by-jowl living most of us experience in the compact confines of our own neighborhoods, may not be the best descriptor. Shadow Hills sprawls across over 12 miles of foothills and mountains and has one of the lowest population densities in the city. It’s a community tied together by one abiding mission: to preserve its semirural character.
Its residents have excelled at executing that goal. One of the sharpest-elbowed homeowners associations in a city notorious for hard-nosed neighborhood groups guards Shadow Hills from the ever-present threats of mailbox thieves, run-down properties, speeders on Sunland Boulevard, and now, the high-speed train.
The fact that Shadow Hills is still home to large lots zoned to allow barns and stables, an intricate web of riding trails and an abundance of chaparral-covered open space, is testament to the association’s focus and pull with City Hall.
All the powers of an activist HOA cannot, however, protect Shadow Hills from the propensity for its scenic sage-covered slopes to send forth raging infernos when the humidity drops and the Santa Ana winds come whipping through its canyons, as happened twice last year.(Los Angeles Times)
Our rights are at risk AGAIN. Please read the letter below concerning AB 516. The LA City Council voted on 6/11/19 to oppose this bill, and Councilwoman Rodriquez made an impassioned speech click here. Cue to 2:23:52
Cue to 2:23:52
SB50 - TERRIBLE IDEA HAS BEEN SET ASIDE UNTIL 2020. Here is a copy & paste of an email sent to the consultant who is analyzing the impact of SB50.
April 10, 2019
Cc: Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, Senator Portantino, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. firstname.lastname@example.org
SB50 - OPPOSE
Dear Mr. Favorini-Csorba:
I am writing this email on behalf of Shadow Hills Property Owners Association, which is located in the N.E. San Fernando Valley, and represents approximately 2200 households. I understand that you are analyzing the effects of SB50.
We are gravely concerned about the impacts that SB50 will have on our own community as well as incorporated and unincorporated cities throughout California. In short, SB50 is out of bounds as it puts developers in charge of City planning!
Cities and/or counties (for unincorporated areas) should be in charge of their own zoning requirements and the state has no right to interfere or to override local ordinances. Addiitionally, homeowner associations will be hindered from representing their communities concerning development in their own neighborhoods.
It is unconscionable to shift the burden to cities that are already dealing with budget shortfalls to providing additional public safety, utilities, and testing the limits of aging water mains, sewer systems, and landfills.
SB50 will turn thousands of streets into high-density areas and cities will have absolutely no say. It gives developers the option to choose their own incentives from a list of bonuses and waivers including removing areas for trees and side yards, NO parking requirements for apartments, the ability to ignore city regulations, loss of “historical zones,” no courtyard/balcony requirements, and no requirement for affordable units. The vehicles owned by residents of these socalled “no car-needed” units will choke local street parking even further. It is folly to think that residents will not own cars and utilize only public transportation. Alternatively, what if these high-rise buildings end up with high vacancy rates because potential residents choose their cars over living in a place where no parking was provided?
· Destroys single family housing and replaces them with 1-unit “anti-family” luxury 85 ft. tall towers;
· Destroys neighborhoods by allowing high rise towers in close proximity to single family residential neighborhoods;
· Disallows cities from stopping construction of luxury towers unless it “hurts public safety”;
· Disallows cities from rejecting demolitions in the targeted areas; and
· Forces low-income communities to upzone themselves by 2025, i.e., conform to SB50.
As bad as SB50 will be for property owners, it’s even worse for renters as it worsens the gentrification and displacement crisis. Landlords of existing apartment buildings that survive being demolished will be able to raise rents to benefit from the new “luxury apartments” in the neighborhood.
California has a housing crisis and SB50 will make it even worse. Cities must retain the ability to enact and enforce their own zoning laws which ideally are based on the needs of their communities. Lack of housing is not a crisis for wealthy residents; it is a crisis for low and moderate-income families. Granting developers carte blanche to build luxury high-rise apartments/condominiums through ruining community character, displacing residents, and gentrification is a terrible and immoral means. It's the worst of slippery slopes by putting zoning decisions in the lap of developers whose carpet bagging ways will destroy our neighborhoods and create more tension between the have's and have-nots.
We urge you to oppose SB50 and to allow local agencies to continue their right to enact their own zoning laws.
President, Shadow Hills Property Owners Association
The neighs have it: Shadow Hills knows what it wants, and it wants horses. For those looking for a place to wholeheartedly dive into the equestrian lifestyle, this is undoubtedly it.
Hidden architectural gems: Lest you think Shadow Hills is all barns and log cabins, it boasts a number of Midcentury Modern homes, including designs by John Lautner and others.
A convenient retreat: Although Shadow Hills prizes its semirural feel, it is convenient to all the major studios in the Valley, as well as Pasadena via the 210.
All horses, all the time: For those suffering from equinophobia, Shadow Hills — with its many, many hoofed residents — may be a hard pass.
Janaka Perera, an agent with Perch Properties active in the area for 14 years, described Shadow Hills as a close-knit community.
“There’s a daily e-newsletter that goes around, so if someone loses a pet or has a break-in, everybody can know about it,” Perera said.
He added that Shadow Hills estimated that 70% of residents own horses and more than 90% of properties are equestrian-zoned. As asphalt replaces more of the neighborhood’s dirt roads, however, the vibe is shifting.
“It’s not uncommon to find 5-acre properties here, but in recent years, people are splitting the larger lots,” Perera said.
As a result, the area’s mix of ranch, Spanish Colonial and Midcentury-style homes often sit on 2 or 3 acres — slightly smaller than in years past.
In the 91040 ZIP Code, based on 25 sales, the median sales price for single-family homes in May was $670,000, up 13.6% year over year, according to CoreLogic.
The two public schools within the Shadow Hills boundaries — Stonehurst Avenue Elementary and Vinedale Elementary — scored 817 and 774, respectively, on the 2013 Academic Performance Index.
Two schools in the surrounding area scored over 900: Abraham Lincoln Elementary, at 915 and Dunsmore Elementary, at 908.
Times staff writer Jack Flemming contributed to this report.