Brentwood Community Information
Brentwood is a district in the West Los Angeles region of Los Angeles, California, United States. Brentwood, CA real estate is a very hot commodity in the region of Los Angeles as it has a lively atmosphere that matches its culture.
The area that is now Brentwood was part of the Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica, a Spanish land-grant ranch sold off in pieces to Anglos after Mexico’s defeat in the Mexican-American War. An agricultural district (soybeans, avocados, et al.) at the time of its annexation by Los Angeles in 1916, Brentwood is now one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, and one of the prominent districts of the Westside. It has prosperous commercial districts along each of its major east-west thoroughfares (Wilshire, San Vicente and Sunset). It is largely populated by professionals and executives.
Local traditions include the Maypole erected each year on the lawn of the Archer School for Girls, carrying on the tradition set by the Eastern Star Home that it replaced, and the annual decoration of the coral trees with holiday lights. Inspired by the adjacent Los Angeles National Cemetery and the community of veterans resident at the nearby Veterans Admininistration center, Brentwood once regularly hosted a Memorial Day parade, complete with a flotilla of classic cars and an elephant named Tiny; the tradition is now only sporadically practiced due to funding problems.
Brentwood, like nearby Santa Monica, is kept fairly cool by marine breezes off the Pacific Ocean and frequently wakes to the so-called “marine layer,” a cover of clouds brought in at night and burned off by mid-morning. The topography of the area is generally split into two, broadly divided by Sunset Boulevard. North of Sunset, the area is defined by the ridges and canyons created by the Santa Monica Mountains; south of Sunset (exceptions include Franklin Hill), the area is relatively flat. The southern district (and the neighboring Westgate-Sawtelle areas) features underground springs which bubble up into a small creek along “the Gully” in south Brentwood near the golf course, and in the “Indian Springs” (the springs were formerly the site of a Tongva campsite) portion of the University High School campus.
San Vicente Boulevard, considered the “Main Street” of Brentwood, is divided by a wide median on which stand many large coral trees. The median and the trees replaced the derelict Pacific Electric track, and the trees have become a Historic-Cultural Monument (#148) for the city of Los Angeles. (Brentwood boosters have adopted the silhouette of a coral tree as a de facto town logo.) Bundy Drive is lined with extremely tall date palms, likely planted by the district’s original developer.
Important residential subdistricts (some defined by original developers, some defined by present-day local realtors) include Brentwood Park, Brentwood Flats, Brentwood Heights, Brentwood Highlands, Brentwood Circle, South Brentwood, Westgate, Mandeville Canyon, Mountaingate, Bundy Canyon, Kenter Canyon, Crestwood Hills, Brentwood Hills, Brentwood Country Estates, Brentwood Glen and Westridge Hills. Brentwood Park is notable for its layout, having been designed around several large traffic circles, a handful of which remain. There is also a cluster of architecturally significant mid-century modern residences in the subdivision of Crestwood Hills.
The area between Sunset and San Vicente west of Kenter/Bundy is referred to as Brentwood Park and directly to the east of Brentwood Park lies Westgate. The Brentwood Hills are home to Mount St. Mary’s College and the Getty Center. Between Sunset Blvd. and the Brentwood Hills lie Bundy and Kenter Canyons; Crestwood Hills is located in the northern part of Kenter Canyon. The gated community east of Barrington and north of Sunset is Brentwood Circle. The westernmost part of Brentwood is Mandeville Canyon. The western portions of Mandeville Canyon are now refered to as Westridge Heights. The part of Brentwood that is bounded by Sunset, the 405 Freeway and the Veterans Administration is called Brentwood Glen. South Brentwood lies between San Vicente and Wilshire Boulevards and the eastern boundary of Santa Monica.
Major thoroughfares include Sunset, San Vicente and Wilshire Boulevards; Barrington and Montana Avenues; and Bundy Drive. Brentwood is also situated close to the Wilshire, Montana and Sunset exits of the 405 freeway.
Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus serves Brentwood with its 2, 3, 4, 11 and 13 bus lines. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) buses serve Brentwood include the 20 and 420 lines on Wilshire Blvd. (the latter of which is L.A.’s most successful bus rapid transit line), and several lines along Sunset Blvd.
Once linked to Los Angeles by a Pacific Electric Railway track on San Vicente, Brentwood is now part of a dispute over the future of public transportation in Los Angeles. In a controversial move protested by business owners, but which substantially increased bus speed through the Westside, the Metro has reserved the outermost lane of Wilshire Boulevard through Brentwood in each direction as a bus-only lane during rush hour, in a possible precursor to the adoption of bus rapid transit service along the entire length of Wilshire.
However, the difficulty of getting into and out of Brentwood by any means but private automobile (aggravated by the Metro’s cancellation of several “nanny bus” lines connecting the district to poorer areas of Los Angeles) has led to widespread calls for an extension of the Wilshire Boulevard leg of Metro’s Red Line subway, which currently ends at Western Avenue in Koreatown, through Brentwood to Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica; a Brentwood stop would presumably be sited in the business district near Barrington Avenue.
According to the Los Angeles Almanac, the 2000 census-year population was just under 42,000, with a population density of about 2,700 people per square mile. The population is about 80 percent White, nine percent Asian-American and six percent Hispanic or Latino. Brentwood has a significant Iranian community that is classified as white by the U. S. Census.
The primary secondary household languages (after English) are Spanish and Persian (called Fârsi in Persian), with Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German, French and Hebrew also spoken at home in statistically significant numbers.
As of 1999, Brentwood’s median household income was $103,000; its median family income was $130,000; and its median per capita income was $72,000.
As of the 2000 census, among people over age 25, approximately five percent of the population had no high school degree, eight percent had only a high school diploma, 15 percent of the population had some college education but no degree, 37 percent of the population had a bachelor’s degree, 15 percent had a master’s degree, and 16 percent had either a doctorate or a professional degree.
As of 2000, there were just over 22,000 housing units in Brentwood. Most Brentwood residents reside in single-family homes, many of which-while seemingly modest in style, square footage and lot size-would rarely sell for less than $750,000 due to the area’s high housing costs. There are many spectacular mansions and multi-million-dollar estates located in the hilly areas north of Sunset. There are also large, modern apartment complexes and condominiums located on most of district’s primary and secondary thoroughfares, many of which are home to young professionals and students attending nearby UCLA. According to the Los Angeles Almanac, the median value of a single-family home in Brentwood as of 2004 was $1.4 million.
Popular recreational spots include the Brentwood Country Mart, an early farmer’s market complex built in 1947; the Brentwood Village, a small shopping district near the intersection of Sunset and Barrington; and more recently, Brentwood Green, a “village commons” created from the playground at Brentwood Science Magnet Elementary School. There is also a tented farmer’s market held each Sunday on a strip of Gretna Green Way between Brentwood Elementary and the Brentwood Country Club. The 2.7-mile-long (4.3 km) boundary of the private Brentwood Country Club is a popular local jogging route. The internationally renowned Getty Museum is located in the hills high above Brentwood, near the 405 freeway and the Sepulveda Pass.
Public open space is limited in the area, but green space with occasional or partial free public use can be found at the VA and on Brentwood Common. Local public parks are Crestwood Hills Park and Barrington Recreation Center, the latter of which features a community center, tennis courts, soccer fields, baseball diamonds and a dog park. Fire roads in the Santa Monica Mountains, good for mountain biking and hiking, can be accessed at the top of Sullivan Canyon and Westridge.
Economy and businesses
Dutton’s Brentwood Books is a longtime local landmark, and an institution Sunset magazine calls the “last of the truly independent bookstores.” The grocery store Vicente Foods is another longtime local hangout where stars of movies and TV can be seen going about their mundane shopping errands, just like anyone else (although the unwritten rule of the neighborhood is to never approach someone famous directly). In addition, Brent-Air Pharmacy, which is still run by the founding Lassoff family, has served Brentwood for more than 50 years. The drug store has been the scene of many famous scandals and, like its defunct downtown L.A. cousin Schwab’s, is known as the pharmacy to the stars, where many now-notable actors and actresses worked as delivery boys or “candy counter” girls.
In addition to Brentwood Science Magnet Elementary, the area is served by Kenter Canyon Elementary School and Brockton Elementary School, all three of which are part of Los Angeles Unified School District. Locals attending public school usually go to either Emerson Middle School or Paul Revere Middle School; the local public high schools are University High School (named for nearby UCLA, formerly Warren G. Harding High), just outside the neighborhood’s boundaries in West Los Angeles and often thought to be located in Brentwood, and Palisades Charter High School, in the nearby neighborhood of Pacific Palisades.
Brentwood is also home to several private schools, including Brentwood School, St. Martin of Tours Catholic School, and the Archer School for Girls, located in what was once the historic Eastern Star Home. The old Eastern Star Home can be seen as the setting of the “Mar Vista Rest Home” in the movie Chinatown (1974).
One of the two campuses of Mount St. Mary’s College, a Roman Catholic liberal arts college for women, is located in the hills above Brentwood (the other is located in downtown Los Angeles, near USC).
Perhaps the most infamous resident to ever enjoy a drive along San Vicente Blvd. was former football legend O.J. Simpson. Bundy Drive in Brentwood was the site of the notorious murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, and O.J.’s ensuing bizarre slow-speed freeway chase began and ended at his Brentwood mansion on North Rockingham Ave.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger lives in the hills above Mandeville Canyon in Brentwood, and other entertainment industry notables and local politicos live nearby, including Alanis Morissette, Steven Spielberg, Jim Carrey, Cindy Crawford, Steven Seagal, Phyllis Diller, Angela Lansbury, Cloris Leachman, former mayor Richard Riordan, Academy Award Winning Actress Reese Witherspoon, and Wheel of Fortune‘s Vanna White. Today, Monica Lewinsky’s father lives in the area and during her notoriety she was often referred to as having come from Brentwood, though she was raised elsewhere.
Past celebrity residents of the 1940s and 1950s included: Gary Cooper; Clark Gable; Tyrone Power; Keenan Wynn; Cesar Romero; Joan Crawford and husbands Franchot Tone and Philip Terry; Henry Fonda and second wife, socialite Frances Ford Seymour; football and television star Tom Harmon; designer and architect Paul László; mob boss Mickey Cohen; Fred MacMurray and wife June Haver; Barbara Stanwyck and husband Robert Taylor; Ruth Hussey; Shirley Temple; and classical composers Arnold Schoenberg and Erich Korngold.
In the 1960s and 1970s, TV dads Dick Van Dyke, Don DeFore and Bill Bixby all made their homes in the area. Other 1960s-era residents included Marilyn Monroe; Anne Baxter; Judy Garland and her three children after her second divorce; actress Patricia Barry; actor Harry Morgan; and Broadway composer, Meredith Willson, of The Music Man-fame. Katey Sagal, of TV’s Married… with Children, grew up in the Mandeville Canyon section of Brentwood during that time.
In the 1990s, Rock musician Melissa Etheridge lived for a time in on Westridge Road in Brentwood. In fact, her former home was then purchased by actor Ben Affleck who lived there with his wife, Jennifer Garner, though the couple have subsequently moved away, according to the L.A. Times. Many of the Jackson brothers of the original Jackson 5 fame lived in Brentwood as well
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