Shady lane

Trees add character and help cool tract homes along Aldea Avenue. (Stephen Osman / LAT)

Encino, named after the Spanish word for the shady oak trees that have graced the land for hundreds of years, retains a strong sense of its place in San Fernando Valley history.


The Gabrielino Indians settled in the area, which was a popular stopping place on trade routes, because of its natural springs. More than a million artifacts have been found in the vicinity, including European beads thought to be gifts from Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola, who led the first European expedition in 1769 to what is now the San Fernando Valley.

Neighborly Advice —The July 17 Neighborly Advice column in the Real Estate section incorrectly referred to Encino as a city. It is a community of Los Angeles. The story also mistakenly located Encino Town Center at Hayvenhurst Avenue and Ventura Boulevard. It is on Ventura Boulevard between Amestoy and Louise avenues.

Drawing card

The community's residents enjoy the convenience of a central location along the Valley's southern boundary.

"You can go north or south on the 405, and east or west on the 101," said Gerald A. Silver, president of Homeowners of Encino. "The low crime rate and good-quality schools are an attraction here."

Homeowners of Encino works closely with another homeowners group, the Encino Property Owners Assn., to maintain the area's character. The groups have banded together to fight traffic congestion, noise from nearby Van Nuys Airport and overdevelopment.

Encino has always been a magnet for celebrities. In the 1930s, the community named entertainer Al Jolson its honorary mayor. Today, Stephanie Zimbalist, Shirley Jones and Marty Ingels are among those who call it home.

But Encino has earned its fame for more than just its residents. The Sepulveda Dam Recreation Area, just a few miles from Ventura Boulevard, is a haven for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts.

Height restrictions keep most commercial buildings on Ventura Boulevard to low-rises, giving the area a somewhat open feel. The Encino Town Center, which houses a movie theater, restaurants and a cluster of stores on Ventura Boulevard between Amestoy and Louise avenues, serves as the "town square."

Stock report

Most of the community's homes were built in the 1950s, in ranch or contemporary styles; offerings include prewar tract homes in older sections of the community and large estates on land that was once ranches or farms.

Marly Tempel, an agent with Coldwell Banker, called Encino the "Beverly Hills of the Valley" because of the high income level of many residents. Tempel added, "It's a melting pot here, with a large Russian, Iranian and Armenian community."

On a recent day, the least expensive house listed for sale was a 981-square-foot, two-bedroom, one-bathroom place for $539,000. At the other end of the price range was a 7,000-square-foot, six-bedroom, six-bathroom house for $3.9 million.

Condominiums, Tempel said, are also popular, and listings ranged from $189,990 for a 465-square-foot studio to $850,000 for a 1,985-square-foot, two-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath unit.

Insider's view

Encino is a family-oriented community. There's an Easter egg hunt every year and events at Los Encinos State Historic Park. There are hiking trails and areas to bicycle.