Help me become a Valley Girl in 2016.
September 9, 2016 6:15 AM   Subscribe

Mr. shesbookish just accepted a new job in Chatsworth, CA in the San Fernando Valley. We're moving there from Irvine in Orange County, which we love and we're hoping to find a place with a similar feel in the Valley. Does such a place exist? And would he have a reasonable commute to Chatsworth from said place?

What we love about Irvine:

1. 1,200 sqft. two bedroom apartment that is fairly new and has nice finishes.
2. Walkable neighborhood where I feel safe going to the grocery store by myself at night.
3. Close to a few universities, since I work in higher ed.
4. Easy drive to small independent stores and funky craft workshops in Costa Mesa and Fullerton.

Is there a place that checks most or all of these boxes in the SFV?
posted by shesbookish to Travel & Transportation around San Fernando Valley, CA (11 answers total)
Pierce jr college and Cal state Northridge are both nearby.

The sf valley is pretty much car-centric and the only indie crafty place googling turns up is Standing Bear's Trading Post, which specializes in leathercraft.
posted by brujita at 7:06 AM on September 9, 2016

Studio City, stay near Ventura Blvd for walkable. Some parts of North Hollywood. They're not perfectly safe but you get more of a city/walkable vibe around there.
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 7:17 AM on September 9, 2016

Well, you've got plenty of neighborhoods to explore to find out. Check out walkscores for different places in the area and judge accordingly. Like J&L says above, the same neighborhood can have parts that are pedestrian dreamlands and parts that are car commuter wastelands. Studio City, Burbank, North Hollywood, etc. ... they all have places you might be interested in (and have tie-ins to LA's public transit infrastructure). And that's not even considering going over the hills and looking at places like Thousand Oaks (where California Lutheran University and Moorpark College are). Lots of neat places in the valley. I used to love going to Continental Art Supplies in Reseda whenever I'd pass through.

LA offers a lot. Poke around.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:07 AM on September 9, 2016

Simi valley is nearby and not part of LA county. A sizable portion of residents are employed by LAPD.
posted by brujita at 8:48 AM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I live in Northridge, Chatsworth-adjacent. I'm not sure which aspect of Irvine you're looking to replicate, but Porter Ranch is probably where you want to be. They fixed the methane problem. Simi Valley is your runner up, but I'm a huge proponent of living close to where you work and avoiding highways, and Simi is slightly too separated geologically (mountains/hills) to get back and forth entirely by surface streets. If you're going to go that far away, maybe look at Calabasas/Agoura Hills/Woodland Hills, which I think will mostly let you avoid the 101 for commute.

Granada Hills, over in my direction, does actually have a gentrifying area that is walkable as long as you live pretty close to Devonshire or Chatsworth roads between Lindley and Balboa-ish. But that means there are still people of color and poor people left there, and I don't know if that's what you were coding as "safe to walk around". We don't really have that much scary crime here in general, by LA standards.

Nothing is hugely walkable*. Nothing that's worth a two-hour commute. I cannot say in strong enough terms that there's very little lifestyle that's worth having to cross over the Sepulveda Pass in either direction at rush hours.

*In the residential areas of Chatsworth-Northridge-Granada Hills, which are all also relatively but not entirely flat, there is a decent distribution of grocery-drug-food shopping centers so that you probably could walk/bike no more than a mile or two for most of your needs. I wouldn't say a ton of people choose to.

I love it here, I love how much space we can afford here compared to closer to the cool stuff, and I've got access to pretty much anything I need on a daily basis. But I am a fan of quiet (I am not entirely sure who lives in my neighborhood, but I think it might be almost entirely grandparents - MeMail me if you're into that and I'll tell you where I am), and I like suburban sprawl, and that's pretty much mostly what you get in the Valley, though I'm starting to see new mixed-use construction going up.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:04 AM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I live near the Sherman Oaks/Studio City line off Ventura and have never fully shaken my east coast attitude so I still do most things on foot. I can walk to about a half dozen different grocery stores and there is a new bar or restaurant opening every other weekend, it seems. I think this area is really great but it unfortunately happens to be on the opposite side of the valley so it might be too far. I work from home and so have no sense of commute issues.

For closer in, I lived in the Warner Center area of Woodland Hills for about a year and eventually left because I wanted to be closer to the action, but it can also be walkable and has some interesting things to do. There's a lot to be said for the proximity of Topanga State Park and Upper Las Virgenes Open Space Preserve (one of my personal favorite hidden gem parks in LA) and there's a huge new outdoor mall thing with a lot of new stores and shops.
posted by feloniousmonk at 9:38 AM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

We were in Woodland Hills for a few years and rather liked it. "West of Ventura Blvd" was the direction we were given, and it was reasonably pleasant (the Calabasas Farmers Market is outstanding). The proximity to Topanga and the evening breeze that comes over the canyon from the ocean are definite pluses.
posted by emmet at 9:52 AM on September 9, 2016

Best answer: When I have to go to town for work, I cross the Valley on surface roads all the way to Burbank or Ventura Blvds. I'm going the wrong way for what someone would do if they live down near Ventura/Sherman Oaks and come up, but I would call traffic fairly manageable at least up to 7:45am. In the evenings it's a little worse, but if you use Waze it's probably tolerable. But that can still mean easily 30-50-minute drives if there's any congestion at all. I don't hate it (I mean, compared to crossing the Pass...), and my husband who has to do it a lot more often finds it tolerable.

(Looking at our travel tracker, he drove to a meeting in Calabasas last week, it was 12.7 miles each way and at 10:30am it took 25 minutes to get there and at 11:15 it took 30 to get back. So do not make a mile = minute assumption on these distances, you're never going that fast.)

Also, OP, you may notice on the map that there is a Chatsworth metro rail station, but look at its schedule before you make any decisions based on that.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:44 AM on September 9, 2016

Another vote for Studio City/NH. In particular, Valley Village is lovely and reasonably walkable (by SFV standards). It is not super close to Chatsworth, however. Depending on what your tolerance for traffic is, that might be an issue for you.

Chatsworth itself has a pretty Irvine vibe to it, though there is not much to walk to. I do NOT recommend the neighborhoods directly south of it- Canoga Park, for example. A bit sketchy at times and definitely full of wide, busy streets that smell of exhaust.

Also good, as recommended above, is Porter Ranch. It is a much more recently developed area; it has newer construction and has a "development" feel. People I know who like that kind of thing really enjoy Porter Ranch.
posted by bluejayway at 11:37 AM on September 9, 2016

I live in Studio City/North Hollywood area, and because of my kid's activity, I go to Northridge 2-3 times a week. Do yourself an enormous favor and live out there, in Porter Ranch. Everything Lyn Never says is spot on.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:05 PM on September 9, 2016

For crime/safety stuff check the LA Times Crime Map.

You probably won't find anything quite as safe as Irvine (which is regularly rated one of the safest cities in the country), but there are huge variations inside the city of LA. And its not obvious by looking --- my Hollywood neighborhood is very expensive but ranks in the top 2% for property crimes and top 10% for violent crime.

Studio City, for example, is actually very low on violent crime and not terrible on property crime.
posted by thefoxgod at 5:14 PM on September 9, 2016

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