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Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Me Tarzana, You LA

Los Angeles can be a confusing place, all these cities and counties stitched together with highways and streets so numerous that the same street names repeat in city after city with no connection to their counterparts. We navigate so often with numbers that directions end up resembling math homework — 101 to 405 to 10 to 1… I'm not even going to start in on the area codes mess. There are plenty of others debating that hot, four-button issue. Rather, let's consider the frustration potential of listening to some westsiders explain the maximum distance a home can be from the Beverly Hills City Limits and still legitimately be referred to by the listing agent as "Beverly Hills adjacent." And, while we're in Beverly Hills, why is it that San Vicente Boulevard runs through Beverly Hills and San Vicente Boulevard runs through Brentwood, but I can't get there from here by taking San Vicente Boulevard?

LA doesn't just have traffic snarls, it can tangle your mind as well. There are more than 100 municipalities in the Greater Los Angeles Area, so many that even people who have lived here all their lives are unfamiliar with the names of some of them. To make it worse, there are many districts and census-designated places, like Mentone, which I thought was a breath mint until some friends bought a home there. Prior to that I was unaware Mentone existed, let alone that it had a beach, and a motto — Mentone, Home of "Oranges on the Rocks."

Given all that, some slack is probably due news outlets like LiveScience.com, which has become a go-to source for weather science news on a few of the news blogs I read. Still, the mistake in a recent LiveScience report is one that others have made before, and continue to make. So here it is again:
Woodland Hills, near Los Angeles, reported a new record of 21 days with maximum temperatures exceeding 100 degrees.
Yes, Woodland Hills is hot. No it's not "near" Los Angeles.

The City of Santa Monica is "near" Los Angeles, but Woodland Hills is in Los Angeles. Try as the San Fernando Valley might to secede, it's as much a part of the City of LA as Hollywood, or Venice.

Call them districts if you have to call them something, but don't make the mistake of calling them cities. Yes there's a mayor of Hollywood, but that doesn't make it a city any more than Ryan Seacrest being named Queen of the West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval makes it a monarchy, which brings up one more important point. West Hollywood is a city surrounded by Los Angeles.

Maps can make this all the more confusing. Jurisdictional lines become hard to read, shading can be vague. And although Wikipedia may not be perfect, at least it seems to have a grasp on what goes where in LA, unless you're trying to take San Vicente Boulevard from Beverly Hills to San Vicente Boulevard in Brentwood, in which case, you might want to go with Mapquest.

— T.J. Sullivan
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