3842083_origLake Balboa, California

Lake Balboa is small, relatively new neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley basin. Less than a decade old, officially, the area has been confused with surrounding neighborhoods regularly.  The relative affordability with the still convenient location and proximity to neighborhoods like Encino and Sherman Oaks makes Lake Balboa a great option – particularly finding a niche with the first time home buyer crowd.  For this reason, it is starting to garner a reputation as a solid up-and-coming piece of suburbia.  The crowning jewel of this area is Lake Balboa Park from which the city took its name.

Neighborhood Guide

Lake Balboa’s distant history is much like the rest of the San Fernando Valley.  For more than 8,000 years, The Fernandeno & Chumash Native American tribes settled much of the area.  Spanish missions moved into the area beginning with the Portola Expedition in 1769, and eventually Isaac Lankershim and Newton Van Nuys cultivated most of the valley in 1869.  Familiar valley names, such as Harry Chandler, Hobart Whitley, and Moses Sherman all had hands in converting the area into suburbia throughout the 20th century.

A few major milestones happened to influence Lake Balboa’s growth: the construction of the Sepulveda & Hanson Dams and the end of World War II. A public outcry for better water control came after major floods in 1914 and 1938, leading to the Hanson Dam completion in 1940 and Sepulveda Dam in 1941.  The creation of these Dams helped redivert the water and make more areas safe for building – which came just at the right time for the returning GI soldiers.  As the war ended, soldiers came home and began to start families after World War II.  The additional population needs coupled with the increasing opportunity to build saw a huge building boom.  By then the area was mostly known as a section of Van Nuys.  Finally in 2006 plans began to be laid out to split off from Van Nuys and create the Lake Balboa area, named after the lake created by Sepulveda Dam.  Finally in November of 2007 the formalities were put in place and Lake Balboa was given it its own zip code.  To this date, many homes listed for sale will still sport the Van Nuys address.  This is because agents must list the address on the tax records, and if previous sales occurred prior to the name change, it would still be recorded as Van Nuys.

Public Schools:
Los Angeles Unified School District operates the public schools in Lake Balboa.
Elementary schools include:

  1. Anatola Avenue Elementary
  2. Gault Street Elementary
  3. Lemay Street Elementary
  4. Stagg Street Elementary

Middle schools include:

  1. William Mulholland Middle School

High schools include:

  1. Birmingham High School
  2. Daniel Pearl Magnet High School
  3. High Tech LA School

Private Schools:

  1. St. Bridget of Sweden School
  2. The City School
Short of it’s namesake, the majority of Lake Balboa is known for its sleepy residential streets. Most forms of recreation and shopping can be found in nearby communities such as Encino, Northridge, Van Nuys and Sherman Oaks.  That being said, idyllic small neighborhood parks such as Louise Park and Jesse Owens Mini-Park offer sanctuary from a tough day.

More than anything, the crown jewel is the Sepulveda River Basin. Woodley Park is the smaller of the two parks within the Sepulveda River Basin.  One of the coolest parts of the park is the Apollo 3 Flight Field, an archery range, and various fields, barbecue areas, and play areas.  Nearby also sits Anthony C. Beilenson (formerly known as Balboa Park) Park, the larger location which includes the lake itself.  Of the 80 acres that Beilenson covers, the lake covers 27 of those acres.  Bring a fishing poll or a boat without a motor if a little quiet time is how you prefer to unwind.  A popular pastime of many residents is to come feed the ducks – although there are several signs strictly prohibiting it.

Lastly, a wildlife preservation area is the perfect place to continue that birdwatching and see some small critters. Several groups, such as the Audubon Society and Sierra Club lead tours on weekends.

If you want to be outdoors, but don’t feel like lounging around the park, perhaps the Japanese Gardens are more your thing.  A hidden jewel in the Valley, the Japanese Gardens are located next to the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant and a place that many residents find sanctuary.

For perhaps a more robust afternoon of activity, try the Van Nuys Golf Course instead.  ONe little tidbit: the Van Nuys airport IS stil in Van Nuys.  When lines were drawn for the newly formed Lake Balboa, part of the deal to split off was to leave the airport as part of Van Nuys and to draw the Lake Balboa lines around it.

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