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Brentwood, Los Angeles, California

From Academic Kids

This article is about the neighborhood in Los Angeles. For the Contra Costa County town, see Brentwood, California.

Brentwood is a district in western Los Angeles, California.

Located at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains, Brentwood is bordered by Pacific Palisades on the northwest, Santa Monica on the west, West Los Angeles on the south, Bel-Air on the northeast, and Sawtelle and Westwood on the east. The district is bounded by the San Diego Freeway on the east, Wilshire Boulevard on the south, the Santa Monica city limits on the west, and the ridgeline of the Santa Monica Mountains on the north. The area's ZIP code is 90049.

Contents

Demographics

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" (likely including the area's substantial Iranian-American population), nine percent Asian-American and six percent Hispanic or Latino.

The primary secondary household languages (after English) are Spanish and Persian (aka Farsi), 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 $103K, its median family income was $130K, and its median per capita income was $72K.

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.

History

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 and avocados) 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 most important 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 Eastern Star Home, 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 cards and an elephant named Tiny; the tradition is now only sporadically practiced due to funding problems.

Environment

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 Blvd. 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) feature 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.

Transportation

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., 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.

Politics

Along with neighboring Santa Monica, and perhaps all of western Los Angeles, Brentwood has become a byword for "limousine liberalism." In general, the area strongly tends toward a blue state perspective and votes Democratic. Celebrities and wealthy Angelenos who live in the hills often sponsor fundraising dinners for local and national candidates.

Brentwood's representatives in the California State Assembly (Karen Bass, Paul Koretz and Fran Pavley) and U.S. House of Representatives (Henry Waxman) are renowned for their socially liberal views. (Although Waxman, a star of the American left, scores a modest 80 of 100 on the Americans for Democratic Action scorecard, he's rated 95 of 100 by the ACLU.)

Housing

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, Bundy Canyon, Kenter Canyon, Crestwood Hills 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.

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 they would appear modest to most eyes, 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 Almanac, the median value of a single-family home in Brentwood as of 2004 was $1.4 million.

Recreation

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. Dutton's Brentwood Books is a longtime local landmark, that Sunset Magazine calls the 'last of the truly independent bookstores.' 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(though the unwritten rule of the neighborhood is to never approach someone famous directly).

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.

Education

In addition to Brentwood Elementary, the area is served by Kenter Canyon Elementary School and Canyon Elementary School, all three of which are part of Los Angeles Unified School District. Locals attending public school usually go to either Emerson Junior High or Paul Revere Junior High; the local public high schools are University High School (named for nearby UCLA, formerly Warren G. Harding High), just outside the neighborhood's boundaries and often thought to be located in Brentwood, and Pacific Palisades High School, in nearby 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).

Notable residents

Bundy Drive in Brentwood was the site of the notorious murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, and O.J. Simpson's ensuing bizarre slow-speed freeway chase began and ended at his Brentwood mansion.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger lives in the hills above Brentwood, as do a variety of other entertainment industry notables and local politicos, including Steven Speilberg, Jim Carrey, Cindy Crawford, Steven Seagal, Phyllis Diller, Angela Lansbury, Cloris Leachman, former mayor Richard Riordan, and even Wheel of Fortune's Vanna White.

Past celebrity residents have included Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Tyrone Power, Joan Crawford and husbands Franchot Tone and Philip Terry, Barbara Stanwyck and husband Robert Taylor (actor), Anne Baxter, Shirley Temple, Harry Morgan, Marilyn Monroe, classical composer Arnold Schoenberg, and Broadway composer, Meredith Willson, of The Music Man fame. In the 1960s and '70s, TV dads Dick Van Dyke, Don DeFore and Bill Bixby made their homes in the area. Katey Sagal, of TV's Married with Children, grew up in the Mandeville Canyon section of Brentwood. Rock musician Melissa Etheridge lived for a time in Brentwood.

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