The question of whether The Valley Observed is needed was tossed around last week on some Los Angeles blogs. The topic sparked passion you wouldn’t see if the question were “should there be a Silver Lake blog?” or a website devoted to downtown. LAist, where the subject came up, got more comments than usually weigh in on any topic there. That alone makes a strong statement about there being a place for a Valley website.
You can probably guess where I come from on on the question. Of course there should be a San Fernando Valley-centric website—many of them, in fact—just as there should be more blogs about Silver Lake and every other Los Angeles community. That the San Fernando Valley has more people than all but five other U.S. cities—and any other section of Los Angeles—just makes it more obvious. I have argued that the Valley today is closer to Los Angeles than ever in their histories, but even so the Valley remains distinct geographically and culturally. Not completely, but enough to matter. The city agrees: I cribbed the logo from an official street sign in Sepulveda Pass. I could also have used the Caltrans sign on the 405 that reads “Entering San Fernando Valley.”
Of course the core of the debate, if that’s what it is, is how separate denizens of the Valley are from the Los Angeles sphere over the hill. Some think the lopsided citywide no vote on secession vote ends the discussion—except that a majority in the Valley voted yes. Even many who oppose severing the city—or who didn’t much care, like me—realize that the Valley is not fully of Los Angeles and never has been. The Valley was not Los Angeles for much longer than it has fallen within the city limits. In 91 years of arranged marriage there has been just one mayor from the Valley (Sam Yorty of Studio City.) So The Valley Observed and LA Observed are neither contradictory nor redundant. They are quite different from each other, more even than the Valley is from coastal Los Angeles.
This website has less to do with the San Fernando Valley: America’s Suburb than at any time since it began—though of course I encourage you to buy the book! The Valley Observed mixes talk about San Fernando Valley lore and culture with relevant news and observations. Everything that used to be on the old America’s Suburb site is still here, but it’s easier to find now and will be joined by some new topics. Enjoy.