Pricey and con­ve­nient iso­la­tion

The af­flu­ent town’s rich vis­tas and slower pace be­lie its lo­ca­tion.


The Cres­centa Val­ley, where the city of La Cañada Flin­tridge now lies, was first per­ma­nently set­tled in 1843 when Ig­na­cio Coronel, a teacher from the nearby pueblo of Los Angeles, was granted the rights to the land by the Mex­i­can govern­ment.

In what would be­come a re­cur­ring theme in the con­tentious his­tory of this nar­row basin be­tween the Ver­dugo and San Gabriel moun­tains, the found­ing of Coronel’s Ran­cho La Cañada caused ten­sions with mem­bers of the Ver­dugo fam­ily — the own­ers of neigh­bor­ing Ran­cho San Rafael — who be­lieved that the rights to the val­ley be­longed to them.

That per­ceived slight set in mo­tion a years-long cam­paign by the fam­ily to take con­trol of the val­ley, a goal that was fi­nally achieved by swap­ping the land on which Bur­bank now sits for Ran­cho La Cañada.

The vic­tory would prove short­lived, how­ever, as the ran­cho sys­tem would soon meet its end at the hands of the newly minted state’s Amer­i­can ad­min­is­tra­tors. The Verdugos lost most of their land in the 1860s, and the first Amer­i­can set­tlers soon be­gan stak­ing out home­steads in the val­ley.

There was soon a small com­mu­nity of trans­planted Eastern­ers liv­ing in La Cañada.

On the other side of the hill was a sim­i­larly com­posed set­tle­ment named La Cres­centa. As with the bat­tle of the rancheros a few decades ear­lier, prox­im­ity bred con­tempt, with wa­ter at the cen­ter of this con­flict. Armed ranch­ers guarded their zan­jas, which dis­trib­uted wa­ter to home­steads in both com­mu­ni­ties, to pre­vent poach­ing of their al­lot­ment.

In the 1900s, elec­tric­ity brought re­lief in the form of elec­tric wells, and with the string­ing of power lines through the passes came trol­leys from Glendale and Los Angeles. Two tracts were laid out

to ac­com­mo­date the de­mand for sub­ur­ban hous­ing: Alta Canyada and Flin­tridge.

Th­ese would form the nu­clei of the modern un­in­cor­po­rated towns of La Cañada and Flin­tridge, re­spec­tively. In the 1960s, neigh­bor would once again con­test with neigh­bor, this time in a dis­pute over whether the two towns should in­cor­po­rate as a sin­gle city to stave off an­nex­a­tion by Glendale and Pasadena.

Ac­cord­ing to “A City at Last!,” the of­fi­cial his­tory of the city­hood saga, it took three tries and 12 years to per­suade the res­i­dents of Flin­tridge to agree to mu­nic­i­pal mat­ri­mony with La Cañada.

Once con­sol­i­da­tion was agreed to, the new city re­moved the hy-

phen from its name to ham­mer home the in­di­vis­i­bil­ity of La Cañada Flin­tridge, today known for its out­stand­ing schools and af­flu­ent res­i­dents.

Neigh­bor­hood high­lights

Val­ley vis­tas: Scenic foothills, Des­canso Gar­dens and prox­im­ity to the Angeles Na­tional For­est give the city an ap­peal­ing semiru­ral feel.

Lo­ca­tion: Home to NASA’s Jet Propul­sion Lab­o­ra­tory and close to Pasadena, Bur­bank and Glendale, and of­fer­ing a man­age­able com­mute to DTLA, La Cañada Flin­tridge is a com­muter’s dream. Splen­did iso­la­tion: It may be close to a lot of places, but it feels worlds away to those who want to leave the city be­hind af­ter hours.

Neigh­bor­hood chal­lenges

Up­mar­ket homes, up­mar­ket

prices: La Cañada Flin­tridge can be pricey, with list­ings in the most sought-af­ter neigh­bor­hoods ask­ing well over $1 mil­lion.

Ex­pert in­sight

Matthew Lit­tell is a res­i­den­tial sales agent with Pod­ley Prop­er­ties and a res­i­dent of La Cañada Flin­tridge. He said the city has been able to main­tain a small-town feel where par­ents feel safe let­ting their chil­dren walk or bike into town, some­thing he said is be­com­ing rarer in the L.A. area.

“Though nu­mer­ous celebri­ties have called La Cañada home — Vince Vaughn, Kevin Cost­ner, Ron Howard, Mi­ley and Billy Ray Cyrus — it still has a low-key qual­ity that is the se­cret to its charm,” he said. “La Cañada has ev­ery­thing you need, but it is not a shop­ping des­ti­na­tion draw­ing peo­ple from out of the area. Park­ing is easy, peo­ple are friendly and ser­vice is ex­cel­lent.”

La Cañada Flin­tridge of­fers a

wide range of homes; the cur­rent in­ven­tory price range is from $700,000 to $7 mil­lion. With in­ven­tory tight, “hav­ing an ad­vo­cate that is well con­nected and aware of up­com­ing homes and pocket list­ings is cru­cial,” Lit­tell said.

Mar­ket snapshot

In June, based on 33 sales, the me­dian sales price for sin­gle­fam­ily homes in the 91011 ZIP Code was $1.775 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to CoreLogic. That was a 14.4% in­crease over the same month the pre­vi­ous year.

Re­port card

La Cañada Elementary, Palm Crest Elementary and Par­adise Canyon Elementary each scored at least 950 out of 1,000 in the 2013 Aca­demic Per­for­mance In­dex. La Cañada High had a score of 937, and nearby Rose­mont Mid­dle scored 937.

Luis Sinco Los Angeles Times

BE­SIDES SPRING­TIME cherry blos­soms, Des­canso Gar­dens has im­pres­sive rose and camel­lia col­lec­tions that at­tract vis­i­tors.

Allen J. Sch­aben Los Angeles Times

NASA’S JET PROPUL­SION Lab­o­ra­tory, which helped launch the Space Age and now has var­ied mis­sions, is in La Cañada Flin­tridge near the Pasadena bor­der.

Ir­fan Khan Los Angeles Times

THERE’S A VA­RI­ETY of home styles, but in­ven­tory is lim­ited.

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