The Tree that Started Everything

Photo of Encino from Encino Neighborhood Council

Encino is a vibrant city located in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, California. Known for its rich history and beautiful oak trees, Encino has a unique backstory that dates back to the 1700s. The city was originally home to the Gabrielino Native Americans and was colonized by the Spanish in 1769. The Spanish named the area “Encino” which means “oak tree” in Spanish.

In the 1800s, the land in Encino was acquired by Vincent De La Ossa, who established a large adobe ranch. The area continued to develop and by the early 20th century, Encino had become a major center of business and high-end shopping. Today, Encino is home to many celebrities from the entertainment industry.

The history of Encino is closely tied to the land and its natural resources. The Spanish Portolá expedition of 1769 was the first to see the inland areas of California, traveling through the Sepulveda Pass into the San Fernando Valley. The expedition was greeted by several hundred Gabrielino Indians near Encino Springs, which was named after the oak trees that grew in the area.

In 1810, as a result of the Mexican Revolution, Rancho Los Encinos was granted to the favored Gabrielino Indians. At that time, the rancho covered about seven square miles. However, with the coming of U.S. laws and taxes in the 1840s, the heirs of the original land grant lost ownership of the land, and it eventually ended up in the hands of Vincent De La Ossa.

Today, Encino is a city that offers a unique blend of history, luxury and nature. The city is home to many beautiful parks, including Los Encinos State Historic Park, which is a great place to explore the area’s rich history and natural beauty. With its upscale amenities, tree-lined streets, and beautiful homes, Encino is a perfect place for those looking for a luxurious and peaceful living experience.

Encino’s Diverse Parks and Landscapes

To start of the list, let’s talk about the origin of the city’s name. The area of Encino has a rich history that dates back to over a thousand years ago, when it was home to a massive California live oak tree known as the Encino Oak Tree. The name Encino is believed to have been derived from this tree, which is Spanish for “evergreen” or “holm oak.” This tree was known for its size and longevity, however it was felled by an El Niño storm in 1998 and a monument now stands at the corner of Ventura Boulevard and Louise Avenue where the Encino Oak once stood.

Photo of The Great Encino Oak Tree from Los Angeles Public Library
Photo of the stump of the great oak tree from Los Angeles Public Library

Los Encinos State Historic Park in Encino, California is a 5-acre park that is operated by California State Parks. The park features historic buildings such as the original nine room de la Ossa Adobe, the Garnier Building, a blacksmith shop, a pond, and a natural spring. Visitors can also enjoy picnic grounds and a small museum. The park faced closure in 2009 due to California’s budget crisis but remains open to this day.

Photo of the Los Encinos State Historic Park by State Park Closure Trips

The Balboa Sports Complex offers a range of recreational activities such as lighted baseball diamond, lighted outdoor basketball courts, a children’s play area, a community room, a lighted football field, a lighted handball court, an indoor gymnasium without weights and with a capacity for 400 people, an unlighted soccer field, lighted tennis courts, and lighted volleyball courts.

Photo of Balboa Sports Complex from City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks

The Sepulveda Basin Off-leash Dog Park is a 6.5-acre dog park with a 0.5-acre small dog area, an on-leash picnic area, 100 parking spots, and public telephones.

The Sepulveda Basin Off-leash Dog park. Photo by Benjamin Gottlieb

The Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area is a large, recreational area that offers a variety of activities such as golfing, tennis, soccer, baseball, biking and more. It also has a lake surrounded by 2,000 Pink Cloud cherry trees that bloom in the spring.

Sepulveda Basin and Lake Balboa with the signature Cherry trees. Photo from Great Runs

The Rich Population and Education of Encino

As of the year 2000, the population of Encino was recorded at 41,905 residents, with a population density of 4,411 people per square mile. By 2008, the population was estimated to have increased to 44,581. The median age of residents in 2000 was 42, which is considered older compared to other neighborhoods in the city and county. The majority of the population was white, making up 80.1%, followed by Latinos at 8.5%, Asians at 4.9%, blacks at 2.4%, and other at 4.1%. The most common places of birth for those born abroad were Iran and Russia, making up 30.1% and 6.4% of the population respectively.

The median household income in 2008 dollars was $78,529, which is considered high for the city. The majority of households earned $125,000 or more, which is also high for Los Angeles County. The average household size was 2.3 people, which is low compared to the rest of the city and county. Renters occupied 38.4% of the housing stock and homeowners held 61.6%. The percentages of divorced residents and widowed individuals were high for the county. In 2000, 10.6% of the population were military veterans, which is a high rate for the county.

In 2000, 46% of Encino residents aged 25 and older had earned a four-year degree, which is high for both the city and county. The percentage of residents with a master’s degree or higher was also high for the county. Encino is served by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and has several schools within its boundaries, including Hesby Oaks Leadership Charter School, Encino Charter Elementary School, Emelita Street Elementary School, Fred E. Lull Special Education Center, and Lanai Road Elementary School.

Facade of Hesby Oaks Leadership Charter School. Photo from Schoolmint

However, as of 2009, there were no public high schools in Encino, with only Birmingham High School in Lake Balboa and Reseda High School in Reseda serving students in the area. In 1982, Rhoda Street Elementary School in Encino was considered for closure by the school board, and in 1984, it was ultimately voted to close the school which had 262 students at the time.

Old photo of Rhoda Street School. Photo from the Rhoda Street Elementary School Facebook Group

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