According to Elke Garman, co-president of the Valley Village Homeowners Association in 1991, the history of Valley Village went back to the 1930s, when workers at nearby motion picture studios built houses there. The local post office on Magnolia Boulevard canceled all mail with a "Valley Village" postmark. It was, however, officially a section of North Hollywood.
Separation from North Hollywood
The idea of separating Valley Village from North Hollywood was brought into public light with a meeting of about 300 homeowners at Colfax Avenue Elementary School in December 1985, yet it wasn't until 1991 that Valley Village got seven new blue reflective markers from the city of Los Angeles to mark its borders.
Reporter James Quinn of the Los Angeles Times wrote that Valley Village no longer wanted to be associated with North Hollywood, "a community that has grown old, heavily Latino and crime-plagued," but, in the same article, Valley Village leader Tom Paterson was quoted as saying that the move "was more than an attempt to boost property values" and that it "had nothing to do with ethnic demographics." Rather, he said, "It was one economic level seeking to have its own identity." Quinn wrote that:
Houses along Valley Village's lushly landscaped, graffiti-free streets cost up to $800,000, and a two-bedroom, two-bath entry-level house will run $300,000, residents say. Elsewhere in North Hollywood, that same size entry-level house can be purchased for as little as $150,000, real estate agents say. And the cheaper house is likely to have an overgrown, dusty yard and to be in a neighborhood reeling from crime, with gang graffiti splattered on block walls and street signs.
In December 1985, some three hundred homeowners gathered at Colfax Avenue Elementary School to begin a campaign to head off development of what they called "stucco mountains" – continued construction of large apartments and office buildings in the area. Councilman Joel Wachs said he would support the drive, although he rejected the details of a proposed advisory panel for the area. He said a proposed panel of homeowners might overlook the concerns of renters and the need for rental housing. Residents complained about blocked views, parking problems and traffic congestion because of buildings as high as five stories next to their single-family homes.
The measure would not have banned construction but would have limited all new buildings to two stories and the square footage of commercial development to 1 1/2 times the size of the lot. The plan had the support of Valley Village resident Tom Paterson, president of the Valley Village Homeowners Association, but the opposition of, for one, Marvin Eisenman, an apartment-building owner who said it would not be fair to landowners who purchased property with the idea of developing it. It was touted as a temporary measure until city planners could conduct public hearings on new, permanent development limits. On September 17, 1986, the City Council approved the idea on a 10-2 vote, but less than a month later it reversed itself after heavy lobbying – by former Councilman Arthur K. Snyder, among others – and sent the ordinance back to committee, with the idea that it could be brought back with exemptions for areas where development had already occurred. Finally, substantially the same measure was approved by the council on a temporary basis with exemptions for two dozen properties in areas where there had already been substantial development, like the south side of Riverside Drive between Colfax Avenue and Laurel Canyon Boulevard.
Eventually, the Los Angeles city Planning Commission recommended that a three-story limit be adopted for the Valley Village area.