Growing up, my dad always ensured that I had strong Valley pride. I was born and raised in the geographic center of the Valley: then known as Sepulveda, now known as North Hills. My father’s love for the Valley runs deep — he went to California State University, Northridge, and was born in Glendale.
As such, he often reminded me that anybody with an 818 area code — including people from his hometown — was a friend of ours. Interacting with more folks across the Valley, though, I realized that one controversial question often came up about that: Is Glendale actually part of the San Fernando Valley?
In hopes of establishing a conclusive verdict, I considered objective and subjective measures, ultimately letting my gut answer this contentious question. It whispered to me, “Glendale is part of the San Fernando Valley, Evan.” But, honestly, not everyone agrees. Keep reading to learn the official and residential takes on that question.
What the government and LA Times say
According to the office of Congressman Brad Sherman, who’s the San Fernando Valley’s representative in Congress, the Valley “includes” the city of Glendale. California State University, Northridge supports Congressman Sherman, listing Glendale as the Valley in their deep dive of Los Angeles neighborhoods. (Thanks for having my back, CSUN!)
Dissimilarly, though, The Los Angeles Times — the authoritative news and cultural record of Los Angeles — does not consider Glendale to be part of the Valley. According to the Times’ Mapping LA project, which tracks the neighborhoods in Los Angeles County, the San Fernando Valley cuts off at Burbank on the east side. So, uh, where the hell is Glendale? Per the Times, Glendale is part of a region called the Verdugos, which also includes neighborhoods like La Cañada Flintridge, Altadena, and Pasadena.
To my chagrin, even the official decree was inconclusive. What residents, business owners, and Valley natives think is no different — regardless of the fact that I’ll die on the “Glendale is the Valley” hill. The fact that Glendale and the greater San Fernando Valley share the 818 area code isn’t convincing for most, by the way. Geography and culture seem to be the underlying factors in this inquiry with Valley folks.
What Valley residents say
“Glendale is where the San Fernando Valley meets the San Gabriel Valley and flows into the Los Angeles basin,” says Luca Stuart, a Glendale resident of 11 years. “I consider it the nexus between those two places.” For that reason, Stuart believes that Glendale is a part of the San Fernando Valley — but also that it’s not, since it’s also technically part of the San Gabriel Valley at the other end of the city.
Jenny-Lyn Reyes, who grew up in the San Fernando Valley — Panorama City, to be exact — and now owns a home in Glendale says: “I have always considered Glendale as part of the Valley. I think people get confused because Glendale has its own water and power department, school district, and police department.”
But the reason Glendale has its own government agencies is that it’s an incorporated city, which has more to do with politics, population, and square footage than it does with actual geography or culture.
Mac Welsh, who grew up in and currently lives in Glendale, agrees with Reyes that the neighborhood is undoubtedly a part of the Valley, adding that “anyone who says it isn’t is probably one of those ‘the Valley is so lame’ snobs.”
A differing perspective comes from Iza Llorico, who owns a hair salon in Glendale. “I don’t consider Glendale as part of the Valley. I feel that Glendale is its own little bubble separate from the Valley.”
As far as her thoughts on the shared 818 area code? “I consider 818 as outside LA proper, not necessarily just the Valley,” Llorico says. (Remember La Cañada Flintridge? That’s an 818 area code, too, so Llorico definitely has a point.)
From talking to Glendale residents and non-residents, it seems that the Valley has a cultural context from which Glendale may wish to distance itself — even though we share an area code. While area codes may be mostly arbitrary, natural phenomena (and the maps that track them) don’t lie.
For that reason, I’d have to say that Glendale is a part of the San Fernando Valley. Geographically, it’s between one of the same mountain ranges as the rest of the Valley, and they carry that 818 area code — which holds a lot of weight with me. Though many Glendale residents may not like that inclusion, they are still my dear friends. Just like my dad taught me.