Geography and History
Benedict Canyon is an area near Sherman Oaks north west of Beverly Hills in the City of Los Angeles, California.
The Canyon is a ravine in the Hollywood Hills that drops in a north to south direction from its high point at the crestline of the Santa Monica Mountains on Mulholland Drive, and ends near the junction of Sunset Boulevard - where the famous Beverly Hills Hotel is located. Parallel and to the east of the Canyon are its two sisters, Franklin and Coldwater Canyons. Rainwater percolating over the ancient strata of all three canyons emerges at their lowest altitude as the springs feeding Franklin's Lake and Creek. A cross-section of the land reveals granite, of volcanic origin, layered between worn river rocks and ocean bottom mud.
Benedict Canyon was a part of Rancho de las Aguas ("Ranch of the Waters"), which also included present-day Beverly Hills. It was named by Edson A, Benedict, a storekeeper and native of Boonville, Missouri, who took a homestead in the Canyon in 1868. With help from his wife and sons, E. A. Benedict built an apiary that was so bountiful that in one year, they were reported to have made a single shipment of 45,000 pounds of honey from Santa Monica Pier! One of Mr. Benedict's sons, Pierce E. Benedict, later went on to be elected to the city of Beverly Hills Board of Trustees at the time of its incorporation.
Benedict Canyon residents are typically married couples in the peak of their careers. Almost half of the population is between the ages of 35 and 64; median age is 43 years. Most households are empty nesters, although many include older kids in College. Statistical records show the population here to be predominantly white, highly educated, and working in executive and professional positions.
Homes are predominantly single-family and owner-occupied, and have 2 or more bedrooms. Median year built is 1960, and sales prices range from middle-class affordable, to high-end luxury.
Weather data recorded in Benedict Canyon can be viewed at this link http://www.wunderground.com/weatherstation/WXDailyHistory.asp?ID=KCABEVER3
Vegetation and Plants
Benedict Canyon has a mix of vegetation and growth that is peculiar to Southern California
- oaks and grasses on the lower slopes, and chaparral
on the higher hillsides. Along nearby Franklin's Creek can be found sycamores
, ferns and vines. Evergreens, such as pines, cypresses
, deodars and eucalyptus
, were planted as settlers moved in, and built homes and parks. Vegetation types within the Santa Monica Mountains
range from moist coastal canyon bottoms in the Santa Monica Mountains, to desert transitional areas at the headwaters of the Santa Clara River
. With the exception of the areas that border the Mojave Desert
, all of the vegetation within the zone is influenced by the effects of the Pacific Ocean
. The resulting cool, wet winters and hot, dry summers create a Mediterranean-type ecosystem. By far, the dominant vegetation sub-type is chaparral. Chaparral is composed of drought and fire tolerant evergreen shrubs that range in height from four to ten feet. Unless recently subjected to fire, or some other type of disturbance, this plant community is generally too dense to penetrate. Another unique shrub community to Southern California is sage scrub, which varies between coastal and inland types. Sage scrub vegetation contains fewer stout, woody shrubs, and more openings with fine, delicate plants. The expansive valley floors between the mountain ranges were plowed and farmed long ago. They are now entirely developed. The precise former native plant cover of the San Fernando
and Santa Clarita Valleys
was never adequately recorded. It is suspected that native perennial bunch grasses were dominant elements. Throughout the zone, over ninety-five percent of the native grasslands have been displaced by foreign invasive plants. The most common riparian
(stream-related) woodland species are various willows, coast live oak, California sycamore
, and Fremont's cottonwood. Less common species that are relics of the last Ice Age
include white alder
, bigleaf maple, and black cottonwood. On slopes, and in valleys where rainfall concentrates, groves of evergreen coast live oaks are common throughout Benedict Canyon. These evergreen oaks provide food and shelter for numerous species of wildlife. Deeper soiled areas in the Santa Susana Mountains, the Simi Hills and the Santa Monica Mountains support the deciduous valley oak. A widely dispersed tree in the Santa Monica Mountains, and to a lesser extent in other ranges, is the California black walnut.
The animal population is pretty much the same as it was 10,000 years ago. Bears are an exception, as they were killed off by early Mexican
settlers. The most common medium and large-sized mammals are coyotes, mule deer, bobcats, raccoons, and skunks. Just away from the urban edge, other predators, such as grey fox, mountain lion
, American badger
, long-tailed weasel, and ringtailed cat, occupy various niches. The ecosystem's top predator, the mountain lion, is present everywhere except the fragmented eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains
that bisects the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Because they fear humans, however, they are rarely seen. Also, there are numerous prey species—such as rabbits, squirrels, rats, mice, and other rodents. Seven species of hawks, eight species of owls, peregrine falcons
, golden eagles
, northern harriers
, American kestrels
, and white-tailed kite share in this bounty of prey. Benedict Canyon is also part of the Pacific Flyway
. As a result, the resident Southern California bird species often share company with neo-tropical migrants and other unique species, such as Canadian geese. There are over eighteen species of snakes and eight species of lizards. The most common snakes are pacific rattlesnake, [snake
], California king snake, and California striped racer. The rattlesnake is the only venomous snake in California. They seek shade during the hottest summer afternoons and hibernate during the winter. The zone supports five species of frogs, three species of toads, and five species of newts and salamanders. As in most parts of the world, frog populations have declined, probably due to climate change and pollution. The widely scattered perennial streams still support unique populations of native fish. Topanga and Malibu Creeks
contain tidewater gobies, arroyo chub, and the federally-listed endangered, southern steelhead trout
. The Santa Clara River supports these species as well as the federally-listed endangered, unarmored three spine stickleback. Some of the upper reaches of the Los Angeles River
at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains
harbor populations of the Santa Ana sucker and speckled dace.
The Benedict Canyon Association (BCA), started in 1948, is an example of neighborhood activism. The BCA is dedicated to preserving the beauty, safety, environment and quality of life in the Canyon. Because of their early efforts, Benedict Canyon remains the only Canyon that is 100% residential.
The Hillside Ordinance limiting building height to 36 feet, and stipulating restrictions on set-back, side yards and parking, was a product of Association lobbying and participation. That Ordinance was also the basis of the recent defeat of the proposed Villa on top of the Mark Hughes hilltop, an event cheered by many residents.
Current and past beautification projects of the Association include the repair and repaving of roads, repainting of guardrails, repair of Upper Benedict Canyon, and a subsidized monthly service of clearing debris, and trimming vegetation that spills on the roadway.
"Adopt Fire Station 99" is another community grass roots organization representing about 9000 residents in the Mulholland-Benedict Canyon area. Going hand-in-hand with the BCA, residents helped to generate the media attention, popular support, and political will that defeated the city's plan to reduce from 2 to 1 the number of paramedics available at each Fire Station to deliver emergency care.
In Benedict Canyon is Franklin Canyon Park. This park is about 605 acres, and is home to a nature center with a three acre duck pond, lake and picnic area, hiking trails, and outdoor educational programs (the William O. Douglas Outdoor classroom, or "WODOC") that serves local school children and visitors.
Another nearby park is Coldwater Canyon Park, home of TreePeople, a non-profit environmental organization founded by Andy Lipkis. The Park is part of a 1,000 acre cross-mountain preserve, and has an active ecological educational mission. There are Tree Care Workshops, a tree nursery, "Green Series" of environmental lectures, numerous trails, and Full Moon guided tours. There is the "Once Upon a Canyon Night" play readings and music series
Bottlenecks on the neighborhood's narrow canyon roads have been noted as a primary concern. As part of the plan, the Department of Transportation tows away cars that are parked illegally on narrow hillside streets on "red flag days," when fire danger is high. When fire conditions reach the critical red flag level — 25-mph wind and relative humidity below 15% — illegally parked vehicles that restrict access are ticketed and towed. Fire departments notify residents by raising red flags over the 103 fire stations in Los Angeles. Last year, there were about a dozen red flag days. Fire officials said that both the foliage and the lack of recent fires in the area are cause for concern, not comfort, noting the Oakland Hills fire of October 1991 that killed 25 and destroyed almost 3,000 residences under similar conditions.
Brush clearance is a year round responsibility to those homeowners living in Benedict Canyon.
Los Angeles Police Department
operates the West Los Angeles Community Police Station at 1663 Butler Avenue, 90025, serving the neighborhood.
Los Angeles City Fire Department
serves the area of Benedict Canyon. Fire Station 71 and Fire Station 99 serve the Benedict Canyon Area.
Residents are assigned to schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District