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California Fool's Gold -- A Santa Monica Mountains primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 1, 2011 04:00pm | Post a Comment

WEST OF THE WESTSIDE -- THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS

The Santa Monica Mountains are a traverse mountain range that stretches from the Pacific Ocean 64 kilometers east to the flood plain where the LA River is fed by the Verdugo Wash. The southern side of the eastern end of the range is almost always referred to as the Hollywood Hills. The central portion lies within LA's westside and the foothills are home to some of LA's most affluent neighborhoods (e.g. Bel Air, Beverly Hills and Pacific Palisades). To the north, separated by the mountains, is the San Fernando Valley. Technically, the Channel Islands are also part of the range, although they're separated from the mainland by water.


Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of the Santa Monica Mountains

The western portion of the Santa Monica Mountains separates the Conejo Valley from Malibu and the neighboring communities that make up the Los Angeles district known as the Santa Monica Mountains area. The district borders Ventura County to the west and north, the San Fernando Valley to the northeast and the Westside to the east. 


The chaparral covering the region is home to mountain lions, steelheads, Southern Pacific Rattlesnakes, various kingsnakes, Gopher snakes, Garter snakes, Western fence lizards, bobcats, mule deer, golden eagles and other less glamorous creatures. The area around the shore is home to dolphins, octopi, sea gulls, crabs, anemones, mussels, sharks, cormorants, seals, pelicans, sea lions and whales. For thousands of years, the land was shared by the Tongva in the east and the Chumash. The Chumash called the area along the Pacific "Humaliwo," meaning "the surf sounds loudly," and Malibu derives its name from this. There is some evidence that the two sea-going peoples had contact with the Polynesians. The natives were later conquered and displaced by the Spanish. Later, the land became part of Mexico. After that, it was conquered by the US. Today it is home to six separate communities and a large, unincorporated region in the middle. 

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