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The San Fernando Valley is Still 'America's Suburb'

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What's in a name? Well, for residents and leaders who have won the battle to keep the San Fernando Valley designated as "America's Suburb," it means everything.

The Census Bureau released today their official ruling that the iconic SFV--home to shopping malls, car dealerships, and Valley Girls--can keep the designation first assigned in 2005 that allows for data compiled to be limited to the immediate area, which will help its 1.8 million residents see their interests protected and localized.

The Daily News reports that "Valley leaders fought for years to create a census tract encompassing San Fernando, Burbank, Glendale, Calabasas and parts of Los Angeles city and county. They argued that specific Valley data would help business leaders and policymakers make sound decisions for the region." The Census Bureau, however, wasn't convinced the designation was helpful and made noise about eliminating it last year, until a letter-writing campaigned yielded a strong Valley-centered chorus of voices claiming otherwise.

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The word "suburb" may connote PTA meetings, post-WWII housing tracts, paunchy men pushing lawn mowers, and a general lack of imagination, which puts the validity of the moniker itself in question. Is the SFV a suburb? When the Orange Line was opened in 2005, some questioned if the busway made the area more cityfied than suburbanite. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), however, has long felt that the Census distinction was one "that could give it the detailed information needed to achieve the economic and political clout it has sought for decades." When the SFV got its designation in '05, local leaders were excited to eschew the idea that the Valley was an all-white bedroom community, instead declaring it was "as economically vibrant and ethnically diverse as the heart of Los Angeles."

So it's the same...but different? Maybe 2008 will bring a revival of the Valley secession movement.

Photo by Sproston Green via Flickr