Home Buying in Topanga>Question Details

Sarah C., Home Buyer in Santa Maria, CA

Why does it seem most people don't want to live in Topanga?

Asked by Sarah C., Santa Maria, CA Thu Oct 17, 2013

Many of my friends in LA haven't even heard of it. It seems you get a lot of home for your money and the commute on Google doesn't seem that awful. Is it because there is a high risk there will be a major fire here again? Is it just the PCH logjam?

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This comes form 25 years of living and raising a family in Topanga. I am not a real estate agent, puttin' on the hard sell.

Topanga has pluses and minuses. Your inividual experieince will depend upon 1) your stage of life, 2) the neighborhood you choose, 3) the house you can afford, 4) where you you work.

Don't let anyone fool you. The TCB/PCH commute sucks. 25 years ago, My commute from 90290 to Santa Monica was 20 minutes, less than 5 hours a week total. Last week, my drive home took over 80 minutes (4 out of 5 days). If you work on the westside and keep normal business hours expect to spend 7 - 12 hours per week commuting. The plus side is you'll be stuck in one of most picturesque settings in So Cal. Or you can leave the canyon before 7 am, leave SM before 2 pm or after 7 pm.

In 1993, we came within 7 seven feet and 23 minutes of losing everything, including our lives. (Up here in the canyon, we mark time by fires and significant mud slides) Even after that experience, I'm not that concerned about fire. I'm more concerned about how the vast majority of my neighbors will react and their abject lack of common sense. We have a few YaHoos who actually protest the removal of dead brush and trees in the interest of preserving the "scenic corridor". We have many self-centered crybabies who park cars on the narrow side streets, rather than their own driveways, or rent rooms for which they can not provide off street parking. Honestly I don't know how a fire truck will get into some these street and cars will get out. I's a disaster waiting to happen. When CHiPs issues tickets (as they should) you always have large number of idiots crying harassment. My advice, at the first hint of smoke, get in your car and get out. Don't hesitate. Just go. Calmly. Quickly. The less people around, the clear the streets, the less flamible materials, the better for LACoFD. And have good insurance with code upgrade.

All that said, I really like living here. And pretty much everybody who visits my home is envious (except those who already live in the canyon).
4 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 3, 2013
Thank you for your comments and observations. The real estate "hard sale" you refer to is just my passion for living in Topanga for 15 years---no more no less than yours. My initial commute from Topanga was to El Segundo daily.---now that's passion.
Flag Sun Nov 3, 2013
I have to disagree with the "pros" who posted answers about fires.
1) Topanga is "overdue" for a major fire.
2) When your staring down a 25 foot wall of flame, your "neighborhood network's" phone tree will not be of use. (the phone trees are good for planning the pot-lucka and trying to find your missing cat)
3) Topanga is at significantly greater risk of fire than Malibu, due to the density of dwellings and narrow side streets. (and lack of enforcement by LACoFD and CHP)
Flag Sun Nov 3, 2013
I am a Native to Topanga Canyon, I have seen the biggest fires on record and the worst flood on record. I moved away in my 20s and came back every year to visit my family till I finally realize this was the only place I wanted to raise my daughter. I take her to singing lessons in the SFV and dance lessons in Santa Monica. I find the commute to be reasonable as long as I am not going during rush hour (or I am going in opposing direction) But then rush hour is horrible every where. I find the community very intelligent and educated. Families are much more aware of the dangers then before and are more prepared. I work selling homes and land here as a Realtor and I am a Register Nurse, so I really get to know people on many different levels. Educating new home-owners is very important and I work not only in finding them the best home but letting know about the Fire Dangers how to prepare, knowing all the routes out of the canyon, where the safe areas are and how to connect with local TCEP, which my family has been a member of for over 20years. I love Topanga and wouldn't want to live any where else.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 22, 2014
I'm glad I stumbled on this conversation. Our family is looking into moving to Topanga Canyon. We are in Brooklyn, NY and are ready for a major change. Somewhere scenic and quiet but close to a metropolitan area. My husband is a massage therapist. We both love the outdoors and really don't get enough of it here. And it's friggin cold 9 months out of the year. Our oldest will be heading into 6th grade when we move and he has various learning delays and doesn't do particularly well in a huge classroom without support, but private school is just not a sustainable option for us. What is the middle school situation? Do you know anyone who sends their child to Malibu High? It seems like a better option for him than the Paul Revere or Woodland Academy (I've been doing my online research). I'm planning on calling the schools but it would be great to be able to connect with parents in the area. The Topanga Canyon Elementary seems great and I expect my other 2 children will do quite well there
Flag Thu May 14, 2015
Hi Sarah C,

Topanga is a well-kept secret and we Topangans enjoy that. If you need to be in Southern California for business reasons, you can't find a safer, more beautiful place to live. Topanga is a small city, but the population is that of a village. It is a tight-knit community of nature lovers and people who adore a strong sense of community. We are accountable for our actions, care deeply about our neighbors and nurture our environment.

It's also a place where people are affected and transformed by the natural world. This is a powerful way of living, as it teaches life lessons on many levels. I would agree that the changing ways of the natural world with it's responsibilities and sensibilities is not for everyone. We have an expression up here in Topanga which is, "Don't change Topanga, let Topanga change you".

Wildfires are a part of nature and living in a forested environment, but Topanga is a well-prepared community and it's citizens are extremely vigilant. We have a well-developed, emergency response relay throughout the canyon and participate in regular drills. The Pacific Coast Highway, like all major highways in Los Angeles, can be quite busy at times, but it also has it's rhythms one can easily become attuned to for ease of traveling.

Property values are excellent and in my experience, there is home waiting for anyone who truly wants to find their special place here.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 18, 2013
My Husband I are desperately want to move to T.C. Looking for a 1 brdm 1 bath for less than $2000.00 per month. Any recommendations on where to look? I'm finding it so hard to find listings! please email me at hycner@gmail.com if you have any recommendations! Thank you!!
Flag Thu Sep 4, 2014
http://fire.lacounty.gov/safetypreparedness/readysetgo/pdf/Ready%20Set%20Go%2009.pdf Here's some hard info from La County Fire Which maybe of interest to potential buyers.
Flag Mon Nov 4, 2013
I don't see anything wrong with Topanga other than there's not enough homes or lots for folks that would love to live there and enjoy that quality of life.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 18, 2013
Hahaha...funny question!! Topanga is LA's best kept secret. I moved to LA 18 years ago and wish I had listened to my instincts about Topanga back then. It is truly the best place to live!! Hiking, nature, incredible vistas sunrises and sunsets. Good schools, sense of community, good restaurants, relaxed...near the beach, easy commuting...no big fires here in well over a decade! More fires in the Valley and Malibu than here! I've been here for 8 years, and love it!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 17, 2013
The fact that we haven't had a "no big fire here in well over decade!", puts Topanga at larger risk. See link. http://zev.lacounty.gov/news/public-safety/disaster-readiness/raising-the-alarm-on-fire-danger
"Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby, appearing with other fire officials this week, said indications add up to “probably the most volatile fire season that’s projected based on our 100-year history.” "The heightened dangers of a volatile fire season also require more public vigilance. That means clearing brush around houses and other structures, getting familiar with the fire department’s Ready!Set!Go! program,..."
Flag Mon Nov 4, 2013
I honestly think most people fear that the drive is too much - and when they realize that it's 10 minutes to the Palisades and 15 to Santa Monica (w/out traffic) and with traffic add another 20 minutes max - they start to open up to the idea.

Like most places, if you have a friend that lives here you're more apt to come and enjoy the community and eventually fall in love...

To learn more about our beautiful canyon call me for a tour! You can also visit my website: http://www.tanyashouses.com

Additionally, there's a website created by our very own Town Council - http://www.onetopanga.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 20, 2013
hush!!!! ... not so loud ... the hoards may hear you and wreck it for us ....
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 30, 2013
Hi Sarah,

Topanga is totally under the radar, and is an excellent place to live! You get a lot of "Bang for Your Buck" here and you can actually live with nature surrounding you - Beautiful mountains, oak trees, birds, and hiking trails. There is no more fire danger in Topanga, than there is in Malibu! Topanga is super convenient to Santa Monica, Malibu, and the Valley when you need your Target (Tar-jay). For those looking to get out of the bustling "City", whlie still being "Close-By," Topanga is the perfect choice. Topanga attracts many artists, musicians, writers, nature lovers and boasts a thriving community full of art, hiking, nature, trees, and more. Whether your coming from Malibu, Topanga, or Palisades you will hit some traffic on PCH if you are going into Santa Monica in the morning. You just have to a lot time for it... it's not that bad.

I'd be happy to show you around if you want to take a look at some homes in the area.

Katherine Berlyn
(310)880-8977
Coldwell Banker
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 17, 2013
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