Hidden Hills: It All Began Before Forty
By Roger Schlesinger, for a new Hidden Hills segment “Roger’s View”
In the late 1970’s, the bussing of kids was a new idea for balancing the public school system—and it was coming to Woodland Hills just as I had 3 small children starting school. I had grown up on the west side of Los Angeles and moved to the valley after college. I was in my third house in Woodland Hills when I found out that if my children were to be bussed, it would be to the grammar school I had attended near Beverly Wood on the west side. Not a pleasant idea. However, my kids were all going to Parochial School so the bussing didn’t matter (or so I thought) when we started looking for a new place. We even considered the mysterious Hidden Hills.
I remember it being mysterious because I had only once entered this sacred land to deliver something to a client. I saw big houses on large lots without landscaping. It was strange. I also had heard that Hidden Hills was a million dollar area, and I was selling my house in Woodland Hills for the high $200,000s. Hidden Hills was certainly unattainable. But then, according to a magazine I read, no house had ever sold for $1,000,000 at the beginning of the ’80s. My real estate agent quelled my fears and off we went to house-hunt in Hidden Hills.
I started looking for a house in this new area and found one that was completely surrounded by trees. You actually couldn’t see the house until you went into the miniature forest. It was the most intriguing house I had ever seen. My profession at the time was a commercial rehab developer, so the challenge of redeveloping this was calling to me. I rose to the challenge and purchased the house for less than I eventually would sell my Woodland Hills house.
Bussing quickly became a factor in selling the Woodland Hills house. Nobody wanted to buy a house with a one-hour minimum bus ride for their children to the west side. I was also having some problems with the building department about my plans for the remodel of my Hidden Hills house. I had bought the house on the corner of Clear Valley and Long Valley, where the barn is almost on the corner. I was informed, at that time, that the front of the house was Clear Valley even though the front door faced Long Valley, then and even now. A major problem had been placed right on my threshold.
The rules in Hidden Hills included a 50-foot front yard easement and a 50-foot backyard easement. Taking a tape measure, my contractor and I found out that the property measured 110 feet from street to trail. That gave me 10 feet on which to build as the rest of the house was built in the set backs. The powers-that-be weren’t particularly forgiving and it looked like real problems until one of my neighbors told me to have my property assayed.
I hired a surveyor and found that the boundaries were not where the house was built and that I owned Clear Valley at Long Valley. I told the Homeowners Association I was going to put in a toll road and my plans were magically approved. The house was on its way to be completed. But I would end up never living in it.
I came to realize that the Woodland Hills house might not sell and I was getting in a bind. So I hired the legendary Hidden Hills realtor Lois Landau who was a resident and super agent. She liked the house and the plans and brought me a buyer. It didn’t go smoothly with the buyer but we did eventually sell the house and finish the remodel. When we ended up selling the Woodland Hills house, we moved to another Hidden Hills house on Jed Smith that I found and purchased.
Once that was done I started to worry about security in this paradise. I will tell you about it next time in Roger’s View!
Roger Schlesinger is second generation born and raised in Southern California. He attended Beverly Hills High School with two other Hidden Hills residents and went on to obtain a Bachelor of Arts from U.C.L.A in Economics and M.B.A from U.S.C. in Finance. Roger became a stock broker, a commercial rehab developer and finally a realtor-turned-mortgage broker by accident. He was on the Business Channel for most of the 1990s, and radio since 1997. In 2000, he went onto the Hugh Hewitt show nationwide for 14 years discussing mortgages and finance as the MortgageMinuteGuy. Today, Roger can still be found on local radio, working in mortgages, writing books or reminiscing about Hidden Hills for “Roger’s View.”