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O’Melveny Park

O’Melveny Park

Dec 31, 2015

San Fernando Valley is the recipient of two significant parkland gifts memorializing names of early LA pioneers who would have known each other. At the far southeast corner of the Valley is the “Central Park” of LA that everybody knows: Griffith Park. It’s the largest park in LA. Can you tell me the second largest park? SFV Granny was surprised when she found out it was also in the Valley — diagonally opposite Griffith Park in the NE corner: O’Melveny Park. Quite likely it’s the big park you’ve never heard of unless you live out that way.

While it doesn’t have a zoo or train like #1, O’Melveny Park has long hiking and equestrian trails into the Santa Susana Mountains, a creek, a remnant orange grove, picnic tables, and big views. It’s a 672 acre nature preserve that was once the  C.J. cattle ranch above Granada Hills. The creek runs down through Bee Canyon, lined with park habitat — part of the system of headwaters forming the LA River.

IMG_0094The owner of the property was Attorney John O’Melveny, the son of famous attorney Henry O’Melveny who had represented many of the old Californio ranch families such as the Sepulvedas in land litigations.

Henry had founded the renowned law firm in 1885 when he was 26, and LA a wild cowboy town. He was one of the first CA State Park Commissioners in 1927. He was also involved in the founding of the Public Library, Cal Tech, and UCLA. Henry’s firm was instrumental in litigating water issues — which resulted in the hydroelectric power that transformed LA from a dusty village to metropolis. He was the third person in LA to get a phone. Above all, Henry loved nature. Many of the city’s power players hung out at The Crag, his personal fishing retreat in the San Gabriel Mountains, seven miles above Azusa. There he planted orchards, crops, and daffodils for 36 years, until it was drowned beneath Morris Dam.  His son John left the C.J. Ranch property to the City of LA. It’s a fitting tribute to the name that was tremendously influential in shaping the city we know today. This name would otherwise be lost to history, unless you were engaging the powerful O’Melveny and Myers law firm today in a complex legal matter.

The park entrance is in Balboa Heights, 2 miles north of the 118 Freeway and 2 miles south of I-5 and the Cascades. Travel on Balboa Blvd. Turn west on either Sesnon, or Orozco directly across from the Water Treatment Plant.

17300 Sesnon Blvd.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Granada Hills  91344                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        818-38-5019

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