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Sawtelle

Tell us what Sawtelle means to you

  • What makes this a good place to live? What are the downsides?

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I've never heard of the Sawtelle neighborhood extending further west than Federal Ave and I've lived in the area for almost 30 years.

Whatever the name, its a great area. Very convenient, nice people, lots of retail and food options in walking distance.

— hrichards
June 21, 2013 at 11:51 a.m.

Much history has been overlooked in Sawtelle. My mother had a cleaning store where the Bundy lock & key is during the mid-50s. I remember the soldiers guarding the gate at the VA and stories of how the Japanese were taken away in trucks leaving their property behind to close friends. I remember my grandma, the only Mexican woman driving a new car. She had a great restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard when it was a dirt road in 1919. I remember using an outhouse behind Bundy lock & key. Yes much has changed but I'm still here. Walk into the veterans hospital lobby and look at the wonderful pictures of Sawtelle just after the Civil War.

— Armando V. Lopez
December 14, 2011 at 6:34 p.m.

Check Zillow.com they use the same title for the area.

I love having so many things within walking distance...and the freeway access is great when needed!

The graffiti and the speeding drivers going through the neighborhood (to avoid Santa Monica Blvd. and Olympic) are some of the downsides.

— Julie B
July 26, 2011 at 7:35 p.m.

I just moved into this area, and in less than two weeks I had two bicycles stolen from my car-port. Welcome to the neighborhood.

— Paul M.
July 17, 2011 at 8:44 a.m.

Eric...the reason so many people resist calling it Sawtelle is because the region, as depicted in the L.A. Times map, is NOT correct. You could argue there is a region called Sawtelle, however, it in no way encompasses the region depicted here. It would be much smaller and its boundaries would be very close to the street named Sawtelle.

— Dave
June 2, 2011 at 12:19 p.m.

Although I don't live in Sawtelle, I'm surprised to see how many people resist it being called Sawtelle. It's been Sawtelle since 1899. Anyway, it has a great vibe with well manicured lawns and it also contains one of my favorite neighborhoods, Little Osaka, which I administer a Facebook page for.

http://www.facebook.com/Little.Osaka

— Eric Brightwell
June 1, 2011 at 10:52 a.m.

I lived in West LA while attending UCLA in the late 1970's. I look back at my years in West LA as some of the best of my life. As I still live on the Westside, I drive through West LA frequently and have seen the neighborhood change, in my view for the better. A lot of new (mostly Tuscan styled) condo complexes and mixed-use building are providing the area with a more urban and chic feel.

PS why is it called Sawtelle here? Have never heard this name used to refer to the district as a whole (just to the line of Japanese interest businesses on the street itself).

— Miguel
March 26, 2011 at 4:41 p.m.

Sawtelle, West Los...West LA..an area that once had some flavor and culture to it, with diversity abdunant with its Hispanic, Japanese, and other residents. Now, thanks to gentrification and greedy landowners nice buildings that had character and memories to them are being knocked down for "luxury condominums," which are all oversized to the lots and cheaply made. They look like giant cardboard boxes in a way. It is sad to see how the area is changing. No matter what they do to the area though, to me it will always be WEST LOS! VIVA SOTEL!

— Tom
March 23, 2011 at 1:37 a.m.

Rosemary, " viva sotel ", is Spanish for "hurray for Sawtelle ". It was a gang thing. West L.A. was always a good area but still had a very old gang that exists to this day named " sotel trece ". A rival to other Mexican-American gangs from nearby areas.

— Eugenio
March 9, 2011 at 10:16 p.m.

I've always heard it called Sawtelle and forever will i call it Sawtelle. West LA is just a vague name for the area of anything south of Brentwood and Westwood, east of Santa Monica, north of LAX, and west of Culver City/Beverly Hills. Look up the wikipedia article if you are interested in the history of the area. Also an annexation map of the City of Los Angeles shows the City of Sawtelle being consolidated into greater LA back in 1922 (it's #37). http://navigatela.lacity.org/common/mapgallery/pdf/annex34x44.pdf

— mike
February 9, 2011 at 5:16 p.m.

I lived on Barry Ave. near Barrington and Gateway while attending Richland Avenue Elementary, Webster Junior High, Uni High, and UCLA, and *never* heard my neighborhood called "Sawtelle." It was a great multi-ethnic area, where my friends' parents spoke Japanese, Spanish, and Yiddish as well as English. The Blue Bus made everything from Venice Beach to Westwood available without driving. We were a Douglas Aircraft (later McDonnell-Douglas) family and liked the proximity of Santa Monica airport. One of the favorite activities on the Richland playground was jumping over the shadows of light planes coming in to land. A lot has changed - can the kids even do that with jets?

Times change, neighborhoods change, but WEST LOS ANGELES (not that other name) is still a great place.

— Bob Az
December 30, 2010 at 10:59 a.m.

Growing up in the 50's in West L.A. "Sawtelle" was the name of the dirty scary place under the freeway. What happened to the zip code? W.L.A. 90025. I went to Nora Sterry with a Lydia Garcia - any relation? Then Daniel Webster Jr. High & Uni High W '62, and UCLA. West LA was always the area between Santa Monica, the freeway, Wilshire & Mar Vista. I always wondered what "Viva Sotel" meant. Thanks for the info.

— Rosemarie
December 23, 2010 at 2:09 p.m.

Sawtelle? You mean West L.A. Brings back memories of a wonderful time in my childhood. Playing in the many alley ways of the Cozy Courts where I lived as a child from 1976-1980. Yamaguchis , Lony's burger stand mmm the tacos, Regis House's after school and summer camp, Picwood bowl and movie theaters, Stonner Park, the drive in theater off of Olympic btwn Bundy and Cintinella, riding the bmx tracks at the Venice little league park and park on overland near 10 frwy, the memories.

— Ramon Salceda
December 4, 2010 at 9:56 p.m.

I think calling this area Sawtelle was a poor choice, as so many comments point out. It is too bad, because this mapping is a great thing to do, but let's not confuse longtime residents. One thing that was not mentioned is how Santa Monica Airport has negatively impacted the North Westdale neighborhood just to the east with the influx of thousands of private jets. They are polluting the normally very good air with their noxious exhaust, as well as disturbing an otherwise quiet community with their noise.

— Martin Rubin
October 2, 2010 at 6:57 p.m.

I lived in West LA (NOT Sawtelle) during my time at UCLA. Loved the neighbor for its weather, convenience to school, stores, restaurants, the Blue Bus and proximity to the beach. Did not like the planes overhead to LAX and the garbage trucks. Otherwise, great place to spend my undergrad years.

— Bruin JD
July 24, 2010 at 10:44 a.m.

Hi there - whoever you are, wherever you are (which is certainly not in Los Angeles!) The name of my community, Wilshire and Barrington - is West Los Angeles, not Sawtelle. I agree that there is a community of Sawtelle, but it is not here. The downside - in one word - McDonalds - trash scattered for blocks around, homeless beggars, out of control high school children (Hello Uni High!) all congregate here. It is a blight on the neighborhood. How about four trash pickups on my street every day, drunks leaving the three bars on Wilshire at 2 pm, waking everyone up on their way to their cars, Also, some recent 10 block long incidents of vandals who scratch gibberish into the storefront windows - these idiots need some social responsibility training! Traffic that drives everyone insane - gridlock at least 4 hours per day on Wilshire and sometimes on Santa Monica. Up sides: great weather! Foggy in Santa Monica? Nope, clear here. Still, we get cool ocean breezes every afternoon. Pleasant business owners and some fun restaurants. Blue bus service around the neighborhood - -although I understand they will be raising the rates soon. I see this list has a lot of negatives - maybe I should spend some time looking for the good!

— Regina
June 7, 2010 at 7:58 a.m.

It's very interesting that the LA Times persists in calling it "Sawtelle". It's a good reminder that journalism really is dominated by elitists who know what's best for us, and are determined to impose it.

— Diz Pareunia
May 27, 2010 at 6:33 a.m.

Poor call by the LA Times. The West LA Courthouse is in this district, so is the West LA Animal Shelter, the West LA Police Station and the West LA YMCA. Calling it Sawtelle is confusing and inaccurate.

— Daniel Galdjie
May 20, 2010 at 11:58 p.m.

What does Sawtelle mean to me? Not much really, because it was always West LA when my grand-parents lived there and then when I lived there as well. The only Sawtelle I can recall is the street name and the SOTEL gang name. My grand-parents lived in the 1800 block of Colby Ave. The house was torn down in the late sixties to make way for an apartment building. My grand-pa was a plumber in the area and grama stayed home and tended to her flower garden and fish pond in the back yard. Not sure if anyone remembers them, Warren and Ida Taylor. Like I said he was a plumber and made calls in his Chevy pick-up with the homemade corrugated steel shell over the bed and the floor mounted push button starter. Grama's garden was (I thought) one of the most beautiful and peaceful places on the planet. She grew Birds of Paridise, Honeysuckels, roses and all kinds of flowers. She also had a Coy pond and I can remember feeding them uncooked oatmeal, they loved it and I loved them. I think they moved into their home on Colby in the mid 1950's. After grandpa passed away my mother, sister and I moved in with grama in 1964 - 1965 and I attended Webster. We all moved to Huntington Beach in 1967. I loved the neighborhood and the fact that I and my best friend Neil could walk to Santa Monica Blvd and catch the city bus to the beach and pier. And, we always felt safe to be on our own during that time. I remember that there was an open air market at the corner of Santa Monica and Colby but it seems to me that it closed late 1950's or early 1960's. It was always a treat to shop there with grandpa when I would visit. In any event West LA holds some of my best childhood memories. I miss that time, place and the people. I now live in Des Moines, Iowa with my wife near my grand-kids.

— Glenn Dawn
April 4, 2010 at 3:45 p.m.

As a latina child who grew up in W.L.A., I can recall many wonderful memories of the neighborhood gowing up on Purdue/ La Grange. From the daily trips to Yamaguchi's for our candy needs, to my first job at Tensho's Pharmacy, to dancing at the OBON festival with all my best friends who were Japanese (Running back and forth to my home for more money to play Tic-Tac-Toe). Our favorite fast food was from "Ketchies"- but I called it "Lonnie's", who was the owner.

I remember summer nights alongside 15 -20 neighborhood friends, playing tag, or hide n'seek in the middle of Mississippi Ave. where my aunt and 7 cousins lived. I remember walking to school on my own 3-4 blocks away to Nora Sterry Elementary, and later taking the Blue Bus on the corner of my street...to Webster. And who can forget "trick or treating" walking west on Nebraska, carrying our candy-filled pillowcases, eager to get to our destination...Stoner Park for the annual Halloween festival. And thanks to Regis House- similar to your Boys n' Girls club. Kept us out of trouble. Ahhhh W.L.A.....These are the stories I tell my children today, and wish they too had the opportunity of growing up as we did in "W.L.A." 35 years ago.

— Carol Garcia-Ramirez
March 11, 2010 at 12:11 p.m.

I lived there for over 10 years: '76 to '88. It was always West LA to me and to everyone I knew. Actually, when I enter my old address (Westgate on the SE corner of Wilshire), I find I supposedly lived in Brentwood, but of course Brentwood was always on the OTHER side of Wilshire, the posh side, where rents jumped out of my reach.

The multiple trash pickups...yes, that brings back memories. So much noise, and the companies were all owned by Armenians back then. The homeless man who used to bathe naked in our laundry room... University High ... the Blue Bus ... and the leaf blowers (today all I see is snow). Noisy, crowded, certainly, but I was happy there for a long time. I took my doctoral exams, jogged every street late at night, and always felt safe. I have been back and it found it more serious - security cameras and locked gates. It must be harder now to get to know your neighbors, which is sad -- there were some very colorful characters. I suppose the shag carpets have been replaced, speaking of colorful!

It was sort of like Christopher Robin's staircase ("it isn't really anywhere, it's somewhere else instead"). Maybe it was the Not Neighborhood: not Westwood, not Santa Monica, not Brentwood, and certainly never Sawtelle -- all better-known than we were. But we who lived there always knew where we were: West LA.

— CC
March 8, 2010 at 10:27 p.m.

This is "West LA", except the eastern border should be the 405, not Sepulveda.

To call it "Sawtelle", you'd have to whittle it down to the area between Ohio and National (or possibly the 10), and between the 405 and Barrington. It's even generous to go as far west as Barrington because Sawtelle refers to the narrow swath of a couple blocks surrounding Sawtelle Blvd.

It's West L.A.

— Jayson
January 26, 2010 at 10:59 a.m.

I grew up in Santa Monica and worked at Westside YMCA as a kid. It was always West LA to me and everyone else I knew in the area.

My father used to get our 65 VW Bug worked on at T&T's garage up that way. I always liked going up there because there were old cars everywhere.

The Japanese in the area hailing originally from Osaka was something I did not know. Thanks for that.

Most of the day laborers seemed to congregate around an old bungalow complex on the corner of Sawtelle and Olympic. Eventually they razed that, left it empty, and put cutouts of cows in. I think it's a Self-Storage now.

And I hadn't thought about Ketchie's Stand in 20+ years (Sawtelle and La Grange). His stand was knocked over under 'suspicious' circumstances, just before his 40th anniversary on the spot. He never rebuilt.

— Mike M.
October 31, 2009 at 8:37 p.m.

I've always called the neighborhood Sawtelle. Many residents refer to it as the sawtelle district of West Los Angeles. I have a lot of pride in my community and was raised right near the corner of Sawtelle and Pico.

— Nico
September 24, 2009 at 1:56 a.m.

UPDATE:

The West L.A. Neighborhood Council is proud to announce that the identifying street banners markers indicating where West L.A. is, have now been hung throughout the West L.A. area. Look for them at a light pole around the West L.A. district. (And be sure to visit the WLA Farmers Market every Sunday in the WEST LA Civic Center.....

— jay handal
August 28, 2009 at 1:05 a.m.

I like calling it Sawtelle. I used to live in the neighborhood and have been calling it that for years. West LA is too vague. Unless you live there, most people think it's just a general area of town. Tiny Tokyo and Baja Brentwood are great, I will be using those.

Got to give a shot out to Hide, Safe n' Save and Giant Robot!

— ian
August 25, 2009 at 10:45 a.m.

Although the neighborhood is rarely if ever referred to as "Sawtelle" by its residents, it's not like the LA Times made this name up. It's a valid name for the area:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sawtelle,_Los_Angeles,_California

Semantics aside, if you are in the area and looking for good, cheap eats... check out Chutney's (Indian) and Tacos La Flama (Mexican) at the corner of Barrington and Pico.

— Stephen
August 23, 2009 at 3:11 p.m.

Been here over 25 years and refer to the 'hood

as "Baja Brentwood™ " and a single's ghetto™.

— Andre Savage
August 22, 2009 at 10:53 p.m.

I've lived here 23 years and NEVER heard Sawtelle - it's West LA.

Please change the name of the area.

— Beth
August 20, 2009 at 9:07 p.m.

Have to agree with most of the other posts... not Sawtelle, but West LA.

I lived in the neighborhood for four years as a renter until we recently purchased a home in Culver City. If we could have afforded to buy in the neighborhood (between Olympic and Santa Monica and Sawtelle and Barrington) we most certainly would have. Great neighborhood! Surrounded by fantastic restaurants and cute little shops. The BEST Ralph's on the West Side (even though we moved I still shop there). Quiet streets, awesome YMCA, just feels like a safe place to raise your kids.

Although I do love our new home, I sometimes miss being able to walk to ramen or sushi, or my husband's favorite... Fu Rai Bo!

— Melissa
August 19, 2009 at 9:44 a.m.

I live just north of the Whole foods on National and we call it North Westdale. Just south of National is "Trousdale" which is the name of the builder who developed that area. I hear he developed some of Beverly Hills as well. Anyway, my wife and I love the neighborhood, the people, and the restaurants, bars and shops. I agree with other posters that the day laborers, the trash left behind, and the traffic are killers. Everyone from Santa Monica drives to and from work through our streets. Try driving on Olympic or Pico near the 405 anytime between 3pm and 6pm.

— Anthony X
August 18, 2009 at 10:31 a.m.

Are you guys (i.e. editors) from LA?

because no one from here calls it "Sawtelle".

— Joseph Ng
August 17, 2009 at 10:50 p.m.

It was West L.A. fifty years ago, and it will be West L.A. fifty years from now.

— h hilborn
August 17, 2009 at 3:28 p.m.

The name "Sawtelle" comes from the man who donated the VA land, and developed this area for families of the veterans. It was later incorporated into L.A. See "Los Angeles A-Z" by Leonard & Dale Pitt.

The genuine, original name is KuruvungNa. which is the Tongva village, where Uni High now is. Their annual celebration is coming up. See

http://www.onionskin.com/gabrielino/

— David Sackman
August 17, 2009 at 12:18 p.m.

The heart of this neighborhood is represented by the WEST LOS ANGELES Neighborhood Council, on whose board I served. The problem is, people in a lot of other parts of the city want the name "West L.A." too. Thanks for giving those areas other names, but please give us back "West L.A."

— David Holtzman
August 16, 2009 at 10:37 p.m.

The defining aspect of Sawtelle for me is the longstanding illegal "day labor" population that apparently sprung up when the Best Buy was an Armstrongs back in the 80s, and has never resolved, even with the City using our tax dollars to "legitimize" the concept of off-the-books work a decade ago. There are always "day laborers" lining the streets (Sawtelle, Exposition, Sepulveda) and there is litter, even more traffic, abandoned furniture, and public drinking and urination. Lovely. Oh yes, the So-Tel gang, which apparently can't spell but CAN destroy homes and shops with its "tagging" (sorry, I meant "artwork derived of frustration and deprivation").

— Malby
August 15, 2009 at 8:56 a.m.

Who calls it Sawtelle? Not me. It'll always be West L.A.

— Mel
August 15, 2009 at 2:02 a.m.

Hmm. If the West L.A. police station is in Sawtelle, why didn't they call it the Sawtelle police station. Who the heck has been changing around the naming of these districts? Is there some kind of an elitist factor involved? A study of the current demographics of two would certainly leave that impression.

— Ken Cooper
August 14, 2009 at 12:16 p.m.

Response to Comment from Emma B.

"I think Sawtelle should be called "Tiny Tokyo" since Little Tokyo is in downtown L.A."

Sawtelle is called Little Osaka by many of the Japanese immigrants who live/work/socialize there because originally the Japanese from Osaka went there and the Japanese from Tokyo went downtown.

— Jacob
August 13, 2009 at 8:48 p.m.

No one calls this "Sawtelle." I personally call it "West L.A."

— Ellen R.
August 13, 2009 at 2:57 p.m.

The North Westdale Neighborhood Association refers to the area between Centinela, National and Sawtelle just south of the 10 Freeway as North Westdale.

The Annexation Map of the City of Los Angeles has Sawtelle's southern boundary at Pico which would correspond with the North Westdale Neighborhood Association's claim of their north most border ending before Pico.

— Clark Peerless
July 8, 2009 at 11:29 a.m.

BOOOOOO! You missed an important change. Nobody calls this area "Sawtelle". Below the 10 you can choose from West LA, Westdale or Mar Vista, but Sawtelle it is not.

— Victoria
June 15, 2009 at 12:27 a.m.

A resident on Saltair Avenue. First off - I refuse to believe I live in "Sawtelle", although I love the ambiance of the street and its community. I live in WEST LA.

up sides: good bus service via the Santa Monica Blue Bus (don't get me started on the MTA). Friendly business owners in the small family businesses. Some great used bookstores. Restaurants of varied ethnicities with inexpensive food and great service. Interesting thrift shops. Not TOO many strip malls. Responsive police, perfect weather; not too cool, not too hot. Downsides: HORRIBLE trafffic, filthy streets, noisy UCLA undergrads as neighbors, multiple trash truck companies (I swear, trash pickup every day of the week except Sundays on my block). This is turning into a rant! I like it here - a little expensive on rent, but worth it.

— kevin
June 13, 2009 at 8:33 a.m.

I think Sawtelle should be called "Tiny Tokyo" since Little Tokyo is in downtown L.A.

— Ellen B.
June 5, 2009 at 2:04 p.m.

Hi,

Sawtelle is a reasonable, though not very historic (in usage, not provenance) name for the area. I lived there from 1966 when we moved in, 'till I left L.A. to go to school up north in 1979, but as I worked on the exhibits at Griffith Observatory, and my brother lives in that same house, have had connections to the neighborhood all the way to now.

We probably had more naming that had to do with things or places (eg.- "Stoner Park" or "near Cozy Courts" or "near Kelbo's") but since we were cut off by the S.M. Airport on the West, sliced by the 10 and 405, and CLEARLY crossing National meant that you were in Mar Vista or Inglewood hill/Palms, it was clear what our neighborhood was, even if it didn't have a coherent name (the somewhat lame "Westdale" sign put up by the City on Sawtelle was mostly ignored).

Probably the most cohesive thing that defined the place was Uni High, and when my parents bought the place, that was how they picked it: the cheapest house in that catchment area.

Landmarks? It used to be Kelbos, and Hughes Market (well-loved 'till it became Ralph's) and the Westward Ho that was at Colonial Corners (now a generic Whole Foods, Barrington & National). Or maybe the Pronto Market (now, and a long-time-there, Trader Joe's). There weren't many things outside of that that are memorable... Our neighbors two houses down own a donut place called Primo's "Westdale" Donuts, so they've weighed in on the place name for sure! Really good donuts...

Maybe the Tacomiendo at Gateway and Pico?

If I have to write about the Japanese restaurants on Sawtelle (or the remaining nurseries) then this'd be a really long e-mail (uh, it is already, so...) Maybe Ketchie's stand: I hear they put it back up after someone ran over it (years ago).

It was a great place to grow up because the Primos (latino), were next to the Abelsons (jewish), and then us (japanese), and the Bosses next door to us (jehovah's witness). It was, except for the very noticeable lack of blacks, a pretty mixed neighborhood. Quiet too, except for the jets (don't get ANYONE in the neighborhood started on that!)

The neighbor across the street, Mr. Hilcker (don't know the correct spelling after 42 years!) moved in when the whole tract opened, and that was something like 1946 or so. He said it was cabbage fields before that, but it would be nice to know for sure what that place was back in the day, and the Californio who had that tract...

Thanks for this survey and process: I found/find it enlightening and entertaining even though I now live in Brooklyn, NY! I still read the LAT (along with about 7 newspapers online) so do try to keep up. And if we get the job of doing a Los Angeles history exhibit at the NHMLAC, I may have to call you guys! (We interviewed with them on Monday...)

Most sincerely,

T. Kevin Sayama

334 Union Street, #3

Brooklyn, NY 11231

— T. Kevin Sayama
June 3, 2009 at 1:40 p.m.

Sawtelle

is a neighborhood in the city of Los Angeles in the Westside region of Los Angeles County.
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About This Project
Sawtelle is one of the 272 neighborhoods in Mapping L.A., The Times’ resource for crime, neighborhoods, demographics and schools.
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This page was created by the Data Desk, a team of reporters and Web developers in downtown L.A.