AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre “It has been gut-wrenching to hear how people have talked about our home, but if they are not working to make the community better then they don’t even belong there.” Construction of the San Diego Freeway created the first divide in the Van Nuys community. As early as 1960, real-estate agents in the Valley were marketing homes on the west side of the new roadway as “West Van Nuys.” But the first official name change in the area didn’t come until 1991, when the southern portion of Van Nuys officially became part of Sherman Oaks. Residents at the time said their original home deeds – from as far back as the 1940s – labeled the area as Sherman Oaks, but to date a half-mile strip between Magnolia and Burbank boulevards and from Van Nuys Boulevard to the Tujunga Wash still keeps its original Van Nuys ZIP code. By 1998, the community of Valley Glen had also etched its boundaries out of the eastern portion of Van Nuys and the western edge of North Hollywood. When the Lake Balboa and West Van Nuys movement got its desired name change last month, it left Van Nuys at nearly half its original size – with about 90,000 residents. Most say the name changes stemmed from residential areas wanting to shy away from Van Nuys’ gritty image. But Steve Leffert, president of the West Van Nuys/Lake Balboa Neighborhood Council, said those communities’ motivation to get a name change was more about unity. “After this uphill struggle, we are hoping to put all of this behind and get other things moving to improve our community,” he said. Leffert said the battle may have ended in a victory – but there is still some territory confusion. “Our boundaries still include a piece of Van Nuys and a sliver of Northridge,” Leffert said. But the question for many is what a new name for a community means. According to Councilman Tony Cardenas, name changes can create a false sense of community. “If I had that many people show up to a community cleanup or an anti-prostitution night out it would do much more than changing the name of a few blocks,” he said. Cardenas voted in favor of the Lake Balboa name change but said it was his way of putting an end to the debate. “If I never have to deal with another name change while I’m in office, I would be happy,” Cardenas said. Truth be told, no matter the name a community adopts, it often has little effect on services. “They get no new ZIP code or new services. They will get a couple of signs, but don’t get any more police officers or street cleaning,” Cardenas said. “This doesn’t dictate anything.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Van Nuys is shrinking. But no need to panic – the erosion isn’t new. Lake Balboa and West Van Nuys may be the latest communities to join forces and leave Van Nuys – once hailed as the “town that started right” – but they certainly weren’t the first. “We are working on getting Van Nuys’ name changed to Abandoned Meadows,” joked Don Schultz, a longtime Van Nuys resident and a member of the community homeowners association.