What’s in a name? The quest for ‘Beverly Village’

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On yesterday’s Which Way, L.A.? Saul Gonzalez talked to residents of Koreatown that are pushing to designate a slice of the city “Peru Village.”

In a different part of town, another Angeleno is also in the process of naming her neighborhood. Tara Riceberg owns Tweak, a gift store on Beverly Boulevard, in a section of LA that doesn’t quite have a name. She realized there was a problem when she thought about organizing community events, specifically a “Pup Crawl,” for her neighbors and their pets.

“How do you market a pup crawl in a neighborhood that has no name,” she said frustrated. “I can’t call it ‘Pup Crawl’ Los Angeles.  I can’t call it ‘Pup Crawl’ West Hollywood adjacent. So I thought, you know what, this is the problem. You can’t do anything because the neighborhood doesn’t have a name, the neighborhood needs a name.”

Most people just call it “West Hollywood” or “Beverly Hills adjacent.” Wikipedia refers to the area as “Beverly Grove,” and so does the Los Angeles Times’ Mapping LA Neighborhoods Project. But that isn’t a name many people identify with.

“Beverly Grove is one of those that wasn’t a very well established name,” said Doug Smith, LA Times Database Editor. “The Beverly Grove name, I believe, was one of those we kind of asked a few people, ‘well what would you call this area’ and that was the best that they came up with.”

The LA Times Mapping LA Project was made to help understand the nuances of the many Los Angeles communities. After maxing out the knowledge of maps and community resources. The Times asked people who lived in the area where the community begins and ends.

“There are some areas that have very strong identifications, and we got a lot of push-back from people who were angry because they would say they lived in Country Club Heights and they said they lived in Koreatown,” said Smith. “But their neighborhood is like a little tiny piece of Koreatown. And the name and the identification means a lot to them.”

The Times’ discovered that residents of certain areas were likely to put up a fight to stop their neighborhood from being named incorrectly. People felt a connection with their respective villages, circles or squares.

Riceberg said that her initiative begins and ends with community.

“You can’t have children growing up when saying when they go off to college ‘Oh I’m from LA.’ ‘Really, where in LA?’ ‘Well, Los Angeles.’ ‘But where in LA?’ Oh my gosh! You need a neighborhood name,” said Riceberg.

The next step for Riceberg was starting a petition and gathering signatures. She currently has about 350 of the 500 needed to take her proposal to the City Council. From there, a committee will make sure that no one in the area is opposed to the idea, and that no one is being infringed upon.

Riceberg has even thought of a name. “Beverly Village,” she says. “It’s is a name that is acceptable. There are other villages that exist in Los Angeles.”

“This is one of the only places in Los Angeles where you can pop into a store, go get a coffee, walk to a bar. It’s all about neighborhood and just getting out and being active and connecting with people. Which to me feels very much like a village.”

Joan Pelico, Chief of staff for Paul Koretz, the councilman in charge of the Beverly Grove district, said that a name is what you make of it, and that the city is willing to help. It’s not about the sign itself, it’s about the people.

“It’s how are you going to bring the feeling to the people who come there?” said Pelico. “If what they’re looking for is that warm, Mayberry, little town store feeling, that’s what they have to create,” said Pelico. “Just putting a sign up isn’t gonna do anything. It’s a sign. It’s what you create behind it that makes the difference.”