A Quick MB RE Glossary

By Dave Fratello | December 14th, 2012

Looking back over the years, here at MBC we've adopted some terms, and created some others, as shorthand for various aspects of Manhattan Beach real estate.

Now and then we get questions: What does this mean, what does that mean?

So here's a guide to some of those terms, and any interesting history behind them.

We encourage readers to add their own to the list via comments, or just email Dave.

The Highway – There can be no doubt: "The Highway" is Sepulveda, Route 1, PCH... all the same thing. It's the border between East and West MB.

For some, the highway is like an impenetrable barrier, as in: "It seems like weeks since I crossed Sepulveda." For others, no big whoop, we're all here together, man.

The border has spawned some divisive phrases: "There's No Life East of Sepulveda," and a former marketing slogan, "Downtown Manhattan Beach: Just West of Ordinary." Oooh, who you calling "ordinary?"

El Norte – It's El Porto, the district of MB located north of Rosecrans, originally developed as an "unincorporated town" of LA County before being annexed into MB in 1980. El Porto is home to MB's most consistent surf, and formerly the region's wildest nightlife.

Five years ago, residents and businesses decided to scrap "El Porto" and rebrand the whole area from about 33rd Street to 45th as "North Manhattan Beach." (See "El Porto? No M as!" and "You Can't Kill El Porto.")

MBC rejected this gentrification-by-labeling and suggested a compromise: "El Norte," the best of old and new. These 5 years later, we're sticking to it. (For some of the flavor of El Porto's history, see this Easy Reader story.)

The South End – Not too hard to figure out, but you'd call this generally the area of the Sand Section south of the pier, and more specifically south of about 8th Street, where downtown impacts are less present. The further south you get, it seems, the quieter things are.

A stretch of kid-friendly 7th St.

The "flat walkstreets" or "flat family walkstreets" – This is an area of the South End between 4th St. and 10th St., east of Highland (specifically Crest) and west toward Valley. This district was simply built up differently than most of MB, with streets designed for people, not cars. The shared, safe walkways in front of the houses are a major neighborhood feature, making this MB's true "playborhood."

MB has other walkstreets, to be sure, where no cars are allowed, but they're typically on downslopes right near the beach. The "flat walkstreets" aren't all truly flat, but they're flatter than the beachside walkstreets. The family-friendly nature of the walkstreets adds a significant premium on prices.

417 34th set a Plateau record: $3.230m

The Plateau – This is one nickname given to the 400-block area of the northern Sand Section, between about 26th St. and 34th St. (Some would include 35th and 36th also.) Some locals also call this area "the flats."

The 400 blocks are situated at the top of a hill rising straight up from the beach. In the 300s somewhere, the streets start to flatten out, and the 400s are all flat. (Unlike the "flat family walkstreets," Plateau streets really are flat.) The 400 blocks end at a clifflike drop in the hill to the east, with the Tree Section down below. Another great family neighborhood, with school and beach proximity as top assets.

MBB – Also not hard to figure, but this is Manhattan Beach Boulevard. Isn't "MBB" more efficient?

The Dune – Hard to believe, but Sand Dune Park and the controversy around it are mostly in our collective rear-view mirror. There once was a time when this unique park, straddling the northwestern edge of the Tree Section and the cliff-like area of the Sand Section right above (the Plateau), was wide open to visitors. Too wide open, it was felt. People flocked to the area for a workout on the steep, upsloping sand, impacted the neighborhood, and wore out their welcome.

The city closed The Dune, then instituted a convoluted pre-registration system for visitors. It "worked" in terms of sharply curtailing use of The Dune, and enhancing real estate values in the immediate area.

Martyrs Hill – If you heard the term "Martyrs Hill" back east, people would assume some kind of Civil War battle had taken place nearby. But here, it's just an informal designation for a pocket of the Tree Section near downtown and surrounding American Martyrs Catholic Church.

The stretch from 14th-18th Street has wider streets, and homes on the western slope often steal ocean peeks – the only part of the Tree Section where you can say that. There may be claims to this neighborhood designation by 19th St. or 12th and 13th Streets, but they probably fit in different categories.

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