Celebrating 20 years this September as a certified neighborhood council, the Greater Toluca Lake Neighborhood Council (GTLNC) has long been a pillar of the community. The idea began in 1998, when Los Angeles organized a program of neighborhood councils that would connect local residents and city government. Four years later, the GTLNC was born, with Sol Ajalat serving as its first president. Since then, the council, which consists of neighborhood residents, business owners and property owners, has prided itself on preserving the historical charm and character of Greater Toluca Lake, while also meeting the current and future challenges faced by the L.A. metropolitan area.
“The GTLNC serves as a conduit between the local community and stakeholders, as well as the city, state and federal government,” GTLNC president Colby Jensen says. “We also provide recommendations to the decision-makers to achieve the best result possible for our community.” Except in August, the board and its committees — Executive, Governmental Affairs, Outreach and Elections, Planning and Land Use, and Public Safety — each meet once per month.
Noteworthy projects the GTLNC has accomplished include restoring the 134 Freeway ramps at Cahuenga Boulevard (with Toluca Lake Beautification Partners); installing new traffic signals at the Talofa Avenue–Riverside Drive and Cahuenga Boulevard–Addison Street intersections; conducting three rounds of streetscape planning on Riverside Drive and Lankershim Boulevard; contributing to local events such as the Holiday Open House, Old-Fashioned Pancake Breakfast, Turkey Trot and National Night Out; sponsoring the annual Earth Day Celebration and Taste of Toluca event; and funding new picnic benches at the Rio Vista Elementary School playground and a mural at Toluca Lake Elementary School.
“The GTLNC’s greatest accomplishment has always been its ability to listen closely to our community’s needs, unite its stakeholders and support our local organizations via financial grants, the issuance of community impact statements and other actions intended to benefit our stakeholders,” Jensen says.
With the group placing so much importance on preserving the cherished history of Toluca Lake, Jensen says the neighborhood’s 100th anniversary in 2023 is significant for several reasons. “This event is important because it celebrates our thriving, friendly and jeweled oasis,” he says. “This event also highlights the responsibility of the residents to protect and preserve Toluca Lake for future generations. We should think of ourselves not only as residents of Toluca Lake, but more importantly, as its long-term stewards and caretakers.”