The accompanying photo [BRENTW'4.jpg] is cropped from a mosaic of 36 individual satellite pictures of the Brentwood neighborhood where the Bundy crimes took place. As described in "Heidstra Timeline," that neighborhood "runs at an angle," and so I have rotated the true geographic orientation by 45 degrees CW to show this image, as people commonly discuss the place. Colloquial north is toward the top of the page, true north is indicated by an arrow in the lower right. Left/right streets, Dorothy, Gorham, and Montana are indicated. Streets more or less perpendicular to these are Gretna Green Way, Bundy Drive, and Westgate Avenue, as labeled. Not labeled and east (right) of Westgate is Granville, which ends at Gorham. The main street in the area, San Vicente Boulevard, runs at a diagonal in the upper right, and the grassy tree-planted median is visible. Also, one of the tall office buildings on San Vicente can be distinguished by its long shadow reaching in an upper right direction. Alleys between the streets are seen to be common.
Bundy Drive comes down from the top of the picture (at Montana) at a slight diagonal until it reaches the next street, Gorham. Thereupon it goes sharply right and swings into a left hand curve, resuming an up/down orientation in mid-block between Gorham and Dorothy. Notice that the last four lots on the left before Dorothy contain red tile-roofed buildings almost solid from Bundy to the alley behind (Nicole's alley). These are mostly double condominiums to each of those lots. The second lot up from Dorothy is the building in which Nicole lived, and her condo was the northern (upper) half of that second lot from the corner.
At Dorothy, Bundy Drive jogs 40 or so feet to the east (right) before continuing a gently sinuous course south to Wilshire Blvd., off the bottom of the figure. The terrain on Bundy is slightly downhill toward the south. Dorothy is nearly level to the west of Bundy, but sharply uphill from Bundy to the alley to the east (Heidstra's alley). The difference in elevation between the alley and Bundy Drive is about 20 feet. Farther east from the alley to Westgate, Dorothy is slightly uphill.
Land usage in the neighborhood is mixed. San Vicente Boulevard is a commercial district with several tall, modern office buildings mixed in amongst older restaurants, gift shops, gyms, bookstores, boutiques, decorator shops, a coffee shop of note, and real estate offices in buildings that date from the twenties, when the neighborhood was first developed and streetcars ran down San Vicente to the beach.
Originally, the vast residential area was solidly in single family residences, but beginning in the 1960s this underwent redevelopment into apartment houses, and later some of these were converted into condominiums. (By now, even some of the redeveloped apartment houses have been torn down and rebuilt as newer up-scale apartments.) The extensive area of gray, lot-filling roofs is such multiple family buildings, and covers about 80% of the residential part of the photograph today. Curb parking in those areas is about like winning the lottery; even though each apartment has on-site parking for residents, visitors' cars crowd the curbs. But, at a point about six houses east of Bundy redevelopment into apartments ceased, and the old pattern of single family residences is solid. There are hardly any cars parked on the streets of this low density part of Brentwood. Nicole's place was one of a few exceptions to the single family rule, where redevelopment was undertaken into a double condominium, but not a multiple unit apartment building. Witnesses Fenjves and Stein lived in similar low density re-developments that are clustered near Bundy and Dorothy, but witnesses Storfer, Tisteart, and Pilnak lived in traditional single family houses. Heidstra lived in an apartment house near Dorothy and Westgate. Bostepe and Schwab lived in apartments up on Montana.
A half mile to the east of this picture is a great tract of federal land. Originally a national cemetery, it became filled before the end of World War II. It was the site of an "old soldier's home" until the sixties, and now is largely used for veteran's health research and veteran's administration. There is a federal building on the site at Wilshire Blvd. which is the locale of frequent political demonstrations. The 405 Freeway runs through the federal tract on its way over the Santa Monica Mountains and to the San Fernando Valley. Maybe because of the national cemetery nearby, decorated with thousands of little American flags each May, Memorial Day is a big holiday in this community. There is a parade when San Vicente Boulevard is shut down, and there is a remarkably hokey small town atmosphere then -- only possible because TV cameras are not invited. Marching high school bands, old vets in their uniforms, a few equestrian units, local celebrities waving from vintage cars, and occasionally even an elephant, though the significance of that is never clear. Even the rich and famous like their occasional simple moments, it seems. (Dogs on leashes are welcome.)
Because Brentwood is on a coastal plain with the Pacific Ocean only 2-1/2 miles to the west, the temperature is mild. The coldest winter temperatures seldom get below the forties, and never to freezing. Summer temperatures seldom get into the nineties, and hot humid weather is rare. Rain is usually moderate (15 inches a year) but occasional heavy winter storms cause ruinous mudslides in the nearby hills. From December to June there is a phenomenon now called "June gloom," but which was once described by the local weatherman's mantra: "Late night and early fog and low clouds along the coast spreading inland by mid-morning." Most Brentwood yards are a riot of ornamental plants, some of them exotic, which thrive in such a climate. The exotic Argentine jacaranda tree, cascading with purple blossoms in May and June, is common on these streets, bright blossomed coral trees line the grassy San Vicente median, and the Bird of Paradise is the official Los Angles flower.
(A satellite view of the Bundy neighborhood around Nicole's condo.)
Dick Wagner Van Nuys, CA (4/05/02) SATELLIT.txt