On the west side of Columbus Avenue, north of Hamlin, there are several large (25,000-30,000 sq. ft) properties that recently went up for sale. These comprise an estate owned by one family, who now, I understand, mostly lives in Oregon. They purchased these homes and their large lots many years ago when Van Nuys was a semi-rural area with orange groves, horses… and smiling blonde children whose idea of gang activity was playing cops and robbers.
The homes were rented out. One of the rentals is kept in deplorable condition, but ironically it does not belong to the Oregon landlord’s family, but is owned by someone else. A tenant family and their abandoned cars, shopping carts, trash and litter make this a neighborhood eyesore.
The four or five large pieces add up to about 60-70,000 square feet. That is enough to build 12-14 new homes. The problem is that one developer will not buy all of it. It will be bought & built piecemeal and contribute to the degeneration– not improvement– of this area.
Columbus Avenue, north of Hamlin, is a strange area in transition. These large lots will no doubt be converted into cheap and dense Casa Garageas, with cul-de-sacs lined by treeless, ugly, two story high stucco slum houses. The front lawns will be smaller than the SUV’s on the driveways.
The neighborhood zoning laws allow this, and at some future, flourescent lit community meeting, a paunchy, tired attorney will step in front of the local board, and propose a sub-division where one property will be sliced into six. The English spoken meeting will be attended by almost no locals, as the community involvement in this area is zilch.
The liberal in me cries out, “Why doesn’t our city create a little environmentally sensitive little community of walking areas surrounded by smaller homes connected by paths? Like they would in Seattle, Pasadena, or Venice?”
Then the conservative in me observes, with cold empricism, the police helicopters overhead, the garbage filled shopping carts, the vicious barking dogs behind steel gates, the illegal aliens on the corner. I can smell the Vietnamese and Chinese food in the air–industrial food production stink that wiped out the aroma of flowering orange blossoms and jasmine. A cop car cruises down here twice a year, but taggers visit weekly.
And then I think I know why people moved to the Simi Valley or Santa Claritia. Exhaustion sets in.