On Tuesday, July 23rd, two women, Cindy Montanez and Nuri Martinez, will face off in a special election to decide the next leader of LA’s 6th District which includes Van Nuys, Arleta and Sun Valley.

After a dozen non-productive and self-destructive years of Councilman Tony Cardenas, the district is still one of the least appealing areas of the San Fernando Valley. Downtown Van Nuys is dying, its post office closed, its shops vacant. The Van Nuys Neighborhood Council is a long-running joke, producing theatrics and anger instead of cleaning up the streets.

Why Van Nuys should continue to suffer is one of the strange mysteries of our city.

It is centrally located, adjacent to North Hollywood and Sherman Oaks, an easy commute to Woodland Hills, Studio City and Hollywood. It is served by buses and three freeways, so it certainly does not lack transportation. On many streets there are stunningly beautiful homes often used for filming movies and commercials.

The downfall of Van Nuys, which was established in 1911, began after WII when regional shopping centers replaced mom and pop stores. The widening of Van Nuys Boulevard and Victory, the elimination of diagonal parking, the ripping down of old houses to make way for large government buildings, the influx of immigrants who were poorer and less educated, the slumlords who bought up apartments and let them decay, the emptying out of legitimate business to make way for pot shops, massage parlors and bail bonds, all of these contributed to the El Crappo aura. And basically El Crappo is all one sees driving along Van Nuys Boulevard.

Whomever wins on Tuesday, Ms. Montanez or Ms. Martinez, both ladies (I like that word) will have to dig in her heels and bring shovel-ready action to Van Nuys, and concentrate with all her might in rebuilding a civilized and thriving district that is no longer the laughing stock of Los Angeles.

4 thoughts on “Cindy vs. Nuri

  1. I agree! Even though I no longer live in Van Nuys, it is still my hometown. I always proudly say that Van Nuys is my hometown and am not ashamed to admit it. Because of that, I, as much as anybody living there now, would dearly LOVE to see Van Nuys and Van Nuys Blvd. revitalized. I visit the area every 2-3 years, and it breaks my heart to see it either the same or worse. Here’s hoping that new blood in the district will help Van Nuys become the thriving city it once was!


  2. Van Nuys went downhill in the 70s after Topanga Plaza opened, and when the Northridge shopping center opened in 1972. Due to the location of the courts, and the jail, Van Nuys opened pawn shops and bail bond stores. Illegal immigration continued the decline in the 80s. Importing poverty, and exporting jobs (Carnation, Cheverolet) is not going to help an area, or bring in tax revenue. It didn’t help that the “city” of Van Nuys was split between several city council districts, so that it never had a majority of any district and therefore had no leverage. Apartments declined because of rent control. Why would apartment owners spend the money to update apartments, if they couldn’t retrieve their investment? Section 8 housing added to the problem, with the idealistic thought that spreading poverty instead of containing it in smaller public housing areas was a good idea. The intentions, may have been good, but the result was like spreading a cancer. The schools declined, so those with more money, sent their kids to private schools rather than Birmingham, Van Nuys and Grant. (Mike Milken may have gone to Birmingham, but his children surely didn’t). Prostitutes were not visible in Van Nuys in the 50s and 60s. There were fewer “gentlemen’s clubs.” Unfortunately, this is all a downward spiral. Van Nuys, does have something to offer, but it needs to be cleaned up, and values have to change. We need to vote for people who are going to change the area, yet we keep electing the same people to different “musical chairs”.

    Is Panorama City also part of the 6th District? Does anyone remember Robinson’s? PC has a similar story. Will the streets ever stop flooding in Sun Valley? Why is it that Pasadena and Glendale can turn their less desirable areas around? It makes me believe that the city council wants the area to decline. Not enough campaign contributions, perhaps?


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