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According to City Data, the area of Van Nuys bounded by Roscoe Boulevard on the North, Woodman Avenue on the East,Burbank Boulevard to the South, and the 405 on the West, an area of 7.2 square miles, contains some 100,000 people at a population density of 13,271 per square mile. The LA Times claims 110,000 lived here as of 2008.

Heart of this district is a blank-walled canyon of bleakness, Van Nuys Boulevard. It was once a thriving commercial street, full of fine looking Mid-Century Modern banks, small stores, and family run businesses where the windows were washed and the sidewalks swept daily.

In the 1950s through the 1980s it was a cruising area, taken over by young people and cool cars.

And now it is a dump.


It seems that this blog, for over 8 years, has reported ad nauseum on this wasteland of shuttered shops, littered parking lots, and vast expanses of asphalt surrounded by decay.

And yet, two blocks from Van Nuys Boulevard, there are some lovely and historic streets, well maintained houses, people and their properties who are trying to keep neatness and bourgeois respectability evident in their front yards.

The bottom line is the bottom line. There is not a plan, nor a large scale investment, nor a vision for Van Nuys Boulevard. There are piecemeal and weak proposals put forth by well-meaning people to make it “bicycle friendly” or “pedestrian friendly”. But who the hell wants to spend time in the 100-degree heat, soaking up the smell of urine in doorways, stepping over dog shit, as the smoke of illegal food vendors blows over the parked cars and idle trucks who have flunked their smog inspections?

The current environment is a hellish place, one whose continuing demoralizing existence blights the whole community of Van Nuys.

One hundred thousand people who live here deserve better.

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9 thoughts on “Boulevard of Blankness.

  1. The design of Van Nuys Blvd is so bad it would be funny it it weren’t so sad. The cheapest solution would be something like what they did on W. Lancaster Blvd in Lancaster CA — replace the middle three lanes with slanted parking and trees. Building apartment buildings (with a little retail downstairs) on the off-street parking lots on cross streets like Gilmore Vanowen and Kittridge would help as well.


  2. Good work.
    Your photos are evidence.
    When combined with Google maps
    you can see the decay over time.
    For example, second photo from bottom,
    the gray-sand-terracotta structure at
    6645 Van Nuys Boulevard . Originally,
    stores had large display windows and
    pedestrian entrances on Van Nuys Blvd.
    In fact, the Van Nuys Blvd Planning Code
    mandates pedestrian entrances on the
    Boulevard even if rear entrances are available.
    On February 15, 2012, 6645 Van Nuys Blvd was
    destroyed by fire. When new building plans
    were submitted, the “visionary technocrats” in
    Van Nuys Planning simply ignored Codes and
    “signed-off”, approved, the dead-unwelcoming
    walled fortress. Understand?
    Complaints to Planning Compliance Unit shifted
    the culpability to Building & Safety; however,
    if you review the permits, clearly the malfeasance
    was committed within the Planning Department.


  3. Makes me sick. What the hell happened. I grew up there in the 50’s and 60’s and it was a wonderful place and a wonderful street. I am sorry I left but glad at the same time I would just be too sad to see how bad it has gotten. I remember butler brothers, Von’s, grants the fox theatre and woolworths, the news stand on victory, curries ice cream, sight and sound, sees candy, new berry’ sit truly was a great place to grow up.


    1. Oh my gosh I remember those same places too, Sue…and you would barely be able to find the actual buildings any more…it has become a purely-for-profit street set up-more like a street faire-but without the quaintness of setting. More like drug addicts, gangbangers and the city-poor roaming the boulevard looking for a hope that left long ago…the merchants are basically newly americanized immigrants seeking out their own fortunes, but sadly unaware of what they have walked in to. The burden left to the police can only end badly as they are asked to do what under-educated, over loaded parents could not do: discipline their own blood. Alas, they shall blame anyone and everyone whether it be for arresting their little hoodlums or trying to discipline them or even for bringing them back home in the hopes the parents will do something…It rather began in Panorama City and Pacoima and North Hollywood (the former town of Lankershim) and slowly dropped/filtered down the boulevard and into Van Nuys and the rest of the Valley. Blight follows the poor and the uneducated and the big money began it’s ever-present attempts to escape to the west…but after Santa Barbara (running out of water) west means the Hawaiian Islands and then Japan. So where will the next generation of breeders figure to head…after they have left a nightmare in their wakes?

      And yes, I too have an alternative place to run too, but wish to assure the brunt of you who really have remained behind and are trying: the grass is no greener any place else. And those who cause the brunt of damage to any community, don’t change when they move on! They take their problems with them and begin again devastating the next place. So who knows? Perhaps in another 50 years-if the Valley is still intact-it might rise again and become the next Beverly Hills for various groups and causes with high prices, cleaned up neighborhoods and a rich balance of various races, creeds, sexes, working families, investors, the young and the old…and a grandiose variety of different shops offering a wonderful balance of products made every where from the United States to the other 6 continents? Now that would be a real paradise and fun place to visit? But in between, as areas die, we need to make sure they are completely dead!!! And then bring in the bulldozers and start again-fresh-clean and with more park spaces, parking available and room for the young and old to have activities, with a clean and truly “rapid transit system”-not one that is filled with back door bribes, and under the table kick backs…but one that serves the entire community and is safe and clean and relatively inexpensive? And how about a museum that allows for space/room to give tribute to past residents including the early Indian tribes, the latter-day Spaniards/’Californios’/in-between-ers/and then various other races and creeds and show how they actually got along and all helped to build this huge sprawl that is L.A. County, California! And-yes-even room to explain how the Valley began and it’s hostile atmosphere towards all non-white races and the elements used to subjugate them and then how other gangs arose and how they became violent…maybe even a final tribute to how it all ended and we all got along in that future time?

      Alas, my idle dreaming. I may have another 10-20 years ahead, but probably won’t live to see that event. It would be wonderful, if it could happen though.


  4. What community of Van Nuys? I spent 8 years as a homeowner and stake holder in Van Nuys and the only community I ever saw were people using my front lawn as a receptacle for their used condoms while my neighbors were busy using their connections at the councilmans office to get my car towed from in front of my house because it had been parked in the same spot for three days, that is when they weren’t busy having loud parties on Saturday night that went on until 2:00 in the morning despite several calls to the LAPD. I’m sorry but I’m not familiar with this “community” that you speak of.


    1. Sounds like your neighborhood is about the same as mine “Shodedyam”. S.O./V.N., went to hell long ago…and it wasn’t cratered by latinos or blacks or any other particular group. It was waylaid by greedy-assed whites who had control of planning and set themselves up as they were on their way out the revolving door of city government. Very little has ever been revealed from this shadowy group, but that which I have been able to attain tells me that my own race is a sorry excuse for humanity…human avarice, self-indulgence, and even some bigotry helped shape the lasting designs that are now the price of residency in the current spectacle that is V.N. As the once-well-planned designs for V.N. were crumpled into bureaucratic trash bins, the Feds. walked in in an attempt to stave off total disaster by building their own behemoths where they thought they could do the most good. Ultimately, they ended up building a “Berlin Wall” instead that was more of a natural divide than aid and left the entire area devoid of any real capitalistic ventures, rather leaving instead a wall of parking lots, bailbondsmen and lawyers’ offices. And though I mean only moderate offense to the lawyers-after all, the bubonic plague did do SOME GOOD!-they truly provide very little to the growth and development of any city in which they roost. In fact, they are like a built-in inflationary indicator helping to falsely drive up costs for local leases, thus driving away most hard working retail establishments!

      It has been sad to watch the devolve-ment of both Panorama City (the City of the Future) and Van Nuys-named for James Van Nuys and his father, Isaac Newton Van Nuys. No amount of well meant efforts can cover up the constant barrage of developers and the bribes they would give to anyone who let them develop every square inch of space for profits, leaving behind absolutely nothing for ordinary people to live by…no YMCAs, no parks or family centers…Nothing…just asphalt, cement and old-school marble. We went from a god-forsaken-desert to out stretched farmland full of sheep/cattle/wheat and barley and then wall-to-wall pavement…one might say we went from a natural wonder to an artificial paradise, then straight to hell. Even now, as the poor demand more and more services they do not deserve, the home owners who have remained-of all races-are forced to pay for the rest. Those who can barely pay their property taxes as is, turn to illegally renting out closet-like spaces on their properties to help pay these additional fees. More and more cars block out every single possible parking space…more traffic on even the side streets…more pollution and idling cars as they wait for ill-timed lights no longer able to handle the influx and flow of constant movement…there are no longer any solutions…only hoped for Biblical endings…Even a one time friend of my dad’s-a long time city council member fell silent and walked away…and another county supervisor who went to my college (long, long ago) went from conservative to pro-growth to the max, even when it destroyed the comfortable lives of his constituents…also conservatives? So what happened? You know what happened. The mighty dollar always wins in the end. It is never far from the minds of elected officials…nor is the cost of re-election…there just isn’t much to hope for over the next 10 years or so. Even close to me-on Magnolia Blvd., the last open space is now totally gobbled up by another huge complex-big money-big taxes-huge over-flow of coming residents-and traffic up the yin-yang coming soon…from 6 small ’50’s styled 1+1’s, a quaint old A-frame and a small orange grove to this final monstrosity…no comments, no complaints…low interest rates for the building…and the last piece of the old “Kester Ranch” is gonna be filled to the max…Whatever happened with the “water shortage”?????


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