One of the continuing themes of this blog is to look at what we are and imagine what we might be.
I think about that as I walk around Van Nuys, a misbegotten and deformed district.
But also an oddly lucky place where land is abundant and cheaper, yet frequently and usually, neglected and wasted.
At 14550 Sylvan St., between Van Nuys Blvd. and Vesper, there is now an empty courtyard surrounded by buildings on three sides. They once fixed cars here. This is a street full of fine old buildings, including the former Van Nuys Library (now a law office) and the former post office. There are also small stores: a tailor, a barber, a school, and a storefront church.
This is where a garden belongs. Buildings are small scale and human, within walking distance of every important building in downtown Van Nuys.
I took photos (with permission) from England. The ‘London Permaculture’ Flickr page shows urban gardens transforming bleak and hostile spaces into fertile and green growing areas.
Brown brick, beer guzzling, working-class England can be drab, but these gardens are a morale booster for their users.
Our alleys, behind Van Nuys Boulevard, can be fixed up with cafes, bars, trees, plants and lights. Eating, drinking and socializing can replace public urination, rats, tagging and trash.
At 14526 Victory Boulevard, the NCJW (National Council of Jewish Women) has a donation center which again, is a North facing forecourt that would also do nicely as an outdoor beer garden, pocket herb garden, etc.
At Friar and Van Nuys Boulevard there is a large parking lot, which is across the street from another large parking structure, in an area with too much parking. Why does Van Nuys, in this ramshackle location, with its empty storefronts and dead buildings, need 2,000 parking spaces?
There are wasted opportunities of land and development all over Van Nuys.
We live in an environment built for the lowest common denominator of mediocrity and exploitation.
Who can marshall the resources to bring money and planning into Van Nuys?