This blog has written 13 other times on “Option A”, a Metro LA proposal by the public transportation agency to wipe out 33 acres of industry in Van Nuys, near the junction of Oxnard and Kester, and replace it with a light rail service yard. It would destroy 1,000 jobs, displace 186 businesses and flatten 58 buildings.
Though the scheme has been public knowledge since September 2017, property owners, workers, renters and the neighbors near here still stand on thin ice, awaiting official June 2018 word whether this whole district is sentenced to death, or if another site (B, C, or D), near the Metrolink tracks up on Raymer Street will be chosen instead.
A photo walk around here yesterday, along Oxnard, Aetna, Bessemer and Calvert, to document some buildings that may be gone in a few years, was also an opportunity to show that this area has great potential beyond its current light industrial use.
In gravel yards, on cracked and broken asphalt, under decaying wood, on treeless, depopulated and narrow roads, there are ingredients for a nice urban area of some new housing, some new cafes, some places where trees, lighting, discreet signage and pavement of cobblestones could bring an infusion of 24/7, urban, walkable, bikeable activity to the neighborhood.
It is already an incubator of creativity with makers of exquisite decorative hardware, superb custom cabinetry, music recording studios, Vespa and Mustang restorers, stained glass makers, welders, boat builders, and kitchen designers. These businesses, incidentally, are staffed by mostly local owners and workers, many of whom are but minutes away, or take the bus or even walk to work. Rents are currently affordable, often 50 cents, $1 or $2 a square foot.
MacLeod Ale, maker of fine British style beers, since 2014, is on the north side of Calvert and is not threatened with demolition but its existence and success is a testament to the potential for innovation in this area.
Ironically, the very wonderful addition of a landscaped bike path and the Metro Orange Line bus in 2005 is now threatening the area because of future conversion to a light rail system. Yet the “Option A” district is thriving, even if it is shabby in places, because it is a work zone of skilled, employed, productive people.
Politicians who often talk ad nauseum about “diversity” should come here with mouths closed and observe men and women: Mexican, Armenian, Norwegian, German, Persian, Guatemalan, Salvadoran, Irish, Scottish, Israeli-Americans, all the hyphenations of ethnicity and gender, who don’t care about where anyone came from, but only about where they are going in life.
This is Los Angeles. This is diversity. This is economic prosperity. This is within walking distance of “downtown Van Nuys.”
Yet short-sighted officials, bureaucratic ignoramuses with grandiose titles, flush with public money, would consider wiping out the very type of neighborhood whose qualities are needed, wanted and venerated.
Option A must not happen. This is what it looks like now.
Imagine what it could look like with the right, guiding hands of investment, preservation, planning and protection.