On a brief walk, after dropping off a package at the UPS on Van Nuys Bl. I walked west on Sylvan, south on Vesper, ending this set of photos at the new fire station on Oxnard.

There is a small but significant amount of new apartments going up. They are pleasant additions to the neighborhood and are all in the currently popular white style, blindingly white, with dark windows.  They add some upgraded cleanliness to an area which has long been the sad kingdom of slumlords. 

On Sylvan, the former post office, built during the 1930s by the WPA, in a classical style, was later a home for Children of the Night, a non-profit created to fight childhood sexual exploitation. They have since moved out, so the sidewalk outside the gracious building is now a trash camp.

The new fire station (2019) is a great asset for the neighborhood and has significant architectural beauty that recalls the 1930s Streamline Era, and is also conversant with the first fire station on Sylvan (1939) as well as the former DWP building on Aetna and Vesper (1938) just behind the new edifice.

Just to the east of the fire station, Aetna is closed, with a high fence, between Vesper and Van Nuys Boulevard, most likely due to the trash campers who took over the area. They are banished to fly somewhere else, probably to the bird sanctuary in Woodley Park.

Councilwoman Nury Martinez has jurisdiction over this area, and her office is nearby in the Valley Municipal Building. She is now the head of the city council, and the first Latina to hold that position in city history.

We can applaud the justice of diversity, the idea that anyone from any background can ascend the ladder of politics and achieve leadership.

We cannot applaud the failures of Ms. Martinez, and her predecessor Tony Cardenas (who is now a congressman in Washington, DC) for they have had over 20 combined years of allowing Van Nuys to fall into utter disintegration, filth, homelessness and blight. 

Their ethnicity has pushed them up into the spotlight even as their academic records in elected office should be graded D- or F.

The idea that one’s identity deserves praise rather than one’s achievements is a new chapter in our American conversation. If Van Nuys should fall further into the gutter, which seems unimaginable, we will think of the paucity of Ms. Martinez’s and Mr. Cardenas’ accomplishments and recall this verse from Matthew 7:16 “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”

Rotten.

Writer/photographer

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