Letter From a Neighbor to Councilwoman Nury Martinez

My neighbor, who has lived in Van Nuys since 1979, is aghast at its condition and appalled at the utter lack of leadership in correcting its continuing decline.

She wrote a letter, intended for Nury Martinez our Councilwoman and now the President of the City Council.

I agree with everything in it. Our community is dying with rampant lawlessness and political leaders who mouth platitudes but have no guts to fight for the forgotten taxpayers and residents of Van Nuys.

Here it is:

“As a long time resident of Van Nuys, 42 years, I have watched its steady decline with dismay.

Among my many concerns is the appalling lack of investment in upgrading and maintaining the city center. All the city buildings are here: the courthouse, the police station, the library, train/bus stops etc. This should be a center of pride for the city, but instead it is a fenced off desert with no landscaping, few trees, garbage and litter everywhere.

Old Post Office

I understand that the homeless problem has impacted all, but other than DTLA or Venice, we are the worst.

3/5/18 Bessemer at Cedros.
Van Nuys, CA 90401 Built: 1929 Owners: Shraga Agam, Shulamit Agam

At one point, a few years ago, Van Nuys Blvd. received a grant titled something like “Beautiful Streets.” There were plans afoot to utilize that money to help VNB from Oxnard to Victory but nothing ever was accomplished. What happened to that money?

In the past I have been to several Van Nuys City Council meetings and found them to be a joke. Most of the Council members seemed preoccupied with eating pizza, nothing was accomplished and many did not even live in Van Nuys.

Once upon a time Van Nuys was a charming little town with thriving shops, and restaurants and a pretty City Center. Now it is a filthy, sad and neglected relic. Come take a drive Along Van Nuys Blvd from Oxnard to Roscoe and tell me if you would feel any pride in living here?

Van Nuys, 1938

At least clean up the median on Sepulveda Blvd between Haynes and Le May. Clean it, plant trees and maintain it. Clean up the constant trash along the streets.

This list could go on and on but it would show that you care if you would just do this much, it is the least you could do and it’s a start.

And is it not illegal to litter? What about a litter free campaign and enforcement of the law? LA used to be one of the cleanest cities in the country now it is the filthiest.

My heart is breaking. Please help us!

And if you cannot, let us know whom to vote for who can.”

11 thoughts on “Letter From a Neighbor to Councilwoman Nury Martinez

  1. «stuck on the idea that abolishing Prop 13 is the answer to this problem.»

    Abolishing Proposition 13 is a necessary step, but it is also a symptom of the political problem, as our blogger hints when he wrote ”who inherited it, who bought it over 20 years ago, are favored by Proposition 13”:

    * Poverty and homelessness are problems, and solving problems requires money.

    * The two main ways to solve property and homelessness are either to move the poor and the homeless somewhere else, and that costs money for more police, and shifts part of the cost to someone else, or to provide cheap housing to the poor and homeless.

    * Gated communities are in effect a solution of the “shift part of the cost to someone else”, and some people on this blog would like for Van Nuys to be turned into a gated community, the cost paid for by someone else.

    * But whichever solution is chosen, it costs money, and then there are two types of of residents: those who benefit from Proposition 13 and live in neighbourhoods without extensive poverty and homelessness, and the others, like residents of Van Nuys.

    * Why should people who live in areas without poverty and homelessness vote to pay higher taxes to solve the problems of the residents of Van Nuys?

    It just does not make sense to them; not only it would mean paying more taxes, it would damage them in two ways: it would depress their real estate valuations by making Van Nuys more of a competitor for new tenants or buyers, and it would risk moving the poverty and homelessness problem of Van Nuys to their own neighbourhood. Our blogger has mentioned deporting the poor and homeless to Kansas, but that costs money, and the taxpayers of Kansas might not want to pay higher taxes to fund that.

    Paying higher taxes to solve the poverty and homelessness problems of Van Nuys does not make sense even to many residents of Van Nuys, especially those (usually older ones) who are not thinking to selling their real estate anytime soon and who stay mostly in their homes, and want just to minimize their taxes, and don’t care what happens to the public spaces outside their houses with their nice gardens,


  2. «Many american voters following Reagan prefer market solutions and lower taxes to government solutions funded by higher taxes»

    One way to look at it is to think in terms of “plans”: “bronze”, “silver”, “gold” plans (“economy”, “business”, “first” class).

    For residential services the government provides a minimal “bronze” plan paid for by low taxes, and the markets offer upgrades to gated communities (“silver” plan) and private estates (“gold” plan).

    Van Nuys is one of many “bronze plan” areas, where real estate owners have chosen to fly “economy”.


  3. «I see no plan at all»
    «you all wish that someone else campaign to abolish Proposition 13»
    «would agree people should not live on the street. How this is done»

    Indeed the hard part is the “how”: any plan needs a budget, that’s why I mentioned Proposition 13, the issue is only the size of the budget.

    Look at gated communities: one upside is that there are no people who live on the street in them. But their residents have the downsides of paying significant homeowner association fees plus higher real estate prices plus restrictive covenants.

    Many american voters following Reagan prefer market solutions and lower taxes to government solutions funded by higher taxes: those who don’t want people to live on the street in their neighbourhood buy into privately-managed gated communities, those who don’t mind them buy for cheaper into government-managed non-gated areas. That is market choice.

    When real estate owners merely agree that people should not live on the street in their neighbourhood they are in effect wishing to get the same benefit as a gated community, but without paying for it themselves. That is not how a market based economy works.


    1. Moderate income people who own property in Los Angeles, who inherited it, who bought it over 20 years ago, are favored by Proposition 13. It keeps property taxes low for this category because it assesses value based on the original purchase price with allowances for a percent a year increase.

      The problems in Van Nuys are merely magnified because it is a section of Los Angeles, governed by the same laws and ideas as the rest of the city, and carries the burdens of 75 years of automobile centered planning.

      There are acres of empty parking lots in downtown Van Nuys even as there are hardly any businesses that utilize them. There are acres of parking lots along the Orange Line, rented out to Keyes Automotive to store their new cars, even if that land was meant for bus commuters who shouldn’t need to park cars. There are blocks of abandoned or vacant storefronts along Victory and Van Nuys Boulevard, and one story buildings that could be 8-12 stories tall apartments.

      In the 1980s, thousands of migrants from Central America settled in Los Angeles and Van Nuys. They have brought along a wonderful culture, but their assimilation, both legal and illegal, has completely changed the school system, health care, and perceptions of safety. To this day most families in Van Nuys who can, drive their children out of Van Nuys, sometimes and hour away, to attend schools in “better” neighborhoods, thus exacerbating traffic, segregation and childhood obesity.

      We have often well-meaning politicians and others who are working to ameliorate the ills of Van Nuys, but nothing is easy here. The only thing that is easy is online talk.


  4. Van Nuys was intended to be another city center aside from DTLA. It is unique in that is a suburb with largely urban problems. It has been that way since I went to high school and lived there ’80-’85. I’m not sure what will work but I would look to denser areas such as Koreatown for possible solutions.


  5. I could not agree more with this letter. Its not only Van Nuys (which is among the worst), but it has spread thru the entire valley. I live in Woodland Hills, and if you see what is going outside of Target on Ventura Blvd, or under the bridge where Corbin passes under the Ventura Frwy, appalled is the word that comes to mind. Look at the areas along the Los Angeles river, its nothing more than a garbage dump.

    As we all know this has a lot to do with the homelessness that is plaguing our city, and while I know no one wakes up in the morning and says I want to be homeless, but it is up to our elected officials to come up with a plan to preserve lives and make our city a better place to live. I see no plan at all, except moving the homeless from one area to another. The tiny home project is a start, but I don’t think it has made a dent in the problem.

    What are other states doing? What are other countries doing? I wish I has a solution, but one thing I do know, unless you have a plan to solve this problem, DO NOT RUN for public office.


    1. It used to be that Woodland Hills was so far away it was insulated from this. But it is a part of the City of Los Angeles and that explains it. Our city is uniquely dysfunctional and has a tone deaf leadership that elevates ideology over practicality.


    2. «I see no plan at all, except moving the homeless from one area to another.»

      My usual comment: in effect you all wish that someone else campaign to abolish Proposition 13.


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