West Side of Sepulveda Between Haynes and Lemay, Van Nuys, CA.


Garbage Shaming.


Calvert St. e. of Kester

A few weeks ago I wrote about how my home in Van Nuys was cited by the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) for “Loose, peeling or flaking paint along the fascia boards at gables and eaves.” Proactive Code Enforcement inspectors were sent out to walk around the neighborhood and cite properties in need of maintenance. Mine was cited, a notice hung on my front door, and an official demerit is now a government record.

It was sort of bitterly funny, a kind of karmic boomerang, for this writer. 

I have this blog, you see, and all I do is walk around, write and photograph such egregious violations of sanitation, cleanliness and order that it boggles the mind. 

Since 2006, Here in Van Nuys has been shouting in the ears of Former Councilman, now Congressman Tony Cardenas; and now Ms. Nury Martinez, his successor, whose record of housekeeping leaves something to be desired as well.

How does an elected figure work in the center of downtown Van Nuys and see all the garbage, all the dumping, all the homeless encampments around and not make it her number one priority? Is there not an element of shame in allowing Van Nuys to look as it does when you are in charge of it?

2009: Eastside of Kester near Victory. Nothing has changed in ten years.

Since 2006, Woodley Park has become a grotesque outdoor garbage filled encampment of such utter despondency that one can forget that it is actually a beautiful park, a bird and wildlife sanctuary, a recreational asset, a place for biking, running, hiking, field sports. It is not, and never was supposed to be, skid row.

“The latest storms have left a path of destruction for homeless who had been living in the Sepulveda Flood basin. During heavy rains the dam is closed to control downstream flows causing the area to flood, sometimes in minutes. The hundreds of homeless who live in the secluded area known as “the Bamboos” flee leaving everything behind.” (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

________________________________________

On the walk to and from MacLeod Ale on Calvert last evening, again I saw how utterly sad the upkeep and the maintenance of some areas of Van Nuys are. These are streets within a five-minute walk of Councilwoman Nury Martinez’s office. 

If I were her, I would take a weekly walk around the neighborhood with my staff and photograph and document this. Send it up the food chain to Mayor Eric Garcetti, and to Governor Gavin Newsom and demand that the city and the state step in and end this!

3/5/18 Bessemer at Cedros.

Blight Around the Block


It would be wonderful, as some readers advocate, to report on more happy local events, such as smiling families, freshly painted houses, award winning rose gardens and the best pho in Van Nuys. I could spread joy talking about the opening of a new Hawaiian BBQ on Sepulveda across from LA Fitness. Maybe there is a new car wash to praise.

But the urgent business of blight calls me to blog.

We live in a unique time in Los Angeles, one that features a continuing garbage festival of debris that comes, like an incurable virus, upon our neighborhoods, and stays for weeks and months, maybe even years, a homeless caravan of disorder which our city council, our mayor and other elected officials are powerless to stop.

Reader Wendy Hernandez-Zepeda lives near the Big Lots store on Wynadotte St. and Sepulveda Blvd. and she sent me some photos of the shopping carts, the garbage, and the illegal dumping that blights her neighborhood.

“Hi there! Can you help? We have been dealing with this for more than a year,” she wrote.

She sent me these ugly photographs, ugly not because she is a bad photographer, but ugly for what they contain, and the degree to which they depict how our city has fallen under Mayor Garcetti (“Garbageciti”), a smiling hologram of political correctness, who seems to be visiting another city and another country every month of the year, and regularly trots out his 23 and Me diversity by claiming to be made of the same genetic ingredients as the five top ethnic voting blocks in Los Angeles.

I told Ms. Hernandez-Zepeda to report this to that app, My LA 311, and she explained that she has, but nothing has been done to correct the garbage festival on her community sidewalk.

My take on the homeless issue is that tolerance of it creates more of it.

When you allow, by law, using public sidewalks and public parks and public ways for the unlawful and unsanitary life of vagrancy, you send a message, broadcast around the world, to come to Los Angeles and camp out.

How is it that the lawless make the laws and the law abiding must accept that? There is not one valid or moral or medical excuse for human beings sleeping in alleys, on bus benches, and wandering the streets pushing shopping baskets.

Yes, it’s painfully true that housing is expensive, but it does not explain why the city of Los Angeles and the State of California have not jumped into emergency mode and created sanitary, safe, abundant housing for people who are temporarily displaced.

What we have, instead, is weak and pathetic leadership which panders to disorder, decay and barbarism, and refuses to use all power to end this continuing monstrosity of un-civilization going on all around Los Angeles.

There is nothing I can tell Ms. Hernandez-Zepeda other than voting for someone who is not Eric Garcetti in the next election.

Mayor Garbageciti’s Los Angeles


It is probable and likely and arguable that Los Angeles is perhaps the dirtiest large city in the United States.

Gilmore near Columbus, Van Nuys, CA.


Near LA Fitness, Sepulveda Bl. Van Nuys, CA.

New York, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, Denver, Dallas, Miami: they do not have the amount of illegal dumping, trash, shopping carts of garbage, furniture, mountains of debris and litter in every park, street, and parking lot.

A morning walk to the gym, encompassing half a mile along Columbus, Victory and Sepulveda in Van Nuys brings one past neglect on a large and small scale, from the homeless taking over bus benches, to the non-homeless indifference to sanitation which is a hallmark of Los Angeles.

Los Angeles does not present a picture of a civilized city to anyone. Besides our nightly news of shootings and car chases, we have transformed our environment into a city where it is embarrassing to show visitors around, where the infrastructure, from pollution to transportation to parks, is sub-standard.

Put aside the yellow air, and the starter homes for $1.2 million next to a freeway. Put aside the sprawl of mini-malls and billboards and car washes and marijuana clinics and muffler shops and junk food. Put aside the speeding cars running red lights, the people, one to a car, driving to work at 5 MPH. And, of course, little spoken of…. the morning rush hour of white parents taking their kids to a school 25 miles away from home because the local school is too darkly complexioned for many liberals to bear.

The Bus Bench Near Victory at Sepulveda


Normality in Modern Los Angeles.

Yes, dismiss all that and just focus on the trash, the trash everywhere, the trash that is all around us. 

Are you listening Mayor Garbageciti? Or are you on a flight to somewhere to lay the groundwork for your presidential run?

Along Sepulveda. Nobody’s responsibility.

The Festival of Garbage


For anyone who lives in Van Nuys, and has not lately visited Raymer St. between Kester and Van Nuys Bl., the Festival of Garbage is now in full display.

Dumped along the median from the bridge to the boulevard are tons of trash. It is perhaps the filthiest, most appalling and most wretched scene of degradation in the entire city of Los Angeles.

Calcutta looks like Beverly Hills compared to this.

Across from the sanitation crisis is a large recycling center, an irony that one might analogize to having an indifferent fire department next door to a burning building. If you are in the business of collecting refuse, how can you refuse to clean up the area around your business?

Adding to the criminality of the area, dozens of unhitched trucking trailers are parked along the road, taking up space, and attached to no moving vehicles.

The bridge over the railroad tracks has been, naturally, taken over by the homeless who live under, in and on top of the structure. They cross on foot over the tracks where Metrolink speeds by a few times an hour.

Does Los Angeles have any measure of pride? How does the city allow this tsunami of trash?

Who is responsible for this mess?

I vote for Councilwoman Nury Martinez and Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The House on Kittridge and Other Matters


Last night, one of our periodic public safety meetings was held at the Columbus Avenue School.

For once, the walking prostitute was not Topic A.

Instead, a sitting house represented the newest threat.

 

14926 Kittridge
14926 Kittridge

Seems 14926 Kittridge, a pleasant and recently remodeled single-family home, west of Kester, was sold to a group (The Village Family Services) that intends to turn it into a residence for young, troubled people.

Nobody in the community was informed. There were no hearings, no forum to stop the project. And now the neighbors were angry.


 

On hand was Councilwoman Nury Martinez’s Asst. Field Deputy, Guillermo Marquez, a pleasant young man in suit and glasses whose unfortunate job involves fielding complaints from every constituent reporting couch dumping, homeless encampments, abandoned houses, illegal sign posting, gang tagging, and now the addition of a troubled youth house in a quiet neighborhood that has enough trouble with troubled adults.

Councilwoman Nury Martinez
Councilwoman Nury Martinez

Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian
Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian

Also on hand was Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian (D-CA) who represents something called “46th district, encompassing the central-southern San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles.”     I never heard of him or knew I lived inside his kingdom, but apparently he is descended from other important Armenian-Americans having worked for Councilman Paul Krekorian.

He represents our district, which includes pushing for the conversion of the Orange Line Busway into the Orange Line Railway. We have a great bus system, with beautiful trees and a beautiful bike path, but it seems it must be turned into a train because not enough cars get hit by buses to make it work.

When I asked him about the wretched condition of the center of the San Fernando Valley, the district of Van Nuys, he was at a loss for words. The redevelopment and revitalization of this lost and neglected downtown does not fall under his power. That belongs to “city leaders” not “state senators”.

This is where I, bad in math, good in geography, become baffled.

Van Nuys is in the state of California. Mr. Nazarian is our state senator.

But only for a section of the San Fernando Valley. Which encompasses Van Nuys.

He is our Assemblymember. He represents a part of the Valley. He is not the mayor, or the councilman, or a representative, nor does he fly to Washington. But apparently he is someone in elected office who works upon our behalf.

Van Nuys Boulevard: Jewel of the San Fernando Valley.
Van Nuys Boulevard: Jewel of the San Fernando Valley.

 


 

Then we heard from one of the best speakers of the night: Senior LAPD Lead Officer Erika Kirk in the Van Nuys Division.

Shiny, smooth, combed dark hair pinned up, about 30, compact and well-spoken, gleaming silver badge and pressed navy uniform, she reviewed all the small bad things going on around us: kids hanging out in cars smoking pot and throwing beer bottles out the window, the empty dark house at 15102 Hamlin owned by Kathy Jo Bauer and a frequent location for crime, a falling down fence at Haynes and Columbus, negligent property owners who tolerate illegal dumping at the Casa Loma College.

Most of these situations have gone on for five or more years. They are intractable and confounding. But she assured us she is working to resolve them.

 


The problems that have afflicted this neighborhood are often flung at the police or elected officials who are asked to “just do something!”

But what can one say, for example, about a continually littered and neglected mini-mall at 14851 Victory, owned by a wealthy Bel Air man, Ori B. Fogel, who cannot even hire someone to sweep the curb in front of his stores?

Until the day comes when the errant slumlord gets a $10,000 fine, or the woman who refuses to clean up her abandoned houses faces $75,000 in criminal negligence, the property criminals will do what they have always done, milking and neglecting while earning money even as the community of Van Nuys suffers.