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

The $30,000 Trash Can

A friend of mine who lives in Lincoln Heights is, was, and will always be a progressive minded guy who grew up in Santa Monica, the son of a Muslim from India and an Irish-American mom.

He used to be the proprietor of a bike shop, and he also ran for public office until he was hounded out by the mobs on Twitter for a ten-year-old remark found on a virtual message board. He is married with a young daughter and supports himself in construction. His hobbies are his passions: the environment, biking, clean air, living healthy and simply by thinking of ways to get around this city by non-car means.

These days he is as appalled at Los Angeles, as I am .

He sent me this photo of a “solar powered” trash can which is emblazoned with the name of its donor, a politician. Apparently the receptacle is wifi connected and cost (my friend claims) $30,000.

He wrote that it is maintained via one-time special funds and some money from a Lincoln Heights Business Improvement District district maintenance money. The BID is a special property tax authority that extracts money from property owners for security, sanitation, district marketing, events, etc. 

The can cannot be dumped by the arm of a trash truck. It requires a special technician to come out and empty it because it is really an electronic device. It is so special that the top of it is covered in solar panels which some thoughtful dumpers covered with their own discarded electric waste products.

And yesterday, speaking of waste, my friend saw a man urinate all over the can in broad daylight.

There was a time, long ago, when Los Angeles fined property owners who didn’t sweep their curbs or sidewalks. They did not allow trash camping on the street, or every bus bench to become a halfway house. They enforced the law, not by chip and app, but by a cop on the beat. It seemed to have worked, because you cannot see anything but clean Angeleno streets on any old episode of Dragnet or Mannix.

But we live in advanced times, so advanced that people live in garbage on the sidewalk, but we have a robotic trash can emitting signals when it overflows.

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.

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.

Mayor Garbageciti’s Los Angeles

Last night we went down to Koreatown and found a cheap, excellent sidewalk café serving fresh dumplings at the corner of 6thand Catalina. Golden Pouch has tables and benches along the sidewalk. You walk up and pay at an Ipad and you sit down and wait for your name to be called. Within 20-25 minutes you are eating delicious, steamed, pork, shrimp, vegetable, chicken or spicy taco dumplings.

And as you sit and wait, or sit and eat, you are accosted by a revolving cast of homeless men who come up to your table, some incoherently, and ask for money, or sit beside you and talk about a conspiracy involving mind control, and you try and shoo them away, but they might stay or they might go and you have no control over your private conversation and your evening out. Some lose their temper, they scream, and you have to endure it.

It was a night when Koreatown was bustling, as usual. You could walk from places serving rolled ice cream, fried chicken, yakatori, oysters, cold noodle soup, a cornucopia of Korean, Japanese; bars, coffee restaurants and cafes.

There was a large amount of younger men and women with middle-aged adults, I assume parents, taking their kids out for an evening, possibly kids newly arrived at college, going to USC or UCLA and persuading their parents to go down to Koreatown, a normal experience for any Angeleno, and probably a treat for mom and dad from suburban Columbus, OH.

Yet, all over, sleeping in tents, along sidewalks, in shopping carts full of belongings, are homeless.

Imagine the impression Los Angeles gives to visitors who see this.

This is just Koreatown. Go downtown and you enter a Twilight Zone of lost people in the thousands sleeping on boxes, untreated, uncared for, defecating and urinating and creating mountains of garbage along streets, under bridges, along the river, everywhere.

Mayor Garbageciti is more popularly called Mayor Garcetti but he is truly the mayor who has made this city the American capital of garbage. Under his leadership, parks are garbage dumps, prosperous business districts are garbage dumps, everywhere from Woodley Park in Lake Balboa to Pershing Square are garbage dumps.

He is the Mayor who thinks we should increase the incentive to allow street vending too. Decriminalize it.So sidewalks near Westlake are now full of anybody and everybody selling unlicensed anything on the sidewalk. Every alley near the sellers is full of shopping baskets piled high with garbage.

A champion of public transportation, he allows homeless to set up homes on bus benches, causing paying riders inconvenience and discomfort and discouraging and diminishing ridership.

On these days of summer, when the heat is at record setting temperatures and the new humid reality of warmer Pacific Ocean moisture drifts over the city, we must breathe a combination of smog, vomit, dog and human shit, and traipse over streets where the lawful act of walking is less important than unlawful, open air, Calcutta markets.

Nobody is patrolling the streets. Nobody is enforcing the laws. If they are, showing me where it’s working.

Mayor Garbageciti.

There are rumors he is thinking of running for President of the United States.

He can’t do anything about the gross and filthy condition of the city he alleges to represent. Imagine him in office, a cipher hologram of a human, a smiling projection on the wall of an official office, pretending to do progressive things.

Clean up the garbage and the madness in Los Angeles and then you can offer up your national celebrity candidacy.



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.