Future Gardens of Van Nuys?


One of the continuing themes of this blog is to look at what we are and imagine what we might be.

I think about that as I walk around Van Nuys, a misbegotten and deformed district.

But also an oddly lucky place where land is abundant and cheaper, yet frequently and usually, neglected and wasted.

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At 14550 Sylvan St., between Van Nuys Blvd. and Vesper, there is now an empty courtyard surrounded by buildings on three sides. They once fixed cars here. This is a street full of fine old buildings, including the former Van Nuys Library (now a law office) and the former post office. There are also small stores: a tailor, a barber, a school, and a storefront church.

This is where a garden belongs.  Buildings are small scale and human, within walking distance of every important building in downtown Van Nuys.

I took photos (with permission) from England. The  ‘London Permaculture’ Flickr page shows urban gardens transforming bleak and hostile spaces into fertile and green growing areas.

Brown brick, beer guzzling, working-class England can be drab, but these gardens are a morale booster for their users.

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Sylvan near Van Nuys Bl.

Our alleys, behind Van Nuys Boulevard, can be fixed up with cafes, bars, trees, plants and lights. Eating, drinking and socializing can replace public urination, rats, tagging and trash.

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14526 Victory near VNB

At 14526 Victory Boulevard, the NCJW (National Council of Jewish Women) has a donation center which again, is a North facing forecourt that would also do nicely as an outdoor beer garden, pocket herb garden, etc.

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Friar St.

Friar St.

At Friar and Van Nuys Boulevard there is a large parking lot, which is across the street from another large parking structure, in an area with too much parking. Why does Van Nuys, in this ramshackle location, with its empty storefronts and dead buildings, need 2,000 parking spaces?

There are wasted opportunities of land and development all over Van Nuys.

We live in an environment built for the lowest common denominator of mediocrity and exploitation.

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West of Van Nuys Blvd. near Hamlin St.

Who can marshall the resources to bring money and planning into Van Nuys?

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Sunday Morning Victory


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On a Sunday morning along Victory, east of Kester, the wide street is mostly empty.

It is also empty on Van Nuys Boulevard.

And the only person on Friar Street pushes a shopping cart with her belongings.

 

Under the dull fog, Van Nuys might be sleeping late.

Sleeping off Cervezas.

Many work on Sundays, but some do not.

 

Here are sidewalks without trees or humans.

 

Cars speed past the ghosts of late The Modern Era.

 

Where medical doctors practiced the most advanced medicine in 1960.

 

Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson were the Presidents.

 

And confident young builders hired talent young architects and erected thin paneled office buildings along thriving and newly widened Victory Boulevard.

 

Men worked at jobs back then. They wore suits.

 

Women smoked and wore high heels and lipstick and gloves and called themselves ladies.

 

And kids got in trouble, riding skateboards on the sidewalk or chewing gum in class.

 

It was a troubled time when blacks were called negroes.

 

And men were sent off to fight war in Vietnam.

 

But Van Nuys was still fine, still humming along: safe, secure and industrious.


 

We live in a rich nation. But all around us, people sleep on benches, and push their belongings in shopping carts.

People sleep on the sidewalk in front of the Chase Bank which has assets of $2.6 trillion and is the largest bank in the United States.

They are sleeping under the arches of the Marvin Braude Center, seat of the government of the City of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley.

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Marvin Braude Center

Marvin Braude Center


Marvin Braude Center

Marvin Braude Center

And what you see today can break your heart.

 

 

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Friar St. at VNB


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Along Friar Street


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Friar at Sylmar


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Victory Bl.


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Victory Bl.


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Anna & Vartan: Victory Bl.


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Victory Bl.


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Victory Bl.


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Victory Bl.


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Victory Bl.


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Victory Bl.


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Victory Bl.


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Friar St.


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Friar St. View SE


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Friar St.

Verdad y Vida


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Near the corner of Saticoy and Sepulveda actors in Verdad y Vida (truth and life) washed cars, stood outside the Tangiers Motel, rode to the D&K Liquor store on bike, and dramatically flashed police car lights to pull over, frisk and handcuff a suspect and his large bag.

And a little man with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth confronted me as I photographed.

“Why you take picture of motel and police? Why you do this? Why you take picture of me near motel? What you doing? You not supposed to take picture!”

I showed him the back of my camera, the digital review of images just shot.

There were signs and more signs and no close ups of people.

He was not in my camera.

“You not supposed to take picture!” he said.

 

 

Two New Large Scale Developments in Van Nuys


The San Fernando Valley Business Journal reported that two new proposed housing projects, one on Sherman Way west of VNB, the other near Oxnard and VNB, are in the works. Principals in the projects showed their plans to members of the Van Nuys Community Council the other night.

Here is the article as it appeared in the SFBJ:

Residential Developments Proposed for Van Nuys

By KAREN E. KLEINWednesday, May 20, 2015

Developers floated two residential proposals before the land-use committee of the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council on Tuesday, including a subdivision that got the green light to move forward.

Storm Properties Inc., a Torrance residential developer, wants to build a $29 million small-lot subdivision that marks its first foray into the San Fernando Valley.

The proposal calls for 58 single-family homes at 14700 Sherman Way, just west of Van Nuys Boulevard. Small-lot homes are separate residences but can be so close that the units can have the appearance of condominiums.

Alan Kwan, the firm’s director of acquisitions, said they would be priced from the mid-$400,000s to the mid-$500,000s.

The subdivision got a positive response from the land-use committee, which recommended that it move forward to the full Neighborhood Council next month.

The vacant land was originally bought as an expansion site for Church on the Way, whose main sanctuary is at 14300 Sherman Way. Kwan said the church’s plans have changed and his firm is in escrow to buy the parcel for an undisclosed price.

Storm Properties has concentrated on residential infill projects in the South Bay, but the firm is increasingly interested in the San Fernando Valley.

“We love Van Nuys in particular. It seems to get a bad rap, but we look for areas where we can get a lot of value and where neighbors are supportive,” Kwan said.

The second project is a mixed-use, transit-oriented development slated for 4.5 acres at 6100 Van Nuys Boulevard. It would feature 384 apartments and about 17,000-square-feet of retail space at the busy corner of Oxnard Street. It is adjacent to the Orange Line busway.

Keyes Automotive Group operated a showroom on the property, which is owned by a family.

Brad Rosenheim, principal of Rosenheim and Associates Inc., a Woodland Hills land use consultancy, represents the landowners. He said the project is still in preliminary stages.

“We’ve got a lot of work left to do on this,” said Rosenheim, who plans to return to the committee with more detailed plans.

Van Nuys, Tijuana.


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North of Victory, along such streets as Langdon and Orion, there are beautiful homes, lovingly maintained, with lush plantings and comely architecture.

But out on Sepulveda, between Lemay and Haynes, the meridian that breaks along the west side is like a hellish scene out of Tijuana. There are discarded toilets, papers and plastics, cans and bottles, televisions, even a picture of a holy saint thrown down like so much garbage.

Trash

What civilized place would permit the public areas to look this deplorable? Have we no pride or self-respect at all?

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The Election is Over


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On March 3, 2015 Incumbent Nury Martinez won re-election as the Councilwoman for the 6th District in Los Angeles. She beat her challenger Cindy Montanez.

In the months leading up to the election, Ms. Martinez’s office answered every small request I sent them.

They got the streets at Victory and Columbus, repainted with the “Do Not Enter” marks on the asphalt.

They put out patrols and arrested prostitutes.

They picked up discarded couches and debris.

They even got the curb painted in front of one house to get rid of gang tags.

Every request I made was answered with exquisite formality, sometimes with an email and a phone call.

There was again that tireless optimism in the air, that this time, finally this time, Van Nuys would cease being the dumping ground of governmental neglect and indifference.

But the election is over. The blight has returned.

The helicopters circle overhead unceasingly. Every day, every week, there are new acts of violence: a woman is stabbed to death in an alley, an LAPD officer barricades herself inside her house, a man stands on a balcony on Sherman Way pointing a gun at children below.

And garbage and debris pile up in parking lots, along curbs, while every request to “311” or Nury Martinez is ignored. There are shopping carts full of garbage in the Wendy’s parking lot at Erwin and Sepulveda, and there are many sofas and chairs dropped along the median and the sidewalks north of Sepulveda on Victory.

These are the small illegalities hanging like a noose around the neck of Van Nuys.

And when someone abuses a handicap parking placard, or breaks into your home, or throws a loud party and drops beer cans on your lawn, maybe it doesn’t rise to the level of the war in Syria. But it still sucks. And there is nobody who seems in control in Van Nuys.

Why run a city like this?