Monday, March 26, 2012

Decision to not seek re-election


From the desk of Michelle Klein-Hass, Center-East Renter Representative, Panorama City Neighborhood Council.

I first was a part of the then-forming Panorama City Neighborhood Council in 2004. I had just started going back to school, and I felt that it would be a plus to be politically engaged while I had the time to do so.

For the past 8 years I've been a part of this council, from being a member of the Interim Board of Directors, to being an alternate to the certified Panorama City Neighborhood Council board, to where I am now as the renter representative for Panorama City from Roscoe Blvd on the south, Van Nuys Blvd. on the west, Woodman Avenue on the east, and Nordhoff Blvd. on the north. I now feel it's time for me to step aside and let someone else get a chance on the board.

I will not be a stranger: I will serve out my term gracefully, and I will be a part of the Election Committee to insure we have a fair, free and functional election this year. But I will not seek re-election. It's time to bring in new people with fresh ideas. I want the freedom to be able to continue my new work as a documentary filmmaker and video editor.

Thank you, Panorama City. Thank you, PCNC.

Michelle Klein-Hass
Center-East Renter Representative (Term expires 2012)
Panorama City Neighborhood Council.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy Birthday to that neighborhood to the south of here...

On February 22nd, 1911, William Paul Whitsett, land development tycoon, threw a big party. The Pacific Electric ran trains out from Los Angeles to the middle of nowhere, in the vast expanse of the San Fernando Valley. Barbecue and land auctions...make sure you brought your checkbook! A new town's been built, and this time we did it right!

And so went the birth of Van Nuys, California, USA.

When my mom and dad brought me back from Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, a building which is now the big blue Scientology monstrosity and surmounted by a CROSS, (How tref!) they took me back to an apartment in Van Nuys. I really have no memory of that earliest memories are of the second place we lived, in Tarzana.

I'm actually a bit perturbed that no big plans were made to celebrate the Van Nuys Centennial. I mean, it's not like something like this could sneak up on people. 100 years of Van Nuys, man! Every summer for 22 years, San Bernardino has done the Route 66 Rendezvous. Car culture has been so important to the Van Nuys mystique...why isn't there a similar event? For a brief time the Keyes auto dealerships revived Cruise Night...that didn't last long. Where's the big shiny parade of Kustom Kars?

There's going to be an event at the Van Nuys Orange Line Station this Saturday. Maybe when y'all are done with the Health Fair at beautiful Plaza del Valle, you might want to drop in and see how the festivities over there are going. It seems very ad-hoc to me, though. Not really much can be hosted have the platform for the Orange Line, you have a small parking lot, and you have not much else. Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks Park is in the process of being remodeled, so I guess I understand why these festivities weren't held there. But can't they figure out some place better than the Orange Line station? Dang.'s part of my life, the Valley. Panorama City is Van Nuys' kid sister, the one who was a cute little beauty queen in the beginning, had a wild youth, and now is getting ready for her closeup again. Van Nuys was the sensible place, where you went to deal with City, State and Federal business when you didn't have to go Downtown. Older and wiser. I just wish they would have made more to-do about the old girl hitting the Century mark.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Getting people out of their cars in LA: Yes We Can.

Yeah, it's Missing Persons. I grew up on KROQ in the '80s. Guilty as charged.

Anyway, we definitely need to change our attitude about things like walking and using public transit in LA. Here in Panorama City, our "Walk Score" is actually quite good. I'm using the address of our Post Office as the starting point for the Walk Score site.

One of the most transformative things to happen to our city was the revitalization of Downtown LA. From an area which was by and large a post-urban wasteland in those aforementioned '80s, we saw the area revitalized by redevelopment and a live-work-play philosophy. People are living downtown now. People are going there for the arts and sports. And people are getting there the easy way: via the Red Line that goes from North Hollywood to Downtown LA in 30 minutes.

But how do we get people from the Red Line to places like the LA Convention Center, LA Live, Little Tokyo, etc? Here's part of the solution.

I hope this gets built. I hope something like this also gets considered for the Valley. Imagine a streetcar that runs like this:

A 16 mile ring that connects the Van Nuys corridor, the busiest transit corridor in the Valley, to things like the Orange Line, the Red Line, the NoHo district, and a revitalized Ventura Blvd. It would have links out to all the points of interest in the Valley without major transferring. In some respects it actually replicates something we lost from the old Red Car lines mentioned in the LA Streetcar, Inc. video...the Valley actually did have connectivity from Downtown a long time ago via streetcars. I wasn't even born when they were ripped out of the LA Landscape in mid-1963.

The big long term issue is a need to get off of hydrocarbons and onto cleaner and more sustainable energy. You see, we have this problem called Peak Oil. Right now, oil from places like Saudi Arabia is getting harder and harder to pump. About 30 years ago, we were in a similar position in Texas. This is why harder to extract sources like the Alberta Tar Sands are now being tapped.

The situation looks like this:

And even without this, we have another problem, which is Anthropogenic (made by humans) Climate Change. The rocket scientists at NASA can explain it better than I can, therefore I linked to their site. We're pretty safe from ocean levels rising here in the Valley, but the folks who live on the LA coast are not so lucky. We need to do something about this other than basically do as the Republicans in our national legislature have done and stick their fingers in their ears and say "La la la Climate Change isn't happening, la la la I can't hear you..." The best science we have suggests that not only is the average temperature on the planet going up, and glaciers are melting, and ocean levels are rising, but it's doing so at a speed we never anticipated. So we have less time to reverse the damage that's been done...that is, if we can.

So yeah, we need to get people out of their cars. Light rail, subways and streetcars are helpful for the future. I am a transit user myself, and not by choice. I have certain non-obvious handicaps that do not allow me to safely drive. However, even people who do have a choice should consider making the choice to not drive, and it's city, county, state and federal government's responsibility to make the public transit option more attractive for the public. Yeah, that's a progressive policy stance, but ultimately it's one in the best interest of human survival. Because ultimately that's what the stakes are.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reprinted from the Daily News (Fair use/Educational) $2 Mil grant for Van Nuys Corridor!

LOS ANGELES -- An effort to identify ways of making public transit more efficient in the Van Nuys area received a $2 million boost today from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The federal agency awarded a grant to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which will use the funds to analyze transit alternatives in the San Fernando Valley and pay for support work on other sales-tax funded projects.

"The funding will be used for the review of transit alternatives for the Van Nuys corridor and help Metro improve its transit-forecasting model, which will benefit a host (of) 30/10 transit projects now in the pipeline," County Supervisor and Metro board chairman Don Knabe said.

The Van Nuys project is aimed at improving transit on a 10-mile portion of the boulevard between Ventura and Foothill boulevards, according to Metro. Bus ridership in that area is among the highest in the county, but traffic congestion and overcrowding often lead to transit delays, Metro officials said.

Metro plans to study various possible alternatives, including bus rapid transit, light rail and streetcars, as potential ways of relieving the congestion. The study is part of the East San Fernando Valley North-South Rapidways project. More than $68 million in Measure R transportation sales tax funds have been earmarked for the project.

"Van Nuys Boulevard is a key route for buses and a lifeline to the Valley economy," Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Flooding problems along Van Nuys Blvd.

Today we didn't get really gnarly rain, just off and on showers, but it doesn't matter. Van Nuys Blvd. between Parthenia and Nordhoff becomes a mighty river when it rains.

Here, video proof.

I'm going to start pushing for something to be done about this. It's been problematic ever since I started living at my apartment (1989) and nobody's done anything concrete about it. If Sun Valley can get a storm drain makeover, why can't Panorama City?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mission Tortilla finally opens!


LOS ANGELES, September 28, 2010 – Mayor Villaraigosa and Mission Foods® — owned by one of the world’s leading tortilla and corn masa flour producers — announced together the grand opening of a new manufacturing facility in the Panorama City area of Los Angeles.

“Mission Foods will improve the economic vibrancy of our City by bringing hundreds of jobs and additional revenue to the Valley,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “I am proud of my Office of Economic and Business Policy and all their hard work in successfully expediting the planning and permitting process to bring an established, multinational company to Los Angeles.”

Mission Foods agreed to build their plant in Los Angeles after the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Business Policy brought together multiple City departments to expedite their planning and permitting process. The Mayor's office also discussed with Mission Foods the benefits of operating in a Los Angeles State Enterprise Zone, such as employee tax credits and energy savings.

"We are so grateful for the Mayor, First Deputy Mayor Beutner and their team for their assistance throughout this entire process," said Juan Fernando Roche, President of Gruma Corporation. "Their support helps businesses like Mission Foods strengthen the community and improve economic vitality."

The Panorama City plant – located in the Valley’s State Enterprise Zone – is Mission’s fifth plant in the Southern California area. Mission Foods has made a significant investment of more than $50 million dollars in the development of this plant, which will create over 400 jobs and produce approximately 12 million tortillas per day when the facility reaches full capacity in 2013.

“Mission Foods’ arrival is a massive victory for Panorama City, the Valley, and Los Angeles,” Councilmember Tony Cardenas said. “In an area hit hard by the recession, this new facility will create hundreds of jobs.”

The 200,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility has earned LEED Gold certification through its design and construction practices that reduce the negative environmental impact. Among its many green features are reduced potable water use, optimized energy performance, enhanced refrigerant management, increased ventilation, and thermal comfort measures.

"Mission Foods is a great example of a company creating jobs while maintaining a commitment to workforce training and environmental protection,” said First Deputy Mayor, Chief Executive of Business and Economic Policy and General Manager of the Department of Water and Power Austin Beutner. "I commend them for their new solar-powered facility and advanced technology training for their employees. This type of investment spurs the growth of our local clean tech economy.”

The Panorama City facility was designed to save energy and reduce greenhouse emissions. The sustainability efforts helps Mission save over 1,250 metric tons of direct carbon emissions, equivalent to removing 250 vehicles from the road annually. Plant features also include rooftop solar panels allowing the facility to generate a portion of its own electricity, heat recovery lines, and systems that minimize water usage.

These new initiatives are setting the standard industry-wide and will be implemented in Mission’s other plants across the country in the near future.

For more information about Mission Foods and its extensive line of products, please visit

About Mission Foods
Mission Foods, headquartered in Irving,TX (Dallas area), is part of the Mexican-owned company Gruma, one of the world’s leading tortilla and corn masa flour producers and was founded in 1949 by Don Roberto Gonz├ílez Barrera and his father. Gruma has operations in America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania with 93 plants, approximately 20,000 employees, and sells its products in over a hundred countries worldwide.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Everybody...LET'S MAMBO!!!

Love this song, have always loved it since the days of Dr. Demento on KMET. Tweedle-dee!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Food Desert situation

This is a video from LAANE about two women swapping neighborhoods for a day to find out about each other's access to healthy and fresh foods. One woman is from the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles, the other is from Santa Monica. Guess who has access to the better fruits and vegetables, including organics? Of course, the lady who normally lives in Santa Monica. In the barrio environment of Boyle Heights, fruits and veggies are hard to find, poor quality and expensive. And in Santa Monica, they are plentiful, they are accessible, and if you spend a little more you can get organics.

Where are we here in Panorama City? We aren't a food desert, that's for sure. We have a lovely Food 4 Less, and right behind it is El Super. Food 4 Less has a lot of the standard groceries we rely on day-to-day, plus a good meat department that has proven to be reliable over the decades. El Super is best for a really amazing produce department, plus one of the best bakeries in town. We also have Latino and Filipino specialty markets: Vallarta, El Pueblo, Seafood City and Island Pacific. However: we don't really have a place to get organic groceries. You can find organics occasionally at Food 4 Less, and even occasionally at the 99 Cent Only store (we've got one on the Panorama City side of Woodman) but no place that's consistent. We also have the empty hulk of the old Valley Food Warehouse which closed years and years ago, and is still vacant.

We need either a Trader Joe's or a Fresh and Easy to move in to the old Valley Food Warehouse space and give our neighborhood access to good quality food at low prices. Why should Granada Hills and Sherman Oaks have all the fun?

And another thing: we do have a whole lot of fast food places, two family restaurants (IHOP and Coco's) and a Hometown Buffet, but no really good sit down restaurants. People have nostalgia for places like the Red Barn and Phil Ahn's Moongate around here. We really don't have their like anywhere around here anymore. There is room for a nice restaurant people can take visiting family to and feel good about. I would think a high-end Mexican restaurant, something equal to El Cholo or Ciudad, probably could work here. Hello Hot Tamales...visit us here in Panorama City and we'll make you feel at home.

We are lucky here. We've still got a good food infrastructure here. But we could improve things. And people in less blessed areas need some major help. LAANC is suggesting City Council action on this. I don't know how helpful that would be. But something must be done to get fresh food to less privileged neighborhoods. We can pay now, by investing in these underserved areas, or pay later in the form of more expenditures on health care and disability.

Friday, April 30, 2010

We're not dead yet...

Stick a fork in DONE, but the only way to get rid of Neighborhood Councils is by changing the City Charter. Very interesting article on a possible way forward.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Busy gal has been busy...

OK, the election is over, we're waiting for the results which are probably going to take until next Monday, and it's pretty clear I will be back on the board in some capacity or another.

However, I want to say something about the election which was thrown together by the LA City Clerk. It was badly done, I almost had to be a write-in candidate if it weren't for the fact that I had the time at that point to stay on the office of the City Clerk's butts and deal with the minutiae they wanted me to produce for them. I got on the ballot, but the last little bit of proof had to be digitally photographed and emailed to them at 4:59 pm, with the deadline of 5pm a minute away.

The City of Burbank conducts all its elections by mail now, and so does the whole state of Oregon. Why can't we conduct the next batch of Neighborhood Council elections 100% by mail next time? Wouldn't that be cheaper than trying to run polling places by LA City rules? Maybe that would free up some money for OUTREACH, something that there was NO funding for this time. Basically individual Neighborhood Councils had to do outreach out of pocket.

Neighborhood Councils are mandated by the current City Charter. They can be starved for funds, as I suspect the City Council will try to do with the next budget. But they can't be killed clean. We're here, get used to us. Making the next set of elections an election by mail makes sense. This is something to fight for, because this time around the system sucked.