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 www.missionmenus.com.

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.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Here's what I meant about a Solar Roof...

This is an aerial view of the Target store at Osborne and Laurel Canyon in Pacoima. What's those dark patches on the roof? Why, they're SOLAR PANELS!!! Yes, SOLAR PANELS. Note that the roof isn't COVERED with them...there are a few installed here and there. And those are enough to run the store OFF THE GRID on sunny days.

Now go back and look at the aerial view of Panorama City a couple of posts down. Notice a lot of beige roofs? With nothing on them but stucco? Imagine them peppered with dark patches. And bringing in energy. And saving everyone from more pollution-belching power plants in our future. This might mean we can use what we have for longer, and not look at expanding capacity or buying energy from other places where they even use COAL to run power plants. Ugh!

See, this is what I mean by advocating what we WANT for our neighborhood and not just saying what we DON'T WANT. Think about it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hat, meet ring

OK, in the interest of full disclosure, I'm getting ready to run again.

My new status as a full-fledged member of the PCNC board, where until recently I was Alternate #1, came rather serendipitously: the at-large board member I replaced had seemingly dropped off the face of the earth and hadn't attended meetings or asked to be excused from meetings due to hardship. We have rules in our by-laws which do not allow either two unexcused absences in a row or three in a given 6 month period. So the person I replaced was removed under these rules.

I will actually be running for renter representative in the Center-East region of Panorama City, the same spot on the board I ran for two years ago. I missed by only a couple of votes last time, and my competition for the seat has moved to another region of the Neighborhood Council area. I figure if I communicate a little better this time I might have a better time winning hearts and minds and votes. I also was a wee bit distracted at that point: I had just completed my Bachelor's in Psychology at Woodbury University, during the last year of which I was also caregiver for my husband, who has since died of multiple myeloma, a blood cancer.

The reasons why I am running are many. My most important reason is to provide a progressive counterbalancing voice on the board in a branch of LA City government that has mostly been a conservative, "NIMBY," (not in my back yard) and even reactionary branch. Panorama City Neighborhood Council has actually led in a different direction: the biggest example being our attempts to bring service providers together to better serve the significant portion of our community which is struggling with gangs and their attendant social menace through two annual "Gang Summits." I see this as an attempt within our Neighborhood Council to define our mission not only by striving to prevent what we don't want within our community, but to help shape what we DO want within our community. I am foursquare on the side of continuing with this, to inspire positive change within our community.

I want to see it expanded further, actually. Not every youth in Panorama City is struggling with whether or not to follow a family tradition and join a gang. Some are just struggling to finish high school, and possibly go on to higher education. Or maybe just to find work after graduation. As you probably notice every day, Van Nuys Boulevard is punctuated on both sides with empty storefronts; vacant lots; a derelict high-rise that has been condemned since the Northridge Earthquake of 1994 and is now basically a 13-story pigeon coop; and catercorner to each other on Roscoe, a vacant lot where a Black Angus Steak House once stood, and the old Montgomery Ward property. This is a community where hope is in short supply and jobs in even shorter supply.

The role of a Neighborhood Council in revitalizing our community is, unfortunately, a limited one. However, if we can bring together government, law enforcement and non-governmental organizations to move gang policy in our neighborhood forward, perhaps we can do more to move employment and economic development forward by bringing all of these elements plus people in the business community together to have a "Jobs And Redevelopment Summit." Maybe we can't make the change, but we can make the need for change ring loud and clear in the ears of those who might be able to help move us forward towards more jobs and smart, vibrant, green economic development.

We also suffer a bad rap in local media, foremost from the Los Angeles Daily News, the San Fernando Valley's Paper of Record since the turn of the last century. Horror stories about 'The Witch's Hat,' shock-horror-filth tales of rampant gang violence and delinquency have been fodder for the worst kind of Yellow Journalism. The Daily News has been the worst, but the LA Times, the LA Weekly, and our local TV news has continued to parrot the portrayal of this community as a slum. To quote a Living Colour song that has been sort of an internal anthem for me in my involvement with the formation of this Neighborhood Council and after formation, "I call this place my home, you call this place a slum."

Living Colour -- "Open Letter To A Landlord"

The best way to push back against this portrayal is to show the local media, in vivid, newsworthy media opportunities, that we are not a crime ridden, frightening place. On the contrary, we are a colorful, diverse community that has roots in Mexico, Central America, South America, Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe, in other States of the USA, and in the Provinces of Canada. We have no annual celebration to attract positive media attention: why not start one? A Fiesta Panorama, a sort of block party for the entirety of Panorama City, would be great. We have restaurants to show off. We have culture. We have public, private and charter K-12 institutions of learning. We have preschools. We have trade schools. There continues to be talk of a satellite campus of Los Angeles Valley College being established here. We have so much to offer, that we need to stop apologizing for our community and start crowing about our community. Like the song goes, "You've got to fight for your neighborhood." In a town where appearances often are as or more important than substance, we need to raise our profile as a community.

These are but two things I'm interested in, moving forward.

More of my platform:

* I am against proliferation of uncontrolled medical cannabis dispensaries on the one hand, but for the continued availability of medical cannabis for those who need it. I have seen, through the struggles of my late husband, that when faced with life threatening and painful symptoms of a disease like the blood cancer multiple myeloma, cannabis is good medicine. We need a framework that will allow the exemplary dispensaries to continue operation to make that medicine available, but which will also screen out the bad actors and keep dispensaries away from preschools and K-12 schools.

* I am for smart growth of business and residences, and for bringing more and better transit options nearby so that people can leave their cars and the pollution they create behind in favor of green public transit. We have existing hubs like Van Nuys Metrolink/Amtrak Station, and the Van Nuys Corridor which links to the Orange Line and further to the rest of the Metro Rail system. We can become advocates of building on this foundation.

* I'm for encouraging industry to put their bare roofs to work with solar power generation. You need only look at a Google Earth satellite image of Panorama City to see the potential lying fallow just above our heads. The Target store in Pacoima has a completely solar roof. During the Summer they make enough electricity to run the store off the grid for hours at a time. Why can't we do that at Panorama Mall, at El Super, at Food 4 Less, and The Plant?

All those bright spots you see in this picture are ROOFS. They don't call The Plant a "Big Box Mall" for nothing. At the top of this satellite image is part of Panorama Mall. And there are countless industrial buildings within our Neighborhood Council boundaries.

* I am also for attracting creative media companies to set down roots here in Panorama City. There are industrial and commercial buildings currently vacant here. There is also a perennial need to find space for shooting movies. Why not bring the two together? We have everything Hollywood, Burbank and Glendale has, plus we have what they don't have: Enterprise Zone classification. Converting massive industrial buildings to sound stages, equipment rental stores and post-production houses would give a shot in the arm to Panorama City's economy and bring in a new, upscale type of stakeholder that could uplift the community.

We need to also open our community wide to location shooting. The building that now houses the "Kings Of Credit" furniture store was a primary location for the movie "Stealing Harvard." The Panorama Mall has been a movie and TV shooting location on several occasions. We have great residential neighborhoods. With other communities becoming "location hostile" we have a possibility of bringing business here to benefit all of us.

Space prevents me from going on, but these are a few elements of what I want to see in my neighborhood. If your vision dovetails with mine, keep me on the Board as Center-East's renter board member. Help me fight for our neighborhood.