Thursday, March 12, 2015

Felipe Fuentes Dreams of More "Affordable" Housing Projects for CD7

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Should We Build In Wildlife Corridors?

Sunday morning about 7:00 a.m. a mountain lion was hit by a car in La Tuna Canyon, near the border of Tujunga and La Crescenta.

The drivers who stopped to see if the animal could be assisted, said the lion darted in front of them suddenly and was hit by a second car. The animal died of it's injuries.

Mountain lions routinely make the area of the Verdugo and San Gabriel Mountains, near the Angeles National Forest but also a stones through from populated areas, their home. Given the semi-rural and low density nature of the Sunland-Tujunga and La Tuna Canyon communities, these incidents are rare.

But a change in city planning policies could change that as a record amount of additional housing density is planned for the last remaining pieces of open mountain space in Los Angeles.

Just feet from where this majestic animal was needlessly killed, developers from out of town plan to slam 250 luxury homes at the bottom of a canyon at the head of a mountain pass, on the site of the current Verdugo Hills Golf Course. Residents are fighting an uphill battle to prevent that. Other similar developments in Big Tujunga Canyon - as well as a proposal to route the California High Speed Rail through the Angeles National Forest and the Tujunga Wash - are creating a crisis like environment for those who wish to preserve the last remaining open space and habitat for hundreds of native species.

So the question is - how any mountain lions must die before we learn our lesson?

(Mountain lion's death details from Christina Gonzalez and photo credit Micki Greslie)

How Do You Fight High Speed Rail?

A local named Eddie Conna, whom I don't know personally, posted the following comments on Facebook concerning the campaign to keep High Speed Rail out of our Foothill communities. While some of his observations might be considered harsh and tough to swallow, he offers nutritious food for thought.

Too often, we let our emotions drive the energy on these battles. That's good in the sense that efforts need fuel, sort of like a runner needs a carbo boost at times.

But running simply on sugar sets the runner up for an immediate crash. It's the protein based muscle that carries the runner to break the ribbon at the finish line. In a highly charged battle, it's smart planning and wise use of resources that sits on top of emotion to win the day.

Here are Eddie's words:

Just a few thoughts on the battle(s) we are all facing.

There are tons of issues being brought up, and while we may all agree they are valid, HSR isn't going to care about most of them, nor will they stop the alternative routes.

Typically, you don't stop development of a project of this magnitude, and with this much money and political willpower behind it through emotionally based arguments.

Sadly, the government doesn't care about homes, people, riding trails, wildlife, or any of the rest of it. These people will, and have bulldozed over neighborhoods in the name of "progress" and what they think is "better for the masses".

So the cries about riding trails, hiking trails, the wildlife way station, coyotes, neighborhoods being destroyed, etc, will fall on deaf ears. These people would plow through a retirement home for mentally handicapped penguins if they felt they needed to.

Traditionally, what HAS stopped this sort of thing are two things:

Environmental issues, ie, threats to endangered plants and animals, and if the project threatens the masses in some other way.

So the issues we SHOULD be pursuing, IMHO, is any endangered plants and animals, and the threat to LA City's water supply.

THOSE are the issues that I believe, we can win this fight with.

The other issues, like the wildlife way station being destroyed for example, while tragic, won't stop the alternative routes. That doesn't mean we shouldn't mention them, (we absolutely should) but it DOES mean that we should avoid spending lots of time focusing on them, and instead, focus on the issues that will likely shut down the alternative routes.

Also, it would help if folks would take the time to do a LITTLE research on their own. I heard lots of people screaming about Eminent Domain at the meeting, (and online too) and many were asking what it even was. These are easy answers a google search will answer.

Time spent answering questions one could easily find the answer to on their own is time NOT spent fighting the matters we ALL need to focus on.

Education is cheap. If one is online, there's almost nothing one can't find info about. So google it.

That being said, I think it would be great if someone would come up with an organized plan that the rest of us could follow, and post it here.

For example, if whomever is leading this fight would post the contact info for those at LA City and LA County water districts, so the rest of us could email en masse, our concerns.

Ditto for those who need to be contacted regarding endangered plants and animals.

Concentrated efforts can, and will make a difference. Unorganized efforts don't, and that's how agencies like HSR get away with what they are doing. They don't have to "divide and conquer" if we aren't organized to the best way we can be.

Right now, I read a lot of posts, and much of it seems disorganized and willy nilly, and running in all sorts of directions.

So is anyone "in charge" and what are others thoughts about what I posted?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

We Saw It: Work Being Done on Backdoor Bakery

Months following a devastating fire that shuttered the well liked Backdoor Bakery in Sunland, work crews were seen working this morning on the building. We're not sure what is going on, but this could be a good sign for all the fans of the Bakery and their many signature creations. Stay tuned!


Tabbi Decides Not to Sue Sunland-Tujunga Chamber of Commerce, Gateway to Angeles National Forest

Following his removal from the board for not supporting the party platform at the Sunland-Tujunga Chamber of Commerce, Phil Tabbi has stated that he has decided not to follow through with lawsuits against the Chamber and other parties over the issue:

"Due to circumstances, I will not follow through with any lawsuits. It is in my best interest to do so, and the best interest in a chamber that can hopefully turn around and see the truth."

We are not certain what those circumstances are, what is in whose best interest and what, if anything, Tabbi plans to do to address this atrocity, but we will certainly stay tuned.

In the meantime, if you believe in free speech and free association, you might like to drop your own Chamber membership and perhaps not frequent businesses that support the Chamber in it's current incarnation.

The efforts to "brand" Sunland-Tujunga and to create an identity the community can market around are admirable ones. How it has been handled by the Sunland-Tujunga Chamber of Commerce and the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council has even those who support the "Gateway to the Angeles National Forest" concept, concerned. We live in a world where there should be a marketplace of ideas. If one has a concept they feel is worthy, it should be submitted to that marketplace and not foisted through bullying, strong-arm tactics and lack of transparency. This does not represent the community that we want Sunland-Tujunga to be. 

For more information:
Sunland-Tujunga it's our Home. NOT our "Gateway"

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sunland-Tujunga: Gateway to Shut Your Mouth


Phil Tabbi, Jr. reports that he's been removed from the board of the Sunland-Tujunga Chamber of Commerce because of his refusal to support the ill conceived "Gateway to the Angeles National Forest" branding initiative a few leaders of the Chamber have been championing for some time.

Tabbi, the son of a past Chamber president and a family who has been involved in Sunland-Tujunga community affairs for decades, tells the story himself:

And the saga continues. I, Phil Tabbi, no longer am the First Vice President of the Sunland-Tujunga Chamber of Commerce. 

In our last board meeting a motion was brought forth to have me expelled from the chamber by Paolina; it was seconded by Diana Lee, in which this was her second meeting, and the result of those actions brought us to today, a hearing to expel me. I feel that I stood up for all of our residents today that do not support the current branding initiate, because that is where this truly lies. I have not believed in the actions taken by some and like to speak about it. In two weeks, the entire board of directors are up for re-election. If they did not want me to serve on the board, then do not elect me, why tarnish my name with an expulsion? The branding committee sure won their battle today, or did they?

I am suing the United Chamber of Commerce, Sunland Tujunga Chamber of Commerce, and the Gateway to the Angeles National Forest. In the September board meeting Paolina made the motion to expel me and today she submitted a ballot with a yes answer. There is such thing as freedom of speech. What they are doing is wrong and everyone should know the truth behind the lies. Many in the S-T Chamber board of directors are wonderful people with great businesses. It is the current leadership that has ignored those with a voice, and allow things to go only in their favor. I will not stop and I ask you once again Paolina, please take your gateway somewhere else, it is not welcome here!

Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fuentes: Don't Build High Speed Rail along San Fernando Road

Following a meeting of the California High Speed Rail Commission last Tuesday in Palmdale, a question weighed heavy on the mind of Sunland-Tujunga activists who attended.

Where was our City Councilman Felipe Fuentes to speak on our behalf?

Fuentes was not at the Commission meeting and it is not clear if he had sent any members of staff. Many locals have inquired where does their Councilman stand on the matter of routing the train - as it makes it trek from Palmdale to Burbank - under the Angeles National Forest and through the communities of Sunland-Tujunga, Shadow Hills and La Tuna Canyon - an alternative suggested by County Supervisor Mike Antonovich after residents from the Santa Clarita Valley voice opposition to the original planned alignment along existing rail corridors that follow State Route 14 and Interstate 5.



But what is becoming clearer with the release of a letter from Fuentes to the Commission is that the Councilman is supporting an alignment that steers the train route away from other communities in his District. Without so much giving details, Fuentes told the commission that his preferred route would:

Felipe Fuentes
by Wally Wharton
"Maximize underground and tunnel options,"

"Minimize impact on residential areas..."

"Minimize impact on recently constructed infrastructure projects,"

Fuentes further went on to state "...it is critical that the Authority consider other alternatives beyond those presently proposed. As it stands, the at-grade alternative through the San Fernando Valley, running along the San Fernando corridor, is problematic given the number and proximity of single family homes and job-generating uses that will be impacted." Echoing a concern from residents of San Fernando, Sylmar and Pacoima, the Councilman continued "This proposed alignment will visually and physically bifurcate the community further limiting it's economic potential."

In a single sentence, Fuentes states that a tunnel through the Angeles National Forest would also be similarly problematic, but only to the extent as to where the train exits the tunnel. (Remember, it has to get to San Fernando Road at some point to connect to Burbank Airport. If you look at a map, you start to get ideas how they would want to do this.)

So while Fuentes has given some recognition to opposition to the ANF alignment, clearly the primary effort is to keep the train off the San Fernando Road right away. at least until you get to Sun Valley.

Stay tuned.



Thursday, August 21, 2014

If I Was Raul Bocanegra, I Would Be Embarrassed

As many local Sunland-Tujunga residents have become aware, CalTrans - formally known as The California Department of Transportation, is in the midst of a major construction project on the Interstate 210 Freeway in our community.

Caltrans has closed the eastbound Foothill Boulevard (I-210) Sunland Boulevard North and Sunland Boulevard South on-ramps beginning Monday, August 18, 2014. Detour signs will be posted. The closures are anticipated to continue through September, 2014.  The closures are part of a $67.2 million rehabilitation project along I-210 between Lowell Avenue and Wheatland Avenue.

Local residents were surely amused when scores of detour signs went up all over the area point towards "SUNDLAND BLVD." 

Oops.
They're all over!
One would assume the office of our local Assembly Member, Raul Bocanegra, whose job is to liasion with state agencies on issues like this might have communicated the proper spelling of Sunland to CalTrans. But I'm not sure many of them have even visited our community. 

In the meantime, enjoy the extra D!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Are Locking Carts Coming to all of Sunland-Tujunga?


A photo posted up at our Facebook page today tells a good story. Access to shopping carts is but one benefit for the homeless living in our community but that could be coming to an end. With reports that Vons in Tujunga has enacted a shopping cart locking system, one that should significantly reduce the number of carts removed from Vons' property, could Ralphs be next? The Sunland outlet of the venerable chain has not yet installed such a system but rumor has it that a cart locking system will be part of an alleged coming remodel to the aging store. Stay tuned!

Call A Wahmbulance for Richard Alarcon

Here's a guy, who a jury said broke the law and sold out his communities, including Sunland-Tujunga, getting lots of crocodile tears from nice old ladies awaiting the second coming of Tom Bradley to nice but confused Sun Valley grillmasters who rub shoulders and esteem themselves with local pols while telling other communities to "deal with" the effects of their latest "project."


Anyway, when I think of things these days with regarding the state of the city, I ask myself, "What did Zuma Dogg tell us 3-5-10 years ago?" Fortunately, I can easily search the archives of Mayor Sam or one of Zuma's many blogs to find just that. Or even a Google search turns up a treasure trove.

Alarcon once said he didn't want Zuma Dogg dictating policy. But in the end, Zuma Dogg was right about so many things and Alarcon is now a convicted criminal.

The former Councilman has been convicted of perjury and lying about his residence so he could dump an Assembly seat he had been elected to a month before and take up one more lucrative term on the LA City Council. This is not about voters, not about the people, not about community, it's about these people securing as more power and prestige as possible and securing some kind of payday so that they don't ever have to work a real job.

Once the voters start to get how things work, they might start sending a message and vote for people who will actually do the people's business. In the meantime, Richard Alarcon has a message for the dopey voters.




Monday, August 4, 2014

Foothills Paper Gone from Facebook?

Well, I think you did...
This just in to the Foothills Observed, after years of attacking local citizens and practicing the worst kind of yellow journalism, it appears that the Facebook page for The Foothills Paper has been removed from Facebook.

Following a campaign of several of the Foothills Observed members reporting to Facebook the Foothills Paper's harassing and slanderous posts, it appears a scurrilous attack on Teranga Ranch and its upcoming Summerfest event may have been the straw that broke the camel's back.

UPDATE: The page is now back up. According to a post on the page, the administrators were attempting to do some kind of maintenance to the page.

Speaking of insulting volunteers and civic activists in town, Tomi Bowling, Vice President of the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council is getting flack for her proposal that the STNC back a temporary moratorium on construction in the area, in light of the recent DWP water main breaks and current drought conditions - do we have the infrastructure in place to support further massive development?

There are developers, special interests and elected officials - and their local lackeys - who would be quite concerned about the advisory panel even considering such. But again, as noted Citywide, Los Angeles may not be able to physically handle such additional load on the system. And certainly Sunland-Tujunga's character would be further altered by additional housing development, homeless apartments and other multi-family schemes.

Remember, in order for most of these projects to even pencil out, they seek zoning exemptions, alterations, bonuses, even city funding. Most of them would not make a profit otherwise. Thus, the need for the City to ram these boondoggles through NCs.

We salute Tomi Bowling for bringing this issue to the forefront and hope that calmer heads prevail at the STNC to "take a break from the madness."

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Water Main Disaster: Could it Happen in Sunland-Tujunga?

Yet again, we see another massive water main break in Los Angeles. For sure, we can blame a lot of this on the part of poor management at the DWP and the City, deferred maintenance and such. At the same time though, we can not foreclose the impact of the massive densification going on Citywide, building enormous multi-family residential projects on land that once contained a few single family homes, attached to infrastructure that was designed for that low density (or in some cases, even lower!) use and put in place 50, 60 - or in the case of the Westwood break - 90 years ago!

How old and overtaxed is our Sunland-Tujunga infrastructure? No doubt we have water mains, sewer lines that were built as far back as the 1920s when the town got started in earnest.

If we continue to build the Day Streets, the Samoa Streets, the Verdugo Hills Golf Courses, the Stone Canyons, are we going to max out our local infrastructure and face similar disasters?

Imagine 8 - 10 million gallons of water cascading down Foothill Boulevard.

We haven't even mentioned the roads yet.

We need to work together to restrict any more massive apartment or home development in S-T. We simply can not accommodate it. You folks in Shadow Hills may think you're protected with your zoning, your great Sherman Oaks Property Owners Association and the very effective Foothill Trails District Neighborhood Council. But remember one thing - if we build any more apartment complexes in S-T and max out a sewer, it's an immutable fact of physics that feces roll downhill.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Fireworks Are Illegal in the City of Los Angeles


We all love fireworks and many of us grew up doing fireworks shows at home with our friends and family. Those days sure were a lot of fun, but Sunland-Tujunga is a community that is at risk, more so than others, from fireworks, and remember ALL fireworks in the City of Los Angeles are illegal, even the "safe and sane" ones that are legal in other communities.

As a hillside community, Sunland-Tujunga is at particular risk for brush-fires. Particular in a period of extended drought as we have had now. It only takes one little spark to start a major conflagration that could lead to extensive loss of lives, homes and our natural environment. It's just not worth it. And the city is cracking down big time with arrests and fines.

Our town is also one that treasures our animal friends of all stripes and many more live here than elsewhere.
Animals such as dogs, cats, birds and others don't know how to tune out the loud booms and other impacts of fireworks and it creates severe emotional distress for them, damaging their health. Some animals even go missing as a result of fireworks. We need to remember our four legged, winged and other animal friends when we think about lighting fireworks.

Please spread that word that ALL FIREWORKS are illegal in the City of Los Angeles. There are many professional shows that you can enjoy, some of which you can even see from your own home or other locations. Here in our area there are shows at Verdugo Hills High and Hansen Dam that are very entertaining. You can find more shows by clicking this link.

Let's have a great holiday celebrating the greatest nation in the world and do it safely without damaging our environment and our animals!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Major Music Festival Comes to Sunland-Tujunga


Following the loss of it's beloved Watermelon and Easter Festivals, the community is starved for new events. As nature abhors a vacuum, various social entrepreneurs have stepped in to create new events destined to put Sunland-Tujunga on the map.



With the Watermelon Festival having moved first to Pasadena and now, Arcadia, and the Easter carnival absorbed by a larger city blessed, generic and santizied spring carnival, new events are in the works.

Announced Monday, the latest is the three day "Hoodchella Musical and Arts Festival," held over the Labor Day Weekend and promises to bring upwards of 10,000 concertgoers to the area.

Various size concerts and art shows will be held over the weekend with many local businesses participating to stage official and un-official related events of their own. Some of the venues currently planned for concerts include the football stadium at Verdugo Hills High School, Sunland Park, the former K-Mart lot in Sunland, Verdugo Hills Golf Course in Tujunga, the parking lot at Sunhill Plaza, Bolton Hall, McGroarty Arts Center and Angeles National Golf Course.



Among the concerts and art shows there will be vendor booths set-up by major sponsors such as Sprint, Budweiser, Toyota, Google, McDonalds and others. Some of the festival events include a comeptitve beer pong tournmaent, transgender wet t-shirt contest, medical marijuana bake-off and a nitrous lawnmower race through La Tuna Canyon.

Festival chairman and Sunland-Tujunga resident, Gyorgi Hakopian told The Foothills Observed, "We are very excited about this opportunity. Everything we are planning is indicating this is going to be an amazing event. Of course, we fully expect once the festival is established and running, they'll change the name to something more politically correct and move the event to Victorville, but for now, let's party!"

Included in the lineup of performers are:

Lorde
Tom Jones
The Replacements
Beck
Sergio Mendes and Brazil '66
Neutral Milk Hotel
Sixpence None The Richer
Taco
Starland Vocal Band
Queens of the Stone Age
Starship featuring Mickey Thomas
The Proclaimers
Nas
Slim Whitman, Jr.
Calvin Harris
Jimmy Osmond
Justin Guarini
Broken Bells

The event will be Labor Day Weekend, August 29th - September 1st, 2014. For more information please visit Hoodchella14.com. If you got this far, please check today's date.

Monday, March 17, 2014

City Demands Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council Submit Missing Financial Records

In light of a steaming serving of DONE-DUNG served up by the otherwise decent chap Paul Hatfield at CityWatch (no links because we don't give Google juice to dung and we understand the owner of that site loves the clickety-clicks such drama brings) and said CPA Hatfield's consistent slamming of anyone in Sunland-Tujunga who has called for fiscal transparency of their neighborhood council, we offer up the following official letter from none other than Empower LA.



Some time back, Joseph Mailander went through public data with regard to the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council's finances. That which was a frequent pattern of cash withdrawals from the city funded panel's account, all around the same time and without any description as to the purpose. No one individual was mentioned or any specific acts of impropriety suggested. That being said, the point was the lack of specificity in the public record keeping and the odd pattern of withrdrawls. Also of particular note was that many of these withdrawals were made last minute, resulting in signifcant bank fees, that would not otherwise be charged for purchases on the Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council's debit card, or for city checks requested.

Rather than an explanation, Mailander and others were met with stonewalling, name calling and a very righteous Hatfield who was aghast that anyone had even suggested there was a problem.

Here's the problem. Public funds, in the form of cold hard cash, was being withdrawn from a cash machine on a consistent basis with no apparent explanation. Again, no specific impropriety was charged, yet the appearance of such should be of concern to officials and stakeholders alike.

Sunland-Tujunga's treasuer, Nina Royal, has adamantly declared that the books are in order, they are as clean as can be and that anyone may make an appointment with the Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council's part-time employee to visit their office and review documents.

That now appears not to be entirely true. Again, for the sake of folks like Paul Hatfield and others, no specific charges are being made. But as the saying goes, where there is smoke, there may be fire. Certainly the city agency, DONE, charged with overseeing these expenditures is clearly not satisfied with the records and lack of records being submitted. It is very likely once they are, all will be fine. It is also very likely DONE goofed. If either is the case, and is presented and confirmed to us, we'll print that here. The bottom line is that in the handling and spending of the public money, extreme care must be taken to be fully transparent and to demonstrate that everything is on the up and up. If this isn't done, it is certainly justified for stakeholders to question otherwise.

Let me say this: nothing would please me more that after appropriate investigation, everything is on the up and up and at the very worse, we're looking at sloppy bookkeeping and lack of clear direction from DONE. Cherry on top would be for DONE to work for a more transparent system - where this information is available at any time, on line, for stakeholders so that they need not take time off from work to make an appointment with a part-time employee.

Stay tuned.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council Elections

Do you wanna be known as a homeless haven?
Do you want to go back to the Sunland-Tujunga you use to know and love?
Is Sunland-Tujunga better off today than it was two years ago?

VOTE - March 8th, 2014

Make a change...now!


Thomas Smoker, Jr.
President


Wally Wharton
2nd Vice President/Outreach

Bonnie Corwin
Treasurer

2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
North Valley City Hall
Tujunga, CA 91042




Thursday, March 6, 2014

Bonnie Corwin is a Friend of Sunland-Tujunga, First and Foremost

Association. 

A lot of folks are making the case that you should consider who one associates with when you make a selection for Neighborhood Council this Saturday.

There may be some validity to it, but in the end, each person is accountable to themselves, and God (if you choose to believe that), only.

Many folks are simply voting for Nina Royal for STNC treasurer because they have personal animosity towards David DeMulle, who has a friendship with Bonnie Corwin, who is Royal's opponent.

We've documented here that Royal has put in many hours over the years on behalf of the community. Frequently, she's found her efforts bogarted by various charlatans who took advantage of her good nature. But we have also noted that despite Royal's service, she is not the right choice for treasurer, given the current state of our community's finances and the need for more fiscally adroit folks to work with new City Controller (who unlike our last controller is less politician and more technician) to make our finances more transparent and ethical.

The city has a very rudimentary technology in place at present to present fiscal information to stakeholders online. For example, we can see expenditures and cash withdrawals by STNC but there is no backup online or even descriptions as to what the funds were intended for. For example, why are there regular monthly with withdrawals of cash for the same amount? Why is the STNC shopping at Home Depot and what are they buying? I am certain that nothing nefarious is going on here (some of you might suggest otherwise). But we have no way of knowing.

Nina Royal suggests the answer to this conundrum is to make an appointment with Ed Rock, the office manager for the STNC, a kindly gentleman who works a few hours a day keeping track of things. During such an appointment, one may sift through piles of receipts in folders kept by STNC treasurers past. That's a practical suggestion if this was 1978, when folks worked 9-5, had hour long martini lunches and Peppered up at 10, 2 and 4. Today, most of us are doing the work of 2-3 people 20 years ago and don't even take a lunch break. Such an activity would be out of the question. This is why the Internet was developed and why this information en toto needs to be online - to empower good governance.

Bonnie Corwin has impressed many as a thoughtful and resourceful individual, with the technical expertise required in the financial world, as working financial professional. Those who wish to maintain the status quo - many of whom privately trash Nina Royal - are using the specter of David DeMulle to unfairly tar and feather Ms. Corwin.

How many of you have a friend or even spouse that you would not want to be judged by? Indeed, many of those opposing Ms. Corwin are tied up with folks who have exhibited questionable private and public behavior. Would it be fair to judge Nina Royal by their activtiies? I don't think so.

I believe there are many areas of community need, starting with a decent newspaper, that Nina's talents can address. But at the STNC level we need change and we need it now.

Vote for Bonnie Corwin for STNC treasurer, if you truly want change.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Voting Status Quo in S-T is 'insanity'

Voting for the status quo does not solve this problem. The status quo created the problem.

David DeMulle and Joe Barrett both support Brenda Fortune for VP of Outreach for STNC. That alone is reason to vote for Wally Wharton. But I'll give you a few more:

  • No one studies local issues in S-T more than Wally, she gets it, she knows who the players are, all the way up to the City Council level.
  • She is passionate about S-T and has been a homeowner here for over 20 years. No one fights as hard and aggressively for our quality of life than Wally.
  • Even her opponents call her fearless, something that she is. We need someone who won't cower to the city staff, developers and others who have no idea how our way of life works here - and who want to take it away from us.

When you look around S-T at the shuttered businesses, the excess of pot shops, liquor stores, auto repair, the blight, the daily growing homeless population - basically how blighted our main commercial corridor is, it does not sync with most of the rest of our beautiful town. Something made that happen and something radical has to change to make it better.


Wally Wharton discovered this gem where former Councilman Alarcon
admits the City wants to export homeless to S-T. Did you read that in the news?


Brenda Fortune is a nice lady. But she has been part of the LA City Council staff and all the status quo organizations in S-T for decades. Have things got better? Doesn't seem like it. We thank Brenda for her service, but it's time for a change.

If you expect the town to get better and you plan to vote for all the same old people who have in charge for over a decade, then you have to reconsider the old saying that "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

If you really care about S-T, are angry about the state of things and want results, then you have to vote for Wally and the new blood that will make a change.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

What You Need to Know About the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council Elections

Joseph Mailander and his Publisher
Joseph Mailander posted this on our Facebook page. We are publishing it here for wider distribution.

You are having elections in Sunland-Tujunga in a week. You are urged to vote even if you don't feel a mastery of the issues.

Most of us who have contributed to shaping the spirit of this particular patch of scorched Facebook earth feel that the community has not benefited by its present set of civic community officers, who have been nearly the same for a decade. And most of us feel that your community's decline over the past decade has been far more acute than LA's in general.

Though there are many troubles with LA that have amplified over the past decade, there have also been many cultural and some economic consolations elsewhere that your own community has not experienced. In nearly all other bedroom communities in LA, for instance, real estate values have more than doubled in the past decade. There is more money around for the rest of LA than there was in 2004, and lots of residential communities but especially commercial strips have been able to gussy up and fix themselves. In the rest of LA we have seen a stabilizing number of homeless and dwindling numbers of at risk youth. In the rest of LA we have seen much rehabilitation of park land and adding to its acreage.

This hasn't happened in Sunland-Tujunga, however, none of it. Instead, you've lost a source of civic pride, the Watermelon Festival. You've become more of a homeless magnet. You were deliberately annexed into a Latino-majority district in which you persistently receive the very short end of the stick with regards to civic largesse. You've looked on powerlessly at your top own commercial strip as it has become more and more blighted even as the edge cities down the road have drawn even more business away from you.

I've been looking into Sunland-Tujunga as an outsider but intensely over the past three years. I've looked at nearly every single City contract involving Sunland-Tujunga and looked at the operations of the Chamber of Commerce too. I know they've both done utterly miserable jobs making your community better. Worse, when posed the simplest of questions, your present leadership at the Chamber and the NC have instead attacked, sometimes blindly and often viciously. (And regarding "outside" observers, Americans were far more charitable and hospitable to Tocqueville I must say).

There is much to fix in Sunland-Tujunga but your civic leadership is instead most interested in lending a hand to the rest of the City, even while denouncing normal political opposition in your own community with a vehemence we just don't see elsewhere.

The past six months especially have seen the community slowly waking up to the fact that your own civic leadership has not held City Hall in nearly enough contempt for what it has done to your community. I don't know if that's because they lack esteem or that they simply are too gullible, not savvy enough to know when a politician is glad-handling them. Certainly the fact that you have had four Councilmembers in five years has only created less opportunity for the City to feel that it needs to bother fixing your community at all.

The most important thing is that you all need to vote next Saturday. It's not my job to tell you who to vote for, but it's your job to learn as much as you can about what your Neighborhood Council has and has not done for your community. As you can see merely by clicking around on this and other message boards, your community obviously needs considerable fixing. You don't have lots of other professional and paraprofessional organizations around to turn to as alternatives. You need to vote and to tell your friends to.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Here Goes DeMulle Again

In light of the upcoming storm, residents of Sunland-Tujunga are having memories of the big storm of 1978 which wrought significant damage on the area, taking out bridges, roads, homes, and, most notably, a most gruesome event when the floods washed out graves at the Verdugo Hills Cemetery and in some cases, washed coffins and corpses up on the lawns of neighboring residents.

Indeed, I remember that, I was a 14 year old paperboy for the Valley News and Greensheet (now the Daily News) and that morning, I unwrapped my papers to see the macabre photos on the front page. But I digress.

Our old pal. Dr. David DeMulle of the Foothills Paper is posting on the paper's Facebook page, clips from the Los Angeles Times' coverage of the event with the following "notification:"

These photo are copyright of The Foothills paper and may not be used with written permission of the owner.
Obvious grammar and syntax issues aside, DeMulle is sadly mistaken if he thinks he can copyright the Times' work. The paper's official response on their Facebook page not only doesn't make sense in English, it really holds zero weight from a legal perspective:

When we re-created the photo story from segments in our archives.
Au contraire, good doctor. You may be attempting to make the claim that your re-publication of these photos is some sort of derivative work. A derivative work is a creation that includes some portion of a previous, or underlying, work. For example, rapper Vanilla Ice's Ice Ice Baby includes the bass line form Under Pressure by David Bowie and Queen. Ice (real name Rob Van Winkle) samples the previous tune, but adds new lyrics and additional music accouterments, creating a derivative work. A more current colloquialism is "mash-up"

Derivative Work

US Copyright law gives protection to derivative works to the extent that the new work contains significant new work. Like a rap song sampling a previous recording or perhaps including part of a previous painting in a new painting. But there has to be new work. Simply republishing the existing work without any major modifications, or in this case very little beyond putting it on Facebook, does not a derivative work.

Not a Derivative Work

And here's the kicker - even if one has created an actual derivative work, the creator of the original work does not lose their original copyright claim on the work and would be due royalties on any publishing. Indeed, Van Winkle had to cut Bowie, Brian May, Freddie Mercury Roger Taylor and John Deacon in for a cut of the royalties as well as songwriting credit on Ice Ice Baby.

The bottom line is DeMulle putting up photos of old Times clips gives him no copyright clam and it certainly does not absolve him of paying royalties to the Times.

Perhaps they should send him a bill.


Your S-T Winter Weather Forecast - Live!


FLASH FLOODING AND DEBRIS FLOWS WILL BE A PARTICULAR THREAT IN AND BELOW RECENTLY BURNED AREAS. A FLASH FLOOD WATCH MEANS THAT CONDITIONS MAY DEVELOP THAT LEAD TO FLASH FLOODING. FLASH FLOODING IS A VERY DANGEROUS SITUATION. SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA RESIDENTS...IN OR BELOW RECENTLY BURNED AREAS ARE URGED TO TAKE THE STEPS NECESSARY TO PROTECT THEIR PROPERTY. PERSONS IN THE WATCH AREA SHOULD REMAIN ALERT AND FOLLOW DIRECTIONS OF EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS OFFICIALS. YOU SHOULD MONITOR LATER FORECASTS AND BE PREPARED TO TAKE ACTION SHOULD FLASH FLOOD WARNINGS BE ISSUED.

David DeMulle Jumps the Shark


Can you say kettle meet pot??




Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Our Official STNC Ballot Recommendations: Take This With You to the Polls

Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council Elections are coming up March 8th and it's now time for us here at the FO to make our official endorsements of candidates in the race. The good news is that so many folks have entered the race and in most cases you have a choice. Let's run down the ballots, shall we?

PRESIDENT - THOMAS SMOKER, JR.

Tom Smoker, Sunland-Tujunga's Honorary Mayor, is a born and bred Sunland-Tujunga native and a long time participant in local affairs. Look at this guy - he OOZES Sunland-Tujunga, going back to a time when the rural life was respected and politicians listened to the community and not the other way around. A military veteran, union member and veteran film and television production crew member, Tom brings the "everyman" point of view that STNC needs, without any baggage. He's the guy who is going to stand up to city officials and go to the mat for S-T. His opponents, "newspaper" publisher David DeMulle is a joke, but more importantly an organizational disaster in the making. DeMulle, particularly in recent days, has shown himself to not at all be above not personally attacking individuals in the community as he desperately tries to win this race. The other candidate, incumbent Mark Seigel, is an avuncular figure who speaks quite articulately but is completely lacking the fire in the belly to stand up for S-T in the way a President should. Mark is a technocrat who can lead an emergency response team, run an event and teach folks in the fine art of Ham Radio. But Mark has shown severe weakness as a leader and that weakness has also led to him looking the other way to local tomfoolery by the powers that be. Mark frequently makes weak excuses when challenged. He's a nice enough chap who I'd pick to be a Scoutmaster in a heartbeat, but S-T is at probably the most critical juncture in it's history and we need a tough leader. Vote for Tom Smoker.

FIRST VICE PRESIDENT - TOMI LYN BOWLING

This is an uncontested race and thus an endorsement is really not necessary. There is no option for write-in candidates nor a "none the above" choice. As well, Tomi represents a mixed bag for me. She has a long record of volunteering and is adept at land use issues, one of her areas of specialty. At times, she has been too close to the "machine" and has not always spoken out when she should about their poor decisions. However, of all the members, past and present, of the machine, Tomi has shown a fairly frequent independent streak. Although Tomi did not ask hard questions about the Day Street Homeless Apartments, and supported this controversial project, she has been tough on other issues of the homeless, frequently departing from the party line of the Chamber and the STNC. It is obvious that Tomi is passionate about the community, and since there is no other option, it would be great to see Tomi channel her passion and her independence towards reform in S-T on these key issues. Vote for Tomi Bowling.

SECOND VICE PRESIDENT - WALLY WHARTON

Wally Wharton is a decades long S-T homeowner and activist who defines the notion of an "involved stakeholder." She is a serious student of local government, regularly attends City Council and County Board of Superviors meetings and frequently comments on these issues on local talk radio programs and publications. Wally does indeed bring a flair to the campaign. In addition to being a published author, she's an actress who's appeared in a number of films including Cheech and Chong's "Up In Smoke." But her eclectic manner is really a reflection of the diverse funkiness of S-T and we need that in our local leadership. Wally, a UCLA alum, is an intellectual who can discuss everything from Kafka to Barbie dolls. More importantly, she brings a thoughtful perspective on the issues and a commitment to the community. Wally's opponent, Brenda Fortune, is a long time STNC board member whose made the circuit of Chamber and service clubs locally. She's put in many hours and has worked on many projects for the community. But it's time for a change and new leadership. Vote for Wally Wharton.

SECRETARY - NO RECOMMENDATION

This is another uncontested race with no option for write-ins or other choices. The sole candidate, Sandra Bagus, in statements made online and otherwise, to not have the emotional nor intellectual depth to serve in this role. However, she will be elected and we just have to hope for the best. One option you may consider is not to mark a choice on the ballot for this office. It will not impact the results, but it will deflate her overall count viz-a-viz total ballots cast and make a statement. Sometimes the best vote is no vote.

TREASURER - BONNIE CORWIN

Bonnie Corwin has decades of experience in financial management and accounting, having worked with many community organizations, including the Red Cross. She brings a fresh perspective and an accounting background her opponent, current Treasurer Nina Royal, lacks. Royal has put in many years of hard work as one of S-T's most storied activists but recent statements by Royal show that perhaps it's time for her to move on after many years on the STNC. Royal seems more suited to matters of outreach, public safety and policy. With a move by City Controller Ron Galperin to become more transparent and use technology to share financial data with city residents, neighborhood councils would be well advised to choose financial professionals as treasurer to help sort out the new process. Vote for Bonnie Corwin.

STAKEHOLDER GROUP REPS - VOTE FOR

DANA STANGEL - Stangel is a longtime local resident who has shown significant talent and passion creating and running non-profit organizations, most notably Teranga Ranch which helps to rescue reptiles and similar animals. She has great energy, is extremely intelligent and will bring much needed new blood to the board. Stangel is probably one of the most exciting candidates in this year's crop.

SERGIO E. SOTO - Soto's previous public service has been limited to his membership in his local Masonic Lodge and it appears that he wants to serve on the STNC to help boost that organization. However, he exhibits newcomer energy that the board is severely in need of. I believe he will very quickly learn the ropes and be a great representative.

ROSIE N. TER-MATEVOSYAN - Another newcomer, but as an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, Rosie knows what it's like to live under a repressive regime. As it was once said "Only Nixon can go to China," perhaps Rosie can share her American dream experience in her leadership and make the STNC an open, serving and transparent organization once again.

KRYSTEE CLARK  - Coming on what will be her sophomore term on the board if re-elected, Clark has a lot of passion, is articulate and is one of the younger members of the bunch. While published comments she made about the effort to save the Verdugo Hills Golf Course concern me, I'm willing to give Krystee another shot.

MARLENE HITT - Marlene has decades of service in S-T and is most known for her work with Bolton Hall and the Little Landers Historical Society. As much as Krystee Clark brings youth, Marlene brings context and can adeptly advise the board on matters within the conext of our long history. 

JOHN LAUE - A former member of the STNC board, Laue wishes to return and use his knowledge of environmental issues to advise the board. STNC needs someone like this, particuarlly with issues around the Wash, the golf course and other matters that are touched by environmental issues. He will make a good addition to the board.

STAKEHOLDER GROUP REPS - ABSOLUTELY DO NOT VOTE FOR

JOHN BLUE - Blue is another long time member of the board, but is not a member of the machine. In fact, he's a frequent thorn in the side to President Mark Seigel and Vice President Cindy Cleghorn, as well as others. John may feel he means well, but he's not shown the emotional maturity - despite his chronological age to serve on the panel and be a team player. There is every bit of room for a loyal opposition but John's is not reasoned and at times, displays a slight paranoia and inappropriate behavior in meetings. Do not vote for John Blue.

CINDY CLEGHORN - This could be the most important vote you ever cast. While Cleghorn has a long volunteer resume and walls of awards at home, she has not shown that she has the temperament, personality nor character to serve at the high level of power and leadership she had secured for herself. In her time, the town has not prospered and has actually gotten worse. There are many questions about her leadership and her simultaneous role serving as President of the Chamber of Commerce is concerning. Do not, under any circumstance, vote for Cindy Cleghorn.

STAKEHOLDER GROUP REPS - NO RECOMMENDATION

The following candidates have not supplied sufficient information for us to offer an opinion:  Patrick Daniel O’Brien, Jon Edward von Gunten, Julie Cuddihy Vicki Goorjian Pierce.

REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVES - VOTE FOR

Region 1 - Kresse Armour, Jorge A. Martinez
Region 2 - Arsen Karamians, Arno Akobyan
Region 3 - Jim Moore, David Barron
Region 4 - Charlie Bradley, Maureen A. O'Byrne

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Latest Homeless Violence Incident at Sunland McDonalds Shows S-T Residents Have Had Enough of Flawed Homeless Policy

Sign of the Times
While many of us certainly feel compassion for those who are down on their luck and faced with the cycle of homeless, the fact that a large percentage of the homeless population are mentally ill, drug addled and violent offenders creates a huge public safety issue for the residents, families and children of our community. With an establishment, local police force and local government that is seemingly unwilling and/or incapable of dealing with the problem - and in fact may actually intentionally be excaberating it - it is time for the community to take action on it's own.

Information, contact details and an upcoming neighborhood watch meeting is listed at the end of this article. 
Read the following story posted by one of our readers at our Foothills Observed Facebook page:

Tonight I reached my threshold. Done and done.
I’m sharing this post not to start a debate or heated discussion. I share it because tonight, I got first hand experience seeing why things have gotten so out of hand with the homeless population and the effects it’s had on our community and everyone's safety.
I was at McDonald’s tonight on Foothill in Sunland having my child’s parent teacher conference.

A homeless woman obviously high on some sort of narcotic, chased a man and his toddler in the parking lot, kicking him and his car. He ran inside telling the staff to call 911. She followed him in screaming obscenities and yelling about heroine. The situation got extremely heated, the manager called 911, and my daughter’s teacher and I decided it was time to get out of there. I exited the front door only to have the woman follow me and attempt to get into my passenger side door. Thankfully, I was able to hit lock before she could open it. She then went to the rear of my SUV and started pounding on my car calling me names and screaming about heroine. I started my car and she walked across the parking lot to her shopping cart and got a metal baseball bat, banging it on the ground, and came toward my vehicle again. I threw it in reverse and sped off before she got to back to my car. 

I drove back to McDonalds moments later and didn’t see her so I went in to wait with the gentleman who was assaulted, so that I could offer a witness report. The person on the line asked the manager if anyone was hurt. When he said no, but they needed an officer to respond, he was told to ignore the woman and she would go away. We waited… no response. The staff at McDonalds told me that they have to call 911 often because there are homeless people who come in often threatening them with rocks, boulders, and other makeshift weapons, for food and money. 9 out of 10 times, there is no police response to their calls. Some of them are scared to even go to work. The kids eating their dinner in the dining room looked terrified. I left the parking lot once again telling myself, I’ve had it with this place. Wishing I didn’t feel that way.

I came home and called the Foothill Division to express my disappointment at the lack of response. I spoke to an Officer Carlin who blew me off, and told me that if I wasn’t hurt and if it was resolved there was nothing he could do. He then told me that they were too busy for my phone call, and that if I wanted to say something I could drive down to the station. He became more helpful when I asked him for his name, badge number , and supervisor. 

His supervisor Officer Kennedy came on the line and heard me out, apologized and told me that he would send a car out as soon as possible and that he was aware that McDonalds had frequent episodes of this nature. That they do all they can but there is only ONE patrol car assigned to patrol Tujunga regularly. I found that disappointing too. But even the supervisor didn’t ask for my name or contact info in case he wanted to follow up with me or have me offer a formal statement of any kind. 

There are people who’ve said that we should embrace this epidemic and be more understanding. But the situation I witnessed tonight is just one of many, it’s happening more and more and it’s ignored.

Part of me got home and felt like just moving on, that calling wouldn’t make a difference. But after hearing the officer at the field office be so cocky and uninterested I was glad I did, even if I had to hold for 20 minutes to talk to his supervisor. Maybe that is what it will take… people calling and pursuing action all the time, every time.

At the root of much of this appears to be the secret machinations of the so-called "Sunland-Tujunga
The word in Spanish is "BASTA (enough)!"
Homeless Working Group," an organization made up of representatives of the Sunland-Tujunga Neighbohrood Council, Council District 7 staff and other organizations. This was the group who recently held a "homeless resources fair" at Sunland Park, previously home for 50 years to our Watermelon Festival, enticing local homeless as well as those bused in from other communities to receive public assistance, housing, ID cards (paid for by STNC) and free food. Following this event, locals noticed an increase in homeless in the park, dumping of trash and a proliferation of shopping carts.

As writer/blogger Joseph Maiilander noted, the Homeless Working Group does not invite public participation and it's meetings are considered confidential, inclusion is at the whim of CD7 Council Member Felipe Fuentes: 

After three months of pressing the Council office, it has finally been determined: The Sunland-Tujunga Homeless Issues Working Group meets PRIVATELY, by invite of Councilmember Felipe Fuentes ONLY, and the public is NOT invited.

When such meetings that so dramatically affect the future of the community are conducted in private, completely out of community view, with no public review whatsoever--and the Neighborhood Council does not even register any protest that they should be conducted in public--can anyone really still believe that this happens because the Council office, the developer of Day Street, or the people in the group are working in the best interests of the community of Sunland-Tujunga?

When the Neighborhood Council swallows such a private arrangement so gladly, can anyone believe your Neighborhood Council is working in the interest of your community?
You as a community are entirely cut out of that dialog--a dialog that directly affects your community's future, a dialog that is establishing your community as the homeless destination of the Northeast Valley. And yet your Neighborhood Council only seems fine with this relationship, and doesn't even care that these meetings are private!

That's the kind of playing along that government officials just love to hand out certificates for.

As our local officials have failed us, it is time for the community to speak out. It is highly suggested that you contact LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich and demand he conduct a full investigation of the Sunland-Tujunga Homeless Working Group and a full review of all policies/actions dealing with the homeless in our community:

500 West Temple Street, Room 869
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 974-5555
(213) 974-1010 FAX
You can send the Supervisor an email at this link.

Additionally, please contact Council Member Felipe Fuentes to demand he open the Homeless Working Group and all records of it's decisions to the public:

7747 Foothill Blvd.
Tujunga, CA 91042
Tel: (818) 352-3287 | Fax: (818) 352-8563
You can reach Wesly Hernandez, Area Director at wesly.hernandez@lacity.org

You can also speak up at an upcoming Neighborhood Watch Meeting, this coming Tuesday, November 19th, at 7 pm at North Valley City Hall. 

7747 Foothill Blvd.
Tujunga, CA 91042

Reaching out to these elected officials and attending these meetings will not immediately change things. But the more people who speak up, bug the hell out of these elected officials and step up more often to resist the status quo will begin to make a change.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The City Council's Export the Homeless to Sunland-Tujunga Program

If you ever wonder why there are so many homeless in Sunland-Tujunga, there is one very good reason why.

Photo from Sunland-Tujunga Memes
We are a net importer of these unfortunate individuals.

There are many reasons without doing anything that our community is attractive to the homeless. For many, it's the same allure that brought many of us are here. It's a great place - a semi-rural, small town type burg set against spectacular mountains.

More so, homeless are lured here by a rapidly growing set of social services, a beautiful park with lax enforcement, resources to earn some income and a wash to hide in. And we have an upcoming homeless festival, complete with illegally posted flyers.

For years, other communities locally and out of town have given the homeless one way tickets to our town. But now, the LA City Council itself is intently looking at S-T to absorb the homeless from Downtown and Hollywood.

Want proof? None other than our former Council Member, Richard Alarcon (yes, THAT Richard Alarcon) said so. And here's the video to prove it.


It comes from the live broadcast of the LA City Council and is un-edited. This is just prior to when Richard Alarcon, Jan Perry and the outgoing Council members were leaving office. Anyway, here they are saluting Jan Perry for her years in office. The first part is former Council Member Bill Rosendahl cheering Jan. The next speaker is Richard Alarcon who talks about the work she has done to bring in Staples Center, LA Live, all the downtown development etc and how they have had to deal with the homeless. Alarcon goes on to say how he tried to help her by building homeless projects in the NE Valley. Thus, they want to bring homeless here and get them out of downtown where billions is being spent on hipster development.

Special thanks to Wally Wharton for getting us the clip.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I'm On The Radio Again!

Back behind the mic again as I take the reins of "Frank and Tai Talk" on LATalkRadio on Sunday, September 8th at 4:00 p.m. PDT. Frank Sheftel and Tai Babalonia are "on assignment."

I will be talking about the news of the day. And I will be interviewing local writer, Joseph Mailander, about his new book, Days Change at Night: Notes on LA's Decade of Decline, 2003-2013 and other topics of note.

We'll also take your calls at 1-323-203-0815.
Joseph Mailander


You can listen at www.latalkradio.com or download the Android LATalkRadio app at the Google Play Store or the iPhone App Store or use TuneInRadio for BlackBerry users.

See you on the radio!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Have You Seen Brandon the Tortoise?

Brandon the Tortoise, who has been part of the same Sunland-Tujunga family for 40 years, has been missing for some time and his owners are desperate to find him.

There is belief that Brandon may have been found by another individual who is keeping him, but there is little information as to who this individual may be and no way at present to contact them

Local resident Grace Kastraniec Taylor posted the following additional details at Facebook. If you have any information relating to Brandon, please call the owners at 818-352-5508


Hello everyone! I have posted this on the Animal pages but have had no luck, so thought I would try this one since it has so many followers. Brandon the Tortoise is still LOST and I am trying to advocate here on FB for his owners, because they are an elderly couple that do not have computer access. I mainly need help trying to locate a woman who has in her possession a tortoise that was FOUND on Silverton last month, but although I was told that she was given the information to be able to get in touch with these people, she has not attempted to yet, and it's been weeks already. At this point, I have no idea how to find her. All I know is that she also used to have a tortoise, which she also lost and that is how she ended up with the one that was found, but is not making any attempt to find the owner. The person who originally found the turtle could not keep it, so gave it to her for safekeeping, while trying to locate the true owner. She also has children and they have named the new tortoise Miles. If anyone out there has ANY information as to who this person might be, PLEASE call Brandon's owners at 818-352-5508. They just want to have an opportunity to see if the tortoise that she now has is theirs, but if it is not, they will not take it from her. Brandon's humans and mate really miss him. Please help if you can. Thank you so much!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Garcetti to Hold Office Hours at Van Nuys City Hall



Mayor Garcetti wants to hear from you. RSVP for the Mayor's Office Hours at Van Nuys City Hall at garcetti.officehours@lacity.org


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Why Is Sunland-Tujunga a Homeless Center?

Recycling Center One Block From Sunland Park
There's a lot of talk that our Sunland Park homeless problem is caused by church/volunteer groups sharing food with the down and out. That's an issue across the nation and is often a case made by those with animus towards the evangelical Christian and/or Catholic adherents. That's another story, but let's take a look at it.

Using common sense, indeed, if some organization provided meals morning, noon and night on a daily basis, out of the parks, indeed you could say that draws a certain amount of folks. Not just homeless, but at-risk youth and others would come out for food. Fair enough.

But what we see locally is once a week/once a month and sporadic. Usually it's tied to some kind of event/holiday. 

So what brings homeless to the park? Same thing that brings most people to the parks, really. It's a quiet place to sit down, out of the hustle and bustle of other public locations, you can nap under a tree, there's room to wander around and it's pretty. 

But let me submit further to you what I believe is one of the prime contributors, if not the prime contributor, to homeless in Sunand Park is. 

One block from the park at the corner of Floralita Ave and Foothill Blvd is a recycling center (located behind a gas station). These recycling centers draw HUGE numbers of homeless who root cans, bottles and other recyclables out of local trash (in violation of the law) and bring them to these recycling centers in order to earn some cash. 

Recycling Center, behind Mobil Staion
I am certain that many of these homeless, once they cash out and purchase some libation or other intoxicant at any number of nearby legal and illegal outlets, just saunter over to the park for a lovely rest of the day and perhaps, a night's sleep. There is no question that recycling draws out homeless, there are issues at a large shopping center in NoHo with this, more than any little rag-tag group of Christians or anyone making a few sandwiches and sharing them. 

Several years back, the California State Legislature mandated that recycling centers be set up within specific distance of any place that sells bottled and canned beverages. - i.e. supermarkets, convenience stores, gas stations. Let's get the recycling centers out of residential and commercial areas and put them in industrial areas where they belong. And let's enforce the law on trash picking. Just this morning, I saw two homeless people on my block pulling junk out of my neighbor's cans and putting them in a shopping cart. 

The concern among many that a "homeless fair" in the park is not about being "haters" (or hatters?) or a peanut gallery or whatever nonsense the status quo crowd wants to toss out there. It's about creating a permanent image of the park as a homeless service center when there are plenty of other locations nearby that would be more suitable. The fact that this was imposed on us by an out-of-town, new Councilman and that our local leaders were not willing to stand up to him is a sad commentary on our town. It is particularly telling when the City of Los Angeles has a policy of "regionalization" of the homeless. That is, getting the homeless out of Downtown LA and Skid Row where powerful developers want to gentrify the area, and shipping them to key locations in Sunland-Tujunga, Sun Valley, Van Nuys, South Central, East LA and other areas that are generally lower income and politically impotent. 

At what point do we stand up for ourselves to the city, and to the locals who enable the city's nonsense in exchange for a few shiny things from the Councilman of the week?