Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mr. Cecil's Ribs Robbed

But this time with a video capturing it all. Owner Jonathan Burrows was smart and installed panic buttons and cameras all over. Was there one out in the alley where the car may have been parked? No word on that yet.

About a week before Barone's got robbed, I was there and speaking to the owner after some gang tagging happened. He said he was going to install a camera on the back wall. Well, a week later, guess who came through that back door? Yups, Ski Mask Bandits. No camera's installed.

Mr. Cecil's Ribs is a pretty easy target. If anyone knows the alley behind it (Ventura Blvd. between Woodman and Ventura Cyn.), it is a fairly wide alley and easily sped through. Burrows said he saw some suspicious men doing what seemed like casing the place a month ago. He reported them and their license plate to the police. We'll see if it leads anywhere.

My theory: These robberies are not for the money, rather, the thrill.

Photo: NBC4

Friday, August 25, 2006

Public Art I want to see in s'oaks

The picture comes from a post today on Boing Boing. It got me thinking again about Public Art in Sherman Oaks, which there is not much of. Yet there is so much opportunity in terms of space.

VIVA Gallery has an initiative for a small urban park and the mural of the Freeway Lady at the corner of Moorpark & Fulton. The library has some interesting work in the community room.

But the picture here makes me excited as it would fit perfectly under a freeway pass. Big empty walls. What a great space for a bit of art. I'm not talking something extravagant. Just something fun, simple and spontaneous.

While I sort of enjoy the randomness of things like Project Rabbit (even if it is officially graffiti), the pictured work is much more thrilling.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Increased Crime in Sherman Oaks*

PCR Chriss (that's Police Community Representative) passed this information along to all the East Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Watch Block Captains:
There has been a significant increase in the last two weeks of stolen cars. Nate [Banry] says more in the last two weeks than in the last two years. A cluster is in the Ventura Blvd/Hazeltine area.

Also, there has been a sharp increase in home burglaries - especially houses that are for sale. Three of them have been in the Greenleaf Neb [sic] Watch area!
If you see anything in process, call 911. If you see anything suspicious, call dispatch at (818)734-2223.

And remember, if you can write down license plate numbers, that is gold!

*Update: In Sherman Oaks (1927 - ) has a great list of tips on how to make it harder to get your car stolen. I've gotten my window etched, I would recommend you get it done too.

A Different Labor Dispute

This photo was taken yesterday outside Westfield Fashion Square. I'm not exactly sure what this is about. Google and Google News searches are giving me nothing. When I passed by, it was only these two here on strike. And I thought the EAA strike was small.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Yes, it's true. I'm running for SONC

I sort of hid it in a post the other day, but I guess I can't hide anymore and it's time to get the word out and answer a few questions (including those from Daily News to me):
Zach -- if you're reading this, or if anybody else knows, is there an actual vote for these seats? When/where/how is it done? I've never seen or heard about such a vote taking place in Van Nuys, and we do have a neighborhood council. Something's either fishy or done in an incredibly ass-backward way -- and I'm hoping for ass-backward.
To use Steven Rosenberg's term, yes, it is ass-backward. The toughest challenge for many Neighborhood Councils (NC) is marketing to the community. So the fact that many people do not know about NC elections is not surprising. Each NC has their election at different times and must market it themselves. Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council (SONC) will hold theirs on Monday, September 11th at Sherman Oaks Elementary from 4 - 8 p.m.

Other questions...

Q: What are your qualifications?

A: Despite my age (25), I've been working in local government since June of 2002. I received an internship through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission to work a summer at the City of Santa Clarita Cultural Affairs Office (note: my boss back then was Rosalind Stewart, who headed up the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) before Santa Clarita. She currently works with Councilwoman Wendy Greuel). After my internship ended, I was asked to stay and work part-time through my last year of college at CalArts. Nearing my graduation, my hours got bumped up to 30 hours a week where I continued with Santa Clarita until last Spring where I decided to go freelance/contractor with the city and other clients doing web design and online marketing.

Q: How does Cultural Affairs and Web relate to local government in other capacities?
A: Working at a place such as the City of Santa Clarita gave me a full breadth of experience. The Santa Clarita family is very close, and being that the city is relatively small, you get your hands wet on everything. Personally knowing the city manager is part of the everyday life at a small city. Being on the same committee as the city manager and other city leaders was quite normal for me and others. I got to work in many capacities ranging from traffic to communications to planning/redevelopment.

More Q & A to come later. Feel free to e-mail me any questions you have as well!

Leda's Bake Shop

I have a friend who is obsessed with cupcakes. Her motto: Cupcake + Multivitamin: Super Breakfast! She has a plan for when her friend comes to town: visit the best bakeries around, which included Leda's Bake Shop. I was surprised I had never seen Leda's, being that is located between Senor Fred and the pet store next to the old Orange Delight stand (basically Woodman and Ventura).

So I checked it out and I think I had one of the best chocolate chip cookies ever. And the mini cupcakes are whimsically delish. I met Ledette, the owner, who I thought to be very hip to it, and she mentioned that they are working on some vegan recipes which is good news for all ya vegans out there. A Sherman Oaks/Ventura Blvd. classic not to be missed.

Leda's Bake Shop
13722 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Pissing Off The Neighbors

I posted about this on LAist, but I found a new one about 200 ft away.

Pizza Rustica Opens

And it's pretty damn good.

What's Memorable: The buttery like crust
The Atmosphere: Boardwalk like walk-in and order type of place. But there's no boardwalk, it's in Sherman Oaks.
Savor Over: Chocolate Pizza

Pizza Rustica
15030 Ventura Blvd
Sherman Oaks, California 91403

Founding SONC Chair Resigns

Today, Ken Gerston resigned from the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council (SONC). In the e-mail letter to the council and city officials, Gerston signs off saying:

I take great exception with many of the decisions that have been made by the leadership and executive board of the Council and find the Council has become an ineffective voice at this time.

The very premise of Neighborhood Councils were to put the community first and not to be self serving or self aggrandizing. Sadly, the original vision has been lost.

It has been an honor to serve our community and I thank you and my neighbors for the opportunity.
I never knew Ken as the President of SONC since I moved to Sherman Oaks when Jill Banks Barad became the new president. While Ken was still on the board, he often appeared quiet and reserved, occasionally speaking with direct to the point comments. His attendance at meetings seemed to be dwindling lately.

To Ken's point, SONC occasionally does take the time to take positions on City council motions and other forms of support for bills and organizations. It makes sense when it deals with Neighborhood Council (NC) issues such as motions moving from NCs to City Council, but sometimes when SONC takes the time to take a positions on issues that effect something city or countywide, it feels like it dominates the meeting and sidelines the truly local issues like traffic at a certain intersection or beautification. Ideally, that's committee work, but still, the meetings sometimes don't feel like Sherman Oaks, rather City Council. And that's when I see city officials in the audience start rolling their eyes.

On a side note: Pending verification of my business status, I am running for SONC Area 5 as a Business Representative. If my paperwork goes through, I'm running unopposed.

Council Deputy Begins Blogging

I was catching up on From Sherman Oaks (1927 - ) and noticed Councilwoman Wendy Greuel's Sherman Oaks deputy, Patricia Davenport, has joined the blogging ranks. Commonly known as Pat, she is listed as a contributor and as of this writing, has not written anything. Pat works endlessly for Sherman Oaks floating from community meeting to meeting, solving problems and mediating tense situations. She deserves a gold star and a lot more!

Photo: Pat Davenport & LAPD Senior Lead Officer (SLO) for North Sherman Oaks

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Getting Shot: A Cost of Doing Business

Maxson's Pharmacy at 14070 Ventura Blvd (cross street Hazeltine) was robbed at gunpoint on Friday.
The robbery of a Sherman Oaks pharmacy was foiled Friday afternoon by a store employee who confronted the would-be robber and shot him, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department said.

Initial reports indicated that the employee had taken the intruder's gun and turned it on him, but police later retracted that account and said they still were investigating how the shooting occurred. (L.A. Times)
The leadful robber escaped wearing a bullet proof vest, yet needed medical attention and was dropped off at Tarzana Hospital where he was arrested. The getaway car, described as a "black or dark-colored Volkswagen Golf," is still at large.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Playfood: Vegan Food That Taunts Me

Back in June, I posted a little Playfood update. LACityNerd thought the store front had dissipated and today, Kay commented this:
A real Update on PlayFood. The Ventura restaurant location is slow going. The main focus is opening a manufacturing plant for this wonderful product in the state of Missouri. We are about 2 - 3 weeks away from production of our cheeses. Be sure to ask for us in your locate grocery and health food stores as we will be contacting them soon for distribution.
Last I heard, the operation was in Kansas. Maybe that was Kansas City, MO. Anyway, while we wait for Vegan cheese made from cashews and spices, you should check out this Venice based company, Miso Mayo. The Spicy Red Pepper is way too good. I recommend putting it on saltine crackers as a snack.

Caught: Purse Snatchers & A Tagger

Part of that recent upswing in Valley crime have been purse snatchers. A couple of them have been caught now. The statistics should now go down.

Also, a 15 year old who has been tagging all over Sherman Oaks has been caught and charged with felony vandalism. This is his second arrest and supposedly his parents knew of his activities. The man who reported him got the $1000 reward.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Another Sherman Oaks Blog

In addition to the new Stuck in the Valley by Max, Sherman Oaks has yet another new blog with a very similar url: (you'll notice mine is From Sherman Oaks (1927 - ) started last Tuesday by a group of community members involved on the Sherman Oaks Beautification Committee, a group made of of Neighborhood Council Reps (SONC), The HOA (SOHA), and the Chamber. In a letter, blog admin, David wrote to me:
This past week I started a blog for Sherman Oaks (initially it was meant to be just for the Sherman Oaks Beautification Committee), but I’m thinking it could be a sort of on-line bulletin board for all the people who are involved in trying to make a difference in our neighborhood. In any case, I was looking to see what else there was on Sherman Oaks, and I chanced on your blog, which almost made me want to hit the “delete blog” button and go eat a pretzel.
Sherman Oaks is going blog and that is excellent news. For my neighborhood watch (NW), I started a blog and am offering blog setup to any of the other NWs. The group of NWs in Sherman Oaks East (9A89 LAPD Basic Car) have an e-mail discussion list already and I'm hoping there will be some more blogs to come (hopefully a SONC blog).

Bringing Midnight Ridazz to the Valley

Midnight Ridazz announced they wanted to get some smaller chapters and after speaking to Monica over there, she seemed zealous through e-mail about it.

So, as I said last month, I checked out Midnight Ridazz on Friday night and it was a blast. I'll write more on LAist on Monday, but here's a video for now:

Friday, August 11, 2006

Taking A Stab at prelaunches and there has been much buzz about it lately. I went and gave it a trial.

  • The good: pretty easy to use, cool picture function, extreme local news, event calendar.
  • The bad: design is blah, few bugs to fix, homepage is confusing, news stories that really should be blogs.
  • My prediction: If the features keep rolling out and if it is easy to use for everyone, this site will be huge.
  • My recommendation: Hire community managers for each community to keep the energy going (I'll take Sherman Oaks!).

My News Briefs:
Latest 405 Closures
Does 8% Mean Anything?

Photo: Leia

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Crime Map: Aug 1 - Aug 7

The most interesting thing about this map is that the August 6th Homicide is not recorded here.
  • Otherwise, the purple denotes thefts from vehicles which end up mostly to be CDs and Laptops.
  • The light orange are violent robberies. You'll notice that the light orange near the 101/405 junction is the Valley Inn robbery.
  • Navy Blue means Grand Theft Auto. One on Riverside and one on Costello (just south of Ventura Blvd.)
  • Turquoise is Personal Theft (think taking your purse or wallet of you)
There is a criss-cross in the public information updating here by the LAPD. While the August 6th homicide is posted on the LAPD blog, it is not on the map. The Valley Inn robbery is absent from the blog while it is on the map.

Information Gathered from

Add Dickens & Sepulveda

Now Sherman Oaks has 4 intersections with traffic officers assigned during rush hour:
  • Ventura Blvd. and Van Nuys Blvd.
  • Ventura Blvd. and Beverly Glen Blvd.
  • Ventura Blvd. and Sepulveda Blvd.
  • Dickens St. and Sepulveda Blvd.
4 of the 51 intersections make almost 8% (2 tenths short) of all intersections with traffic officers in Los Angeles. Chew on that. (List via LAObserved)

Photo: Drunken Monkey Photography

What's With All The Valley Crime This Month?

It's not even the 10th and this is what we have:
  • Wednesday, August 2, 9:20 p.m.: The Valley Inn Restaurant gets robbed (Sherman Oaks)
  • Thursday, August 3, time unknown : Father, Mother and Sister become victim to son/brother - Brandon Menard. (Northridge)
  • Friday, August 4, 8:00 p.m.: A man abducts his three children and gets caught in Utah. (Panorama City)
  • Saturday, August 5, 10:30 a.m.: 4 teenage friends go to a store, get in a verbal argument with the suspect and walk away into the store. Upon coming out, the argument continues and one of the four gets shot. (North Hollywood)
  • Sunday, August 6, 2:15 a.m.: Boyfriend and Girlfriend fight. Boyfriend shoots Girlfriend. (Sherman Oaks)
  • Monday, August 7, 10:00 p.m.: Two men are in an alley and two others walk up to them, ask them, "Where you from?" and shoot them both. One Died. (Winnetka)
  • Monday, August 7, 10:15 p.m.: A 20-year old is shot and killed while parked in his car, listening to music. (Van Nuys)
It's hard to do anything to prevent the Sherman Oaks murder when it is a crime of passion. However, he did have a violent history. The Winnetka and Van Nuys shootings seem to be more gang related while the NoHo one's motive is unknown. The Menard Family incident is just plain troubling (and why is there nothing on the LAPD blog?)

The child abductions seem to be common and unfortunate, especially since it ends up being one of the parents.

And the restaurant robberies will be continue until they are caught. The good thing is, they have not been violent (except one at a Thai restaurant a year or so ago). I would hate to be a customer at one of the restaurant robberies when police arrive and there is a shoot out. There will be nothing pretty about that one. (Once again, why nothing on the LAPD blog?)

Photo: Anastasia Povolotska

Sherman Oaks is not near Los Angeles

It is Los Angeles. TJ Sullivan in LA wants you know that. I want you to know that too. I heard that Chatsworth is its own city from someone who lived there. I am constantly asked by FOB (that's Fresh of the Bus) actors, who move to the Valley, where Studio City's city hall is. And all I can do is smile and go, "let's get nerdy and do some local geography" (but really, I want to smack them on the side of the head for being that blind sometimes).

Sullivan says to call the various neighborhoods districts "if you have to call them something." I wouldn't call them that, nor borough (NYC) or ward (Imagine having 50 councilmen [called alderman] like in Chicago!). I refer to them as neighborhoods or communities of the city.

Chicago doesn't have this problem. No one thinks Rogers Park is its own city. Everyone in New York knows that if you are in Queens, you are still in the City of New York City. And better yet, you refer to Queens as Queens and Manhattan as New York and no one is confused. Here in L.A., we refer to the Valley as the Valley and the basin as Los Angeles and everyone is confused as hell.

One can blame the geography, but Manhattan is an island, so I'm not buying that one right now. They look and feel different? There are parts of Sherman Oaks that look like parts of West L.A.

Nothing is going to be solved here, but I say we sack all reporters who are flummoxed by local geography.

Photo: Nagle & Riverside in Sherman Oaks

Monday, August 07, 2006


I missed this article from the New York Times Travel Section a few weeks ago:
THE San Fernando Valley has always gotten a bad rap. For years, it has been associated with two dubious cultural phenomena: Valley Girls and pornography. But just as the city of Los Angeles has undergone a process of rediscovery in long-neglected regions like the downtown area, so this suburban outpost across the Santa Monica mountains has also experienced an image makeover...

The velvet rope has come to the Valley in a big way, especially on Ventura Boulevard, around the Studio City-Sherman Oaks corridor, where bar-hopping on foot is possible.
It goes on to mention a number of restaurants and bars, mostly about Studio City destinations, but Sherman Oaks got one shout out:
For heartier fare, there’s the Boneyard Bistro (13539 Ventura Boulevard, 818-906-7427), a barbecue joint that doesn’t scrimp on big slabs of red meat, but also throws in a few curve balls, such as deep-fried macaroni and cheese ($6 for a large portion) and smoked-duck spring rolls ($11).
Within a few hundred feet, there is another Meaty Rib place, Mr. Cecil's California Ribs. I'm a vegetarian who tries not to eat too much cheese. But I am curious about this deep-fried mac & cheese.

Read Full Article

Photo: J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

Pizza Rustica Coming Soon

The sign hanging over their soon to be storefront says "South Beach's Famous Rustica coming soon!" This has nothing to do with the South Beach Diet. This has to do with Tuscan Pizza, or really, gourmet pizza.

There is one already open in West Hollywood, but the Sherman Oaks one will be their 2nd in Los Angeles. The company has a few in Florida and wins a lot of rewards (Zagat, Digital City, Citysearch) and gets a lot of reviews (Frommer's, local papers, and even a book about pizza in the U.S.).

I know nothing more other than I want a taste.
And yes, that is Anna Kournikova in the above photo.

2nd Degree Murder in Sherman Oaks

I believe this is the first murder of the year in Sherman Oaks. I remember an incident at a gas station earlier this year, but I think that involved a man from Sherman Oaks in an incident in Van Nuys. Nevertheless, CBS2 reports:
(CBS) SHERMAN OAKS, Calif. A 22-year-old woman was shot to death in Sherman Oaks and her live-in boyfriend was suspected in her death.

Victoria Ramirez was found shot in the head about 2:15 a.m. following a domestic dispute at her home in the 13000 block of Chandler Boulevard near Los Angeles Valley College.

David Allan Weir, 24, a career criminal residing with Ramirez, left the home in a dark gray 2003 Ford Mustang, California license plate number 5AXE735, according to Los Angeles Police Officer Martha Garcia.
Read the rest of the article...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Air Raid Siren: Chandler Elementary School

Number 2 Sherman Oaks Air Raid Siren: Hazeltine & Weddington.
Previously: Ventura & Stansbury

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Apartment Therapy, I mean Typography

What really bugs me with the majority of developments these days is the lack uniqueness. In the end, it's all money and how to conservatively save it and how to make a lot of it. The above apartments have some pizazz to them, as evident by the way they are titled and the typography choices. How cool would it be to say, "Hi, I live in the Lamartinique," or "Yeah, I live in the Halli House." (okay, I can't really read what the first letter is). And look at the Fulton Terrace, you can't miss that one driving on the street. "Just look for the apartment with huge ass numbers."

This is character. Character does not exist in places called The Plaza or Woodglen. Generic names and generic design are covering this city. Central air would be nice at times, but I love the fact that my apartment has a different floor plan for just about each apartment. My door to door neighbour's apartment is world's away from mine. Catty-corner to her is something utterly different than both of ours. And this is what I love about the older 1950s/60s apartment buildings in Sherman Oaks and all over the city.

Developers who are comfortable designing homes suitable for Huntington Beach, Simi Valley, Santa Clarita, Pomona, etc, come to Land Use meetings in L.A. with these tacky designs for apartments that look like Hampton Inns. They may fit the character of those cities, but in LA... get a little more creative.

I'm not saying we have to save these places. I'm just saying that the new ones should have a little more character before 50 years from now.

Do You Know Where Your Closest Air Raid Siren Is?

LACityNerd challenged me to find my closest air raid siren in the comment section of a post I did on LAist. Maybe CityNerd did not intend it to be a challenge, but I took it as one because I can get nerdy too. I quickly obtained a complete list of all sirens in Los Angeles and hunted down the one at Stansbury and Ventura across the street from Jinky's.

Over time, I will visit each of the sirens in Sherman Oaks and surrounding areas and photograph them. I liked how the above one turned out.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Restaurant Robbery Update & Tips

The LA Daily News has an article this morning about the Valley Inn Restaurant being robbed by two masked robbers. Kevin at LA Observed notes that the robbery was "more aggressive than first described."

I am a big fan of hardening the target. When we talk about cars, we talk about not leaving your laptop in the front seat. When you get robbed at a restaurant, there is not much you can do because they know you were planning on paying for that dinner. So there goes your wallet.

But you can strip down your wallet. When I have late nights at Jerry's or Solley's Deli, I tend take excess credit cards and IDs out. It's a pain, but it will be much less of one when trying to cancel or recover stolen items.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Valley Inn Restaurant Robbed

Barone's got robbed
. Mel's Diner got robbed. Many in The Valley have been.

A Sherman Oaks restaurant was robbed at gunpoint in what has become a familiar story in the San Fernando Valley.

Two men armed with handguns entered the Valley Inn Restaurant at 4557 Sherman Oaks Ave. near Ventura Boulevard at 9:20 Wednesday, according to Lt. Patricia Blake of the Los Angeles Police Department's West Valley Station.
Watch the video at CBS2 (via LAO)

Photo: Vidalia

Your favorite, secret treasure of Los Angeles...

LA City Beat asked ‘What is your favorite, secret treasure of Los Angeles?’ and Ilana Weiner answered the Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks Pool:

“It is open year-round and used to cost $1.50 to swim there, although now if you show your L.A. Library card you can get in for free! There are typically plenty of lap lanes to swim in, although you do have to split the lanes. The staff is really nice and friendly. Most people in L.A. would rather belong to expensive gyms or have pools already in their houses, or they have a fear of public pools. I grew up in the Midwest where most people don’t have pools and aren’t afraid of public pools, so I think the VNSO pool is awesome. It’s heated and it’s just a great experience. The one thing I find funny is the snobbery I get when I tell people I go to a public pool. It’s a very ‘community’ place to be. I’ve started to recognize people when I go to the pool. It’s a different crowd of people versus the people who go to a fitness club – and I like that.” (14201 Huston St., Sherman Oaks; 818-783-6721)
Photo: Mareen Fischinger

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Latest in Crime

If you are a neighborhood watch block captain, you already know this. But most likely, you're not. If you are interested in becoming a block captain, e-mail me, I'll hook you up with the right people. Anyway, here is some info:

Burglary From Motor Vehicle (BFMV) crimes remain the biggest problem in the East Sherman Oaks area. These crimes are easily prevented. Most BMFVs are crimes of opportunity. The bad guy's walking down the street, sees something he wants in your car, smashes the window, and takes it. Don't leave anything in your car someone would want to take. Don't leave your laptop in the backseat. Don't leave cell phones, wallets, CD's or even clothes. Don't leave them in your car and I can pretty well guarantee no one will break in. Oh, and always, always lock your cars. ~ Senior Lead Officer (SLO) Nate Banry
George Aguilar, SLO for West Sherman Oaks, warns of BFMV, Grand Theft Auto (GTA) and ATMs at night in addition to his problem child - the Cedros/Dickens parking garage where graffiti covers that garage from head to toe (though now improving with the nightly locking of the gate).

SLO for North Sherman Oaks (anything north of the 101), Justin Bergmann, deals with all the above plus the Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks Park: "Multiple citizens in the area are complaining of shopping carts, drinking alcohol in the park and sleeping in the park after it's closed. I, along with the bicycle unit will be working this area diligently during the upcoming month."

The next Sherman Oaks Community Neighborhood Watch Leaders Meeting will be on Thursday August 31st, 7:00 p.m. at the Sunkist Building (Southwest corner of Riverside & Hazeltine)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

National Night Out Pictures

Hana Grill @ The Galleria

Funny, I always passed this place and rubbed it off as a bad mall Asian diner. Then I was in a hurry and I braved it. For what it is, it's damn good. The free fire cucumbers are worth it alone (and better than PF Chang's cucumber dish). miso soup, edaname and veggie sushi rolls are more than just decent (nothing beats Bizen though).

Though, they really need to train the young girl at the front counter what soup base/broth is. I kept on asking if the udon soup was made with a chicken, beef or veggie broth and she was extremely confused. I settled safely with miso.

Of Couches & Ponies

A couch for the fall. A pony for the summer.

Photo: Allott & Moorpark