Monday, October 30, 2006

Transients Along the Freeway

As Co-Chair of SONC Public Safety, I've been challenged with solving a tricky problem: government inter-agency duties and boundaries. There is an elderly woman who lives next to the 101 freeway. A CalTrans landscaping crew came to her cul-de-sac and opened up the gate to do some work. Mistakenly, they left it open. The elderly woman lived with her living room window facing the encampment 15 feet away. Not exactly a fun situation, especially when they entered her garage one night.

Within no time, transients moved in. Soon after, a policing (I still don't know who) agency came in and arrested them. Within 24 hours, they were back. That's where I stepped in.

You see, since the 101 is property of the state, that means the California Highway Patrol is in charge here, not the LAPD like everyone thinks (in relation to this, the LA River is policed by the LA Sheriff's Department, not the LAPD). And unlike the LAPD, the CHP doesn't have a working relationship with the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council.

That's going to change. I'm bringing out the CHP to the next Public Safety Committee Meeting to discuss the issue of transients and homeless along the freeways in Sherman Oaks. While the specific aforementioned situation has been taken care of (as of last Tuesday), the response time was just less than 2 months. This can be shortened and our relationship with the state can be strengthened.

Other reps from groups who I know are attending: Council District 5 and the San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center

Wednesday, November 1st at 6:30 PM

VIVA Gallery
3261 Moorpark St
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

There is free parking in front on Moorpark, a small parking lot behind the building (access from alley), and street parking on Longridge (to the east of Fulton).

Photo: ghb624

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Go to VIVA Gallery

I went to a Valley Institute of Visual Art (VIVA) gallery opening for the first time today. VIVA is not an art gallery where you just go and look around and maybe buy, maybe not. It is a community, it's more of a co-op.
It's a place for artists in The Valley and surrounding areas to "exhibit their work, enjoy the fellowship and support of other artists, augment their level of educational experience, and to promote interaction and outreach within the community through exhibitions, lectures, competitions and workshops."
Much of the art displayed in today's juried show was art I would like to buy. Freelancing is great, but it still doesn't afford me that much original art.

Painting in Picture: Tokyo in the Rain by John Paul Thornton

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Band-Aid to the Blight of Strip Malls

Driving down Fairfax the other day, I was stopped at the light outside Whole Foods at Santa Monica in West Hollywood. I noticed something exciting, in that nerdy city planning way I can only do: the landscaped wall surrounding the parking lot improved the urbanity of the street rather than the drab longed view of a parking lot leading up to a building.

It's all about the feel and this made the grade. Is this a good project for the Sherman Oaks Beautification Committee?

Stray Paranoia

There was something fishy about the death of James Woodson on October 3rd at his Kester St. apartment. Police said he was shot in the back by a stray bullet that apparently traveled up and over a whole building.

Ends up being
a paranoid schizophrenic neighbor, 76-year-old former police officer Daniel Lisuk, who committed suicide 6 days later.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Shoe Shopping in Sherman Oaks Just Got Better

Most of the boots, high heels and sandals you see in the store have the "look" of celebrity shoes - but without the price tag of Prada and Manolo Blahnik - the kind you see in People magazine on the feet of J.Lo, Shania or Jessica.

Hollywood stylist Art Conn agrees, which is one of the reasons he's putting clients from CBS' "Rock Star: Supernova" in Carmen Steffens and thinking of using the shoes on contestants of Fox Network's "American Idol" new season.

"What's the best about Carmen Steffens," says Conn, "is that they cover all aspects - dressy evening shoes, going out boots, everything you could want in one store - and that's not always the case."

Read the full Daily News Story

Westfield Fashion Square
14006 Riverside Drive,
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

(818) 784-8408

Sunday, October 15, 2006

SOHA October Newsletter: Talking SONC

The following italicized text is an excerpt from the latest Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association newsletter. My responses are in regular text. The following opinions expressed are those of the author and do not represent the views of the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council.

On September 11, 2006, a total of 429 voters elected new Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council Members. Considering there are literally thousands of people qualified to vote, the turnout was very low. Each of the four Areas contain an estimated 9,000 residents. The most votes received by a candidate (except for Area 7) was 40 votes!!! In a couple Areas there were no candidates!

True and there are some things to learn from SOHA:
  • Hold meetings in an easily accessible and comfortable environment
  • Consistent presense in the Sherman Oaks Sun
  • Consistent flyering of the monthly newsletter
  • Warm food at meetings always helps too
Of course, all that needs resources and work. I'm confident that as SONC matures as an organization, so will the presence. That growth will be exponential.

One District was quite different. In Area 7, almost 300 people voted (68% of the total vote). Why was the turnout so much higher in Area 7? What is so different about Area 7?

The Association has learned that most of these voters ere related to the Buckley School (parents, employees, etc). Most of the voters did not live in Sherman Oaks!!! Why the interest of the non-Sherman Oaks residents? The Buckley School has plans to enlarge its campus and enrollment, and they need City approval.

The definitions of a stakeholder are tricky: you can be a resident, a business owner or participate in something "at-large" (such as attending a church or in this case, a private school). In the end, the definition may need reworking, but for now, it is the law.

One of the common criticisms of the Neighborhood Councils is that they do not represent the community; therefore they are not taken seriously at City Hall. When non-residents can elect members to the Neighborhood council, the focus of the Council can become the approval of a specific development rather than the protection and enhancement of the community.

Firstly, in response to specific developments vs. protection and enhancement, SONC looks at each and every development as they come in the Land Use Committee. When all said in done, everything that passes through goes to the protection and enhancement of the community, but if it is really protecting and/or enhancing, that's an opinion everyone must make on their own.

The Neighborhood Council system is not exactly solid. All those involved, from politicians to community members and volunteers, are building the ship as they sail it. This concept, in the 2nd largest city in the nation, is not something standard. There is no book on this; we are creating it.

E! Visits the Senior Center at VNSO Park

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sherman Oaks In the News: Food Edition

Robinhood British Pub. No care's taken with the too pricey food — the reheated pasty is soggy, the ploughman's lunch has any old cheese. The dĂ©cor is Mum and Dad's house and it should be a good lunch spot at least, but it's not working lately. 13640 Burbank Blvd., Sherman Oaks, (818) 994-6045.

Thai cooking is no exception, and, while I delight in the powerfully spicy northern Issan dishes and the Indian-inspired southern curries, I�m always up for a Bangkok-style dinner. In Sherman Oaks, this means a visit to neighborhood landmark Anajak Thai; it's been open for 25 years and is still keeping locals happy.

We have devoured nearly a dozen natas while sitting at L.A.'s only Portuguese bakery, Natas Pastries (named for the confection), which opened about a year ago in Sherman Oaks. Owner Fatima Marques, a Portuguese native and longtime Los Angeles resident, probably could have taken shortcuts in developing the recipes for the pastries, desserts and savories that fill her cases. Instead, the former marketing director was meticulous in authentically reproducing the sweets she grew up loving — apprenticing in Portugal, retrofitting an oven to heat to the necessary 750 degrees, acquiring special pans and importing ingredients.

French-style bistros have come and gone over the years, but La Frite has not only survived on Ventura Boulevard's volatile restaurant row, it seems to be prospering with newfound popularity.

in Sherman Oaks, open for only a year and a half, already has a reputation for its mini cupcakes. "The flavors are amazing. There's passion fruit, dulce de leche. It's quite good, and also all of the cupcakes are made organically," explains Tara de Lis, Citysearch Editor.
Previously: Leda's Bake Shop
Noted: Ledette e-mailed me last week informing me that the vegan cupcakes are good to go in the following flavors: chocolate chocolate, chocolate espresso, chocolate raspberry, chocolate peanut butter, carrot and coconut.

For now, she plans on having at least one vegan flavor on saturdays and will build up from that as demand increases. But of course, they can be ordered any day with a 24 hour notice.

Photo: Carlos Chavez (LA Times)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

It's Official

With 32 votes and no competition, last night I was sworn in as a councilmember of the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council.

From the Human Relations Commission
Looking at the numbers of votes that were cast in this election, the Human Relations Commission hopes that the Neighborhood Council and its Election Committee will not be satisfied with a voter turnout of 429 people for this election in a neighborhood council that represents 60,921 [note the difference]. Each election should be seen as an opportunity to improve the process, and thereby enhance all aspects of Sherman Oaks Neighborhood CouncilĂ‚’s way of doing things. If Neighborhood Councils are to succeed, each and every one of them must be diligent in reaching out to all of their possible constituencies and be accessible to the community they represent. We know that outreach is an arduous effort, but it must be done to ensure adequate representation from the many diverse communities of Sherman Oaks. To that end, we offer our assistance to this particular Neighborhood Council in the coming year.
I, like most on the Council, concur with the statements above. I am curious to the capacity of "assistance" the Commission can give to our Council. Whatever it is, I hope the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council acts upon it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Sherman Oaks Population: 61, 698

By Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council District Counts:

Area 1: 10,664
Area 2: 9,400
Area 3: 8,143
Area 4: 7,562
Area 5: 9,276
Area 6: 9,730
Area 7: 6,923

TOTAL: 61,698

That Said...
(this is in response to a few Google searches that have led people to this blog)

Sherman Oaks is not a city. It does not have city limits. Nor a city hall or a mayor. It is a neighborhood in the City of Los Angeles. It has an official City of Los Angeles Neighborhood Council with elected volunteer community members.

Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council:

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Best Buy Solution

If you haven't heard, most Tower Records stores area going away. It is still unknown if the one at Sherman Oaks Galleria will go away or not, but if it does, it leaves a huge gaping space at the mall.

What to do? What to do?

I've never agreed with the anti Best Buy movement, but here's a solution: kick it to the Galleria and use the Van Nuys Blvd. location for something that will make traffic even worse - IKEA.

Just kidding.

But what I would really like to see at the Van Nuys Blvd. location is another Whole Foods. We'll call it Whole Foods - Sherman Oaks Central.

Okay no.

If I really had my choice of what would go right there instead of Best Buy, it would probably be some kind of entertainment area. I'm thinking live theatre and/or a concert venue of some sort.

The Sherman Oaks Playhouse? Nothing like a little competition for the Whitefire Theater.