Option A: “Where Will We Go?”


A new mural, painted by Guy Ellis, on the side of Showcase Cabinets at 14823 Aetna St. Owner Peter Scholz (L) and Artist Guy Ellis.

The proposed Metro Los Angeles scheme (“Option A”) desires, through eminent domain, to flatten 186 small businesses employing some 1,500 workers just steps from downtown Van Nuys.

The 33-acre area extends from Oxnard St on the south to Calvert St on the north, Kester St. on the west and Cedros on the east. In this area, rows of shops straddling the Orange Line will be extinguished by 2020.

Light rail is coming, the trains need a place to freshen up, and here is their proposed outdoor spa.

The engine of public relations is roaring. Mayor Garcetti needs to remake LA for the 2028 Olympics. He has gotten the city into full throttle prepping for it.

It is comforting to think that property owners will be reimbursed for their buildings, that businesses “can relocate”, that the city will take care of those who pay taxes, make local products, and employ hundreds.

But most of these lawful, industrious, innovative companies only rent space. Yes, they are only renters, and they face the dim, depressing, scary prospect of becoming economic refugees, chased out by their own local government. Some of these men and women have fled Iran, Armenia, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico, places where war, violence, corruption, drugs and religious persecution destroyed lives and families.

Others were born in Van Nuys, those blue-eyed, blonde kids who went to Notre Dame High School and grew up proud Angelenos, driving around the San Fernando Valley, eating burgers, going to the beach, dreaming of making a good living doing something independently with their hands.

They all expressed shame, disappointment, anger, and betrayal against Councilwoman Nury Martinez and the Metro Los Angeles board for an action of insurmountable cruelty: pulling the rug out from profitable enterprises and turning bright prospects into dark.

Scott Walton, 55, whose family purchased the business Uncle Studios in 1979, said, “I think I’d sell my house and leave L.A. if this happens. I would give up on this city in a blind second.” His mother is ill and his sister has cancer. His studio now faces a possible death sentence.

What follows below are profiles of three men, who come from very different industries, but are all under the same threat.


Bullied at the Boatyard: Steve Muradyan

At BPM Custom Marine on Calvert St., Steve Muradyan, 46, services and stores high performance boats at a rented facility. Here are dozens of racing craft costing from $500,000-$1 million, owned by wealthy people in Marina Del Rey and Malibu. The boats winter in Van Nuys, where they are expertly detailed, inside and out.

Mr. Muradyan, a short, broad-shouldered, sunburned man with burning rage, threw up his hands at the illogic of his situation. He takes care of his wife, two children, and aging parents. He pays 98 cents a square foot in 5,000 SF and he cannot fathom where he might go next. A wide driveway accommodates the 50 and 70-foot long boats. And he can work late into the night drilling and towing, without disturbing others.

He once ran an auto repair shop on Oxnard. Later he had a towing service. Then he started his boat business in 2003. He had raced boats as a young man, and this was part of his experience and his passion. Why not?

He deals with all the daily stress of insurance, taxes, payroll, equipment breakdowns, deadlines, customer demands, finding parts, servicing the big craft. He worries about his business, his family, his income. And now this impending doom, dropped from the skies by Metro. He prays it will not happen to him. He cannot fathom losing it all, again.

 


Art and Soul in Stained Glass: Simon Simonian 

Over at Progressive Art Stained Glass Studio, 70-year-old architect and craftsman Simon Simonian rents a small unit on Aetna where he designs and molds exquisite stained glass for expensive homes, churches, synagogues and historic buildings.

He knows all the local businesses, and often he sends customers to the cabinetmakers and metal honers steps away. There is true collaboration between the artisans here.

A kind, creative man with a penetrating gaze, Mr. Simonian, with his wife and young son, came from Tehran in 1978 to study in Southern California and escape the impending revolution in Iran. He speaks Farsi, English and Armenian.

He is an Armenian Christian and his family was prosperous and made wine. His father had escaped the turmoil in Armenia when the Communists took over after WWII, which was also preceded by the massacre by Turkey of 1.5 million. His people have suffered killing, expulsion, persecution, and the loss of dignity in every decade of the 20th Century.

The Simonian Winery was doing well in Iran in 1979. And then the Islamists came to power and burned it down. By that time Simon and his wife and son were in Southern California. He begged his father to come but the old man stayed in Tehran and died five years later.

Tenacity, survival, and intelligence are in his genes.

“I love what I do. I have loyal customers. The location is excellent. I know all my neighbors here. I want to stay rooted. I don’t want to have to start all over again. Where can I find space like this? Where will I go?” he asks with the weary experience of a man who has had to find another way to proceed.


The Man from Uncle: Scott Walton

55-year-old Scott Walton looks every bit the rocker who runs the recording studio. He is longhaired and lanky. With a touch of agitation and glee, he slips in and out of the dark, windowless rehearsal spaces of Uncle Studios, where he has worked since 1979.

His father, with foresight, loaned $50,000 to his two sons, Mark, 20, and Scott, 17 to buy a recording studio. Here the boys hosted thousands of aspiring musicians including Devo, The Eurythmics, Weird Al Yankovic, Weather Report, Yes, Black Light Syndrome, No Effects, The Dickies, Stray Cats, and Nancy Sinatra.

When Scott first started he didn’t play any music. He learned keyboard, classical piano and he also sings. He went on the road, for a time, in the 1980s, playing keyboard for Weird Al Yankovic. He also plays in Billy Sherwood’s (“Yes”) current band.

Despite the proximity to fame, talent, money and legend, Uncle Studios is still a rental space where young and old, rich and poor, pay by the hour to record and play music. Something in the old wood and stucco buildings possesses a warm, acoustic richness. Music sounds soulful, real and alive here, unencumbered by the digital plasticity of modern recordings.

But Scott Walton is also a renter. He does not own the building bearing his business name. If his structure is obliterated, he will lose the very foundation of his life, his income, and his daily purpose. He will become an American Refugee in the city of his birth.


This is only a sampling of the suffering that will commence if Metro-Martinez allows it. The Marijuana onslaught is also looming.

On the horizon, Los Angeles is becoming dangerously inhospitable to any small business that is not cannabis. Growers are paying three times the asking rental price to set up indoor pot farms for their noxious and numbing substance. There may come a time when the only industry left in this city is marijuana.

The new refugees are small craftsmen running legitimate enterprises. Some may not believe it. But I heard it and saw it on Aetna, Bessemer, and Calvert Streets.

The pain is real, the fear is omnipresent and the situation is dire.

 

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Option A: Silencing the Sound of Mustangs.


Just east of Kester, on the north side of Bessemer,  Mustangs, Etc. has been servicing, restoring and selling that model of Ford since 1976.

They occupy three buildings. Two are rented, and one is owned.

There are 20,000 square feet, in total, of vintage parts stacked high and piled thick, inside cavernous, narrow, metal-shelved rooms with wood-framed ceilings, some punched out with skylights. Dusty light pours down through decades of spider webs to illuminate every small, medium and heavy part that might go into any Ford Mustang built since 1964 1/2.

Garrett Marks, 37; musician son of the founder, Arnold, 76; lead me on a tour of their facility. Thoughtful, quiet, bearded, limping somewhat from a two-year old accident, he wears his red hair long and speaks softly and knowledgeably about his family business.

“I feel like a historian, an archaeologist, and an investigator,” he said, as we walked past rows of steel tire rims, drive shafts, 14″ Spun Aluminum Air Cleaners, spark plug cables, brake pads, fuel pumps, stainless hood hinges, ’67 Mustang air conditioning vents,auto lamps, hydraulic hose lines, Bendix Radios, and stacks of vintage dashboards with fuel, oil and speedometer instrument panels.

We passed those extra-large, circular Mustang gas covers from the early 1970s.

Mary Tyler Moore, are you still on that highway to Minneapolis?

Inside the parts office there was a straight-haired young woman who sat in front of a computer screen. Her digital device seemed out-of-place in a fluorescent lit, wall-paneled room overflowing with volumes of instruction manuals: 1969,70, 71, 72, 73 Wiring and Vacuum Diagrams, 1959 Edsel Maintenance, and a glass case with headlights, key chains and other ephemera seemingly mixed up and tossed about by mischievous ghosts.

A few buildings down the block I toured the service garage.

 

It is expansive, bright and light filled. Jocular young men in dark blue uniforms with retro names (Scooter, Steve, Mike, and Gil) worked on vintage Mustangs and mocked one another in friendly terms.

It was like a scene out of old Kansas somewhere in a small town. I thought the boys might get a lickin’ if Auntie Em or Uncle Arnold came onto the floor. It could play out like “The Wizard of Oz.”

 

               AUNT EM

Here, here, what’s all this jabber-wapping when there’s work to be done? I know three shiftless farm hands that’ll be out of a job before they know it!

               SCOOTER

     Well, Garrett was walking along the —

               AUNT EM

     I saw you tinkering with that contraption, Scooter. Now, you and Steve get back to that wagon!

               SCOOTER

     All right, Mrs. Gale. But some day they’re going to erect a statue to me in this town, and —

               AUNT EM

     Well, don’t start posing for it now. Here, here — can’t work on an empty stomach. Have some crullers.


A few jaunty, groovy autos were positioned high, held up on hydraulic vehicle hoists. Each mouth-watering, metallic Mustang body was a different color: deep red, orange, blue, and misty green. Each evoked a sensory flood of memories, for me, that fast time, 50 years ago, when people drove fast and unbelted, and every car you passed in Malibu had women in short skirts with long hair and big sunglasses smoking. Everyone you saw was 18, smooth-faced and sat in the sun and went to the beach every chance they got.

Those Mustang Dreams were getting renewed in present day Van Nuys. Their exteriors polished, their engines tuned up, their interiors sewn and repaired and given a yearly dose of immortality denied to their owners. A freshly restored Mustang gallops like an unbridled pony. It embodies youth, fury, energy, and a temporary escape from any debt, duty or obligation.

Just outside the garage, out on the black top, Ray was demonstrating a 1967 Lincoln Convertible Sedan whose top unfurled electronically and was stored in a giant steel trunk that opened to receive it and seemed ominously capable of holding five dead gangsters comfortably.

I met Arnold, the founder, and we sat in his office as he spoke.

He was born in Detroit in 1941. His father was a skilled auto mechanic. They came to South LA after the war, and Arnold came of age during Kennedy’s New Frontier when the Presidency was still profound and its occupant quotably inspiring.

“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

The young idealist Arnold wanted to teach. He got his certification, and he went down to South Central where he encountered disheartening road blocks: a disdain for education, broken families, poverty, and children who passed around bullets in class for amusement. In those schools, at that time, before busing, there was no order, no discipline, no respect, so he soon went to find another way to work.

He got smart and retrained as an auto mechanic. By luck, he found another spot near Kester, and began his operation in 1976. His rent was $900 a month so he had to hustle. He found that his specialty in Ford Mustangs was dear to many, including celebrities such as Jay Leno, and Miley Cyrus among others.

Like all business owners in Los Angeles, he found that he had to fight, not only for customers, but against appalling social conditions in the neighborhood. There was illegal dumping, homeless encampments, drug dealers, drug addicts, thefts, and murders.

Arnold with Miley Cyrus.

The expansion and landscaping of the Orange Line (2005), with its lush trees, bike trail and dedicated bus route also ironically hampered the operations of Mustangs, Etc. For now Bessemer Street was narrower, there was no room for tow trucks to drive. The leaves from the many shade trees blew into the property, creating a fire hazard, necessitating removal.

Arnold does not believe “Option A”, the plan to destroy his business and hundreds of others for a Metro Light Rail Service Yard, will happen. “If we are evicted where will we go? There are no other affordable, convenient places for a small business. Many of our customers come from Hollywood or over the hill, so they aren’t going to drive to Pacoima.”

Mike

General Manager Mike thinks the plan to demolish 33 acres of industrial Van Nuys will create some huge environmental problems as decades of discarded oil, poisons, liquid metals and other bio-hazards, once willfully dumped, buried into the soil, are released back into the air. Adjacent homes will see clouds of dust blow over them as bulldozers, jack hammers and shovels unbury deadly toxins entombed in dirt since the 1940s.

If Mustangs, Etc. and other businesses survive this threat, a piece of historic but still functioning, producing, contributing, industrial Van Nuys will have had a small triumph. These family owned companies, mostly employing locals , walking to work, or living nearby, these places of quiet accomplishment and enduring fortitude shall not perish from this Earth.

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

Option A: “Memo to Metro: May We Survive?”


 

Mustangs, Etc.

 

DSCF1430
Simon Simonian, Progressive Art Stained Glass Studio
DSCF1407
Peter Scholz, owner, Showcase Cabinets.
DSCF1413
Craftsman at Showcase.

 

Yesterday, The San Fernando Valley Business Journal published an essay by Charles Crumpley, editor and publisher, concerning the scheme (“Option A) by Metro Los Angeles to destroy hundreds of small businesses near Kester and Oxnard for a proposed light rail repair center covering some 33 acres.

I am reprinting here for all to read. In it he castigates the insensitivity and deafness of local government, including Councilwoman Nury Martinez, who has seemingly stood by while hundreds of her constituents face financial ruin, dislocation and the upending of their businesses and economic security.  Prostitution and dumping cannot be the only constituencies that matter in City Council District 6.

If Metro is permitted to bulldoze the last vestige of small business in Van Nuys to make way for a Disneyland transportation scheme, already made redundant in the Uber/Lyft era, than we are all doomed.

Metro needs to find another site for its repair yard that does not destroy the lives, dreams, hopes and well-being of hard working entrepreneurs and working men and women in Van Nuys.


Memo to Metro: May We Survive?

By Charles Crumpley

Monday, October 16, 2017

 

The gulf between local government and the business community was on full display last week at the Van Nuys State Building Auditorium.

That’s where the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority held a meeting Oct. 10 to hear from businesses that stand to be evicted because Metro wants to clear land northeast of Oxnard Street and Kester Avenue to build a train maintenance yard to serve a new rail line.

The message from businesses seems simple and clear: Can’t you find a better place for your maintenance yard? Maybe one that doesn’t oust a train load of businesses – 186 of them, by one count.

The message from bureaucrats also seems simple and straightforward: Yawn.

Whether they know it or not, that’s the memo they sent to businesses. To Metro’s credit, it did hold the so-called informational meeting after it became clear that businesses were growing restive. On the other hand, Metro’s temper at the meeting was vaguely brusque and at times dismissive. To at least some of the businesspeople in attendance, it all came off as if Metro’s imperial overlords had been forced to travel to Van Nuys to sit through another dull meeting in which the plebian supplicants had to beg for their survival. (For more on businesses’ reaction, see the article on page 1.)

Here’s an example. The business group proposed an alternative site for the train yard. It seemed to make sense because it would only displace one business, an auto salvage yard, and a facility with some vacant land that’s owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, better known as the DWP.

But at the meeting last week, Metro Senior Executive Officer Manjeet Ranu announced: “Late this afternoon we got a letter from DWP that says they have specific plans and a construction timeline for use of that property.” So, no deal.

Well, excuse me, but are you seriously saying that DWP’s single plan is more important than the plans of 186 businesses?

Ranu did explain that eminent domain against a government entity like the DWP was difficult, you see.

Well, excuse me again, but isn’t this where we can count on our elected officials to step in and make the DWP yield? Maybe work out some compromise? Surely the DWP’s needs can be met while saving 186 businesses.

Alas, apparently not. The 186 businesses are in Councilwoman Nury Martinez’s district and she did not bother to attend the meeting. No representative from her office was announced at the beginning of the meeting, although her chief of staff said someone from the office later showed up.

The staffer sent me Martinez’s statement, which started by saying the new rail line, which will run from Oxnard Street to Sylmar, is needed and would bring economic revitalization to the area, which no one is arguing. She added this: “Metro indicates there will be some displacement due to the need for a maintenance facility, no matter which option is chosen. I will ensure that Metro continues to have an open and honest dialogue about the support, resources and assistance that will be available to these businesses, so they can plan for their short- and long-term future.”

Well, excuse me, but Martinez is missing the point. Some options for the train yard will have much less “displacement” than others. Focusing on the ones with less displacement is the point here. But I guess you’d have to actually talk to your business constituents to get that. And attend the meeting.

There’s a great gulf between local government and the business community here, and last week’s meeting displayed that.

Government officials see the need for a new train line and therefore a new train maintenance yard and that means some businesses will be evicted and that’s just the way it is. The affected businesses will complain, and part of the job is to yawn through some dull meetings and listen to them whine and patiently explain to them why their alternative proposals won’t work.

Business operators also see a need for a new train line and therefore a new train maintenance yard and that means some businesses will be evicted. But they don’t understand why government can’t be more judicious in selecting a site that is the least disruptive. They don’t understand why government officials can’t seem to see that it is not easy to relocate and could be permanently harmful, even fatal, to the businesses. They don’t understand why elected officials like Nury Martinez fail to come to their defense. They don’t understand why, if their alternative ideas don’t work, the government officials won’t help them come up with ones that do.

Surely there are other sites out there that would be less disruptive. Panorama City actually wants the train yard.

Let’s hope Metro and city officials look harder to come up with a new site that works well for the new train system without wrecking a swath of businesses.

 

Charles Crumpley is editor and publisher of the Business Journal. He can be reached at ccrumpley@sfvbj.com.

Option “A”: Destruction Dressed Up as a Dream Scheme.


From Oxnard north to Calvert, from Kester to Cedros, in Van Nuys, Metro Los Angeles is proposing a 33-acre light rail repair yard.

“Option A” will require the eviction, demolition and clearing of some hundred or more businesses that hug the Orange Line industrial area.

To the casual passerby, this area looks like a shabby district of old warehouses, with a sand gravel yard, a liquor store where homeless buy cans of beer, and used tires are fixed onto old cars at cheap prices. Wooden utility wires, car repair shops, and narrow Kester Street, along with a teaming population of Hispanics, affix in the elite, ruling-class imagination some place below dignity.

The real, happier, optimistic story is hidden away……

Behind the facades, technological, artistic, industrious, innovative and modern small businesses are building fine cabinetry, fashioning decorative metal hardware, restoring vintage motorbikes, making stained glass windows for churches and homes, recording music, and employing hundreds of people well-paid and well-skilled.

And they are all facing a death sentence whose judge, jury and law is Metro Los Angeles.

Pashupatina Owner Ivan Gomez
DSCF1359 6.49.23 AM
Kristian Stroll, Owner: Bar Italia Vespa
DSCF1362
Ivan Gomez chatting with Kristian Storli inside Bar Italia Vespa. Both men have companies under demolition threat.
Hardware Built by Skilled Craftsmen at Pashupatina
Showcase Cabinet Owner Peter Scholz

The real estate here is cheaper, so Metro, in its billion-dollar “Measure M” wisdom, has fastened onto it, insisting that the destruction of many lives, companies and buildings will “improve” Van Nuys by permitting a site where trains from the yet-to-be-built light rail can be repaired.

Imagine 33-acres of train tracks and floodlights, fences, security personnel, closed circuit cameras, and penitentiary inspired gravel and stone paved grounds, acres of track,  sitting just steps from Van Nuys Boulevard for the next 100 years?

 

ROFviewfromWSA1MedRes

What will result from the gutting out of yet another piece of Van Nuys? Just look at Van Nuys Boulevard and surrounding streets where every generation since the 1950s has insisted the mass clearance of homes, buildings and small structures is for the “improvement” of Van Nuys.

Widening of Victory Blvd. 1955 Tree Removal.

When the Civic Center of Van Nuys was built in the early 1960s, hundreds of homes were knocked down. Today the area is a Martian Moonscape of emptiness propped up by court buildings and occasional law enforcement.

When Victory Boulevard and Van Nuys Boulevard were widened in the early 1950s, commerce was lost, walkability and desirability were thrown away. The result is an ugly speedway of pawn shops and urine scented sidewalks.

And if some hundred businesses are cleared away just blocks from Van Nuys Boulevard to make way for a fenced in, electrified, floodlit prison yard for light rail, what positive affect will this have on the promise of revival for Van Nuys?

Simon Simonian, owner, artist at Progressive Art Stained Glass Studio
New $30,000, Swiss Made, Vertical Panel Saw at Showcase.
Newly renovated industrial headquarters of Pashupatina where fine decorative metals are fashioned for installation in homes and businesses.
Pashupatina owner Ivan Gomez presents his creations to members of the Valley Economic Alliance.
Ed Kirakosian, Peter Scholz, Annie Vatov and Ivan Gomez meet to discuss the fight to preserve their businesses from eminent domain clearance.
The pristine and light-filled interior of Pasupatina.
Skilled craftsman at work at Showcase Cabinets.
Peter Scholz, owner, Showcase Cabinets, discusses work with a craftsman.
Pashupatina, a place where pride is evident.

You can be sure that the politicians and agencies will promise the world to Van Nuys. Just as a decade ago Mayor Villaraigosa gave us “A Million Trees” and only a few years ago current Mayor Garcetti lauded “Great Streets” to further the improvement of our urban boulevards. A walk along vacant shops on treeless Victory Boulevard from Kester to Van Nuys Boulevard is evidence of these old promises.

A great city needs small businesses. A great city needs walkable streets. A great city needs to fight for the survival of unique places connected by history, places organic to the area in which they are born.

Option A is yet another death knell for Van Nuys, another scheme from the outside of Van Nuys, dreamed up by bureaucrats flush with cash, who think they know best how to build in Los Angeles.

One Story Town


One Story Town is Sepulveda Bl., from Oxnard St. north to Victory Bl.

It is 2,569 feet long, almost a half a mile. It encompasses the Orange Line Metro Busway, LA Fitness, Costco, Wendy’s, Chef’s Table, The Barn, CVS, Dunn Edwards, Bellagio Car Wash, Wells Fargo Bank, Enterprise, Jiffy Lube and other small businesses selling used cars, folding doors, RV rentals, Chinese food, hair cutting, and ceramic tile.

The Southern Pacific freight trains once ran through the present day Orange Line, and they fashioned the district into a lumber- oriented, light industrial area. Such behemoths as Builder’s Emporium were located here, and the stretch of Oxnard that borders the old rail line has retained an industrial use.


The zoning designations for almost all the parcels along Sepulveda are commercial. They prohibit residential within walking distance of the Orange Line, and they prohibit it even though buses run up and down Sepulveda!

A beautifully maintained bus stop perfectly sited for long waits in 110 degree heat.

Available online for public research, is the Los Angeles’ ZIMAS, a website run by the Department of City Planning. Here one can select a parcel, for example, 6206 Sepulveda Blvd., where The Barn furniture store is located, and see that it occupies two parcels totaling 44,250 SF. It is not, according to ZIMAS, in a transit-oriented area, nor is it designated as a pedestrian oriented one, nor is it part of a community redevelopment one.

Someday the owners of The Barn, which has sold, since 1945, brown stained furniture in heavy wood to seemingly nobody, may choose to sell their business. And here there is enormous potential to develop a first-class residential and commercial building just steps from the Orange Line.

Residents of Halbrent St. just east of The Barn and other businesses, are on the ass-end of parking lots, illegally parked homeless RVs, and are subject to the use of their street as a speedway for cars entering and exiting Costco. Maybe, just for once, Halbrent St. might see a better development on its west side.

Every single one of the businesses, up and down Sepulveda, between Oxnard and Victory, is located, by observation, in a transit- oriented area. Yet ZIMAS states they are not.

Perhaps that will change as Los Angeles reviews its zoning, and permits taller, denser, more walkable development within a 5-minute walk from public transit.

At dusk, with the early October sun hitting the one-story buildings, there is a homely, lowbrow, neat banality to the structures along this stretch.

This is not the worst of Van Nuys. It is generally tidy. But nobody living nearby, some residing in million-dollar homes, would come here to mingle, to socialize, to sit and drink coffee, eat cake, shop or walk with their kids after dark.

Studio City has Tujunga Village.

Tujunga Village, Studio City, CA. Photo by John Sequiera.

And we, in Van Nuys, have, this:

The One Story Town: what is it and what could it be? Might this district, one day, contain vibrant restaurants, outdoor cafes, beer gardens, garden apartments, parks, trees, flowers, fountains? Why not?

In planning for 2027, 2037, 2047 and beyond why would we keep the preferences of car-oriented, suburban dreaming, 1975 Van Nuys, in place? Why are thousands of parking spaces at the Orange Line Busway used to store cars for Keyes Van Nuys? Is this the best we can do?

Could not a group of architects, developers, urban planners, government leaders and vocal citizens devise a Sepulveda Plan to transform this wasted opportunity into something better, or even ennobling?

Where is our vision? And why are we so starved for it when we live inside Los Angeles, the greatest factory of imagination, illusion and improvisation the world has ever seen?

 

Van Nuys Arts Festival


Last Friday Night Van Nuys was young, joyous and celebratory.

It gathered, under the spire of the Valley Municipal Building, to drink beer, watch live music, eat, and walk amidst motor vehicle works of art.

Police and fire personnel mingled with guests, in a display of civic pride.

The homeless were there too, seemingly taken care of, fed on their benches beside their belongings.

For one night, the pedestrian mall where nobody walks at night, a lost dystopia, was dressed up for a party. And Van Nuys, at its very heart, seemed to regain its footing as a good, decent, well-regarded town.