Filling in the Blanks

As everyone doesn’t know, the Second Largest City in the United States, Los Angeles (pop. 3,972,000) has a lack of housing. Even people who own homes admit, privately, that not everyone should be forced to live on bus benches and sleep alongside the Orange Line Busway.

So at last night’s Planning and Land Use Meeting of the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council, several apartment projects were presented, which will, collectively, add some 250 apartments to an area, now occupied by 180,000 people, renting for an average of $2,000 a month.

Housing is coming to Van Nuys, again.

And the board was saying yes, every time.

For the millions starved for housing, some crumbs are being dropped from the sky.


Giant apartment builder IMT plans to erect a 6-story-apartment at 6500 N. Sepulveda Bl. north of Victory Bl. 160-units will have 275 parking spaces on site. The building, architecturally, has a pleasing look of rhythmic, stripped down modernism. Renderings, of course, show it with spotlights, at sundown, without whores, discarded mattresses and homeless people pushing carts on the sidewalk.

On Thursday, April 27th, at 6pm there will be a community meeting with 6500 Sepulveda developer reps at the Van Nuys Library. So far, 3 people (out of 2,000) in our neighborhood, adjacent to the proposed apartment, have replied that they will attend.

At 14530 Erwin Street, west of Van Nuys Blvd, a 48-unit, 5-story apartment building is planned on the site of some auto repair shops. Again the proposed structure is attractive, with a modern look.

My first reaction was to applaud the addition of upgraded housing within walking distance of the Van Nuys government buildings. One could imagine future residents biking, walking, taking the bus, shopping for groceries. The effect of having new housing on a street now occupied by empty parking lots and gruesome auto shops was uplifting.

However, one of the board members (whom I like a lot) asked, “why would you build on such a crappy street?” I wanted to bang my head against the table. Self-sabotage is such a running theme within the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council. Yes, why bring good development into a bad area? For that matter, why bring a shelter dog into a loving family?

The presenter, politely, replied that land is cheaper in Van Nuys than other areas of Los Angeles. That makes its development more feasible. Sometimes the economics lessons spoken here seem self-evident.

Other projects presented last night included AYCE Gogi, a Korean BBQ restaurant at 7128 Van Nuys Bl. They want to add 20 pinball machines to serve with the garlic beef, bulgogi, pork belly and brisket and beer.

At 14831 Burbank Bl. just east of Kester, a new “Brother’s Pizza” is proposed where Napoli Pizza Kitchen used to be. This strip building will have Crème Caramel LA, Brother’s Pizza, My Fish Stop and The Oaks Express Laundry, a very fine laundromat.

Finally, 7745 Sepulveda, (near Western Bagel) where AVIO Coach Craft asked for permission to add six spray painting booths expressly for Tesla automobiles. The fine automaker, and rigorously environmental company, will oversee the process of applying paint to its vehicles. And AVIO has the exclusive contract under Tesla, a business that will paint 300-400 cars a month.

Apartments, pinball machines and auto body painting. Van Nuys is making progress into the future.

Molasses Truck V. Car: 9/18/51


9 18 51 Truck Car Accident Sepulveda at Burbank

From the USC Digital Archives comes this sharp photograph of the aftermath of an accident near Burbank and Sepulveda in Van Nuys. The date is 9/18/1951.

The San Diego Freeway had not been built and would not arrive here in Van Nuys for another ten years.

Cars back then had no air bags or seat belts.

But drivers also had no texting distractions.

The Festival of Garbage

For anyone who lives in Van Nuys, and has not lately visited Raymer St. between Kester and Van Nuys Bl., the Festival of Garbage is now in full display.

Dumped along the median from the bridge to the boulevard are tons of trash. It is perhaps the filthiest, most appalling and most wretched scene of degradation in the entire city of Los Angeles.

Calcutta looks like Beverly Hills compared to this.

Across from the sanitation crisis is a large recycling center, an irony that one might analogize to having an indifferent fire department next door to a burning building. If you are in the business of collecting refuse, how can you refuse to clean up the area around your business?

Adding to the criminality of the area, dozens of unhitched trucking trailers are parked along the road, taking up space, and attached to no moving vehicles.

The bridge over the railroad tracks has been, naturally, taken over by the homeless who live under, in and on top of the structure. They cross on foot over the tracks where Metrolink speeds by a few times an hour.

Does Los Angeles have any measure of pride? How does the city allow this tsunami of trash?

Who is responsible for this mess?

I vote for Councilwoman Nury Martinez and Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The White Defeatist

Here is my new short story, “The White Defeatist,” a tale about a progressive architect who confronts his own assumptions about himself, his family and his city.

Set in Van Nuys, the story has contemporary issues involving race, class, development and prejudice. Yet the plot develops in ways unexpected and leaves the reader to make up their own mind about the story.

Andrew B. Hurvitz: Short Stories


A progressive architect is forced to confront his assumptions about himself, his family and his city.

After our mother’s funeral, I flew in a plane, from Little Rock to Los Angeles, accompanied by my older sister Stephanie and her catatonic, teenage son Norman.

Over Arizona, I looked out at the vast, unpopulated desert below and remarked.

“All that space, all that enormous emptiness.”

That comment induced a reaction from Stephanie, who told me about some vacant land for sale in Van Nuys near the house she rented. Perhaps she was trying to distract me from grief.

“I know you don’t like to visit me or Norman or Van Nuys, but perhaps I can lure you there for other reasons,” she said.

I hated their dirty house. It made me feel unclean.

She and her son lived in dilapidation: pet urine, hair in the drain, flies, animal hair, the stink of…

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Crime Art

Photo by Andreas Samson.


Andreas Samson, who writes the blog “Up in the Valley” has penned a new post about a convenience store owner, fed up with thieves, who now posts photos of them on his wall.

“Since the passage of Prop. 47 in 2014, theft of less than $950 is considered to be a misdemeanor. With the concurrent passage of AB 109, the state prison system is mandated to transfer much of its population to county jails to ease overcrowding, leaving no room locally to hold those on misdemeanor offenses.  Unless you assault someone, you can steal with impunity in Los Angeles,” he writes.

The photos are some kind of modern crime art and are reminiscent of the work of Ray Johnson.

The Departing Storm

The ladle shaped storm that began to pound the Southland on Friday, February 17, 2017 arrived like a landing jet over the Pacific. It circled, counter-clockwise, landing onto Los Angeles, dropping horizontal blasts of wind, and pounding sheets of rain. It blew down trees, power lines, cable and telephone wires, flooded roads and carried away cars. And drowned our sinned and parched city in a cascade of baptizing waters.

A few died in strange and tragic ways. A man on Sepulveda was electrocuted fatally after strong gusts brought down a tree that hit an electrified power line. Another man was drowned in a raging creek at Thousand Oaks.

What minor choices of life, where to walk, what path to take, might bring us to death?

In Studio City, at Woodbridge St at Laurel Canyon, an aged sewer burst under water pressure and pulled out the soil underneath the road. A 30-foot wide, 20-foot deep hole emerged, sucking two drivers and their two vehicles into a subterranean river. People in those cars were rescued. Thankfully, nobody died or were seriously injured.

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Here in Van Nuys, on Hamlin Street, late yesterday afternoon, the departing storm closed its one-woman show, packed its bags, and headed east.

Solar klieg lights were aimed on the darkened sky as its magnificent performer paraded off stage, led by a chorus line of tall, skinny palm trees, lined up to bid good-bye to the wind and the fury, the destruction and the drama.

It was a thrilling show, taking our eyes off the irrationality in Washington, and bringing us back to the true leader of the planet, one who never relinquishes power, but whose atmospheric whims are capricious, indifferent, and violent, but somehow understandable and predictable.


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