Parked along Tujunga Avenue in North Hollywood, on the east side of the park, between Magnolia and Riverside, a remarkable new residential community of homeless people has been established in a line of permanently parked RVs.
Visible and egregious, with their reflective cardboard stuffed inside windshields to cool down the metal houses in the summer sun, these faded and rusted motor homes are testament, depressing and sobering, to the high cost of housing in Los Angeles and the inability of so many to find a suitable and safe place to live.
I walked along here today and photographed some 15 vehicles where people live.
In front of one, a woman and two men were in lawn chairs, sitting in the shade. The lady asked me, in a friendly way, why I was photographing and I told her it was for my blog.
“I’m homeless. We’re all homeless,” she said.
And I told her I knew that. And I also said I was photographing these four-wheeled residences to let others know how their fellow human beings were forced to live.
Yesterday, Sunday, March 22nd, was CicLAvia in the San Fernando Valley.
Lankershim Boulevard, from Chandler to Ventura, and Ventura to Coldwater Canyon, was closed to cars.
I rode from my house near Sepulveda and Victory to the starting line at North Hollywood Station.
It was foggy.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: articulate, young and progressive, spoke before the opening.
It was a perfect San Francisco day to ride bikes in Los Angeles.
Cool, overcast, gentle.
And the sometimes indifferent people were seemingly transformed into better ones.
A cop saw me inflating my bike tire before the race and said, “Let me walk you down to where they have a bike repair station.”
Shopkeepers along the route waved and handed out chapstick, water, and energy bars.
In Studio City, I stopped and ate a Belgian waffle at Waffles DeLiege food truck.
Fortified and energized I turned around and rode the route back to the starting point in North Hollywood. And continued down Chandler. Making my way home, under trees and cloudy skies, along deserted streets .
A few weeks back, I explored some of the LA River as it meanders under concrete overpasses and alongside freeways.
There is a paucity of decent parkland in Los Angeles, as anyone who lives here can attest. Looking at an overhead map of the San Fernando Valley, one sees blocks and blocks of development, only sometimes interrupted by a small park.
The great freeway builders of the 1950s rammed their roads through the parks because it was easier and cheaper to do than buying up private property. As a result, North Hollywood, with its river and public green spaces, now plays host to an eternal hellish drone of smoke, noise, litter, violent driving and environmental catastrophe.
In Van Nuys, the 405 slices through parks, a wildlife sanctuary, past the Sepulveda Dam and through the Woodley Park area.
There are forces now, benevolent ones, like the Friends of the LA River, who are trying to reverse the damage done by the entombing of the river in the early 1940s, and the paving over by traffic engineers in the 1950s and 60s. They are planting trees, promoting walking and nature, and building bike trails. The most affluent area of the San Fernando Valley, Studio City, has seen the most upgrades along the LA River.
But mostly the river and water and wash is ignored, standing mute, alongside the vehicles and the onslaught of cars and trucks, whose main goal is getting somewhere faster.
55 years ago, the opening of the Budweiser plant on Roscoe Blvd. was a big event. Costing $20,000,000
and employing 1500 workers, the plant was a large contributor to the post-war prosperity of Van Nuys.
In 1957, the NAACP launched a boycott of Budweiser beer. An NAACP spokesman said that there were only two “Negroes” employed by Annheuser-Busch in their entire Los Angeles operations! Here is a more detailed article about the racial prejudice black workers faced in the 1950s.
Busch Gardens and Bird Sanctuary was part of the complex and a major tourist attraction for many years until it closed in 1976. Here are more photos of that attraction.