Please Support the Citywide Sidewalk Repair Program

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It is certainly no secret that our sidewalks are broken and buckled throughout Los Angeles. Their condition poses pedestrian safety concerns and diminishes our quality of life. An estimated 40 percent of the city’s sidewalks, 4,600 miles, need to be repaired. Yet, coming up with a workable plan to fix them has proven elusive.

Over the last decade, there have been many valiant attempts to deal with our sidewalk problems, but because of budget challenges and legal concerns, no comprehensive repair policy has emerged. Now, there is an opportunity to move beyond piecemeal legislation and create a complete program.

In early July 2014, Council President Herb Wesson and Councilmember Joe Buscaino joined me in introducing two motions to create a “Citywide Sidewalk Repair Program.” The program prioritizes repairs based on need and creates ways to make sure they continue in the future. If implemented, the program will lead to the restoration of the city’s failing sidewalks in front of private homes and at commercial and public properties.

The Program

Here’s a snapshot of the proposed Citywide Sidewalk Repair Program:

  • Repair buckled sidewalks at private residences and commercial properties by:
    • Reconstituting the 50/50 shared cost sidewalk program to repair broken sidewalks at private homes, with 50% of the cost of repair paid by the city and 50% by homeowners;
    • Developing a low- or no-interest revolving loan program from which homeowners can borrow to make sidewalk repairs and repay over a fixed term;
    • Establishing a Sidewalk Repair Trust Fund to help pay for future sidewalk repairs at private homes;
    • Developing a complaint-driven mapping and prioritization system to identify and coordinate repairs to sidewalks most dangerous to pedestrians;
    • Creating an enforcement mechanism to ensure commercial property owners comply with existing sidewalk laws; and
    • Developing a plan to create design and construction standards for sidewalks to maximize mobility.
  • Repair public sidewalks at parks, municipal buildings and community facilities.

Click here to read the motions:

Ready for Repairs

The time is right to implement a comprehensive sidewalk repair program that has an end game in sight. Unlike in years past, the city has the resources to begin right now.

Mayor Garcetti and the City Council have appropriated more funding to fix sidewalks than at any time in recent memory. This fiscal year, there is $27 million available to complete much-needed repairs: $20 million budgeted by the Mayor and an additional $7 million in unspent funds allocated by the Budget and Finance Committee.

As our economy continues to improve, the city will prioritize continued funding to fix sidewalks in future budgets until every necessary repair is made. But money alone is not enough. Los Angeles must have a clear program in place to make certain the money appropriated for sidewalk repairs is used efficiently and effectively to benefit residents.

We Need Your Input

Your voice is critical to the success of this proposal. Only with your input and support will the program accomplish what we’re setting out to achieve.

For those reasons, I hope you will do the following three things:

(1) Attend the Joint Hearing on Sidewalk Repair: On Monday, Aug. 18, 1:30 p.m. at City Hall, the Budget and Finance and Public Works and Gang Reduction committees will hold a special joint hearing on the proposed program. In subsequent months, the committees will hear reports from staff on program specifics and consider stakeholder input before sending the final product to the full City Council for a vote.

Monday’s hearing be televised on Channel 35 and available for streaming online here.

(2) Opine Online: Read the sidewalk motions and let me know whether you agree with them. Click here to register your opinion.

(3) Adopt a Community Impact Statement: The opinion of your Neighborhood Council is important. That’s why I urge your NC to adopt a Community Impact Statement in support of our Citywide Sidewalk Repair Program. Please weigh in as soon as possible.

I realize that your NC may need some time to draft and approve a CIS. Please submit your CIS to the city by Oct. 1, 2014. After you do, please also email me a copy at or mail a hard copy to my office: 200 N. Spring St., Room 435, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Thank you in advance for your support. I believe that this comprehensive, sustainable program will pave the way for better, safer sidewalks in all of Los Angeles.

Very truly yours,

PK Signature

Paul Krekorian
Councilmember, District 2

Virtual Phones


Connect with your stakeholders by disconnecting from your land-lines and cell phones. All it takes is a virtual phone and an email account.

The telephone is one of our most powerful and effective tools for communicating and they are everywhere. We carry them with us, they sit on our desks, they hang on our walls, and they are an important element in any Neighborhood Council communication strategy.

For individuals, a cell phone keeps them constantly connected. People carry their personal and business phones with them, able to take calls, check messages, monitor the news, access email, and stay connected on many levels, all through their phone.

But those phones are personal connections and Neighborhood Councils still struggle with maintaining a stakeholder connection to the council through a local phone number.

Google Voice is a telephone solution that offers Neighborhood Councils many features, liberating councils from the need to maintain a land-line, a message machine, or a cell phone that must be carried by a board member.

Google Voice is part of Google and it’s a free service that has many benefits:

  1. FREE – select a local number and pay nothing
  2. TRANSCRIPTION – phone messages are transcribed and emailed to recipients
  3. MULTIPLE RECIPIENTS – phone calls can go to more than one recipient
  4. MULTIPLE RECIPIENTS – messages can go to more than one recipient
  5. LIBERATION – There is no need for a physical phone
  6. ANYWHERE – access your calls anywhere, no need to go to the office
  7. FLEXIBILITY – take your transcribed messages by email or cell phone or both
  8. CUSTOMIZABLE – your voice message is yours, change it at any time from anywhere
  9. MOBILITY – answer that local phone number from anywhere
  10. CONNECTIVITY – your constituents can easily connect with your Board

Googe Voice is very easy to set up, you just need a gmail account, which is free. Once the gmail account is set up, all you need is a phone number, which you can choose via Google Voice, with your Area Code and you can even type in a word to see if that number is available, something like your name or community.

The Department used a virtual phone number during elections so that any incoming call went to several people as well that could take the call in the field during elections. The number was 818-293-VOTE (8683).

Neighborhood Councils can get a personalized phone number for free, then forward calls to the appropriate board members, maintaining an archive of transcribed messages to ensure followup.

This phone service is free for the council and comes in very handy when community members need to leave a general message for the board or request help with a local issue or if they have questions about a meeting.

Free Wi-Fi coming to 6 Los Angeles parks starts


Bringing the Los Angeles city parks system into the 21st century, a pilot program began Thursday to create Wi-Fi hot spots at five parks and a beach site to allow residents to remain connected and report any problems they see.

Called “Oh Ranger! Wi-Fi,” the program became available at Reseda Park, Cabrillo Beach, Echo Park Lake, Griffith Observatory, Pershing Square and Venice Beach.

Funding for the program came from Toyota Motors. Officials did not say how much the company paid.

Also as part of the program, the city rolled out a new mobile website to provide park information.

The site is available at and provides a variety of information on upcoming events, services and programs available at parks and an area for residents to report service requests. (Full Story at DailyNews)

Charlie Beck receives second term as LAPD chief

la-me-ln-charlie-beck-lapd-chief-second-term photo by LA Times

The Los Angeles Police Commission on Tuesday appointed Charlie Beck to a second term as chief of the city’s police department.

With Beck enjoying the strong support of Mayor Eric Garcetti, who appointed the commissioners and made clear in recent weeks that he wanted Beck to remain, the panel’s 4-1 vote was widely anticipated.

Calling Beck “a man who has been a distinguished part of this department for 37 years,” commission President Steve Soboroff highlighted the city’s low crime levels under the chief, including a reduction in gang crime, and his success strengthening the LAPD’s ties to various communities.

“When crimes hit record lows and positive community partnerships hit records highs, good things happen,” Soboroff said. “For my vote, the positives far outweigh the negatives.” (Full Story at LA Times)

Council Retreat This Saturday!


VNNC President George Christopher Thomas and VNNC Vice President Howard Benjamin at the Drivers License Forum event at Church on the Way last Friday.

Greetings My Fellow Citizens,

First and foremost, I would like to formally and cordially invite you to the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council Retreat this Saturday at the Government Center.  Our council will be in session from 10am-5pm at the Van Nuys Public Library, and it would be great if you could stop by for all or part of our council meeting.

The true action begins at 2pm, when we will hear from Van Nuys Library Branch Manager Kelly Tyler about the “Libraries Transforming Communities Initiative.” The Van Nuys Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library has been selected as one of 10 communities in America to participate in the program. In conjunction with this, the branch is hosting a series of community conversations to discuss our shared hopes for Van Nuys’ future. Our goal is to hear from diverse voices across the community and share what we learn with leaders and decision makers in Van Nuys.

Secondly, we are moving full steam ahead on the Immigration Summit And Workshop in October.  The population trends in Van Nuys show that our neighborhoods have increasingly become a community of Hispanics and Latinos.  They make up the majority of the population, and many of them are foreign born and are English language deficient.  We plan on increasing English language proficiency through partnerships with local non-profits and similar organizations that teach English.  We are also going to start distributing bilingual materials and assistance for both government and social services.

We aim to get more Hispanic and Latino constituents involved in the neighborhood council, while continuing to represent all of the people in Van Nuys and throughout the San Fernando Valley.

Thirdly, the Van Nuys Neighborhood Council will be partnering with LA City Councilwoman Nury Martinez to present a Health Fair.  This event will be open to the public, and will be a great opportunity to become informed and make contacts with the players in the health industry throughout the San Fernando Valley.

And finally, the VNNC will be hosting blood drive with Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian on September 5th, 2014.  We encourage everyone to come to our retreat this Saturday, our Immigration Summit in October, and to give blood on September 5th.

It is an honor to serve as your Council President, and thank you for this great opportunity to be a part of our community.

-George Christopher Thomas, Council President
Van Nuys Neighborhood Council

(Ten public libraries from across the country are participating in an intensive, team-based community engagement training program as part of Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC).

Over 18 months, members of the LTC Public Innovators Cohort train with educators from the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation and apply the training to challenges in their own communities. The project is part of a national plan to help librarians strengthen their role as core community leaders and change-agents.

Members of the cohort were chosen in a competitive, peer-reviewed application process. The selected libraries represent the range of American communities in terms of size, location, ethnic and racial diversity and socioeconomic status. They face myriad challenges, including illiteracy, unemployment, the “digital divide,” an influx of new and immigrant populations, and disparate access to services.

The cohort includes:

Red Hook (N.Y.) Public Library (pop: 1,900)
Columbus (Wis.) Public Library (pop: 5,000)
Knox County (Ind.) Public Library (pop: 33,900)
Suffolk (Va.) Public Library (pop: 85,000)
Hartford (Conn.) Public Library (pop: 125,000)
Springfield (Mass.) City Library (pop:  153,000)
Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Public Library (pop: 195,000)
Spokane County (Wash.) Library District (pop: 255,000)
San Jose (Calif.) Public Library (pop: 980,000)
Los Angeles (Calif.) Public Library (pop: 3.8 million)

Through in-person training, webinars and coaching — valued at $50,000 — teams from each library will learn new community engagement techniques and apply them within their communities. Each library also receives an $8,000 cash grant.

ALA will share case studies of our cohort libraries, who serve as “turning-outward ambassadors” to the library profession. Their experiences in library-led community engagement and innovation will serve as examples and provide a learning experience for the field. —

Van Nuys Neighborhood Council
PO Box 3118
Van Nuys, CA 91407
Telephone (818) 533-VNNC (8662)


Parks&RecAgendaAugust2014 RetreatAgendaAugust23rd2014

Parks and Recreation Committee meeting, August 22, Friday at Van Nuys Park, 14301 Vanowen St

IMG_0723This coming Saturday, Van Nuys Neighborhood Council Parks and Recreation Committee will have their meeting this coming Friday (August 22), 7:00 pm at the Van Nuys Recreation Center, located 14301 Vanowen Street.

Attached is the agenda for the upcoming Parks and Recreation Committee Meeting. Please show up at this committee meeting in ways to improve our parks in our area.


VNNC PLUM Committee Meeting, August 19, Tuesday @ Van Nuys Police Station


Jose Casillas speaking in front the VNNC council in this month VNNC General Meeting last Wednesday about staying in school, avoiding drugs and becoming a good citizen for the community.


Jose Casillas posing with his familia and VNNC Outreach chair Maria Skelton.

This coming Tuesday, Van Nuys Neighborhood Council Planning, Land Use and Management Committee will have their meeting this coming Tuesday, August 19 @ 6:30 pm at the Van Nuys Community Police Station. There are two committee meeting agenda items for this month and would like board members and stakeholders to engage on issues pertaining to the Van Nuys Community. Attached is the agenda for the next PLUM Committee meeting.

Thank you for being part of the Van Nuys Community.

Quirino de la Cuesta, VNNC PLUM Committee Co-chair


New Fares Go Into Effect September 15, 2014

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En español

On September 15, 2014, Metro is changing its bus and rail fares. The change was approved by the Metro Board of Directors on May 22, 2014.

Under the new fare structure, a 1-Way Trip purchased using a TAP card will include transfers to other Metro lines for up to two hours to complete a one-way trip. If the fare is paid using cash, transfers will not be included. Complete details on the new fares can be found at

Visit the ‘Fare Change Frequently Asked Questions’ or call 323.GO.METRO for more details on the transition to new fares. To learn more about available fare assistance programs, please visit Metro’s reduced fare and subsidy programs.


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English version

El 15 de septiembre de 2014, Metro cambiará las tarifas de autobús y tren. El cambio fue aprobado por la Junta Directiva de Metro el 22 de mayo de 2014.

Bajo la nueva estructura de tarifas, si paga el pasaje de 1 viaje de ida (1-Way Trip) usando una tarjeta TAP, los transbordos serán incluidos y podrá transbordar a otras líneas de Metro por hasta dos horas para completar un viaje de una ida. Si la tarifa es pagada usando efectivo, los transbordos no serán incluidos. Detalles completos sobre las nuevas tarifas están disponibles en

Visite la lista de preguntas frecuentes sobre las tarifas o llame al 323.466.3876 para más detalles sobre la transición a las nuevas tarifas. Para aprender más sobre programas de asistencia, visite la página de tarifas reducidas y programas de subvención.

Mayor’s Message

Mayor Eric Garcetti

Mayor Garcetti Begins Second Annual Department Head Review

LOS ANGELES–Mayor Eric Garcetti this week began annual reviews of every city department head as part of his commitment to improve accountability and performance measurement in city government.

The City Charter assigns the Mayor the role of the city’s CEO, and when he took office, Mayor Garcetti took the unprecedented step of requiring every city department head to reapply for his or her job.

“As Mayor and the city’s CEO, I want to make sure that we hold every city department head accountable and measure their performance to save taxpayer dollars and deliver better services. I want Los Angeles to be the best run city in America,” Mayor Garcetti said.

Throughout the past year, the Mayor and his staff have worked with the General Managers and their departments to set goals and to establish metrics for measuring and reporting departmental performance. Each department head will be expected to incorporate the key points from their review into their management, goals, and departmental culture, including four city-wide priority outcomes: making the City more livable, sustainable, prosperous, safe, and well-run. Key areas of focus this year include:

  • Integration of COMPSTAT-style management within departments
  • Alignment of departments to performance-based budgeting
  • Compliance with Mayor Garcetti’s open data executive directive to make departments more transparent and accountable

Part of his back to basics agenda to make City Hall run more effectively and efficiently, Mayor Garcetti has appointed 10 new general managers since taking office in 2013.

  • Chief Ralph Terrazas, Los Angeles Fire Department
  • Rushmore Cervantes, Interim General Manager of the Housing and Community Investment Department (HCIDLA)
  • Holly Wolcott, Interim City Clerk
  • Seleta Reynolds, General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT)
  • Danielle Brazell, General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA)
  • Gene Seroka, Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles
  • Jan Perry, General Manager of the Economic and Workforce Development Department
  • Marcie Edwards, General Manager of the Department of Water and Power
  • Raymond Chan, General Manager of the Department of Building and Safety
  • Stephen Simon, Executive Director of Department on Disability

Anonymous LADOT Employee Will Answer Your Questions

(Photo by howard-f via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)

Anonymous LADOT Employee Will Answer Your Questions On Roads, Parking And More On Reddit

An anonymous LADOT employee has emerged to answer all of your burning questions about the roads.

Over on the subreddit r/LosAngeles, user MyLADOT posted a thread for Angelenos to ask their questions about L.A. parking and streets. He also posted an important caveat: LADOT is not the Metro, so all your Metro questions will have to be directed to them. Similarly, it’s the LAPD that handles the valets around here, it’s the Bureau of Street Services who (apparently, poorly) repair the roads, and some places (like Santa Monica) have their own authorities.

We did verify that the Reddit user is an actual LADOT employee, but because this has not been sanctioned by LADOT, these answers are not necessarily official—and he wants to remain anonymous. User MyLADOT told us that he answers questions from home using the knowledge he’s learned on the job.

What we learned:

  • What’s most important is that you can submit service requests to the site, MyLADOT here. The Reddit user promises that they actually do read every request.
  • If you think someone is coning off sections of parking they shouldn’t be, you can have someone check. If it’s a valet company, you can call 1-877-ASK-LAPD. Check here for what restrictions valet companies have. If it’s some other group—one user had an issue with a church coning off the right lane each morning—you can called the 24 Hour Parking Enforcement Hotline at (213) 485-4184. You can also ask that painted curbs be investigated to make sure they’re painted the correct color and that your neighbors didn’t just red-paint their own personal spot.
  • Traffic control is actually being done remotely from City Hall. One user asked about traffic control at Hollywood Bowl, complaining that police officers let traffic build up. But, MyLADOT wrote that generally, it’s the Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control (ATSAC) team manipulating traffic signals remotely. That doesn’t really answer the question, but it is interesting! L.A. is the first city to control traffic signals in this manner, and you can read about it extensively in this Forbes article.
  • You can access a list of bike lanes projects that are ongoing here. Who do you talk to if a bike path needs repairs? The LADOT Bicycle Services page has your answers. And you should definitely use this resource, as complaints are typically how these things get serviced.
  • What’s up with the planters on Broadway? This is part of the ‘Bringing Back Broadway‘ project. Each planter is 700 lbs. which should protect pedestrians if there is a car cash… like this one.
  • You can legally park your car on a street with no other restrictions for 72 hours. An abandoned car can be reported by calling (213)485-4148, option 1, option 2.
  • You can submit a request to change parking restrictions or add stop signs online. Some parking restrictions that don’t make sense may actually be in place to prevent crime.