Citizen Activism In The San Fernando Valley


At the Emergency Preparedness Fair this month.

My Fellow Citizens,

This month our Van Nuys Neighborhood Council is having our regularly scheduled meeting this coming Wednesday night, and our first annual “Education Summit” the following Wednesday on the 21st.

Please make every effort to come by and participate in your local government.  We are addressing the issues facing our area, as well as trying to increase citizen activism in the San Fernando Valley.

It is a special privilege to serve as the Honorary Mayor and Council President, and thank you for this great opportunity to be a part of our community.

-George Christopher Thomas, Council President & Honorary Mayor of Van Nuys
Van Nuys Neighborhood Council

(Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter)

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



Outreach Committee photos at last night’s Community Perception of Law Enforcement meeting

From VNNC Outreach Committee chair Maria Skelton. “Outstanding event with the police department. Great question and answering with the police. Outstanding!”




Ensuring L.A.’s most vulnerable buildings can survive “the Big One,” life-saving building retrofit ordinance introduced by Councilmember Gil Cedillo passes City Council with unanimous support.

LOS ANGELES—Mayor Eric Garcetti today signed into law a historic mandatory building retrofit ordinance to ensure L.A.’s most vulnerable buildings are strengthened to prevent loss of life in the event of a major earthquake.

The ordinance, introduced and championed in the L.A. City Council by Councilmember Gil Cedillo, comprises two of the primary recommendations in the Mayor’s Resilience by Design report. Executed in partnership with seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones, the report outlines ways to better prepare Los Angeles against seismic threats.

“Today, Los Angeles makes good on our promise to take action before it’s too late. Together, we’re leading the nation in requiring this level of building safety retrofit before, not after, the big quake we know is coming,” said Mayor Garcetti. “We know that it’s not just the lives lost, but the lasting social and economic effects that we can avoid by strengthening our City’s skeleton — our buildings — and protecting our communities. I thank my colleague, Councilmember Gil Cedillo, for his leadership and tenacity in turning this ordinance into law, and my Science Advisor for Seismic Safety, Dr. Lucy Jones, for her work to unite the best and the brightest, and turn resilience research into actionable reality.”

“As chair of the Housing Committee, I am elated that the City is taking steps to mitigate any potential future housing catastrophes,” said Councilmember Cedillo. “The Northridge earthquake was a lesson for emergency preparedness and prevention. The more we can do up front to brace ourselves for an earthquake, the better off we will be at the moment one strikes. I commend the Mayor for his vision and thank my Council colleagues for their support to make Los Angeles safer.”

Key to ensuring life preservation and economic resilience in the event of a major earthquake, the ordinance signed today requires mandatory seismic retrofitting for two of L.A.’s most vulnerable types of buildings: non-ductile reinforced concrete, and what are known as soft first-story buildings, built before 1980. Soft first-story buildings are wood frame buildings that have a large opening on the first floor for things like tuck-under parking, garage doors, and retail display windows.

Under the new ordinance, building owners will be required to accomplish the following seismic safety measures:

For soft-first story buildings built before 1980, under the new law, building owners will have one year to submit to the City documentation establishing that an acceptable retrofit has already been conducted or that a retrofit is required, and an additional year to acquire necessary permits. Property owners will have seven years total to retrofit their buildings upon receipt of notice. The seven years is inclusive of the two years granted to the property owner to conduct an assessment and obtain permits.

For non-ductile reinforced concrete, building owners will have three years to submit documentation to the City to begin the inspection process, and 10 years to establish whether an acceptable retrofit has already been conducted or that a retrofit is required. Property owners would have 25 years total to complete the retrofit work, inclusive of the first 13.

“I applaud the Mayor and City Council for their commitment to a safer Los Angeles that will be here for future generations,” said Dr. Lucy Jones. “These actions preserve our affordable housing and show the rest of California the way to protect the communities we care about.”

Approximately 13,500 soft first-story buildings have been identified by the Department of Building and Safety as subject to this ordinance, and approximately 1,500 non-ductile reinforced concrete buildings have been identified in a study released by U.C. Berkeley last year. The Department of Building and Safety will send information on the new law to building owners, along with instructions on how to comply with it.

Mayor Garcetti also announced his appointment of L.A.’s first-ever Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), Marissa Aho. In her duties as CRO, Aho has been charged with implementing the recommendations of the Resilience by Design Report, as well as building on that work to expand L.A.’s overall resilience capacity through development of an action-oriented resilience strategy. The Chief Resilience Officer is an innovative new position in city government funded by grant dollars from 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) — pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation — of which Los Angeles is a member. L.A.’s resilience work with 100RC will help address both acute shocks — events like earthquakes and severe weather — along with chronic stresses like lack of economic mobility and infrastructure development.

The creation of the Resilience by Design report was led by Dr. Lucy Jones, one of the nation’s foremost seismologists, who served for one year as Mayor Garcetti’s Science Advisor for Seismic Safety, on loan from the U.S. Geological Study (USGS). In that year, Dr. Jones convened academics, industry professionals, scientists, community members and policy makers to address L.A.’s building safety, communications, and water networks. Dr. Jones this week received The Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal in the Citizen Services category for her work in uniting seismic safety with public policy. Commonly called the “Sammies,” they Heyman awards are known as the “Oscars” of government service.


Mayor Garcetti Appoints Vicki Curry As Chief Public Information Officer

vicki_curry_smallerMayor Garcetti Appoints Vicki Curry As Chief Public Information Officer

Mayor Eric Garcetti today announced the appointment of Vicki Curry as the City’s first Chief Public Information Officer.  Working out of the Mayor’s Office, Curry will be responsible for coordinating the communications efforts of public information offices in all City departments.

“Vicki’s communications expertise and proven ability to collaborate across City departments make her the ideal person for this new position,” said Mayor Garcetti.  “Vicki has been a valuable member of my team, and I’m pleased that she will continue to serve in my administration.”

“I’m honored to have Mayor Garcetti’s confidence and look forward to working with my colleagues to communicate the story of the City’s work to Angelenos and the world,” said Curry.

Read More–>

Budget Advocates Regional Budget Day

ncbaBudget Advocates Regional Budget Day

The Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates (NCBA) will be hosting Regional Budget Day at six locations across Los Angeles on Saturday October 17, 2015 from 9AM until Noon. The Regional Budget Day Agenda will include opening words from the mayor’s office and an open discussion of community needs and issues. This is a chance to voice your concerns and become more familiar with your Budget Advocates.

The Locations are:

Regions 1, 2, 3 & 4
Braude Constituent Services Center
6262 Van Nuys Blvd
Van Nuys, CA 91401

Regions 5 & 6
Legal Aid Foundation – West Office/Law Library
1102 Crenshaw Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90019

Regions 7 & 8
Boyle Heights City Hall
2130 E. First Street
Los Angeles, CA 90033

Regions 9 & 10
CD 9 Constituent Services Center
4301 S Central Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90011

Region 11
West Los Angeles Municipal Building
1645 Corinth Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90025

Region 12
Port of Los Angeles HS
250 W 5th Street
San Pedro, CA 90731

We also encourage participation in our Service Report Card, an online survey that gives YOU the chance to rate your City Services.

Take the survey now:
If you have any questions please contact

Thanks for Supporting the 8th Annual Valley Disaster Preparedness Fair

valleyrecapThanks for Supporting the 8th Annual Valley Disaster Preparedness Fair

Sincere thanks to everyone who attended the Valley Disaster Preparedness Fair on Saturday, October 3, 2015! We had a great turnout! Many attendees told us they learned about the Fair from their Neighborhood Council, and 50 percent of attendees told us it was their first time at the Fair.

We distributed a Family Emergency Preparedness (EP) Starter Kit to nearly 1,000 appreciative families to jump-start their preparedness. Fairgoers also enjoyed a free lunch prepared onsite. Our new Speakers Series of five 30-minute talks focusing on disaster preparedness was a big hit. Cedars-Sinai collected 50 units of blood, our K6D amateur (ham) radio station made contacts with 38 states and 5 Canadian provinces with just a piece of wire for an antenna, children and adults experienced a simulated earthquake in Yogi Bear’s Shakey-Quakey Schoolhouse, and the Dutch oven cooks served over 1,100 tasting cups. There was a lot to learn, see, and do at the Fair.

In the coming days, we will post hyperlinks to photos and videos of the Fair on our website, We also plan to post videos of the talks from the Speakers Series.

We thank the Neighborhood Councils and EmpowerLA for their support, contributions, and participation in the Fair. Numerous dedicated volunteers made this event possible, and many of them serve on NC Boards. We appreciate your dedication to helping all of Los Angeles prepare for disasters. We couldn’t do it without you!

Mayor Garcetti’s Fall Friday Nights

ffnheaderMayor Garcetti’s Fall Friday Nights

Gang Reduction & Youth Development is implementing the Mayor’s Fall Friday Nights (FFN) program, an extension of our very successful Summer Night Lights. FFN is a pilot 8 weeks/8 site program in the fall during the hours of 5 pm-9 pm, and launched on Friday, September 25th, 2015.

FFN aims to provide programming to Los Angeles communities recently affected by the surge in gang violence. It will be taking place at Parks that already hold a Teen Extreme Program, with the intention of supporting and enhancing Recreation and Parks current work. The workshops and activities to be held aim to integrate local community resources, offer city services to participants. highlight resources related to emergency preparedness, domestic violence prevention and awareness, secondary and post-secondary education, access to employment, financial literacy, and educational opportunities for teens and young adults. We will still incorporate some neat activities like Zumba, Art&Crafts, culinary arts, and games to make sure we offer programming for everyone along the family spectrum.

We would love to invite local neighborhood councils to visit our sites this fall. This is a great opportunity for continued community engagement and outreach. Please see attached flyers (English and Spanish) for more details.

Video: Walk To School Day with Mayor Eric Garcetti

garcettiwalktoschoolVideo: Walk To School Day with Mayor Eric Garcetti

Watch our Mayor, CD 9 Councilmember Curren Price, LAUSD School Board President, Steve Zimmer, District 3 Board Member, Scott Schmerelson, LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds, teachers, students and parents walk to Dolores Huerta ES along Maple Street.  A school safety assembly followed the walk this morning.  Over 100 schools in the city have planned Walk To School events this month.  To see LADOT’s new Safe Routes to School website which provides helpful overviews of Walk to School Day, the Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan and its supporting role in Vision Zero, visit: Safe Routes to School website.

Traffic Ticket Amnesty Program Launches, October 1

trafficstopTraffic Ticket Amnesty Program Launches October 1

Beginning October 1, 2015 through March 31, 2017, people with qualifying unpaid traffic tickets and infractions whose fines were originally due to be paid on or before January 1, 2013, may have their debt reduced by 50 or 80 percent depending on income and have their driver’s license reinstated. The program also includes a waiver of any civil assessments.

People whose unpaid fines and fees were originally due to be paid after January 1, 2013, are not eligible for a reduction for that ticket, but may be eligible to have their driver’s license reinstated, if they are in good standing on a payment plan with the County of Los Angeles comprehensive collection program.

On June 24, 2015, Governor Brown signed into law Senate Bill 85, which provided for a one-time mandatory eighteen month Statewide Traffic Tickets/Infraction Amnesty Program for unpaid traffic and non-traffic infraction tickets. Known as the “Traffic Tickets/Infractions Amnesty Program,” this state legislation makes the amnesty program available through March 31, 2017.

Anyone eligible to have a driver’s license, including undocumented individuals who are eligible for a driver’s license under AB 60, is entitled to participate in the traffic amnesty program if they meet the eligibility requirements.

Exclusions from the program include:

  • Anyone owing victim restitution or with certain outstanding misdemeanor or felony warrants
  • Parking tickets, reckless driving, and DUI offenses

Persons with more than one ticket may not be eligible for a reduction on an individual ticket if the eligibility criteria are not satisfied for the ticket. Please check with your court for additional information.

Those interested in the program must contact GC Services, the Los Angeles Superior Court’s collection agency at (800) 950-6280 (English) or (800) 939-8068 (Spanish) or via their website at, or by visiting one of the GC Service windows at an LA County Superior Court location.

For more information, visit

If you have unpaid traffic tickets and/or a suspended license, take advantage of this program today to reinstate your driver’s license and reduce your ticket debt!

Discover L.A.’s History with Cycleways, Rancheros, LGBTQ in Faith, Ugly Buildings & More

lacommonsDiscover L.A.’s History with Cycleways, Rancheros, LGBTQ in Faith, Ugly Buildings & More

On Saturday, October 17, 2015 and Sunday, October 18, 2015, the non-profit L.A. Commons will host its 5th annualFound L.A.: Festival of Neighborhoods.  Following last year’s tie to Mayor Eric Garcetti’s ‘Great Streets’ program, this year’s theme is driven by the idea of mapping one’s own Los Angeles. The weekend of tours is inspired by the new Heyday release LAtitudes: An Angeleno’s Atlas, which brings 19 diverse local writers together with a cartographer to explore aspects of the city’s geography, history, and culture. The essays range from quirky to provocative, but each is grounded by the physical, societal and perceived boundaries and neighborhoods of Los Angeles, which often foretell the city’s future.

A selection of authors will lead some of the October 17-18 weekend’s tours. A KPCC live event, on October 8 at Angel City Brewery, will present a dynamic evening with three LAtitudes essayists to explore “the hitherto terra incognita of our city.”

“LAtitudes immediately caught my attention with each of these great local authors’ takes on their personal mapping of the vast area we call L.A.,” states Karen Mack, Executive Director of L.A. Commons. “Connecting Angelenos to the people and places that make up the city is central to LA Commons’ mission, and our annual Found L.A. tours embody that.  This year, we are thrilled to bring to life these authors’ writings as they lead tours, alongside many other terrific volunteer-lead neighborhood tours.”

Found L.A. is a FREE, annual citywide event that showcases culturally dynamic neighborhoods through the eyes of residents, public figures and renowned artists, who volunteer to share their unique perspective and passion for their neighborhood.  Found L.A. is open to anyone who wants to organize a tour of their neighborhood, and anyone who wants to learn more about the vast expanse that is Los Angeles.

As part of Found L.A., culture seekers explore historic boulevards, sample delicious foods in unknown corridors, and hear little known stories, among many other adventures in communities all around the city.  During the weekend of October 17-18, tourgoers will explore:

Dobbins Cycleway, a planned, and partially built, bicycle freeway that was supposed to connect Pasadena and downtown L.A. A tour guaranteed to launch discussions of the city’s future.  Tour features LAtitudes contributor Dan Koeppel.

  • L.A.’s ranchero history of the late 1800s to early 1900s with LAtitudes contributor Teddy Varno.  L.A. was one of the densest “bovid metropolises” and where we drive now was grazing land.
  • The founding of LGBTQ faith communities in L.A. in the late 1960s and early ’70s and their transformational impact on the gay liberation movement and, more recently, the fight for marriage equality.
  • Architectural eyesores, horrors and unassuming cultural icons in the architecturally underappreciated San Fernando Valley, with LAtitudes contributor Wendy Gilmartin.

Full details and the growing list of tours are regularly updated on the website.

Prior to the weekend, LAtitudes essayists Rosten Woo, Sylvia Sukop and Michael Jaime-Becerra will present excerpts from the book and sit down with Oscar Garza, senior producer of The Frame, for a casual conversation at the Angel City Brewery in downtown Los Angeles on October 8 at 8 p.m. The evening will serve as a prelude to L.A. Commons’ fifth annual Found L.A. festival.

LAtitudes editor Patricia Wakida explains that “the maps and essays in the book were our way of telling stories about the relationships of points in geographic space. We are delighted to partner with Found L.A. and to put the essays and their authors onto the streets and into the neighborhoods with readers and tourgoers. We hope that this year’s LAtitudes-inspired Found L.A. will stimulate and awaken a sense of wonder and surprise about the city and its surroundings, opening avenues for Angelenos to roam, adding their own experiences and memories to the stories, and searching out the Los Angeles that holds the deepest meanings to them.”

Found L.A. 2014, teaming with the Mayor’s ‘Great Streets’ program, took people on journeys down the eclectic boulevards that crisscrossed the city.  On Reseda Boulevard, there were discoveries of Bauhaus Murals; on Central Avenue people stepped back into the Jazz History of L.A.; and on Western Ave., there were samplings of delicious Korean buns.

All tours are open and FREE to the public; people may sign up for multiple tours.  For more information on signing up for tours, please “Like” the LA Commons Facebook page or visit the website For information on how to offer a tour, please contact Karen Mack

This program, produced in conjunction with Heyday, is made possible by funding from The California Endowment and from LA 2050, a project of the Goldhirsh Foundation.

Date: Sat., October 17, 2014 & Sun., October 18, 2014
Time: Various times between 9am – 5pm
Location: Tours are neighborhood specific. Check here for updates:
Cost: The tours are FREE of cost, but RSVP is required and space is limited.

For additional information, please visit or contact Karen Mack at

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