Clean Streets Clean Starts under the direction of Don Larson has been working in Van Nuys to clean up trash, clean tree wells of vegetation where drug users stash their materials, power washing sidewalks, and more. Clean Streets Clean Starts is a program offering work, training and resources to homeless people who help clean up.
They started in Van Nuys in March and have been working in our area off and on. SoCalGas has provided funding for this effort. Thank you to Don and everyone involved for making a difference in Van Nuys.
Below are a few of the updates Don has provided:
March 12, 2019:
We are off to the races on Van Nuys and Victory boulevard. I can’t be happier. Keith, Melissa and I scouted the area and decided to start and stop work at the HOPE OF THE VALLEY MISSION, our navigation partners. We stopped in and talked to Laurie KRAFT ( Director) about our plans and they are all in. Van Nuys around the government center is the biggest challenge across the Valley. WE ARE ON IT!!! We have made one of our new goals to be in VAN NUYS 365 days a year. New permanent crews will be developed. This is first priority for CSCS. I am going to knock on all the doors of our politicians around the government center to let them know we are THERE. We are working, and we will show you the difference we can make in just a few weeks. We work on Tuesday and Thursday morning starting at 6am in front of the HOPE OF THE VALLEY MISSION on Victory east of Van Nuys Blvd. Get ready, here we come. ( thank you again for the support Laurie)
March 14, 2019
It was beautiful in Van Nuys on the Boulevard today. We started our first new Cycle of the year for CLEAN STREETS CLEAN STARTS this morning at 6am. I am so happy to role up my sleeves and get to work on our most important street and district in the Valley. It is now just a shadow of its former brilliance, but it is still there, just dirty and covered. When I was a young boy 60 years ago, Van Nuys was THE place to shop and walk. My dad had a furniture store right were I was working today. It was sad for me to think back on those days on that street. On the other hand, I could see the great opportunity to give back to Van Nuys what they have mostly lost. And that is a clean and safe environment to live and work. Our CSCS program will do great things over there. We are in fact very well known because of our Saturday lunch program ( thank you Keith and Melissa) among the local LARGE Homeless population. But I am inspired by the work of our navigation partners at HOPE OF THE VALLEY!, ( thank you Laurie CRAFT ) we actually start and stop our work at the front door of the HOPE. CSCS has been very successful around the EAST and WEST valley, but I think it will be Van Nuys that will be our biggest trophy.
We must have done 50 bags of trash in 3hrs. We picked up 5 bad drug needles. That’s a lot in one area.
On one of my photos there is a kind of split screen. One side is the sidewalk and the other side behind the construction wall is a drug shooting gallery. ( were people hide to shoot up drugs ) it’s in the open but hidden. If you watch this spot you can see the addicted walking in and out. This is a complicated street. But I think our best work will be done here. THANK YOU David Meza and the SoCal Gas Company for funding this Cycle of work in VAN NUYS for CLEAN STREETS CLEAN STARTS.
April 23, 2019
We could not wait any longer for help on taking apart the sucker palm trees directly across the street from the Government center on beautiful Van Nuys Blvd. We found hidden in a cup deep inside the thorny palm a pack of 3 unused drug needles, bag of DOPE and razor blades to cut the stuff up. ITS GONE NOW. And people can pass along the sidewalk unobstructed. AND THE DRUG HIDE OUT IS GONE. This has been a chronic spot for drug use. We could only get about half way through this clump of trees because we have to carry ALL the cuttings back to our barrel at HOPE OF THE VALLEY for disposal on my BICYCLE. We hope to finish one tree per week. 3 big trees total. We were hoping to get some city help, but the recent strong winds put the BIG DOG CITY CREWS on an emergency clean up of all the fallen trees around the city. So our CLEAN STREETS CLEAN STARTS ( the little dogs ) picked up the slack. Getting better every day out there.
But today we separated into 3 teams, with a new leader of the trash team. The guy pulling the golf cart bag of tools is VINCE. He did a good job moving the team foreword. A good clean up. We try at this time in the program to find and build new team work leaders. This builds up self worth and confidence. It works.
May 14, 2019
Worked hard on VAN NUYS again today. Spent some time at the bus stop in front of the 99 Cent store at Vanowen. The branches were touching the bus bench. Needs more work, but we got the big stuff down. Cleaned up Kittridge Street again. 4 drug needles in the grass that we mowed. Regular stuff. I think the LAPD is moving towards this area again. I hope they get into the serious drug issues around that spot.
We had a great meeting at the Hope Mission with Laurie Craft (Mission Director ) , Lorraine Diaz and Jackie Keene from Council-member PAUL KREKORIANS office. We will very soon open a new cycle over there. We will do Van Nuys and Lankershiem on the same days. One after the other. We are very happy for the invitation and the opportunity to expand into North Hollywood.
May 30, 2019
The really big news is in this photo. I have been reporting for some time now about this building in the photo as a drug hideout. It’s where people go to buy drugs and use drugs. We now find most of our drug needles around this spot on Van Nuys Blvd and Kittridge. ITS GONE !!! Last night the LAPD raided the building. Pulled everyone out of the area and the bad guys went off to jail. This is a very significant bust for the LAPD in Van Nuys. The story about how the bust happened is a little fuzzy. A silent alarm went off before or during the bust which brought the hammer down. But it happened. THANK YOU LAPD VAN NUYS DIVISION.
Clean Streets Clean Starts picked up, painted up and scrubbed up the boulevard again today. But it felt especially good to me after last nights BIG CLEAN UP BY OUR TEAM IN BLUE.
There is a very long way to go in Van Nuys to actually turn it around, but we are trying. Thank you VAN NUYS COMMUNITY COUNCIL COUNCIL FOR YOUR SUPPORT, and Councilwoman Nury Martinez for all your help. And certainly the good work at HOPE OF THE VALLEY, our partners.
There were 15 of us out again today.
June 13, 2019
In Van Nuys the photos don’t tell the story of the deep and rather profound emotions we all went through this morning on the toughest street there. Aetna St at the Orange line and VN Blvd has a drive by murder just two weeks ago, and when we walked up on it today we found that one of our team had her tent and all her belongings burnt up by a crazy druggie tent neighbor. She then identified the arsonist. He was wearing her HAT. Everyone went a little nuts. And all the commotion was caught on the news camera of SPECTRUM NEWS, who had come out to interview and follow us as we worked. He sure got an eye full today. Wow. Very intensive. What a morning.