Garcetti Meets West Valley Community Leaders

Written by Matt Thacker for the Post-Periodical

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti visited local businesses and met with community leaders in the southwestern San Fernando Valley on Monday.

Councilmember Bob Blumenfield gave the mayor a tour of the 3rd council district, focusing on economic development.

“I’ve come home to the Valley where I grew up to look at some of the work that’s happening here,” said Garcetti, who was raised in Encino.

The mayor pointed out that the Los Angeles County unemployment rate has improved (8.7 percent last month compared to more than 12 percent in 2011) but that more progress is needed.

“We want to make sure the San Fernando Valley is a part of that recovery and isn’t left behind. In fact, it’s kind of the center of our focus,” he said.

Garcetti said revitalization along the Los Angeles River and investing in beautification projects are examples of areas where the city can help.

“For me, the most powerful part of today is that too many great plans have been made by so many folks here in the Valley and sometimes they feel like they’ve been stalled for years,” he said. “They really just need a jump-start, a little help from the city.”

Blumenfield described the Valley as a regional force with communities that have different needs.

“Our goal is to match new job generating projects with each community’s vision for their area,” Blumenfield said. “By attracting great development where we need it and where it is appropriate, and preserving the community charter and residential nature where appropriate, we will make the Valley stronger and safer.”

Garcetti and Blumenfield began the day at the Warner Center commercial development which is projectedto bring 40,000 green jobs to the Valley during the next two decades. Jeremy Snyder of Tesla Topanga encouraged the city to build more EV charging stations and thanked Blumenfield for efforts to encourage cleaner vehicles through tax credits and HOV access stickers for zero-admission vehicles.

They next traveled to Canoga Park and Winnetka where they met with local volunteers and then to Reseda and Tarzana. Community leaders joined them outside the Reseda Theater at 18443 Sherman Way. The theater opened in 1948 but has been vacant since 1988.

Reseda Neighborhood Council member Spike Dolomite Ward said they have received assurances from the city that the property, owned by the state but now under the city’s control, will not be sold to the highest bidder but to one developer who will try to match the community’s wishes.

Dolomite Ward envisions the theater having one major house with live theater and music and a smaller house with community and experimental theater and space for a gallery. She also hopes to keep the iconic theater sign.

“I want to see it resurrected as a center of arts and culture for Reseda,” she said. “If we can get that happening, we’ll get people coming in with the night clubs, cafes and galleries.”

Funding is also in place for a median project which would visually improve Sherman Way and make it more attractive to developers. Blumenfield said Sherman Way has three Community Redevelopment Agency properties ripe for reinvestment.

Garcetti then headed to Tarzana where he visited the temporary gallery space for 11:11 A Creative Collective at 18640 Ventura Blvd. The collective which offers a showcase for local talent has grown, attracting more top artists for their shows, but they are still seeking a permanent home.

“I love that [the mayor] is coming to see how we’re transforming the city art-wise,” said Erin Stone, artistic director for the collective.

Garcetti and Blumenfield stopped at Aura’s Juice Bar & Restaurant and La Reyna de Michoacan in Reseda. In Tarzana, they visited Whole Foods and had lunch at Lyfe Kitchen with the district’s neighborhood council leaders.