Up on Shady Oak Road

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Question: do you think you’re allowed to drive on this street?

Apparently not, right?   I mean, it’s…PRIVATE.   Clearly marked by signs.   In fact it’s so private, they had to tell us twice.

PRIVATE ROAD!

This means you, interloper.  All you little people from the grim wastes north of Ventura Blvd can turn around right now.  No trespassing, loitering or entry without permission.  Don’t make us call the police.

Why would anyone proceed any further?  What would compel such insubordination?

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Well, there’s this.  One of three trailheads into Fryman Canyon.  A public access point to a public park waiting at the end of a public street, paved with tax dollars.  And all the million dollar views beyond.

If you just tell people from Van Nuys they can’t drive there, they’ll never use it, right?  It will be privatized, effectively, for the benefit of the hillside gentry.   Like they did at Malibu, and Lake Hollywood, and Runyon.

There used to be something in America called a daily newspaper.   We even had one in Los Angeles.  I miss them.   They were staffed by middle class people, even working class guys occasionally, with a sense of civic pride and a keen moral barometer for public offense committed by the privileged. This is exactly the sort of petty outrage they used to feast on.  But that was a different country.

Ho, what a web we weave

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Sepulveda Blvd. has a hooker problem.  This is not news to people in Van Nuys. But if you are clicking here from another part of the world, take my word for it, there’s been one for some time. From the Voyager and the Hyland motels, from the Ridge and the Palm Tree Inn they promenade forth in pairs in the late afternoon, Molly-rolling through the night. Again under the unforgiving dawn they work the morning commute, a sullen cluster of the living dead in front of Jon’s supermarket. Without fear of interference from the municipal government, pimps wield a dark, alchemical power. Their chattel, formerly citizens of the United States, toil up and down the boulevard alongside backpack-toting middle schoolers. They block shoppers turning into the parking lot at Fresh and Easy. They take up benches at bus stops and threaten all manner of whup-ass at passerby who stare, frown disapproval, or worse, take pictures.  All this dreary pageantry playing out within a frisbee toss of the urban Mayberry of tree-lined streets that is the Real Van Nuys. The Van Nuys of the 60-hour workweek. The Van Nuys of Sunday barbacoa, birthday parties and mass.

Until now.  Our City Council person, Nury Martinez, has decided to get tough with these guys.  Seriously.  She’s done with being concerned. She’s taking a stand.  She’s going to….

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…’target liquor stores and strip clubs’.  That’ll do it!  No new licenses or permits will be issued for the next….45 days.  ‘It seems like the vice activities feed on each other,” Martinez was quoted in the Times, adding: “We don’t want these types of businesses to lure the pimps.”  There hasn’t been a new strip club or liquor store on Sepulveda in the past decade I have lived here, and probably a decade longer before that, but the council was undeterred. The measure passed unanimously.  Against the accusation of silliness, the proposal was amended to include motels.  For the next 45 days…..no more motel permits!   This will be sure to strike fear in the last motel builder in Van Nuys, who shed this mortal coil somewhere around the Carter administration.

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Just this afternoon, walking Giles, I watched two teen-aged black girls hook a passing car, and direct him into the Travel Inn.  ‘Just pull right on in there. We working there.’  In, he pulled.  They walked right past the motel office window. There appeared to be brisk activity in the parking lot and on the balconies. Not a cop or politician in sight.   They’ve got it figured out, though. No more Travel Inns!  No Travel Inn annex!  They’ve put their foot down! Nothing more to see here. Just a 15-year-old taking if five times a night from strangers, on prom weekend, a thousand miles from home. Daddy wants his money.