On August 1st, 2013, the Area Planning Commission voted not to allow the construction of a Best Western Hotel on Van Nuys Blvd in Pacoima.
I had not attended one of those meetings in years and was looking forward to speaking in favor of the development, as I was sure that it would be a good thing for a Van Nuys Blvd that could use a new look and also with the hope that this development would encourage other business’ and/ or the City to improve the way the Boulevard looks.
While I respect all comments made by fellow Pacoima residents, I wonder if these comments were driven by politics, prejudice or misinformation; as for the speakers from Sylmar, Sun Valley and Lakeview Terrace, well, it was nice to hear their speeches but I failed to comprehend, how a Hotel in Pacoima will affect their communities.
Some of the speakers feared that the hotel would generate prostitution and/or other questionable activities, but, currently Van Nuys Blvd does not allow overnight parking (no parking after 10pm) and the City has installed many surveillance cameras. Granted LAPD may not be monitoring all the time; there is still a record of activities that can be reviewed, when needed.
The truth is that prostitution is a problem associated with the “Motels” on San Fernando Road; they rent rooms by the hour and also provide housing for ex-convicts (some are sex offenders). I wonder if anyone is doing something about this problem?
The one comment that stuck to my head was, “it is a nice building proposed by the developer; but it does not fit in with the culture of Pacoima.” I have been a Pacoima resident for many years and have seen many changes and improvements. That comment made me want to drive up and down Van Nuys Blvd. hopping to see what I was missing in terms of culture of Pacoima (business culture if you will).
I saw that most of the business (if not all) on Van Nuys Blvd. has “safety bars” some on the inside and most on the outside. Some of them even conduct business with the bars closed; a large number of business have tables on the sidewalks where they display their products, others hang theirs on their windows, awnings or custom stands. Also, there are those that constantly play loud music to attract traffic and that business that have security guards during their business hours. It will be interesting to know how many of them are in violation of City Ordinances, Municipal Codes and/or Building and safety codes.
Then we have the “Neighborhood City Hall” that other than the City Council’s Office, it has no City Departments or services. Viewed from Van Nuys Blvd it looks like a big empty building, however, it does provide a public service in the form of shelter for transients, vagrants and homeless. I know the new Council Member will eventually improve this, but that is what we have today.
One of the problems in Pacoima is that many residents think that if they put their furniture on the sidewalk someone else will be able to use it. They should also call sanitation and ask them to pick it up; the furniture will stay there longer than expected either way.
It is fair to say that Pacoima is a much better place today then it was when I first moved here thanks to the many community members committed to improve the community. Their work deserves to be acknowledged and they should know that it has not been in vain.
I am submitting a picture to illustrate the business culture on Van Nuys Blvd.
Editor’s Note: Mr. Rameriz is a long time community activist and education advocate for Pacoima.