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Solutions to seedy look of Sherman Oaks

Solution to seedy look of Sherman Oaks

I spent part of last weekend pealing stickers and scrubbing graffiti from the steel poles and removing dead weeds from tree wells between Cedros and Van Nuys and I have a few observations. The good news is that the problem is simple to remediate. The problem is that it takes a concerted effort on the part of residents, business owners and local government to make the changes necessary.

Bottom line, the graffiti contractors are making the situation worse. I know that the contractors paid to solving the problem are over worked. However, they are in large part responsible for the grubby look of the boulevard.  

They are painting steel poles instead of using solvents to remove the offending paint or marker. The city needs to tell their contractors to STOP painting steel lamp posts. They should use “Crud Cutter”, paint solvent, steel wool to scrub the paint and finally clean rags to wipe the pole down when done. Cleaning the poles is a simple process but it requires muscle and patience. Any resident can do this work with some supervision. The same process should be used for parking meters.

Second, the same graffiti contractors are NOT using the city approved paint on Concrete lamp posts. That is why the lamp posts look messy. Further, the contractors are not consistently applying the paint. The city rules call for the paint to be a uniformed height and a clean sharp edge. They should NOT paint the steel plate cover at the bottom of the poles or the steel band that hold street signs to the pole.

Third, the green poles installed by the Sherman Oaks BID are a magnet for stickers. When removing the stickers spray the “Crud Cutter” on the stickers and then gently scrub the sticker with a wire brush. Be sure to avoiding scratching the green paint. The paint job on the poles is not the best and so need to be treated with kid gloves.

Finally, the contractors should be held accountable for the quality of their work. It is up to the city to properly supervise the work of its contractors. The Neighborhood Council should voice their displeasure directly to the city. The Sherman Oaks Homeowners should weigh as well. After all, the condition of the Ventura Boulevard should concern all Sherman Oaks residents.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ellen Vukovich October 13, 2011 at 07:39 PM
Speaking on behalf of SOHA, I can assure you the condition of the Boulevard is known to Council Offices, i.e., the city. Not too long ago, I spoke to CD5, and asked if they knew why the merchants didn't take more pride. I was told that many enter their shops through the rear, and often don't come out to the Boulevard. In other words, they don't relate to the front of their stores...I know that sounds crazy, but it does make sense! It will be interesting to see how clean the Boulevard is in this area for this weekend's street fair...
Dick Carter October 13, 2011 at 09:23 PM
If they go through their back doors and never come out the front door to make sure their shop/store/office looks as good as it can, then they deserve to be shunned by patrons. They should inspect their storefront daily to make sure the proper image is being portrayed. Washing their windows, painting any scrapes, etc. is not a major chore if watched over daily. Waiting months, years, etc., well, you better start from scratch and repaint the entire frontage. They also need to paint their shops more often, especially those on the north side of the street.
Sean McCarthy October 14, 2011 at 05:21 AM
You are missing the point of my article. While the trash issue is there it is only part of the problem. Vigilantes and lazy city contractors are doing a disservice with their use of the wrong paint, by executing their duties poorly instead of taking care of the offending graffiti in the proper manner. I disagree with you that the council office is aware of the problem. If the were I believe they would require that the proper paint be used in the city proscribed manner. The Office of Beautification is very clear as to the method and the tools to be used to abate problems with lamp posts, steel poles and parking meters. A simple visual inspection shows the present graffiti abatement work is sub standard. That is why the boulevard looks messy. The purpose of my column is to inform concerned residents of Sherman Oaks about what they should expect from the city. It’s a simple choice really. Sherman Oaks can wait for city hall to study the problem, issue a report, put out an RFP, select a winning bid and then hope the work gets done OR for Sherman Oaks residents to do the work themselves. ...
Mattey's Mom October 14, 2011 at 03:10 PM
I am gratified to read that ohers share my concerns about the dismal state of the Blvd that drives shoppers including me to more appealing areas in neighboring communities. However, preaching to ourselves provides just a short-term band aid. Given te current state of the economy I wonder wheather volunteers organized by SONC/SOHA could help paint + spruce up the shop exteriors. While I agree with another comment that they deserve to fail if they don't care about their store fronts, I care more about the outside appeal that would improve the area + attract more business.
Jason Cohen October 14, 2011 at 03:24 PM
I have to say a couple of things here everyone has valid points and are well taken. I am sure MOST business owners take tremendous pride in their business, I know I do, Weather its trash, facial, planting, etc. The fact of the matter is that one of the biggest problems is the OWNERS( landlords) of these particular buildings. Look I can speak from years of heartache and aggravation. I cant even begin to express to you my fights, arguments, and disappointments. Just recently I had a major issue at my business in which the rain storm that we had last week severely damaged my ceiling and came crashing in all most injuring a member and thus creating damage to my establishment. The owner has been aware for a long time regarding the maintenance of her property but has conveniently chosen to ignore and completely disregard her own property, weather for safety or visual compliance. You can image most owners along the Blvd have similar experiences, its the MOST difficult thing, Even if you withhold rent, threaten to sue, etc, SO maybe in regards to businesses the owners of the business must gather and get with the landlords to express there concern about the (look) of the property. I can say from experience that most don't care. They get there rent and that's it.
Sean McCarthy October 14, 2011 at 04:38 PM
I am hoping to organize a demonstration event, possibly later this month or in November. Do you think Sherman Oaks residents would support such an event by attending?
Sean McCarthy October 14, 2011 at 05:21 PM
I feel for you and your circumstances. My focus is on the street, in particular the public property like lamp posts, tree wells, parking meters, street signs, park benches and trash cans. Jason, I don't know the nature of your business or your financial circumstances. Would it be worth speaking with an attorney to resolve the problem or a real estate agent to help you relocate your business? Both recommendations come with costs and additional headaches. If you look at all of the empty space along the boulevard you do have alternatives. Your land lord should be happy to accommodate you especially when he will have increased costs associated with lost rent should you leave and he then must re lease his property. Please speak to a commercial real estate attorney to explore all your options.
Mikie Maloney October 14, 2011 at 05:36 PM
I am pleased to see that others share my disgust with the way many commercial property owners in Sherman Oaks neglect their strorefronts. And, I applaud those who care enough to keep their storefronts and sidewalks clean. For many years, the Sherman Oaks Beautification Committee has organized clean-ups to remove trash, cigarette butts, fast food wrappers, weeds, and other items from the gutters and sidewalks in our business community. Our response from most, not all, shops has been complete disinterest. We have made personal appeals to property owners to keep their frontage clean, and some have agreed. You can see the difference in response by comparing the trash and bus bench on Van Nuys Blvd in front of US Bank, and the trash and bench in front fo the shopping center next door. Certainly, a property owner has no responsibility to maintain the public right-of-way out front, but sometimes caring for what the community looks like is the greater good. The BID did try to keep their area clean, but the BID was not renewed. I would hope that seeing what our community looks like now, will encourage owners to join the BID again, And, for those who want to get out and help, the Beautification Committee is holding a clean-up on Oct. 22 from 9 -- 11 am between Kester and Noble. Join us. You will feel great and we will even give you coffee and refreshments. Look for our banner in the parking lot adjacent to 14925 Ventura Blvd.
Ellen Vukovich October 14, 2011 at 08:15 PM
I am not missing the point of your excellent article; I just failed to make something really clear. The days of City Hall taking care of our city are over; there aren't sufficient funds. Period. Employee payroll, pension and health care costs take up 2/3rds of the annual budget; in fact, the city is facing an unexpected100 Million Dollar shortfall - add that to current 200 Million, and then think about priorities again. I also don't appreciate the shoddy workmanship done by city folks doing repairs, maintenance, etc. Does that speak of poor oversight, apathy, or the realization that the public employee unions hold such sway in Los Angeles that they can do anything they want? Where is their pride in doing a good job? However, I will say there are many good city workers who will tell you, off the record, their hands are tied too. There are lots of bureaucratic policies and procedures which don't make sense...but, that's another topic!
leslie elkan October 20, 2011 at 11:02 PM
Since The Village BID expired in March, 2009, the area has experienced a decline in look and feel. We need to renew the BID, at least as a maintenance district. Please help. Ask the businesses to contact their landlords and ask them to vote for BID renewal. The Village at Sherman Oaks BID was created in 1999. It offers a unique “Main Street” shopping experience complete with a variety of fine dining, entertainment and family activities. The BID oversaw enhanced maintenance services in the area, working diligently to ensure that the trees and plants received adequate care, that the street furniture remained clean and in good repair, and that the sidewalks were kept clean and free of gum. We need to renew the BID in order to bring these services back. Also, the BID still has almost $200,000 in it's account. This money can be spent in the area only if the BID is renewed. Otherwise, it is lost to the Village. For more information, please contact Leslie Elkan at (818) 326-0273, or sobc1@yahoo.com.
Sean McCarthy October 20, 2011 at 11:49 PM
And the beat goes on. I posted a photo that shows a shopping cart left after "A Taste of Sherman Oaks", in front of the old Billy Blanks work out building. Any ideas how to get rid of a shopping cart full of trash? Interesting that city workers emptied and then moved a public trash can that was sitting next to the Target shopping cart full of left overs. I will attend the clean up this weekend. There is a lot to be done.
Jason Cohen October 21, 2011 at 12:10 AM
Sean I own Alive Fitness a private training center, I have been in the fitness industry for 20yrs. My point on my own personal struggles with the landlord, flow over into the LOOK of the buildings, their surroundings and the appeal. Most just dont care. They get the rent and run to the bank, for me to re locate is not the answer as I have spent tens of thousands on my facility. Point is...YES I will agree owners should take pride, I certainly do, however like I said the whole place (from Sepulveda to Van Nuys needs a face lift. Why does Studio City look so dam good, even Encino with (not a lot of destination spots) look so good, Sherman Oaks looks like its old run down and dirty.
Ellen Vukovich October 21, 2011 at 07:23 PM
Recently, representatives from SOHA and the Chamber of Commerce met to discuss the declining condition of the Boulevard which is the subject of this blog. The Chamber agreed to become more active in working with the businesses, etc. Another comment asked why does Studio City looks so good? SC receives lots of money from its popular weekly Farmers Market. Because of this strong flow of money, they have been able to maintain and improve their stretch of the Boulevard. They also have a BID in place.
Sean McCarthy December 03, 2011 at 07:53 AM
Two months ago we started a dialogue about the poor conditions along Ventura Blvd., including the over grown planters, trash and graffiti. The city comes through with yet another way to brighten the look of the street with paint and a program that has been around for almost twenty years. The City Office of Beautification has a paint specifically formulated for concrete lamp posts that blends the many colors of the aggregate used in the concrete itself to cover graffiti. When the city came out with the paint in the early 1990's they issued specific protocol along with the paint that it be applied uniformly, be applied a minimum height and that a degree of professionalism be used in its application. I took before and after shots of the pole on the south / west corner of Cedros and Ventura to give you an idea of the difference a little TLC combined with materials available for free from the city can make.
Sean McCarthy December 05, 2011 at 05:50 AM
Here are a few more pictures of another lamp pole, this is one of fourteen painted this weekend between Columbus and Nobel on Ventura Boulevard. This is completed in a few hours with city supplied tools and a few volunteer hours. The Boulevard can be cleaned and maintained by Sherman Oaks businesses ans concerned residents with or without the benefit of an assessment.
Sean McCarthy February 20, 2012 at 11:48 PM
This past weekend I finished painting all of the concrete lamp posts along Ventura Boulevard with the city approved paint in accordance with the city's specifications. There are approximately 38 between Sepulveda and Van Nuys Boulevard. There is a lot that still needs to be done by the city, local groups: The paint that has been slapped on every steel lamp post still needs to be removed, by hand. Your city contractor needs to be told to STOP painting steel lamp posts for three reasons: First it is not necessary when paint is easily removed with paint remover. Second I believe there is a city prohibition on painting steel lamp posts which apparently no one enforces. Third and finally, painting steel lamp posts is the white flag of capitulation. By painting the poles you are saying the taggers have won and you have given up keeping the city clean. It takes two minutes to splash paint on a steel pole and two hours to take it off. That's why I won't do this part of the cleanup alone. The Sherman Oaks Chamber, SOHA and the city are going to have to pitch in. I've done my part. What is Sherman Oaks prepared to do for itself?

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