CINDY MISCIKOWSKI Van Nuys is the focus of many exciting new programs and proposals to revitalize and reinvigorate the community, improve its business district, increase its safety and give residents a bigger voice in important decisions affecting it. The timing could not be better. The historic heart of the San Fernando Valley thrived in the 1950s and ’60s. Young people cruised Van Nuys Boulevard, to see and be seen, and the business community prospered. But in many ways, Van Nuys has stayed in the 1950s; with no freeway serving its business district it has missed out on the economic benefit that developments like Warner Center have brought to the Valley. Politically, too, it has suffered, being divided into five City Council districts and losing clout. During my election campaign, I pledged to commit time, energy and resources to upgrading Van Nuys. I am working hard to keep that promise. Here are some key projects already underway: ? A new 135,000-square-foot city office building for the Civic Center, where city departments, currently scattered in many inconvenient spaces, will be in one easy-to-use building with an additional 10,000 square feet of retail space, ample parking and an attractive outdoor plaza for concerts and community events. A key ingredient will be a state-of-the-art, one-stop constituent service center, where those seeking permits from Building and Safety, Engineering and various Public Works bureaus can get a construction permit at one convenient location. ? A targeted neighborhood initiative. At my request, Mayor Riordan and the City Council designated $3 million over three years for a community improvement program. Its goals and programs will be set by residents. Everyone is welcome to attend a June 25 public meeting at which we’ll begin deciding how to use the money. ? A business improvement district (BID). The business community asked for my help and we identified $30,000 to help jump-start the BID along Van Nuys Boulevard, from Magnolia to the railroad tracks north of Oxnard. ? Seismic repairs to the existing Van Nuys City Hall, to preserve this historic building for use by community programs. With further community discussion, we can explore expanding this building with space for meetings and cultural venues. This has also been identified for assistance from Project Restore, an organization dedicated to preserving historic city buildings. ? A parking structure for the Van Nuys police station. Already approved police bond funds are building this facility, to let officers park close to work and free up street parking. It’s expected to be complete in 1999. ? Creating a joint powers authority for the Civic Center. I have introduced legislation to organize city, county, state and federal agencies with offices in the Civic Center, to work together on issues like maintenance, security, landscaping, lighting, signs and even shared parking. I’ve been meeting with them and believe a cooperative effort will translate into a more functional Civic Center that’s cleaner, safer and more attractive. In addition, I am currently working on several other community-improvement initiatives for Van Nuys, including; ? Creating with other council members who represent parts of Van Nuys a Van Nuys Community Council. This would unify our divided community by bringing homeowners, businesses, schools, environmentalists, churches and other interest groups together to propose legislation and programs and discuss residents’ ideas for community betterment. ? Rebuilding the outmoded Fire Station 39 (across the street from Van Nuys City Hall), providing a state-of-the-art firehouse to enhance fire and emergency medical services. I’m pleased that funds for this project are included in the proposed Fire Facilities bond measure awaiting placement on the November ballot. I am working with the Fire Department to identify land for a new station. ? Setting up a Van Nuys Community Design Overlay District. A new city ordinance allows communities to keep the design of new construction consistent with community standards, to promote the attractiveness, distinctive character and stability of neighborhoods and take other steps to protect them. The first application in my council district of this new law will be in Van Nuys. To make Van Nuys’ public spaces more appealing, I am seeking ways of turning underused and abandoned alleys into assets, beautifying parking lots with art and sculpture, putting unique community-identifying design elements onto street corners and making residents proud of their community. An example is the newly reopened municipal parking lot near the Civic Center, at Sylmar Avenue and Gilmore Street. With parking revenues from local meters, the lot has been repaved and landscaping added. Not only should the city improve its own property, but by doing so it can provide a shot in the economy for local business. With comfortable, convenient, improved parking, Van Nuys businesses can concentrate on upgrading their storefronts and streetscape. Taken together, these initiatives are ingredients to help Van Nuys become again the proud heart of the San Fernando Valley. They give residents a bigger role in deciding how to improve the community, and they bring improvements down to the local level. The ultimate goal is to invigorate business, enhance city services to Valley residents and empower residents. The energy in the Van Nuys community is invigorating to those involved in these exciting programs. I encourage all who want to be part of the future of Van Nuys and these initiatives to contact my office. Cindy Miscikowski is the Los Angeles city councilwoman representing the 11th District, which includes parts of Van Nuys.