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Monday, May 29, 2023

Valley Talk

Valleytalk/19″/cw1st/mike2nd A Secret Revealed Michael G. Lushing only recently joined Madison Partners, but already he’s got a long list of contacts. The reason? Lushing advertises. Not in the newspaper or on radio, but on the freeway. For the past six years, whatever his affiliation, Lushing has been a sponsor of the “Adopt a Highway” program. His piece of the cleanup effort is a wall along the Ventura (101) Freeway at the Van Nuys Boulevard exit going west and the De Soto Avenue exit going east. “It is singularly the most incredible thing I’ve ever done,” said Lushing, a vice president with the brokerage firm specializing in San Fernando Valley properties. “People think I’m a really generous person paying all this money to have a wall.” The truth is, adopting a piece of the freeway costs nothing except a promise to clean the wall if it is marked with graffiti. And Lushing says that even there, he’s gotten away, well, clean. His wall was only marked up once so far, and CalTrans cleaned it up for him. “It’s the singular best-kept secret for promotion,” said Lushing. At least, it was. Huddled Masses Here’s something you don’t see every day. A sign hanging along a building at the intersection of Vanowen Street and Canoga Avenue in Canoga Park reads, “Patio Open. Smokers Welcome.” Sierra’s restaurant recently added the patio and decided to put up the sign as a gesture to its many customers who smoke. Since the law banning smoking indoors in restaurants went into effect, many of the restaurant’s patrons had been complaining that they no longer enjoy dining out. “They were going to McDonald’s and bringing their lunch back to the office so they could smoke,” said Jose Martinez, Sierra’s manager. “I wanted to do something nice for them.” After checking with the Department of Health Service to be certain that smoking was permitted outdoors, Martinez hung the sign. He said he was a little nervous about the decision at first, but the response from smokers has been overwhelming. “They’re out there even when it’s raining,” Martinez said. Two of the patio tables have umbrellas, and a dozen patrons, some who have never met, gather around at lunchtime. Show Me the Money Canoga Park property owners are feeling pretty good about themselves. They’ve submitted their petition full of signatures to establish a Business Improvement District to the Los Angeles City Clerk’s office for approval. BIDs, a designation under which area business owners agree to assess themselves to pay for neighborhood improvements, have proved difficult to establish. That’s because they require the consensus of at least 50 percent of area businesses, which are often reluctant to pony up the money for the improvements. Only one of the 12 San Fernando Valley communities interested in establishing a BID has actually succeeded in getting the required approvals, although some have been trying for years. So you’d think those involved in forming the one Valley BID that has been approved, Tarzana, would be overjoyed. Not yet. While the BID was approved in August, Tarzana is still waiting for the public subsidy that the city promises to start-up BIDs as seed money. The money probably won’t arrive until the second quarter, prompting Dale Jacobs, president of the Tarzana Chamber of Commerce and treasurer of the BID, to say, “Show me the money.” Van Gogh Stay Last week’s decision by the Los Angeles County Museum to extend its much-publicized Van Gogh exhibit for another six weeks met little opposition from the owner of the paintings the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam which will now have more time to finish its renovation project. “It will now make construction (of the Dutch museum) more convenient,” said Adam Coyne, a spokesman for LACMA. It’s not only more convenient for the Amsterdam museum, it represents a potential windfall for LACMA. Museum officials initially anticipated 600,000 visitors during the original 11-week run that had been scheduled to end April 4, but they now expect nearly 1 million. LACMA is charging $20 for weekend tickets, the highest price ever charged by a U.S. museum for an exhibit. Weekday prices are $17.50. LACMA officials don’t want scalpers to benefit from all the demand for tickets. In Washington, D.C., scalpers are currently getting $125 a ticket. The tour of Van Gogh’s masterpieces, some 70 artworks in all, was made possible by the renovation of the Dutch museum, which is currently proceeding on schedule.

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