In his State of the City speech in April, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa mentioned the San Fernando Valley a total of three times.
The Valley deserves more than just a few casual mentions from our mayor.
Villaraigosa won the run off mayoral election in May 2005 by a substantial margin with the help of the San Fernando Valley. Turnout was 38 percent only, but the same percentage came out to vote in the Valley as in the rest of the city.
Why are we not receiving our fair share of the mayor’s attention?
The mayor’s attention since the election has been on the Los Angeles Unified School District and what he claims to be the failing of schools.
The Valley did not elect him to overtake our public schools but to address the concerns that we have about our neighborhoods.
In 2002 a campaign to have the San Fernando Valley secede from the City of L.A., ended with the refusal of the rest of the city to let go of a crucial part of their economy. This was in part because of the former Mayor James Hahn. Hahn campaigned across the city to get voters to vote against the Valley’s succession from Los Angeles.
As a life-long resident of the Valley, I worked hard to get Hahn out of our City Hall and replace him with someone who seemed to care about the Valley.
Yet here we are, four years after the movement for secession ended and one year since Villaraigosa became mayor, little attention has been given to the Valley, where nearly half of Angelenos reside.
Our streets remain unpaved and those which are paved need repair. Some public streets in Chatsworth are still dirt roads. In Northridge, the streets around CSUN need work. The paving on Plummer Street, between Etiwanda Street and Reseda Boulevard, is in shambles. At any moment a car could hit a pothole and pop a tire or a pedestrian could trip and fall in the middle of the street.
Other streets in the Valley, including those surrounding CSUN, are not well lit. Streets throughout Chatsworth, especially north of Devonshire Street, have very few, if any, street lights. At CSUN on Etiwanda Street between Devonshire Street and Halsted Street, lights are nonexistent. I have walked along that stretch to get from my car to campus and each time I had to bring a flashlight to guide me. Even worse, there are no sidewalks for part of the walk and anyone making the trek must watch for cars coming toward them in the dark.
Also worth mentioning is how dirty our streets, sidewalks and gutters are. Down Lassen Street just west of Topanga Canyon Boulevard there is a row of olive trees that have existed since the founding of the Valley. They are protected by the local government from being cut down, but along their roots lay trash that is never picked up. The curb stinks of rotten water, making what could be a beautiful walk, disgusting.
None of these issues, which Villaraigosa had to be aware of when he lived in the City of Los Angeles in 2002, have been addressed in a satisfactory manner. The Valley has not been taken care of the way that it deserves. With nearly half of the citizens residing in the Valley, we deserve the same amount of attention as the rest of the L.A. gets.
So, Mayor Villaraigosa, please come to the aid of a Valley with dirty, broken and unlit streets. Please do the job we hired you to do and leave the schools to the experts. We need and want your attention too.