Sunday, September 21, 2014

Canoga Please! Canoga Park's Celebrated Street Walkers (No, Not That Kind!)

Canoga Please! The wife and I recently purchased a cozy, mid-century home in your lovely town after my company (Peppy Donuts) transferred me to their Roscoe Boulevard location. We love the area and hope you can advise us on a matter we find a bit confusing: Every day, we see people of all ages walking down roads, streets and thoroughfares that we presumed to be primarily for motor vehicle use, and around whom we, as drivers, must carefully negotiate. 
I’ve looked closely each time I’ve experienced this strange phenomenon and there are always sidewalks on both sides of the street that are completely unobstructed - there are no cars across driveways, construction barriers, over-spraying lawn sprinklers - none of that.
Furthermore, the pavement itself seems to be in excellent repair and curbs are sloped at each corner for those in wheelchairs or anyone would otherwise have trouble climbing up or down a small step. In short, I’ve never noticed anything whatsoever that would prevent a pedestrian from using the nearby sidewalk which I would presume to be more convenient and far safer - and yet here are all these people just walking down the street instead. We desperately want to fit in, so please advise: Are Canoga Park sidewalks specifically prohibited from pedestrian use? --Tarzana Transplant, Malden Street

P.S. To be clear, I’m referring to people walking down entire blocks of streets busy with vehicular traffic - not pedestrians merely using a crosswalk to get from one side of the street to the other. To be clear.

P.P.S. Before you ask: No, we’re nowhere near Valerio Street with its festive, anything-goes, year-round carnival√© atmosphere.

Dear Tarzana Transplant,
As you noticed, we do things a bit differently here in Canoga Park. While it’s not illegal per se to use the sidewalks lining public streets, it is tacitly discouraged. In fact, many residents insist that walking down a busy street is their constitutional right. (Ha!)

Some trace Canoga Parkians’ practice of eschewing sidewalks in favor of traffic-heavy roadways to a misinterpreted “Take Back Our Streets” initiative from 1998 that was supposed to help combat rampant gang mischievousness. Others point to a significant uptick in people strolling along roads, or road-strolling [known as straatenwandelen in Canoga Park’s Dutch quarter, Little Nieuwenhoornin] beginning in late May when spectators become confused after attending our annual Memorial Day Parade and seeing throngs of people marching down Sherman Way. Then there are those who, aware that Canoga Park’s formidable army of unlicensed street vendors have the right-of-way on public sidewalks, have decided that it’s easier to just walk in the streets rather than have to step aside every ten feet to allow yet another plywood-and-lawn-mower-wheel pork-rind pushcart, or varken winkelwagen, to pass. 

Regardless of how the delightful custom started, one thing’s for sure, Canoga Park’s a city on the move! 

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Canoga Please! Heading home from Costco last week after having used the one membership card everyone in my building shares, I was pushing my double-wide baby stroller down the middle of Variel Avenue toward the psychic readings/daycare facility where I drop off a good number of my kids. I darted out into the middle of the block from between two parked cars, as is my custom, when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a car flew down the street at a terrific speed of probably 25 miles an hour and glanced the edge of my stroller sending my precious, precious cargo flying onto the pavement: groceries everywhere!
I was able to recover most of them, but one five-gallon drum of Clamato was irreparably dented. Can you imagine?!
As it was among a handful of items - canisters of high-end nuts, DVD box sets, blister-packed year’s-supplies of razors, top shelf liquor and small electronics - that I had arranged generally in the shape of a sleeping child and tucked under a baby blanket in my stroller while shopping but had forgotten to pay for at the register, the store refuses to refund me any money towards it nor allow me a free replacement. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Unfortunately, as I was playing Donut Dash on my iPhone when I was clobbered, I did not get a good look at the driver or the vehicle. But I bet they were probably texting - typical! What recourse do I have in this matter? --Vanessa G., Covello Street

Dear Vanessa,

I forwarded the details of your email to the attorneys at Steinmart, Marshall & Korvette who have already secured a settlement for you from Costco for the cost of the tomato & clam broth cocktail plus punitive damages, redeemable from their snack bar in 1/4-pound all-beef hot dogs. 

They are currently working on litigation against everyone else who is liable for your terrible misfortune: the City of Los Angeles, the Canoga Park Friendly Neighborhood Council, any living descendants of the Variel family for whom the street was named where the incident occurred, MushBrain Distractions Inc. (software developers of your donut game); and since you were unable to provide any info regarding the car that hit your stroller, manufacturers of all cars, domestic & foreign. And Pixar, who developed the movie “Cars.” 

Lou Steinmart asks you contact his office immediately with the make of your stroller, so they can be added to the lawsuit, as well as the location of the yard sale where you bought it, so the previous owner can be sued as well. The Law Offices of Steinmart, Marshall & Korvette can be reached at 555-555-5555 (“¡Todos Cincos!” for back-of-bus ad aficionados), or you can walk right down Roscoe Boulevard to their office, across the street from Peppy Donuts. You have rights

--Burton Cantara

Do you have a question about Canoga Park? Email it to us at and it may be answered here. Questions may be edited for brevity or to accommodate photos we've been looking for an excuse to run. Sorry, due to the volume of mail we receive, we cannot respond to every inquiry.

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