Monday, September 26, 2016

Fancy-Schmancy West Hills Residents Debate Controversial Street Name Change

By Liz Del Cerro, Special to the Quilt


A normally quiet area of West Hills has become Ground Zero for a contentious fight over the name of a street, pitting neighbor against neighbor.

Hillary Drive, a road less than a third of a mile long, is at the center of an increasingly fractious dispute among those living in the area thanks to a small contingent of residents who want to change its name.

“Let’s make West Hills great again,” reads a post on the “Scavenging Coyote Heights”  page of, a private community-based website known for creating arbitrary neighborhood boundaries and then assigning them asinine names. “We should change ‘Hillary Drive’ to ‘Trump Boulevard!!!!!!!!!!’” 

Bill Lowthert, the resident who wrote the suggestion, was immediately pilloried online by 37 people in his close-knit neighborhood, none of whom he has ever met in person.

Hillary Drive street sign in ooh-la-la "exclusive" West Hills prior to the recent controversy. File photo.
“You know, I was completely kidding when I posted that. I thought the excessive punctuation made that clear,” Lowthert, 43, who is registered as an independent voter, told the Quilt. “But the way everyone jumped on me — ‘racist’ this, ‘hateful’ that — so now I say f_ck it, let’s actually change the name! It’ll be bad enough if we have to deal with her in the White House for the next four years. None of us want to be reminded of that every time we drive down our street.

“...Oh, and by the way, I got eleven anonymous emails from people around here who actually support changing it to ‘Trump’ but, surprise!, are afraid to say so publicly.”

Proponents of the name change have taken it upon themselves to attach new signs to the old ones.
"It's confusing," said a lost Papa John's delivery boy. "And this Tuscan Six Cheese is starting to congeal."
Others residents are decidedly against the proposed street name change.

“Look, I speak for all of West Hills when I say none of us are really all that thrilled with Hillary,” says Joyce Chadsey, who has lived on Hillary Drive for the past eight years. “But  Trump? Trump?!  Christ almighty no. And besides, I just spent a fortune on a personalized mailbox from that has my entire street address on it. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to buy another new one.”

Related: Creepy, handsome man in shitty car snapping pictures of West Hills street signs worries local residents.

Hillary Drive doesn't actually look this nice in person, but the lens sure brings in those hills. Staff photo.
Hillary Drive, which is home to 22 houses, runs perfectly straight for the entirety of its approximate 1500 foot length.

“Okay, well, that is ironic,” says Albert Sousa of the Los Angeles Department of Public Works, Street Signs and Drains-to-Ocean Dolphin Stencils Division. “But I think we’ve come up with the perfect compromise: We’d rename Balmoral Lane — which is incredibly crooked — to Hillary Lane. And then that stretch of road where Sherman Way turns into Platt...? People are always speeding on it so it’s obnoxiously loud. It’s by the Bell Creek concrete channel — so it’s butt-ugly. And it’s confusing: Am I on Sherman Way? Am I on Platt? Who knows where the hell I stand! We’ll rename that section Trump Road. That should satisfy all these assholes.”

The ugly, loud, offensive gutter-adjacent stretch of Platt (or is it Sherman Way?) and crooked,
crooked Balmoral (inset) could be renamed to keep West Hills residents' happy.  Staff photos.
Back on Hillary Drive, however, not everyone is thrilled with the current recognition the issue has brought the neighborhood.

“Most of us residents never wanted this kind of attention on what used to be a quiet street,” says Hillary Drive resident Dolores Currier. “So I think our best bet is to just rename it ‘Gary Johnson Avenue’ so we can go back to a life of complete anonymity.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Topanga Village Celebrates One Year Anniversary

By Blythe Moorcraft, Quilt Staff


It may seem hard to believe, but it’s already been one year since the Topanga Village Shopping Center opened here in the West San Fernando Valley.

While nay-sayers initially decried the ambitious project, which saw the closure of the much-missed Costco (at Roscoe & Canoga) to relocate at its current inconvenient clusterf_ck location, or clusterflucation, the Village’s infamous parking fee nightmares in its first few months, increased traffical headaches for drivers attempting to negotiate the stretch of Topanga Canyon Boulevard that borders its west side, and the complete abandonment of the nearby Westfield Promenade (whose few remaining tenants are now presumed dead), the Westfield Corporation soldiered on, and made their retail dream a retail reality, or retailality.

Today, to the delight of countless Village visitors, the bustling shopping mecca features a plethora of stores, shops, shoppes, chic boutiques and eateries as well as other services in a convenient “one-stop” location for both busy Canoga Parkians and even “shopping tourists” (some from as far away as Winnetka). 

Topanga Village as seen from outside its south entrance on a typical, busy weekend afternoon.
Eye-catching arrow designs on ground are decorative as well as functional; helping guide those
piloting automobiles in and out of the bustling agora in a safe and efficient manner. Staff photo.
Whatever tickles ones’ appetital fancy can be found at Topanga Village, from a sandwich jam-packed with fresh fixin’s — available in both six-inch or footlong lengths — at the whimsically-named “Subway,” to an exotic platter of tacos — from the far-away land of Mexico — at "Casa de Tacos," literally “House of Tacos.” 

For diners whose tastes run to things l’Italiano, head over to “Pizzeria,” a pizza-themed restaurant that serves up hand-crafted pizza-pies in a pizzeria-style setting. And those hankerin’ for food inspired by the magnificent country of Asia would do well to try "Yoshinoya." Completely renovated for 2016, the popular beef-bowl restaurant acts as one of the shopping plaza’s main anchor stores (located at the far northwest end of the sprawling complex). 

A renovated Yoshinoya, one of Topanga Village's anchor stores, at its re-grand opening in Feb-
ruary.  Visitors to the iconic restaurant, which specializes in a bowl-based cuisine, report being
bowled over by the tasty and savory fare offered, even if they don't have a coupon. Staff photo. 
After a satisfying meal, many visitors like to relax by stopping at the Village’s official boba purveyor for a delicious boba-based tea, juice, or smoothie, to be enjoyed during a leisurely stroll around the center’s lushly concreted & paved grounds, artistically designed in a four-sided, or square, configuration.

There’s more than food at Topanga Village, though — many head there strictly for the shopping:  Need a can of cat food, a quart of motor oil, or a “scratcher” lottery ticket?  No problem — a miniature market, or mini-mart, resides in the complex, too, offering any number of these and other gift items. And those who slip on a discarded, non-winning scratcher in a puddle of motor oil to fall face-first onto a handy cement parking stop are in luck: Topanga Village even has its own dentist who can fix ‘em up good as new. Insider tip: If there’s a wait, get your hair and or nails done in one of Topanga Village’s many hair & nail salons. They’re easy to find since there’s only one. Or better yet, drop by your helpful, local insurance agent — also located within the Village — to ensure proper coverage for your next slip & fall.

While permanent directory signs have yet to be installed at Topanga Village, this elaborate map
(drawn exclusively for the Quilt by a helpful restaurant employee on his 'fifteen') will help readers
not yet familiar with the popular San Fernando Valley shopping center in visualizing its layout.
Some nay-sayers — perhaps the very same who said nay prior to the mall’s construction — may claim the shopping complex is already showing its age after just one year, but any such minute signs of wear & tear are owed to the fabulous success and popularity of this destination marketplace. Free parking is now available in its expansive parking lot — with nearly three-dozen spaces — making the oft-teeming mall accessible to all even on the busiest shopping days, and a place to see and be seen among the Canoga Park elite.

Correction: It has come to our attention that we somehow conflated the enormous Village at Topanga outdoor mall with Topanga Village, a small shopping center in Canoga Park.
We regret the error.

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Coming up next week in our Living section: 
A fascinating, in-depth look at West Hills’ enormous and extensive 75-acre Fallbrook Center, home to Walmart, Target, Olive Garden, Home Depot, Red Lobster and Old Navy, among many other exclusive shops.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Canoga Park Participates In Traffic Campaign Encouraging Drivers To Do The Unthinkable

By Charlotte Rudnick, Quilt Staff


Canoga Park is among a number of Los Angeles communities participating in a new pilot program aimed at reducing hit and run incidents.

The program, comprised of bus stop ads, billboards and various social media nonsense, challenges drivers to buck traditional thinking and actually stop their vehicle should they hit a pedestrian, cyclist or other vehicle.
Image: Vision Zero Los Angeles.
“Here in Los Angeles, the hit and run capital of the United States, it’s completely counter-intuitive — absolutely unheard of! — to take responsible for one’s actions and actually render aid to, or merely call 911 for, a person or persons one has personally injured however unintentionally,” says Jason Breen of Vision Zero Los Angeles, a traffic safety organization named for the distance a driver can see in front of him with his or her nose buried in a smartphone. “We realize we’re battling an innate concept extremely deep-rooted and hard-wired in the brain of the Los Angeles driver. But we’re hoping we can start to make inroads to change that mindset. However absolutely crazy that may sound.”

Many local hit-and-runners employ a sort of "urban autotomy," to successfully flee the scene of
an accident caused by them by sacrificing automobile parts, much like the blue-tailed skink will
shed its tail when threatened by a predator. Main image: staff photo. Inset: Metatron/Wikipedia
Canoga Park was specifically chosen as a community participant in the public-awareness program due to its quickly becoming the West Valley’s go-to destination for the exciting and fast-paced sport of illegal street racing, as well as for the fact that virtually all stop signs in residential areas are ignored by the car-driving public.

Jason Breen
Vision Zero LA
“Again, we understand that the whole concept of stopping after a collision seems unnatural and wrong. Maybe you just ran down a skateboarder, and you’re sorry and want to pull over, but that line at In & Out isn’t going to get any shorter if you do," Breen says.

“Perhaps you feel fifteen seconds is plenty of time for a stooped-over 85-year old woman pushing her walker while clutching four bags of groceries to get across a six-lane thoroughfare, and once that light turned green, you had the right of way — and besides, Medicare will pay for a new hip if she pulls through. 

“Sure, the enormous force with which you hit that baby carriage sent it flying over a fence and onto someone’s balcony, and you’d like to help, but climbing up there would be trespassing, and besides, ‘The Real’ is starting in like five minutes.

“We understand all that. Of course your natural impulse is to just get the hell out of there as quickly as possible. All we’re asking is — and we know it’s unheard of — to just consider stopping when your abysmal driving skills injure another person. Just consider it. That’s all we’re asking.”

Another local hit & run victim. Many insist a keep right / stop sign combo should have known
better than to stand in the middle of a road in an area where drivers simply don't stop. Staff photo.
“I think it’s great,” says local misanthrope Téodor Pasternak, whose own vehicle was hit by a hit and run driver earlier this year on Owensmouth Avenue. Pasternak, an accountant with Peppy Painting, pulled over and expected the driver of the other vehicle to do the same to survey the damage and exchange insurance information. “Instead, she took off like she was peeling out of the Canoga Park Women’s Club parking lot after a night of hard partying. I managed to get a picture of her car, but there was nothing the police could do. However, I would like to publicly call the driver the c-word. Can I do that here?” [Editor’s note: Eh...    No.]

The alleged vehicle that allegedly struck Canoga Park resident Téodor Pasternak's car before fleeing in
a classic hit-and-run situation by an alleged "total c-word," according to the victim. Photo: T. Pasternak.
Part of Vision Zero’s campaign involves bus stop ads featuring a jarring image depicting the aftermath of a hit and run accident involving a bicycle.

“The [ads] are not so much for folks waiting for the bus, who should be keeping a constant vigil, diligently scanning the roads for speeding, out-of-control vehicles that may be careening right towards them," explains Breen, who heads up Project Zero's safe driver initiative outreach advocate liaison department. "They’re for drivers. We’ve tried to make the text big enough so they might attract drivers’ attention while they’re zipping along, looking for their Pokemons.”

A Vision Zero anti-hit and run bus stop ad in Canoga Park. "We encourage those waiting for the
bus to stand outside the bus stop shelter so our ads are more visible to drivers, and also so they're
not trapped when an out-of-control car comes flying over the curb at them," says spokesman Breen.
Recent studies indicate the typical Los Angeles driver is only glancing up from texting, watching a video, eating a Whopperito, posting a video, or checking in with Facebook to see how many likes their Whopperito video review has gotten, every 6.8 seconds and only then for less than half a second. 

“We know we’re facing an uphill battle — we’ve only got them for that half-second. But we want to make that half-second count,” adds Breen. 

The bus stop ads include a hashtag so that when a driver is done looking up at the road and has resumed undistracted texting, he or she might post something to Twitter or Instagram with #EndHitAndRuns to help get the word out.