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Join the Saving L.A. Protest on Bastille Day

(This article was written for Nina Royal’s North Valley Reporter and published in the current issue distributed this weekend.)

All across Los Angeles, thousands of people — many of whom I’ve gotten
to know over the years — have been fighting City Hall to preserve,
protect or improve their neighborhoods.

These are often long,
drawn-out struggles that test their endurance, their ability to
organize and mobilize their neighbors whether it’s to get a streetlight
or crosswalk, stop or modify a development, crack down on criminals and
nuisances or the hundreds of other issues that come up from time to

Often, they are treated with arrogance bordering on
contempt, drowned in meaningless lip service, beset with bureaucratic
obstacles or overwhelmed by the clout of insiders — the developers,
contractors or the influence peddlers who posture as lobbyists,
lawyers, p.r. types or consultants of one type of another. And, of
course, there’s the unions.

I don’t honestly know how so many never savla.JPGgive up and stay true to their cause.

been fighting City Hall too out of my own sense of right and wrong but
I was also paid for it as an editor at the Daily News. Now that I’m
retired from that role and blogging and involved as a community
activist I can speak openly about my motivation and personal beliefs.

most of the people who don’t get involved, I could go on just fine and
look the other way and pretend not to see the giant flashing billboard
around the corner, the megastore down the street, the McMansion at the
corner or the failure of my neighborhood schools.

In fact, I
do that in a lot of ways but what I can’t stomach is what has happened
to L.A. during the last 30 years, an era in which city government has
become owned and paid for by special interests who have no sense of
purpose beyond their own greed.

The result is L.A. is at the tipping point.

of being under siege because of destructive policies has sent tens of
thousands of decent-paying jobs out to the suburbs or even out of state
and with those jobs have gone the middle-class people who held them and
the opportunity for others to reach the middle class.

The result
is a city that is increasingly rich and poor with a middle class
population that is shrinking. And with the exodus dies the hope that
tomorrow will be a better day.

Most of those who stand up to
City Hall are put down by the ruling elites as NIMBYs, gadflies,
cranks, small-minded little people who stand in the way of progress.
That isn’t my experience, my perception, my belief.

What I see,
the people I meet, who are active in their communities as volunteers,
members of service clubs, political groups, neighborhood organizations
and the local business community are actually people who have a larger
sense of themselves and a vision of L.A. that is greater — greater by
far — than most of the people with money, power and access.

is a city of light and dark, good and evil, a place where the dreams of
absolute freedom to be oneself, to be a star, to reinvent and transform
oneself brings people from all over the world in pursuit of something
great. Only fools would endure the  hardship and temptations of L.A. 
without some kind of dream.

Sharing in greatness is my dream of L.A.. being part of something greater than myself.

feel I’m the luckiest guy in the world in having found that to a degree
that’s more than I had hope for when I arrived in 1980.

often those whose dreams come alive — the stars, the wealthy, the
powerful, the enormously successful — look down from high on all the
ordinary joes and janes.

But the dream that made this country is all I believe in today, all I ever believed, even when I lost all other faith: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of

what being an American means to me, and I’ve met people all over the
world that believe in that, that live that, whatever their race,
religion, nationality or cicumstance. That’s my religion, my nation, my

I settled here, raised my son, found happiness , because
L.A. was the one place on earth where that dream is ready to come true,
the dream of people living freely and equally, and achieving a measure
of harmony that leaves no one out.

The moment is ripe to make
dramatic changes in the way we live, in the way we treat each other. A
wonderful group of committed people is coming together to help organize
the Saving L.A. Protest at noon on July 14, Monday,, at City Hall. And
they’re ready to follow up by creating the Saving L.A. Project, a
permanent organization of concern citizens.

There is no
simple agenda beyond wanting a seat at the table of power for the
people. There is no simple demand. There is no set of conditions.

can only speak for myself and all I want is to live in a great city, a
green city, a city that is a beacon to the world of what free people
can achieve when they love the place they live in and work together to
make it better, with love and respect for all.

In the face of global warming, and endless war and strife, is it too much to ask that we would act like civilized human beings?

But I’ve reached a point in life where I’m either going to help make
the world I believe in come to life, or I”m going to find a quet corner
of the planet where I can live out my days in peace and happiness.

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8 Responses to Join the Saving L.A. Protest on Bastille Day

  1. anonymous says:

    Run, Ron, Run!

  2. ellen vukovich says:

    I am one of those that Ron described – an activist that doesn’t give up and stays true to “her” cause. Perhaps, it would help if I told how I got hooked into this community activism thing.
    I couldn’t find a parking space in front of my own house. Nearby business and restaurant patrons and employees were parking the equivalent of 24/7 on my street. Thanks to being a member of Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association, I soon learned that my neighbors were also fed-up. They were tired of wall to wall cars, trash littering their yards, urine and condoms on their lawns, and witnessing a few x-rated sights too. As a result, we contacted our then council members, Zev Yaroslavsky and Michael Woo, who helped our efforts to establish a preferential parking district. (Bad title, by the way).
    It took about two long years, and it got pretty dirty too. The restaurants and businesses claimed we would put them out of business because residential street parking would be eliminated or restricted. (That never happened). They said there was no available parking (we did a survey with then council deputies, and found there was plenty of parking available nearby). But, it was worth fighting for – besides having support of both council offices before the City Council. There was a good compromise in the end for all. No parking in the evenings, but 2 hours in the daytime.
    As a result of that experience, I realized that if you just hang on long enough, you can get protections and improvements for your neighborhood. Of course, you do have to master city doublespeak and understand how bureaucrats make city policies and procedure!
    Since those almost 20 years ago (sound of screaming accompanying text), I have participated in many community and city based issues. I have also taken time away mostly because development and traffic problems weren’t the priorities they now are.
    In fact, development slowed down sufficiently that there was no need to keep minding City Hall. (Talk about the good ol’ days!).
    However, in the last 5 years (no matter the economy) it has become apparent to me that the only way I will be able to keep living in Los Angeles is to stay the course by spending lots of precious time and energy inspiring and enlightening others. None of this work is easy, that’s for sure. And, like Ron, I know that I can always pack it in. However, before those bags come out, there remains some unfinished business…the city hired an expert to evaluate preferential parking districts…some are now poised for changes thanks to the findings. Yes, “it” never ends….

  3. KarenZ says:

    “Of course, you do have to master city doublespeak and understand how bureaucrats make city policies and procedure!”
    Ellen, when are you going to offer another one of your afternoon crash courses at Valley College on ‘How to become a community activist’?

  4. Sandy Sand says:

    Please consider joining the community of writers at
    The most frequent question I hear asked of talk radio hosts and in comments to columns is “what can I do to change things?
    I know your advice on being an activist would warmly welcomed.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Run, Ellen, Run!

  6. neighborhoodwatchdog says:

    Ellen you are fantastic! Thank you for pointing out one of the most important factors for a livable L.A. and that is citizen commitment.
    Our neighborhood watch created a phone list so we have quick access to the telephone numbers of the agencies we need to commuicate with most often. It might help your neighborhood organization as well. Here it is:
    PUBLIC SAFETY Emergencies only call 911
    LAPD CITYWIDE NON EMERGENCY & from cell phones 877.275.5273
    North Hollywood Div. Senior Lead Office 755.7679
    Basic Car 15A33 Senior Lead Officer Christopher Rowland CELL 634.0809
    North Hollywood Station Desk 623.4016
    Narcotics 623.4104 Vice (alcohol, adult business complaints) 623.4100
    Special Enforcement (anti-gang) Unit TEL 623.4051
    Tagger Task Force TEL 623.4071 Det. Subia
    Van Nuys Div. Senior Lead Office TEL 374.1995 Fax (and for Capt. Miller) 374.9610
    Basic Car 9A49 Senior Lead Officer (Interim) cell 731.2558
    Basic Car 9A59 Senior Lead Officer Anthony Cabunoc cell 731.2560
    Basic Car 9A65 Senior Lead Officer Lucas Hamilton cell 731.2562
    Van Nuys Division Station Desk 374.9500
    Narcotics Det. Burns 374.1903 Det. Herschcowitz 374.1907
    Vice (alcohol, adult business complaints). 756.8385
    Special Enforcement (anti-gang) Unit TEL 374.0070
    Tagger Task Force Officer Jason Armendariz, TEL 374.0073 email
    Anti Terrorism hotline 877.284.7328
    Valley Traffic Div. for speeding, rolling stops, etc. 756.8381 fax 756.9329
    City Atty’s Neighborhood Prosecutors Tamar Galatzan (Van Nuys Div.) and
    Brian Sottile (North Hollywood Div.) TEL 374.6837
    We Turn In Pushers anonymous tipline 800.473.7847 reward available
    California Highway Patrol NON-EMERGENCY 800.835.5247
    L.A. Unified Schools Police 213.625.6631
    Los Angeles Valley College (Sheriff) 947.2911
    Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority Rangers (Tujunga Wash Park between Oxnard St and Vanowen St.) EMERGENCY TEL 310.456.7049
    Supervising Ranger Fernando Gomez TEL 310.858.7272 ext. 141
    Orange Line (MTA) Sheriff, routine calls 323.563.5000
    Park Rangers & General Services Dept. Police Los Angeles City TEL 323.913.7390
    ABANDONED VEHICLES 800.222.6366 Operator needs license #, make and model, color and address with cross street & ZIP code.
    Animal Shelter and abuse citywide 888.452.7381 all animal problems.
    Barking dog complaints, write to East Valley Shelter, 14409 Vanowen Street, Van Nuys 91405
    Building & Safety Call 311 to report violations.
    Housing Dept. Toll Free 866.557.7368
    PARKING ENFORCEMENT 752-5100 Questions for Parking Enforcement 756.8408
    Station 39: (from Greenbush Av. West) 756.8639 Station 102: (East of Greenbush) 756.8602
    UTILITIES AND SERVICES call 311 (or 818.756.8121 outside of L.A.)
    Wendy Greuel 2nd District TEL 755.7676 FAX 755.7862
    6350 Laurel Cyn. Bl. #201 North Hollywood, 91606
    Valley Glen Deputy Laura Davidson TEL 755.7676
    Mayor Antonio Villarigosa S F Valley OffIce TEL 778.4990 FAX 778.4995
    County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsly Valley Office TEL 901.3831 FAX 997.8196
    Deputy Lori Wheeler and Deputy Benita Trujillo
    Valley Glen Neighborhood Assoc.
    L.A. County Services Call 211
    ENVIRONMENT, HEALTH DEPT. County Health Svcs. 902.4460 After Hrs. Call 211
    Complaints involving single or multifamily residences 902.4470
    Smoking vehicles 800.288.7664
    Watershed Protection Division, Hazardous Materials on Public Property 800.974.9794
    GAS COMPANY 800.427.2200
    GRAFFITI REMOVAL Use the automated system at or CALL 311
    New Directions for Youth 375.1000 FAX 787.4389
    CBS/Viacom Outdoor TEL 323.276.7313
    Clear Channel Outdoor TEL 323.731.5111
    L. A. Valley College Plant Operations 947.2457
    SPARC mural Tujunga Wash TEL 310.822.9560
    ORANGE LINE Marta Mack Community Relations Manager 213.922.2844 (email preferred)
    RECREATION AND PARKS Maintenance 756.8192 Emergencies call Park Rangers
    Motor oil and Haz Waste information. 800.988-6942
    SEWERS & STORM DRAINS 800.974.9794 OR 213.485.7575
    SHOPPING CARTS 800.252.4613
    SOCIAL SERVICES Call 911 for emergencies. 211 for Social Services
    Los Angeles City Homeless Authority 213.683.3333 “Response Team”
    STREET LIGHT REPAIRS Concrete or steel poles Call 311
    Follow up with Bureau of Street Lighting TEL 213.978.3231 On wood poles DWP 800.821.5279
    STREET SERVICES Weekdays 800.996.2489 Call 311 for after hours emergency
    email Service request form:
    CalTrans 24 hour dispatch 213.897.0383
    TRAFFIC SIGNALS & SIGNS (VALLEY ONLY) 752.5100 No answer or outside the Valley call 311
    TUJUNGA WASH County Public Works 800.675.4357

  7. Nina Royal says:

    You can dial 311 for any of the city services list above.
    You can dial 211 for any of the county services
    It is much faster because they connect you and they also keep track of the calls.

  8. Thank you for this coolpost.

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