The Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils (VANC) held their 16th annual mixer on March 14th, and it was standing-room only! City Attorney Mike Feuer and Councilmembers Paul Krekorian, Bob Blumenfield and Paul Koretz all stopped by to celebrate the 34 Neighborhood Councils of the SF Valley and the winners of the annual VANC “Best Of” Awards.
Many congratulations to this year’s winners! Check out the winning projects and initiatives below:
Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council:
“Best Of…” Taking a Leadership Role to Inspire Stakeholders to Take Action Toward Sustainability and Conservation
The Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council has taken a leadership position incorporating sustainable principles into their meetings and events and inspiring stakeholders.
Their first step in this comprehensive effort was to eliminate recyclable plastic water bottles at meetings, instead encouraging stakeholders to bring reusable PRNC-logo stainless steel tumblers given out at their Earth Day event last year and offering filtered water from a 5-gallon cooler. They also provide vegan options as part of the food provided at board meetings and events so that stakeholders can sample items they might not otherwise try.
Stakeholders are encouraged to add worn-out running shoes to a collection box destined for a recycling effort that turns the footwear into a rubberized material that is used at children’s playgrounds. This was installed at two local parks that were recently refurbished in Porter Ranch.
Their annual Earth Day celebration is held at a local park with no source of electricity. Last year, the board decided to buy a portable solar generator that provides power for all the needs at this event — from the sound system to the popcorn machine — and will be available in case of a disaster in the area. No more rented diesel generator for this sustainably-minded NC.
They also advocate for eliminating gas-powered landscaping equipment, which will create more ozone pollution than all passenger cars in California by 2020. PRNC continues to promote the LADWP Home Energy Improvement Program, providing applications for the LADWP free energy audit of homes along with free low-flush toilets, shower heads, smoke/carbon monoxide alarms, LED batteries and more.
PRNC also worked diligently to remove dead and dying Canary Island pine trees that were planted throughout the North Valley 50-60 years ago. Many of these giant trees have become infested with a bark beetle that spreads from tree to tree, destroying them along the way. Removal of the infested trees is the only way to stop the beetles. The council paid to remove more than 50 of the trees, which become a safety hazard when they fall across streets and walkways. They are continuing long-term efforts to replace these pines with appropriate shade trees to enhance the community and help provide the many benefits of a full tree canopy.
Along the way, PRNC has filed Community Impact Statements on sustainability and environmental issues related to all these efforts to let City Hall know that they are serious about this broad effort.
Using the idea that our efforts to meet our present needs must not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs, PRNC evaluated and followed through on actions they could take to increase sustainability.
Lake Balboa Neighborhood Council
“Best Of…” Outreach: Neighborhood Welcome Letter
Lake Balboa Neighborhood Council is welcoming stakeholders to the community as soon as they move in–literally! With the help of their Land Use Chair, who also happens to be a realtor, Lake Balboa NC is able to obtain County records indicating new property owner stakeholders within the LBNC boundaries.
The Neighborhood Council then uses that information to create address labels to mail the stakeholders a Lake Balboa NC Welcome Letter. The Welcome Letter explains what the NC is, lists the committees, and briefly describes committee accomplishments. The letter also shares the NC website, social media and other contact information, and includes an invitation to come meet the board at an LBNC meeting.
This creative outreach method allows LBNC to reach approximately 30 new property owner stakeholders every month, and it stands out because Lake Balboa NC is able to reach stakeholders as soon as they move into their community, and welcome them in an inviting and informative way.
Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council
“Best Of…” Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness
The Sherman Oaks NC Public Safety Committee, under the leadership of Melissa Menard and Kristen Sales, has focused on Emergency Preparedness and Neighborhood Safety. The Public Safety Committee has effectively and successfully established an Emergency Preparedness program that has reached out, engaged, and trained members of the SONC community to be prepared and capable of responding in the event of a disaster, such as an earthquake, fire, or power outage. They have also been instrumental in addressing crime and safety concerns within the SONC community by promoting Neighborhood Watch programs – strengthening existing programs, and helping start new Neighborhood Watch programs in areas where they didn’t yet exist.
In partnership with LAFD, SONC Public Safety Committee brought four CERT trainings to Sherman Oaks stakeholders – which were attended by over 220 people. They also partnered with the office of Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian to offer several Map Your Neighborhood facilitator training classes locally during the past year.