The Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils (VANC) represents the 34 councils in the Valley.

Bellow are the 2017 “Best of …” awards winners.

Lake Balboa Neighborhood Council Health and Public Safety Committee

    VANC “Best of….Focusing on Ensuring the Safety and Well- Being of All Members of the Community.”

A short  while ago L.A. Mayor Garcetti and LAFD Chief Terrazas issued a City-wide plea to encourage all citizens, residents and stakeholders  regarding  the critical importance of learning the practice of CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) to save lives during a sudden cardiac arrest emergency.

Each day, more than 1,000 persons fall victim to Sudden Cardiac Arrest and more than 90% do not survive the trip to the hospital. Four out of five Sudden Cardiac arrest emergencies happen at home. So, chances are that the life you’re trying to save will be a parent, spouse, grandparent, child or friend. If the victims receive CPR treatment during the critical time it takes for EMS and Paramedics to arrive, we can double or even triple the survival rate. We realize that it’s all about buying time to save a life – before paramedics arrive.

In 2016, the Health & Public Safety Committee of the Lake Balboa NC began an innovative program and set an ambitious goal to help improve the quality of life in their community by helping to improve survival rates of victims of Sudden Cardiac Arrest. The Council partnered with the well – known American Heart Association health care training organization to provide FREE community CPR training for all residents and stakeholders, not only from the Lake Balboa community, but throughout the San Fernando Valley.

The Committee established a regular monthly schedule of free community training classes at the Van Nuys Flyaway designed to attract and bring in community members from all over the Valley. The class was structured to include easy to learn CPR/AED/First Aid training for both youth and adults. The  Optional 2-year CPR certification was also available for those who wanted or needed to show proof of training. Notice of the training class was posted in local social media as well as local newspapers.

In addition, the Council also collaborated with other NC councils, such as Northridge West , and successfully provided education and training to community residents, educators and stakeholders in the Northridge area as well.

The Lake Balboa NC Health & Public Safety Committee also led the way in successfully gaining L.A. City Council support of AB 1719 which was signed into law in September 2016 which now requires mandatory hands-on CPR training for all High School/Charter School students (grade 9-12) as a graduation requirement. Passage of this new law helps to guarantee the next generation of first responders.

In 2016, the Committee successfully trained over 100 LAUSD administrators, staff and school parent center coordinators in both LAUSD District NE and NW. They also trained and certified over 100 West Valley LAPD Cadets to be first responders.

As a result of the Lake Balboa Health & Public Safety Committee’s Free Community CPR program, well over 500 people were trained and certified in 2016.

Lake Balboa Neighborhood Council’s goal is  to continue to bring key information, education and service to Lake Balboa to help ensure the safety and well being of all members of their community.


Northridge West Neighborhood Council

VANC “Best of… Award for Collaboration with the City and Protecting the Environment”.

   Northridge West Neighborhood Council listened to the outcries of its stakeholders who have lamented for many years about the dying trees on the Tampa Medians, a stretch of six street medians one mile long, containing 62 trees. Last year the council spent $3650 to remove dead trees that succumbed to the drought.

This was a project that was too big for the neighborhood council  to do by itself, and they couldn’t, as the medians are City owned.  At the request of stakeholders, a committee met with Bureau of Street Services, Division of Urban Forestry, to develop a plan to save the trees on the medians.

During the process there were numerous phone calls and emails between the team members and Urban Forestry Manager Hector Banuelos, working on coordinating the details regarding repair of infrastructure that Urban Forestry would provide and the technical support of requirements, specifications and drawings that Northridge West needed. The help of DONE’s Analyst Jeff Brill was also critical to the successful outcome.

Urban Forestry approved the plan to install a drip system to save the remaining trees .The idea for the drip system was inspired by suggestions from stakeholders who were involved with the council’s committees and attended the meetings with Urban Forestry.

Thanks to the cooperation from the Urban Forestry team, they were able to work collaboratively; Urban Forestry provided the infrastructure and technical support to help obtain bids for the drip irrigation system to sustain the health of the trees.

Work has started on the installation. The impact to the community is a drip irrigation system that will irrigate the existing mature trees on the Tampa Medians in Northridge.  This stretch of medians represent the largest visible open space in Northridge with more than 50,000 cars passing it each day .As the gateway to Porter Ranch and Northridge, and the Northridge Mall, dead trees and weeds growing waist high did not make a good impression for those entering or leaving the community.

The drip system project supports the Mayor’s goal of reducing the average temperature by three degrees in Los Angeles by adding shade. Carol Bornstein, director of the Nature Gardens at the L.A. County Natural History Museum said ,“Shade from broad canopy trees reduces the urban heat island effect cooling our streets, vehicles, people, pets, and wildlife. These trees reduce also reduce energy costs when properly sited and pruned.  …the cooling effect of a single mature, large healthy tree is equivalent to ten room size air conditions operating 20 hours a day.

Sun Valley Area Neighborhood Council                      

VANC “Best of… Award” for Civic Engagement

How can a Neighborhood Council mobilize almost 1,000 people to help its community?

   The Sun Valley Area Neighborhood Council (SVANC) took on the “Clean Streets Challenge “to create not just clean streets, but to REACH OUT AND ENGAGE their COMMUNITY.  992 people participated in the Challenge.

SVANC Partnerships provided leadership that made everyone proud throughout Sun Valley and beyond. All the local major Waste and Recycling businesses, many pro-active small businesses, City agencies and services, the LAPD and Cadets, the Boy Scouts, local Churches and Schools all worked with the community and all donated generously.

The Council decided to accept the Clean Streets Challenge in August.   Its first thought was how to engage the broadest community participant  base. They decided to attack this problem on four fronts.

1) Block captains: Coordinated requests for trash cans and alerts in their areas for reporting via the My311 app. Petitions were prepared, circulated and submitted. The app is used to alert the City to problems and request city services. It uses GPS to pinpoint where help is needed.

2) Engage school children and their parents:  Principals and teachers at Sun Valley elementary schools were asked to involve their students in a special coloring/drawing contest. Three schools responded; 363 entries were submitted. The First-Place drawing became the poster for the November 5 cleanup. All finalists received prizes and the teacher of the class that the winner came from received $100 to be used for her students.

3) Engage young peopleteenagers and up – who are frequent users of Smart phones to use the MyLA 311 app. To this end, SVANC enlisted a group of students from John H. Francis Polytechnic High School (Poly) and Sun Valley Boy Scout Troop 79. A core group was trained and then they helped teach fellow students and friends how to use the app. Students were rewarded, for loading their app, with a treat from an ice-cream cart that the neighborhood council rented.

4) Before CLEAN THAT CORRIDOR DAY, the Council asked Sun Valley Waste companies to partner with the community. They got pledges for two skip loaders and a Bobcat loader. Another partner pledged to process the tons of waste through its recycling facility. Volunteer groups provided more than 140 people,  and community benefactors came through with food for all those volunteers. No one went hungry, and all worked hard on the project.

Here are some treasured memories that will continue for years for so many in the community:

  • 6-year-old Elijah, winner of the coloring contest, having his picture taken with 95-year-old Anthony Severa, who asked to have his picture taken with the “celebrity” Elijah.
  • Boy Scouts unloading equipment for others.
  • Church ladies constantly checking to make sure food was plentiful.
  • A Waste Management manager pushing the wheelchair of a youth community volunteer

Sylmar Neighborhood Council

VANC “Best of… Award” for Outreach to Schools

   Pencil in this idea when thinking about Outreach for your council!

Sylmar Neighborhood Council has done some great outreach over the years. Since last May, Sylmar has literally “taken it to the streets.”  From community cleanups to community mixers to community walks to community town halls to stakeholder recognition to the annual “Make Your Horse Count” event, Sylmar NC has extended its influence and presence to every corner of the community.

But it’s not just the number of events that is impressive. Sylmar NC has reached out to partner with all their local schools to show they are serious about their motto to “bring the community together.” With about 90,000 residents, Sylmar neighborhood council has used the schools as force multipliers for informing the public about the Council, its mission, and its activities.

One of their most original ideas was a Pencil Project. Under the leadership of Vice President Maria Silva, an educator herself, Sylmar NC provided each Sylmar student in grades 3 to 5 with a green Sylmar Neighborhood Council pencil, accompanied by a Sylmar NC brochure to take home and share with the student’s family. The result: 3,500 students and their families are now familiar with the Sylmar Neighborhood Council.

Another project that generated enormous good will in a part of Sylmar that the Council has struggled to reach was “Beautification Day” at Osceola Elementary School. This event brought students, teachers and community leaders together to landscape a barren slope of land on the campus, creating a pleasant outdoor space. In the words of one retired teacher who stopped by to lend a helping hand, “I worked here for so many years and I can tell you this is something I am very emotional about because Osceola just needed someone to care.”

At a town hall and resource fair last fall, LAUSD Board Member Monica Ratliff said, “I have learned a lot from the Sylmar Neighborhood Council because what I have seen them do in the community is amazing.”

Sylmar’s active approach to Outreach has attracted attention from other NCs across the San Fernando Valley. Sylmar NC has partnered with local schools to amplify its message, energize residents and inspire stakeholders. Along the way, they also may be preparing the next generation of leaders.

Tarzana Neighborhood Council Animal Welfare Committee

 VANC “Best of….Engaging the City to Save the Lives of Hundreds of Animals”

The Tarzana Neighborhood Council has had an Animal Welfare Committee for four years. The committee was originally formed by Deanna Dylan Scott. It now is led by Jeff Mausner who has demonstrated the knowledge and passion for animal welfare by leading the committee to support Rockin’ Rescue, an animal adoption center located on Ventura Blvd. in Woodland Hills, and he has inspired other neighborhood councils to form Animal Welfare Committees as well.

The Tarzana Neighborhood Council Animal Welfare Committee helped to institute programs at the City’s West Valley Animal Shelter to cut down the killing of dogs and cats during major influx periods. This included a Temporary Animal Foster Program for cats and dogs, using kennels that had not been in use for some time.  Over the last July 4th no healthy adoptable dogs or cats were killed at the West Valley Shelter, in comparison to July 4th 2015, when dozens of healthy adoptable dogs were killed at the West Valley Shelter because of lack of space.

The Committee worked with Councilmember Bob Blumenfield’s office and  helped to save the lives of dozens of dogs and cats. Some of these measures were also adopted at other City shelters, after they were implemented at the West Valley Shelter.

The Tarzana Neighborhood Council helped Rockin’ Rescue obtain zoning variances so that the adoption center could continue to operate. In January, the South Valley Area Planning Commission on an appeal filed by Jeff Mausner, as an individual,  unanimously voted to grant the variances necessary for Rockin’ Rescue to continue to operate on Ventura Blvd in Woodland Hills. Over 5,500 people signed petitions and over 100 people  attended the hearing to show their support. Other neighborhood councils appeared at the hearing and Councilmember Blumenfield and State Senator Henry Stern also supported Rockin’ Rescue.

To ensure that no other Animal Rescue Organizations will have to go through a similar zoning ordeal, the Tarzana Neighborhood Council Animal Welfare Committee suggested that the L.A. Municipal Code be amended to specifically allow Animal Rescues to operate in commercial zones, without the necessity of a variance. On January 19, Councilmember Blumenfield introduced a Motion to that effect .  The Motion was referred to the City Council PLUM Committee. The Council File is CF 17-0079.

The Animal Welfare Committee was instrumental in getting the City to issue a Request for Proposal for a Rescue Organization to run the abandoned South LA Animal Shelter.  The former South LA Shelter has been closed and unused for many years. This facility can hold hundreds of dogs and cats. What a waste for the building to be sitting there abandoned when dogs and cats are killed because of lack of space in other City shelters.

Jeff Mausner, the Chair of the Animal Welfare Committee and the guiding light at Rockin’ Rescue, contacted Councilmember Herb Wesson’s Planning Deputy since the building is located in Councilmember Wesson’s district. A meeting was held and Councilmember Wesson attended and the project was approved and is now called the Jefferson Park Animal Shelter. This Shelter will literally save the lives of animals each year and benefit the area where it is located. Jeff is actively pursuing a rescue operation to submit a proposal and to run the Shelter.

The Committee also worked with General Services Department to have delivery of trucks to the Animal Services Department with air conditioning in the compartments for the animals.

The Animal Welfare Committee Liaison is working with LA Animal Services to implement NO-KILL by the end of the year. A meeting was held to discuss implementing specific proposals for achieving No-Kill.

It is my honor to present Jeff Mausner and the Tarzana Neighborhood Council Animal Welfare Committee ,the VANC “Best of… Award” for recognizing the responsibility of City government to deal with animal issues.