Friday, April 27, 2007

Only in Los Angeles:
A City of Freaky People, Places & ???

It can only happen in Los Angeles. And I'm oh-so-proud of my fair city. But every now and then (more now than then) vanity and bizarre behavior takes over and our little oasis the the desert becomes, "like totally knarley!" Let me explain. One is a story about "the little city that wanted to be" and the other, well, read on to find out how stanges this place can get.

Lake Balboa is awash with angst as residents living around it find themselves suffering from a bizarre identity crisis. Homeowners in the community near the center of the San Fernando Valley have been stunned to learn that "Lake Balboa" doesn't exist — even though city signs designating that name for the area have been posted for the last five years at their neighborhood's boundaries. The change involved an upscale neighborhood trying to shed what residents consider the unwanted baggage of the older and dumpy community of Van Nuys. Valley Village and West Toluca Lake broke off from North Hollywood, while Valley Glen seceded from Van Nuys and West Hills from Canoga Park. Oh the vanity!

Lake Balboa is a district in the San Fernando Valley region of the City of Los Angeles. It is bordered by the following Los Angeles communities: Encino to the south, Van Nuys to the east, Reseda to the west, and Northridge and North Hills to the north. Lake Balboa does not exist, according to public records and the City of Los Angeles' official records. Adding to the controversy, the real Lake Balboa — a 27-acre Sepulveda Flood Control Basin pond filled with treated wastewater — isn't in Lake Balboa either. Or in Van Nuys, for that matter. It's in Encino. Residents there are none too pleased that Van Nuys homeowners have attempted to appropriate the Lake Balboa name.

The name mix-up (if you can call it that) was discovered when residents of an adjoining residential area petitioned the city to also change their community's name from Van Nuys to Lake Balboa. City leaders acknowledged this week that the Lake Balboa community designation was never officially authorized. Instead, City Councilman Dennis Zine merely instructed street workers in 2002 to post the blue community signs as a courtesy to residents. Now there's a good use of the ol' taxpayer dollar!

The main reason for the change. Their crap doesn't stink and if it don't stink then real estate prices should rise...right? Councilman Richard Alarcon, chairman of the council's Education and Neighborhoods Committee, warned that those who boast of having a Lake Balboa address could risk fraud charges if they list that location when selling their homes. "There is no Lake Balboa, " Alarcon told residents at a community meeting this week.

Again, the bottom line is this: Real estate sales statistics show that homes with a Lake Balboa address have escalated in value at nearly twice the rate of those with Van Nuys addresses. L.A. is famous for renaming neighborhoods, often at the request of residents who believe that living in, say, North Hills rather than Sepulveda might boost property values. There are now nearly 180 designated neighborhoods in L.A. — and there is a growing feeling at City Hall that the name game needs to be tamed.

City rules now require the City Council to approve neighborhood name changes — something that didn't happen in the case of Lake Balboa and perhaps other neighborhoods.

It's far from a new trend — but officials said neighborhood naming is growing in popularity. There are hundreds of the old subdivisions such as Silver Lake, neighborhoods originally built with such names as Ivanhoe Hills, Manzanita Heights, Primrose Hill, Sunset Heights, Capitol Hill, Childs Heights and Crestmont — the tract that advertised itself 80 years ago as "the Smiley Heights of Los Angeles."

Maybe the city should approve my plan for renaming this vain freakin' city. Let's call it Lake Sewer Water. I'll bet people would just run to live there!

And in other news...and this one is bizarre...

Police Nab Half-Naked Suspect After Chase Downtown

Police took an unidentified car theft suspect into custody Thursday afternoon after he led cops on a chase through downtown streets for nearly two hours. The driver was seen often tossing various items out of the vehicle. The items were believed to be clothing and CDs. The chase was insane and went for about two hours...and in LA, a city that loves live-breaking news, it was covered everywhere.

Police tried the PITT manuever at least six times but were unable to stop the suspect's vehicle until the chase went on nearly two hours. The police did give the suspect a lot of leeway during the chase that went fast, slow and every permutation in between.

At the conclusion of the chase, the suspect got out of the vehicle (wearing either black underwear or shorts...I think they were Fruit of the Loom) and he jumped to the ground when a dozen officers wrestled with him on the ground to get him into custody. At one juncture, the suspect was apparently hog tied to get him into an officer's vehicle.

Anchor Harold Greene of CBS-2 said, "This is one of the stranger chases we have a long time. This is one for the record books."

I couldn't have said it better!