Streetscape improvements have emerged as a priority in a $2-million plan to improve downtown Van Nuys.
Although public works improvements are expected to receive the largest allocation in the first year of the Van Nuys Targeted Neighborhood Initiative, streetscape improvements will get the biggest share in the second year.
The targeted area is roughly bounded by Hazeltine Avenue on the east, Oxnard Street on the south, Sepulveda Boulevard on the west and Vanowen Street on the north.
On the whole, residents reacted positively to the budget at a meeting Wednesday night, but they wanted more details on individual items.
"I see it as just seed money, and for that it's great," said Sally James, who lives in the targeted area. "What we were given is just far too general, and I'd like to see the line-item account."
Officials from Mayor Richard Riordan's office promised that all visitors who signed in at the meeting would be mailed a detailed breakdown of the budget. Although specific funding amounts were assigned by the city staff, the budget was based on priorities determined by residents at two previous meetings on the neighborhood initiative.
In a couple of cases, those priorities came under fire.
"This is not a higher-income neighborhood, and we need to make sure we target it to meet the needs of this neighborhood," said Jerome Nilssen, a director of Lutheran Social Services in Van Nuys.
If the budget is approved by the Los Angeles Community Development Department, streetscape improvements, including adding trees, street furniture, sidewalk cleaning and new landscape designs, would receive $596,000 over two years. The budget for public works projects, such as adding speed bumps, stop signs, alley lighting and enhanced walkways, would be $483,600.
In all, the initiative will receive $3 million from a federal block grant for community improvement over the next three years. However, the third year's budget has not been determined.
City officials were very upbeat about progress in Van Nuys.
"We're starting out really strong," said Ron Maben, a city planner in the Van Nuys office. "We have a lot of people and a lot of organizations that are doing things that are starting to coalesce."