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Cleaning Up the Neighborhood

Jo Ann Phillips is making a difference.  And, she’s angry!

Phillips, who has lived in the Scottish Terrace Estates adjacent to Tampa Avenue for 28-years was asked by a friend visiting from Simi Valley what the story was with all the weeds along Tampa.  After all, how could a community of million dollar homes be surrounded by weeds?

Needless to say, Phillips was embarrassed.

Taking a closer look at neighboring communities of Simi Valley, Valencia and the ConejoValley was an eye opener for Phillips; the streets were clean and weed free, and sidewalks were maintained.

Phillips decided to do something, beyond being angry and embarrassed.

She contacted former Councilman Smith’s office for advice.  She only had two options…. do it herself or get the property owners to take responsibility for maintaining the property.  So, Phillips and several volunteers delivered more than 300 letters, advising homeowners that their property line went beyond their fenced yard, extending to the street, and that maintaining it was their responsibility, noting that the sidewalk was in fact on their property but that the city had an easement to use it as such.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of a response.

Phillips decided that the only way the weeds were going to be removed was to do it herself.

Phillips contacted the Northridge West Neighborhood Council, but to no avail until their new president, Tom Johnson, hearing of her efforts, offered to help her organize volunteers and go forward.

With the help of 10 to 15 volunteers, a weekly weed clearing schedule was initiated.  The volunteers came not only from the neighborhood, but from throughout Northridge and from other communities as well.   For nearly a year they met every Thursday and Saturday, from 8am to noon at various locations throughout the community. Ultimately the Saturday cleanup was dropping.

Joining in the effort, the city  provides  trash bags and picks up the trash.  And, with the financial help of the Neighborhood Council, trash cans, rakes, gloves and other supplies have been purchased.

For two years this never-ending effort continues, says Phillips, who is not very optimistic.  After all, neither she nor the other volunteers can do this forever.  With street sweeping cut from every 4-weeks to 15-weeks, tree pruning to every 70 years, and mounting sludge in the storm drains as a result of reductions in manpower in the Sanitation Department (leaving the entire valley with only three men to clean the clogged storm drains), maintaining our community infrastructure seems to be a never ending battle destined to get worse, says Phillips.

Still, Phillips continues on, doing her part to help her community…. But she’s angry. “I want your readers to be as mad as I am about the reduced services with the same taxes.  They need to vote no to tax increase propositions.  This is not a revenue problem; we have a bloated pension and benefits problem.   I’ve lived in my home for 28 years; I grew up in Reseda.  Sadly, we’re considering moving to a place where we won’t feel compelled to do the City’s work.  What type of town requires its citizens to clean gutters?  Quality of life has gone way down hill here in Northridge,” said Phillips.

To find out where the next Clean Sweep location is, find the form on our home page that says “Sign up for our newsletter” and submit your email address.  You will get an email each week with a map of the location.

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