Vote for Your Neighborhood Council Nov. 1 SEE BELOW

Chatsworth Neighborhood Council
The Chatsworth Roundup
Breaking News from your Chatsworth Neighborhood Council
Sunday, October 26, 2008
In This Issue
  • Free Community Picnic
  • Sesnon Fire Aid Center Opens
  • Earthquake Links
  • Browns Canyon Neighbors Come to the Rescue
  • Are You Read for the 'Big One'?
  • Take 2 Online Surveys
  • Action Calendar
  • Greetings!

    This Is Your Local Chatsworth Election;
    Vote Saturday, Nov. 1

    How you vote on Nov. 1 will affect the way the City of Los Angeles responds to stakeholder needs in Chatsworth.  The more votes, the more clout at City Hall.  This election to fill 10 Chatsworth Neighborhood Council seats is local.  The national election will come a few days later.

    When's the balloting? Vote on Saturday, Nov. 1. Balloting will be 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. at the Chatsworth Train Depot, 10038 Old Depot Plaza Road. Unlike national and state elections, advance registration is not required.  Just register at the polling place, or fill out this form and bring it with you to save time. There is no provision for absentee ballots. So come out and elect your representatives for the 2008 - 2012 Board of Directors.

    Who can vote? If you live, work, own property, board a horse in Chatsworth, or declare a stake in the neighborhood and affirm a factual basis for it, and you are at least 18 years of age on Saturday, Nov. 1, then YOU can vote to fill the 10 at-large seats on the board of directors.

    Who are the candidates?

    Here's an alphabetical list:

  • Kamesh Aysola
  • Judith Daniels
  • Vernalie Deirmenjian
  • Diana Dixon-Davis
  • Janice Eddy-Languen
  • Mary Kaufman
  • Hember Maldonado
  • Joseph A. Martin
  • Richard Nadel
  • Art Schlefstein
  • Robert Searcy
  • Andre van der Valk
  • Linda van der Valk
  • Lucie Volotsky

  • How can I learn about them? As they submit their candidate statements, you will find them here.

    In addition, there will be notebooks at the polling place with each candidate's campaign flyer available for your review.

    But why should I vote?  If you are concerned about changes in the unique character of our community, you can have a voice. Are development, traffic, open space, public safety, seniors, parks and equestrians among your hot-button issues? Then join the Stakeholders of the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council and help us work with the City of Los Angeles to utilize available city services and make Chatsworth an even better place to live and work.

    If you have additional questions please email or call (818) 464-3511.

    Join Our Mailing List!


    Free Picnic to Honor Our Community

    Dear Friends:

    I would like to invite you to a very special community picnic to show our appreciation to the public safety officers, community members, businesses and neighborhood groups that came together during recent disasters.

    The San Fernando Valley experienced two disasters recently - the Chatsworth Metrolink crash that killed 25 people and injured over 130, and the wildfires that charred nearly 20,000 acres, destroyed dozens of homes and killed two people. We have not had a shock this painful to our community since the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.

    We never want to experience this kind of tragedy. But when disaster strikes, one can only hope to see the kind of response we had from public safety officers, community members, Neighborhood Councils, local businesses and community groups during these disasters.

    Their speed, skill, selflessness, bravery, generosity and ability to work together showed the true character of our community. The word "hero" is used too casually in society today. A hero is a person who drops everything and puts themselves in harm's way to help a complete stranger. In addition to our police officers and firefighters, hundreds of local community heroes gave aid to the injured and comforted families without hesitation.

    Please join us, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Councilmembers Greig Smith and Richard Alarcón, for our "Public Safety and Community Appreciation Picnic" to show our gratitude to the public safety officers, community members, businesses and neighborhood groups that came together during recent disasters.

    Public Safety and Community Appreciation Picnic
    Sunday, Nov. 2, 1 - 4 p.m.
    Holleigh Bernson Park, located at 20500 Sesnon Blvd. in Porter Ranch.

    This event will include free food for all, entertainment, children's activities, police and fire vehicles, helicopter flyovers, public safety booths and more.

    To see the flyer for the event, click here.
    For a map and directions, click here.

    For more information call (213) 473-7012 or email

    Greig Smith
    Councilman, Twelfth District


    Assistance Center Opens in Chatsworth

    A local assistance center for victims of the Sesnon Fire has opened in Chatsworth.

    The center at 21415 Plummer St. will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays.

    The center, to be operated in cooperation with the state's Office of Emergency Services, will serve as a one-stop source for disaster relief services, including information on how to replace records lost in the fire, file insurance claims and apply for assistance and housing, according to county Supervisor Michael Antonovich.
    About the Council

    The mission of the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council is to provide an open forum for public discussion of issues concerning the Chatsworth community and to facilitate communication between the City of Los Angeles and Community Stakeholders.

    Map of Chatsworth Neighborhood Council boundaries.  Click here.

    When We Meet

    All volunteer committees meet monthly.  Meetings begin at 7 p.m. at the Chatsworth Train Depot at  10038 Old Depot Plaza Road, Chatsworth, unless otherwise noted.

  • 1st Wednesday:
  • CNC Board at Lawrence Middle  School.

  • 2nd Tuesday:
  • Beautification.

  • 3rd Tuesday:
  • Equestrian.

  • 3rd Wednesday:
  • Enhancement.

  • 3rd Thursday:
  • Land Use.

  • 4th Tuesday:
  • Outreach.
  • 4th Wednesday:
  • Public Safety & Transportation at Rockpointe Club House, 22300 Devonshire St.

  • Election Committee, TBA

    Check the CNC website for last-minute changes.

  • Quick Links
    Quick Phones

    Neighborhood Council

    (818) 464-3511

    West Valley Alliance (graffiti removal)
    (818) 885-8885

    Police Tipoff Line
    (818) 832-0563

    L.A. City Infoline

    City Services

    Zero Waste
    The City has a Zero Waste team soliciting opinions on how to reduce solid waste. Find out how you can participate. Zero waste brochure.

    Bureau of Sanitation
    The BOS is working to convert our solid waste into renewable energy. Read the brochure.

    Be Prepared for
    the 'Big One'

    This is the 150th anniversary of the last great San Andreas Earthquake. Dare to Prepare is a campaign to prepare for the next big quake. Find out what you can do at the Dare to Prepare site. Read the LAFD letter.

    Free Shade Trees
    You can get free shade trees through DWP. Read about the Trees for a Green LA program

    DWP Residential Energy and Water Saving Programs
    The DWP offers incentives to recycle your old refrigerator and buy an energy efficient one. Other appliance incentives are available too. Receive $100 towards an ultra low flush toilet. Read about DWP rebates.
    Online Service Requests
    You can place service requests for street repair, tree trimming, downed trees or palm fronds in the street online.
    This is a service provided by the  Bureau of Street Services.

    Property Activity Reports
    Did you know that you can view all permit requests for a property online? Click here to access the City's online reporting system. Enter in the address and view the permits.
    This is a service provided by the Department of Building and Safety.
    --Adapted from the PRNC newsletter.
    Earthquake Links

    CNC Contact

    Chatsworth Neighborhood Council
    Post Office Box 3395
    Chatsworth, CA 91313-3395

    Ph:  (818) 464-3511
    Fax: (818) 464-3585


    Complete CNC activities calendar:

    Complete community events calendar:


    "It's really bad, the fire is everywhere, I don't know if the horses made it, I don't know where Cynthia is, I couldn't see anything--there was so much smoke."
    -- Normie Gagerman

    Liz Finder's horse stall

    The remains of Liz Finder's stall and tack shed at Where Trails Begin Ranch are a burned ruin.

    Neighbors Come to Rescue
    as Wildfire Sweeps Canyon

    By Susan Splawski

    THE latest fire in Browns Canyon was fought by ranch owners and boarders instead of professional firefighters.

    I interviewed the owners, leasers and boarders who are stakeholders in the canyon to compile my facts. The outcome of the research was grim. Until approximately 8 p.m. fire trucks carrying water were extremely scarce.

    There are four large ranches and three private homes in the canyon--home to approximately 30 residents, 200 riding horses, 75 cows, 20 ranch and house dogs, 60 hunting hounds cared for in kennels, and numerous cats, peafowl and chickens. The 30 residents who live full-time in the canyon care for these domestic animals.
    Losses were devastating:·       
    • 1 home burned to the ground with the two house dogs trapped inside
    • 1 horse burned alive in its barn
    • 1 horse and 1 6-week old calf dead of related causes       
    • Loss of barns, stalls, storage sheds, a cabin, a community bathroom, tack rooms, tack and barn equipment
    • Trucks, backhoes and various farm equipment
    • Loss of pasture grass and fencing for cattle       
    • Loss of business and livelihood
    • Destroyed trailer homes
    • Burned horse trailers
    • Danger from an exploding propane tank
    • Loss of livestock hay

    The ranch hit hardest by the Oct. 13 fire was Where Trails Begin, owned and operated by Patrick Flannery and managed by Jan Eddy. When I saw Jan around 3:30 p.m. on Monday she was blackened by ash and soot, her eyebrows were singed off her face, hands cracked with dirt, and her normally pretty blond hair was standing straight up from the fierce winds and debris. We had little time to talk as she was hard at work putting out hotspots and caring for her animals.

    Days later she described the morning of the fire. She said there were no fire trucks carrying water to the ranch to put out blazes. But she was grateful for the two fire department ground crews numbering about 25 individuals, even though they only had picks and shovels with which to work.

    They helped with the smaller fires and moving the horses to a safe zone but could do nothing to put out the burning barn that killed one horse.  Jan could not get Dante out, the only horse that was too terrified to leave the burning barn, and she has the horrible memory of the horse trapped inside.

    She said, "We were neglected, I watched helicopters drop water on two houses, a drop could have done a lot for us here."

    Across the street at 12020 Browns Canyon Rd. was the home of Joanie Carey. Joanie's property and horse had been spared by sheer luck as she had no help from the fire department. The 27-year resident used her garden hose to fend off flaming debris as she watched her back acreage go up in flames.

    There was no luck for Joanie's long-time neighbors, Mary and Bob Pierson, at 12040 Browns Canyon. They lost their entire home and their house dogs. Rubble and ash is all that is left.

     Misty Hollow Ranch, owned and operated by partners Dave Wendler and Cynthia Shea, had a fire truck equipped with water for a brief period of time during the height of the fire storm. Cynthia, a well-known horse and hound trainer, said the fire truck was called off to go elsewhere but briefly complied with her plea to hose off the roof of her and Dave's house before he left.

    This ranch was in extreme danger as the 70 mile-an-hour winds were blowing fire off the hills and mesa downhill to their three barns. If the barns caught fire the whole ranch would have been lost. Dave, a seasoned rancher and Master Houndsman for West Hills Hounds, had weathered many fires in Browns Canyon and in Montana where fire consumed his hunting lodge.  He had been preparing for the fire season for weeks, cutting back brush, and moving mounds of dirt around to create fire breaks in key areas. Dave's planning was not enough to keep the flying flames from lighting structures and trees.

    Before fierce winds blew the firestorm any closer, Cynthia started moving horses out of the upper pastures and corrals, which were first in line of danger, taking them down the steep dirt driveway to the safe zone: the sand riding arena. The dirt, sand, and debris were blowing into her eyes as she moved horses six at a time.   The sprinklers were on all around the arena as well as the hay barn. Anyone who was there grabbed horses from corrals and barns and put them in the arena.
    The ranch was so smoke-filled it was impossible to see beyond a few feet, but all 60 horses were put in the relative safety of the arena and lower corrals.  Once the horses were safe Cynthia went back to work protecting the hounds in their kennels and the wooden buildings from the fire.  She could have used some foot crews but instead had only Dave, her ranch hand Hector, her brother Chris Shea, and a few boarders at the barn to put out the rapidly spreading fires.

    Horse-owner Carol later told me, she and Chris manned the hoses at the upper barn. Their job was to catch the burning embers as they flew down the hill and put them out before they could ignite the wood barn. Cynthia drove back and forth on her quad vehicle between her house and the hound kennels using the hoses to put out anything flaming. Dave and Hector protected the full hay barn adjacent to the horse-filled arena.

    Losses were extensive. A six-week-old calf died of smoke inhalation and some of the barn cats are missing. A ranch hand lost his trailer and all his possessions. Our public bathroom is rubble as well as a cabin, sheds, tack rooms, tack, trucks, a backhoe, and horse trailers.  So much more is unrecognizable.

    All the children who live at the ranch were safe. Hector had his wife leave with their baby. His other children were in school, as was Cynthia's and Dave's 14-year-old son, Colton. Chris told Normie Gagerman to leave with her dog, Kobe, but the horsewoman would not do so until she ran into the smoke filled upper barn and rescued Cynthia's 4-month-old puppy, Dolce, from a stall.

    Normie put the dogs in her car and made her way down a smoke and fire-filled road, crossing a burning bridge to the base of the canyon at DeSoto and the 118 freeway. That's when I first saw her at about 11 a.m.--her face gray and brown with soot and dirt, lips caked black, her red hair gray.

    Three police cars were at the base of Browns Canyon to make certain no anxious horse owners like me and my friends didn't try to go up the burning road.

    Women from Misty Hollow Ranch, Where Trails Begin, and Mountain Meadows Ranch were gathered and ran to Normie to get news of the conditions at the barns. Normie broke down crying as we hugged her and all she was able to say was, "It's really bad, the fire is everywhere, I don't know if the horses made it, I don't know where Cynthia is, I couldn't see anything--there was so much smoke." 

    Mountain Meadows Ranch was spared extensive damage by luck, the hard work of trainer, Joya, and the boarders present that morning. There was a brief visit by one fire truck with water. The fire man was "not supposed to be there," said several boarders at Mountain Meadows. "He put out the large burning manure pile and left." The ranch's hay and hay shed burned down and they lost many horse stalls and corrals. 

    Hidden Creeks Ranch owned and operated by John and Vanessa Petersen, which was a large cattle ranch and was also known as the site for many movie sets, had unrecoverable losses. Their natural grazing pastures and fencing were destroyed by the fires. There was no fire response at this ranch, John and Vanessa told me on Sunday, seven days after the fire.

    John said, "Nothing--No fire chiefs, no trucks, no crew.  Nothing!" He had sold his 60 head of cattle that week. He wondered, "What's it going to be like next year when there are no cattle here to eat down the grass. The grass is going to be five-feet high when the fires come back next year." Ironically, as we were talking the first fire truck they saw all week pulled up. 

    At 3:30 p.m. on the day of the Browns Canyon Fire, the police received orders that the front of the fire had passed through and horse owners could go into the canyon.  I drove in with friends Tate, Chris, Liz, and Normie. Liz Finder had picked Colton Wendler up from school and he was anxious to get home to help his parents.

    No fire units of any kind were seen as we drove into the canyon, which was still very much ablaze, flames were every few yards along the road. We drove through, looking at the blackened mess, seeing little surviving foliage. We passed over a smoldering bridge that I later learned was the site of controversy between city and state fire workers. Unable to decide whose job it was to put out the burning bridge, a citizen in a private water truck put it out.

    At Misty Hollow Ranch where we boarded our horses, we saw a private water truck belonging to a friend of Dave's daughter, Carey Wendler. Carey was using the truck to put out larger fires and refill water containers. Soot-covered Cynthia and Dave gave us jobs to do: put out flames and hotspots threatening the structures, water the horses and hounds.

    Near the mesa all the telephone poles were burned and power lines were on the ground. Gone with the electricity was the water pump that brought water up from the well. Very little water was left in the hoses so they worked only sporadically. We women filled the water buckets however we could and got to work on the hot spots.

     I saw smoke coming from under seemingly benign dirt on the embankment behind the upper barn. I climbed the embankment in my rubber-soled hiking boots, with a bandana tied over my nose and mouth and a garden rake in hand. While raking at the smoke I saw live, hot coals underneath the dirt. Boarder Janine and her father worked with me, passing buckets of water up the hillside to put out the coals.  At one point on the embankment my feet were getting increasingly hot. I saw flames at my feet and felt embers on my ankles. I found water to put out the blaze at my feet and I sustained a burn on my ankle.

    As light faded it became easier to see the glowing hotspots. We all worked tirelessly to put them out but some higher on the hillsides and in the trees were beyond our reach. More people arrived to help including my husband George. George went to work on the bigger flames requiring more strength and dexterity to reach.

    All this was going on for hours without a single fire truck at the ranch. Carey had a second friend who arrived with a rented water truck. Misty Hollow now had two private water trucks on the ranch but no professional firefighters. The bulk of hotspot control became the work of middle-age women.

    Around 8 p.m. we saw our first fire truck. Later more arrived. It seemed they needed direct requests from us to put out some of the larger flames.

    Cynthia, Dave, Carey, with her water truck friends, and young Colton stayed awake all night to safekeep their home, hounds and horses. Hector had been sent to the emergency room due to debris in his eyes and his family stayed with relatives in town. One fire unit remained on the property and promised to stay all night. At one point in the night Cynthia had to awaken the firemen sleeping on cots near the road and ask them to put out a blaze that was becoming larger. As I drove away at midnight I saw four more fire units along the road. 

    Due to the experience, dedication, and courage of the ranch owners, ranch hands, boarders, friends and family, Misty Hollow Ranch survived. Across the street, at Where Trails Begin, there was more damage and they lost two horses. The homeowners just down the road from Misty Hollow lost everything - their beloved dogs and their home.

    The question remains why was Browns Canyon given so little attention when it was needed the most? Why were the fire trucks called away? Could some of this loss have been prevented? ■

    Susan Splawski is a Chatsworth resident who boards two horses, Angel and Dakota, at Misty Hollows Ranch, and is caretaker of her former horse Doc.


    Were You Prepared for the Wildfire?
    Will You Be Ready for a Big Quake?

    Were you prepared for the recent wildfire?  Will you be ready for the next big earthquake? With 22 million people living and ShakeOutworking in Southern California, a major earthquake in the region could cause an unprecedented catastrophe.

    What we do now, before a big earthquake, will determine what our lives will be like after. With earthquakes an inevitable part of Southern California's future, Californians must act quickly to ensure that disasters do not become catastrophes.

    With this in mind, the Earthquake Country Alliance has organized the Great Southern California ShakeOut, a week of special events featuring a massive earthquake drill at 10 a.m. on Nov. 13.

    The ShakeOut drill centers on the ShakeOut Earthquake Scenario, a realistic portrayal of what could happen in a major earthquake on the southern end of the San Andreas Fault. Created by over 300 experts led by Dr. Lucy Jones of the U.S. Geological Survey, the scenario outlines a hypothetical 7.8 magnitude earthquake originating near the Salton Sea, which would have the potential to devastate the region.

    With a goal of at least 5 million participants, the ShakeOut drill will be the largest in U.S. history. To participate, go to and pledge your family, school, business, or organization's participation in the drill. Registered participants will receive information on how to plan their drill, connect with other participants, and encourage a dialogue with others about earthquake preparedness. There are many ways to take part, but it all begins with registering, which is free and open to everyone.

    For more information, visit and be sure to visit the official ShakeOut Blog at


    Los Angeles Wants Your Thoughts
    on Both the Budget and Culture

    You can help determine how your tax dollars will be spent and also shape the cultural landscape of Los Angeles by participating in two online surveys.

    To ensure that the needs of Chatsworth and other neighborhoods are met, the mayor's office has created a survey to help guide the development of the City budget. This survey asks you to make very tough choices regarding real decisions that the mayor must make. This year, the City will be challenged by many issues, including the uncertain impact of the turbulent national economy, likely revenue shortfalls, and increased service demands.

    Given these daunting challenges, it is important to hear from community members about their budget priorities and their thoughts regarding the City's revenues and expenditures.
    Click here for the budget survey.

    The cultural survey will help the City learn more about the ways in which residents engage in arts and cultural activities as part of the Cultural Master Plan. The Cultural Master Plan will be a common vision for how culture and creativity in all its forms can contribute to community and quality of life for residents and visitors.

    Click here for the cultural survey.

    There will also be a meeting about the Cultural Master Plan, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Northridge Park, Devonshire House, 18300 Lemarsh St., Northridge.

    For more information, please visit or call (213) 202-5539.


    starburstGive your feedback on the City's new Cultural Master Plan, on Wednesday, Oct. 29 at 6:30-8 p.m. at the Devonshire House in Northridge Park, 18300 Lemarsh St., Northridge. Details, or call (213) 202-5539.

    FlagSaturday, Nov. 1 is Election Day in Chatsworth.  Vote to fill 10 open seats on the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council. Balloting is 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Chatsworth Train Depot, 10038 Old Depot Plaza Road. Details HERE.

    StarburstEnjoy a free Community Appreciation Picnic to celebrate the public safety officers and community members, businesses and groups that came together during the recent local disasters, 1-4 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 2, at Holleigh Bernson Park, 20500 Sesnon Blvd., Porter Ranch.  Street parking will be available.  Also, free shuttles from World Vision Church, 19514 Rinaldi St., Northridge.  Details, call (818) 576-8501.

    ClockAn extra hour of sleep awaits you on Sunday, Nov. 2. Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. the first Sunday in November then returns the second Sunday in March.

    FlagTuesday, Nov. 4, is presidential Election Day.  Remember to cast your ballot at your local polling precinct. Details HERE.

    StarburstPre-Veterans Day program is planned for 10:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 4, at Lawrence Middle School, 10100 Variel Ave. Details, call Bruce Troe or Marylee Pena at (818) 678-7900.

    StarburstMore than 3.4 million people in earthquake-endangered Southern California are currently registered to participate in the Great California ShakeOut Drill on Nov. 13, and 1.8 million are from Los Angeles County. Register HERE.

    StarburstThe Special Olympics Tri-Valley Bowl-A-Thon
    and raffle will be Saturday, Nov. 15, at AMF Rocket Bowl, 9171 DeSoto Ave., from 10 a.m. - noon and 1 p.m. - 3 p.m.  The entry fee is $20 per person, with proceeds benefiting the Special Olym

    You can register as a 3-person team or sign up and be placed on an existing team. One Special Olympics Athlete will join each team as Team Captain.

    You can also sponsor a Special Olympics Athlete. Details, call (818) 342-0017.

    Chatsworth Neighborhood CouncilMetro will reveal design plans for the Orange Line busway bridge over Lassen Street, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 17, at Chatsworth High School 10027 Lurline Avenue.

    MetroMetro will reveal design plans for the Orange Line busway bridge over Lassen Street, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 18, at New Academy High School, 21
    425 Cohasset St. Canoga Park.

    StarburstMore than 30,000 kids from across the San Fernando Valley are expected for the first Children's Day celebration, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Woodley Park, Nov. 22.  The park, between Victory and Burbank Blvds., Van Nuys, will feature Radio Disney, NBC's Fritz Coleman, David Beckham Soccer Academy, Laker Greats, L.A. Kings, Elmo, the voice of Bart Simpson, music, rides, sports and more.  Details, click HERE.

    Chatsworth Neighborhood CouncilHoliday Toy Express arrives at the Chatsworth Depot, Sunday, Nov. 23, at 6 p.m. with a festive gathering beginning at 5 p.m.

    SantaThe Chatsworth Holiday Parade is scheduled to march down Devonshire Street beginning at 1 p.m., Sunday,  Dec. 14.

    StarburstLAPD Devonshire PALS are collecting new and unwrapped toys, games and books for underprivileged youth through Dec. 19.  Bring items to the Devonshire police station, 10250 Etiwanda Ave., Northridge.  Details, call Elizabeth Sandoval at (818) 772-1717 or Dan Slater at (818) 756-8270.

    Free Gift
    Bring this coupon to the next Neighborhood Council Meeting and receive a free Be Safe, Be Seen safety flasher.  Wear it while jogging, cycling, walking the dog.

    Name: ________________________________________

    Email: ________________________________________
    While supplies last                                                                10.26.08