Odds & Ends Around the Valley


Repainting the Town

It’s not always easy in the law enforcement business to get a punishment to suit a crime, but the Malibu station of the Sheriff’s Department has got it exactly right in at least one instance.

There has been a rash of gang graffiti spray-painted around Calabasas recently, causing residents to wonder if their community was under siege.

Loriann Helfer of Calabasas Park said her car was tagged-- painted with gang symbols-- and the wall behind her condo was spray-painted.


The condominium owners’ association quickly had the wall repainted, but the markings remained elsewhere in the area.

That was at the request of the Malibu sheriff’s station’s gang unit that, along with the Home Security Sentinel Patrol, a private organization that polices the area, quickly identified the perpetrators.

It wasn’t really hard to do, according to Pat Sebring, a Sentinel supervisor. She said many of the young people, whom she describes as “wanna-be gang members,” live in the area and are known by the gang names they painted on the walls and buildings.

Malibu Sheriff’s Deputies Bob Amstutz and Frank Bausmith went to Calabasas High School and, with the help of the school administration, talked to the guilty youngsters, who readily admitted their culpability.

Although some youngsters were charged with vandalism, most were given the option of sandblasting and repainting the areas they had painted, with the understanding that they still could be charged.

As a result, nine youths spent a recent Saturday undoing their handiwork.

The Sheriff’s Department supplied the equipment and paint, and the young offenders provided the manpower. Amstutz said he hoped that the day not only helped clean up the area, but gave the officers a chance to get to know the young people.

Amstutz theorizes that many local youths get into self-styled gangs simply because they have nothing else to do. “Typically, they come from single-parent homes or homes where both parents work, and they have no supervision after school, and sometimes not at all,” he said. The parents need to work, he said, but it creates a dangerous scenario.


That is not to say that only these kinds of families have children getting into trouble, he added. “Unfortunately, a lot of families simply lose control of their children,” Amstutz said.

If Amstutz had his druthers, he and Bausmith would be instrumental in setting up a center in the area so youths could have fun, supervised activities that would keep them out of trouble.

“Unfortunately, there is not money in the budget for that sort of thing,” Amstutz said. “But finding some money for that purpose could save a lot of kids, their parents and the community a lot of grief.”

Little Women


Pam Pepper is a firm believer in age before chemical beauty, which is why she has been turning away prospective business at Peppermints, her Sherman Oaks children’s hairstyling salon.

“We have parents, mostly moms, who come in to have their 3- and 4-year-old’s hair colored or permed, and I just can’t do that to a baby,” she said.

Pepper said that little girls are being dressed in costumes that would make Madonna blush and that some companies market makeup kits for toddlers. She doesn’t want to get on that bandwagon.

“I believe in letting kids be kids,” she said. “And a 3-year-old doesn’t want to sit for an hour or more while I, or one of the other stylists, put chemicals on her hair. Three-year-olds want to play with the other kids.”


Pepper said it is always the parent, never the child, who wants the color or perm, possibly because the adult sees the child as an extension of herself, or as a reflection of herself. Literally.

“But,” she said, “most parents understand when you explain that--in addition to being torture for a baby to sit still for that sort of thing--it simply isn’t good for baby-fine hair.”

Pepper said that at age 6 or 7, the child is likely to become much more hair conscious and want French braids or curls. The stylist said she is happy to do that.

Hair isn’t the real reason a lot of children love coming to her salon, Pepper said.


“We go through a lot of licorice and other goodies,” she said. “And we have a lot of games and toys for the kids to play with.”

Puppy Love

Pet adoption is rampant during the holidays, but Frank Turner, who has been with the Agoura Animal Shelter for 33 years, has words of caution for adopters.

“The holidays are such a busy, noisy, lively time that the new dog or cat may be totally overwhelmed,” he said. “If at all possible, get the pet as far ahead of this busy time as possible, or wait until after things have calmed down.”


Turner said it is possible to get a gift certificate from the shelter that can be given for the holidays; then the pet can be selected afterward.

The certificates are $63.68 for a dog, which includes license, distemper and rabies shots as well as spaying or neutering, or $36.68 for a cat, with the same added benefits.

Owners have seven days to take the animal to a vet to be checked out. If for any reason a pet doesn’t fit into its new home or is not satisfactory, it may be returned for another.

Turner said the North Hollywood shelter and the various pet rescue organizations also have wonderful animals waiting for adoption.


Penny Ante

You know you’ve been hoarding pennies. There isn’t much else you can do with them. Perhaps your penny jar has turned into a penny bucket, and the last time you lifted it you required corrective surgery.

The helpful folks at Granada Hills Community Hospital will help you remove this irritant. Simply wrestle the penny container into your car and deliver it to the hospital.

The Employees Activity Committee is collecting 25 miles of pennies in conjunction with its 25 years of community service.


They will turn the weighty coins in for folding green, which they will use to fund employee programs.

It makes cents to them.


“When you go to the House the Mouse Built, you don’t talk about building a better mousetrap.”


--Reference to Disney Studios heard at Universal Studios