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East Valley : Study Sheds Light on Communities’ Roots

Residents may be surprised to learn that there is logic to Arleta. After all, the town doesn’t have a ZIP code--and just recently found a permanent location for its Chamber of Commerce.

But members of a community leadership training program recently unearthed the secrets of this somewhat obscure Valley locus.

This week, participants in Coro, a nonprofit group devoted to leadership training and community development, reported on the political, economic and cultural underpinnings of Arleta and other East Valley communities--including North Hollywood, Panorama City and Sun Valley. Coro is a national agency based in Los Angeles.

Joanne Jett, a Coro participant and civilian employee of the Los Angeles Police Department, said the project changed her peers’ outlook on the communities they investigated.

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“At first, there was a lot of negative perception of these communities,” said Jett, a 40-year-old Van Nuys resident. “But after researching what actually goes on there, we discovered there are positives--more good qualities than bad.”

Jett learned, for example, about the dedicated Neighborhood Watch network in Arleta, which police credit with helping to keep crime rates down.

Javier Zelaya, a 19-year-old from Van Nuys, investigated cultural and recreational aspects of North Hollywood. In addition to learning about attractions such as the NoHo arts district and nearby Universal Studios, Zelaya discovered other important social outlets in the community.

“I found out that churches and Laundromats play a big part in families’ social lives,” Zelaya said. “The soccer fields, too, at Whitsett Avenue and Vanowen Street draw hundreds of people on the weekends. In fact, it’s the only park in North Hollywood where you are allowed to play soccer.”

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