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Picus Found Her Niche in Valley Causes

A true San Fernando Valley councilwoman, Joy Picus fought hard for 16 years to maintain the idyllic suburban lifestyle that many residents see as the area’s hallmark.

From 1977 to 1993, the Woodland Hills resident represented the West Valley’s 3rd District on the Los Angeles City Council, which extends from West Hills to Van Nuys, and includes parts of Canoga Park, Reseda, Tarzana, Winnetka and Woodland Hills.

Over her four terms, Picus was best known for aggressive calls for limiting development, increasing park acreage and recycling, as well as for improving services for children and the elderly.

Born in Chicago, Picus, 66, graduated from the University of Wisconsin and in 1962 moved to Woodland Hills with her husband, Gerald.

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Prior to her election to the council, she was Valley director of the Jewish Federation Council. During her time in office, Picus established a paid leave program for city employees who needed to care for elderly parents, helped to enact the city’s first gender pay-equity agreement and chaired the panel that developed the city’s curbside recycling program.

Picus also generated her share of controversy during her council years. Warner Ridge Associates, the developers of a proposed office complex in Woodland Hills, sued her, two other council members and the city in 1991 for Picus’ efforts to rush into law a zoning change that would block the development. The developers won the lawsuit, but unrelated factors led them to abandon the project.

As Picus sees it, she “lost the battle but won the war. Warner Ridge still sits on the hill untouched.”

Last year, the City Hall South Child Care Center was renamed the Joy Picus Child Development Center to recognize her efforts in child services.

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Today, she is on the boards of the Friends of the Observatory at Griffith Park, the Cal State Northridge Foundation, the Jewish Home for the Aging and University of Wisconsin Foundation in Los Angeles. Picus said she also enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.


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