“It’s been proven that animal cruelty can be an indication of domestic violence in the home,” said Nelson Picardo, legislative aide to 39th District Assembly member Patty Lopez at a workshop held on September 16th in Sunland-Tujunga. “While these are difficult subjects for most people to talk about and hear about, it’s very important that the community have this information so these issues can be addressed.”

The workshop, which was attended by 35 people, took place at Sunland Foursquare Church, 10602 Sherman Grove Ave. in Sunland and included information from representatives from the LAPD, the L.A. City Attorney’s Office, and the L.A. County Department of Public Health. In addition to Picardo, attending the meeting were Brenda Fortune and Olga Torrejon, who serve as legislative aides to Assemblywoman Lopez.

LAPD Officer Jean Lamas, who leads the domestic abuse response team (DART), started off the meeting by describing the different ways domestic abuse is perpetuated: on partners and spouses, the elderly, and children. Often, police arrive on the scene, only to be told that it was all a misunderstanding. He attributed this response to fear of the perpetrator, who may threaten to harm others in the family if a complaint is made. Knowing this, Officer Lamas said his team has special training to ask questions of those involved in an incident of domestic abuse. Unfortunately, companion animals are also targets for the abuser, both before and after assaulting an individual.

Knowing about animal abuse and not reporting it is a contributing factor to ongoing, repeated cases of domestic abuse. Officer Lamas encouraged those who suspect or have witnessed any form of animal abuse to call or text it in so that animals can be taken to a secure location while the alleged crime is being investigated. To report a case of animal abuse that is occurring, call “911” or after the fact, call: 818 756-8861.

The next speaker was Wendy Monge, a registered nurse from Nurse Family Partnership, who talked about the resources offered through the L.A. County Department of Public Health. Nurse Monge works primarily with first time mothers and pregnant teens or young women (aged 15 – late 20s) who are living in at-risk situations. By visiting them in their homes, she is able to provide nutritional information on what a baby will need and how to prepare for the arrival of a new baby. By helping at-risk mothers prepare for a new baby, sometimes situations that can otherwise cause frustration or anger can be alleviated. For more information, please visit: (

When to file a restraining order and what a restraining order can do was the next subject, which was addressed by Attorney Vanessa Martinez from the County of Los Angeles. A restraining order is a temporary or short-term legal document that can provide police protection at a moment’s notice whenever a person is being threatened by the abuser. In cases of domestic violence, restraining orders can be obtained for free from the Los Angeles Police Department if there is reasonable proof to support one’s case. Restraining orders are issued when an adult or child has injuries or is in imminent danger. Once the restraining order is filed, it must be served by a sheriff (or another party over the age of 18) to the defendant within 24 hours. For more information on retraining orders, contact LAPD.

Eugenia Pensel, a Certified Batterer Interventionist, then talked about her job which involves working with defendants in jail or prison who have been convicted of committing a battery. By providing assessments and behavioral coaching to these individuals, the chances of them committing a similar crime are lower.

Kassandra Perez, prosecutor for the City Attorney’s Office, ended the workshop by reviewing the link between domestic violence and cases of animal abuse and encouraged those who have witnessed such events to report them to LAPD. Being involved and coming forward – even by using the anonymous tip line – is critical to stopping the cycle of abuse.

Report a Crime to the Tip Line:

To report animal abuse or other crimes, call: 1-877-527-3247 (877-LAPD247).

You can also text a tip anonymously to the number: 2-7-4-6-3-7 (which spells out “Crimes”). In the body of the text, type the word “LAPD” then leave a space, then type your crime tip and send it. You will receive a confirmation from TipSoft after submitting a tip. For the purpose of one’s own protection, LAPD suggests deleting both the outgoing text and the incoming response from 274637.

To send an anonymous tip via email, go to: and follow the link for “Anonymous Web Tips.” You will be asked to fill in a form and submit it via the internet.

If anyone would like more information on any of these subjects, you can email Assembly Member Patty Lopez at: [email protected] or call Brenda Fortune at her office: (818) 365-2464. The office of Assemblywoman Lopez is located at: 302 S. Brand Boulevard, San Fernando, CA.


Day Trip to Three of the Channel Islands

lovely-viewThe Channel Islands, off the coast of Ventura, California, provide a fascinating day trip or overnight camping trip for anyone looking for a new adventure. There are five islands located across the Santa Barbara Channel that are part of Channel Islands National Park. While each of the islands are unique, the trip out there is just as exciting as it offers sightings of schools of dolphins, sea birds, seals, sea lions and even whales, depending on the time of year you visit.

Channel Islands National Park comprises nearly 250,000 acre240px-californian_channel_islands_map_ens of land while Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary covers an additional six nautical miles of water around the islands. Once connected to each other, but not to the mainland, the islands developed unique ecosystems of flora and fauna that are found nowhere else on earth. You can learn about the islands’ history and efforts to protect it by visiting the Channel Islands National Visitors Center, located at 1901 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, CA., where a free film takes you on a rare journey back in time.

Channel Islands National Park includes the islands of Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara and San Miguel. Of this group, the small volcanic island of Anacapa is closest to Ventura, just 12 miles off the coast and less than an hour by boat. Best known for Arch Rock, a visually engaging 40-foot high natural bridge, Anacapa is home to 69 species of birds, including the largest breeding colony in the USA of the California brown pelican. Also native here are sea lions and seals, lizards and deer mouse that are not found anywhere else in the world.

A trip to Anacapa is great if you are into birding but for hikes, it is very limited. There are 157 stairs from the docking platform to the top of the cliff where you depart the boat. There’s also a lighthouse to visit and the views, of course, are great. In addition to day trips and overnight camping, you can visit Anacapa on a sightseeing tour via Island Packers (, the charter tour company for visits to the Channel Islands.

The next closest island is Santa Cruz, the largest of the Channel Islands. It’s 22 miles off the coast and an hour trip by boat from Ventura. This island’s history goes back 10,000 years when ancestors of the Chumash Indians lived here. Starting in 1782, when the Spanish missionaries arrived, and up until the last of the Chumash people left for mission life in 1822, the island was known for sheep and cattle ranching until the 1930s.

Today, you can visit historic ranching buildings on Santa Cruz, as well as a small museum. The Nature Conservancy manages most of the island and certain areas are protected and off limits to visitors. However, there are still many trails to traverse on this picturesque island to capture the incredible views from the top of the high cliffs. You can also kayak the sea caves or snorkel and scuba dive in the vast kelp beds that surround the island sustaining many varieties of sea life.

Santa Cruz Island is home to the bald eagle, island foxes, island scrub jay, and island fence lizards, barn owls, spotted skunk and brown pelicans. Marine life around this island includes harbor seals, sea lions, the endangered blue whale – the largest mammal on earth, and great white sharks.

Further out from the coast of California lies Santa Rosa Island, 26 miles out into the ocean. Santa Rosa is the second largest of the Channel Islands and offers great recreational opportunities with easy hikes along white sand beaches, kayaking the sea caves, snorkeling and scuba diving. A trip to Santa Rosa takes approximately 2 ½ hours from Ventura Harbor via Island Packers. There is also a charter flight company, Channel Islands Aviation, which offers scenic flights to Santa Rosa as well as over all of the Channel Islands (

Archeology finds on Santa Rosa Island include the oldest human remains in the Americas, dating back 13,000 years, and preserved remains of pygmy mammoths, which went extinct around that same time. After the Chumash left the islands in the 1820, white settlers established cattle ranching until as recently as 1996. Elk were later introduced to the island for hunting for profit purposes. This is no longer allowed. Since 1980, Santa Rosa Island has been a part of the Channel Island National Park and is maintained by the National Park Service.

Here, you’ll find all levels of hiking, great snorkeling and kayaking, or you can kick back and relax among the sand dunes on the pristine beachfront. The terrain is mixed with island oaks as well as rare groves of Torrey Pines. Native wildlife include island fox, spotted skunk, and deer mice and well as many species of birds, sea lions, seals. Just out in the waters there’s an abundant range of marine life with noted predators, the great white shark.  While there’s overnight camping here, it can be very windy so many people come for a day trip and find it’s well worth it.

The remaining two islands, Santa Barbara and San Miguel, are not well traveled and trips to these islands are limited. San Miguel was just reopened to tourism in May 2016 after being used by the U.S. Navy for bombing tests. Santa Barbara Island, which is 38 miles off the coast of Palos Verdes, is home to a sea lion rookery and seabird nesting colonies.

All in all, there’s much to discover on these beautiful islands, just an hour or two from Los Angeles. For reservation information or pricing, visit or

“Story Map,” a Living History Event, Takes Place at Bolton Hall Museum

Bia portrait2By Pat KRAMER

A unique four-part workshop aimed at creating a “living history” for Sunland-Tujunga will be introduced by Bolton Hall Historical Society Artist-in-Residence Bia Gayotto on Thursday, Sept. 8 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. There will be four interdisciplinary workshops combining performance, art, community participation and documentation in an effort to create a living archive and map of the Rancho Tujunga area and the surrounding areas of Shadow Hills, Sun Valley and Lakeview Terrace.

For the purpose of accuracy, the artists are seeking participants who can offer a variety of ethnic experiences, both past and present, for this multigenerational project. Additional workshops take place on Sept. 15, 22, and 29 with each running 90 minutes starting at 4:30 p.m. There will also be a wrap party on Oct. 16. Through word of mouth, the artist hopes to build a network of community members, artists and volunteers who contribute to the overall project.

Gayotto, a native of Brazil, was awarded the grant for this project by the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Cultural Affairs. Since 2003, she has created collaborative projects that have engaged residents all over the world. These include projects for AIR Taipei, Taiwan; Banff Centre, Canada; Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga, California,  “Threewalls” in Chicago, Illinois; and a video series at Los Angeles International Airport called “Somewhere in Between” that was made possible with the support of DCA.

“Somewhere In Between” documents how people navigate between two or more places and cultures. To capture the diversity of Los Angeles, the artist conducted interviews with 14 residents who live along the iconic Route 66 connecting Pasadena to Santa Monica, and who identified as belonging to two or more places or cultures. The map documenting that event was made by designer Juju Yeo who will also be collaborating with Gayotto as part of the Story Map series at Bolton Hall Museum.

“My goal,” said Gayotto, “is to create a multi-layered portrait of the area using methodologies that involve engagement through stories and shared histories. It is part of my process to place ‘open calls’ inviting community members to participate in my projects. This promotes a multifaceted collective experience which often helps people feel connected to each other and, as a result, can be more accepting of cultures different from their own.

“Rather than being at the center, I see myself as a catalyst creating an environment in which people come together to participate in a shared activity.”

Anyone interested in participating in one or more of Gayotto’s living history workshops is asked to bring historical photographs or objects that they are willing to donate to the Bolton Hall archives to illustrate their contribution to the story. Bolton Hall Museum is located at 10110 Commerce Ave. in Tujunga. There is no cost to attend the workshop and everyone, ages 13 and up, is welcome. For more information, email [email protected] or visit:

You can also read my feature story in the Crescenta Valley Weekly:



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