Simi Valley Cajun Festival on Video

People regularly want to debate me when I tell them I’m proud to live in Simi Valley.  Here’s one of the strongest reasons to be proud.  It’s the annual Cajun Festival put on by the Rotary Club of Simi Sunrise.  There’s more to it than just a weekend of fun.  The revenue generated by the Cajun Festival is donated to several charities.  What does it take to help those in need in a way that’s enjoyable?  Check out my video!

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Barking Dogs Not a City Council Issue

Dear City Council,

Please encourage the outraged neighbors who will be attending the City Council meeting tomorrow to learn how to communicate with their neighbors without intervention by police or with new laws on the books. There are so many better things to address than someone who can’t communicate to their neighbor that their dog barks too much.  However, if you’re going to cave in, rather than creating new laws, please instead contribute the anticipated funds to enforce those laws into dog training courses for Simi residents.  Thanks!

Love, Mike

It’s true, outraged neighbors plan to make their problems with barking dogs known at the City Council meeting tomorrow, May 11th.  With any luck, they may be able to get a new law approved making it an actionable offense to allow your dog to bark excessively.  Only recently, a law was recently approved for the books making it a crime to feed certain kinds of birds, even on your private property.

I received an email several weeks back from a lady who lives in the Woodrach neighborhood in Simi Valley.  She’s lived there for a while and has a problem with her neighbor.  She’d like to move, but the current real estate market has her pinned down to her home, so that’s not an option.  The problem she’s having is her neighbor like’s to relax in the sun in his backyard in the nude.  When he’s feeling really frisky, he’ll go so far as to… well… you know.  It doesn’t seem to bother him at all that he’s visible by his neighbor, and her kids for that matter.  Pretty disgusting?  You bet.  Anything she can do to get this problem with her disgusting neighbor solved?  Surprisingly, no!

Her calls to the police have indicated now on multiple instances that this guy’s behavior, while disgusting and wrong on many levels, is not a crime.  He’s engaging in activity on his private property, bottom line.  No one can touch him.  Hard to believe, but it’s the truth.

If City Council is going to do anything to make something unlawful, it should be something like the situation I just described.  This is a real problem, it’s happening regularly, it’s offensive to residents and potentially harmful to children.  Barking dogs, on the other hand, not so much.

I have dogs.  They bark.  Three years ago, my neighbor knocked on our door to tell me that my dogs were waking her up late at night.  It turned out that a rat would venture into our backyard to eat the dates from a palm tree.  My dogs didn’t like that.  When she told me what was happening, I got to the bottom of the issue, called an exterminator to remove the rat, brought the dogs inside at night, and we all slept peacefully.  Easy.

Perhaps if we kept small issues like barking dogs out of City Council, we’d have more protection against disgusting, horrifying issues like the one described above.

Simi Street Fair This Saturday

The Simi Valley Street Fair is this Saturday, May 9th, between Galena and Sequoia on Cochran Street.  I’ll be there.  I enjoy seeing the businesses come together and I’ve always found the volume of people who attend to be impressive.

A long time ago, I once managed to convince myself that I was important enough to accept the role of Chairman of the Simi Valley Street Fair through the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce.  I was pretty nervous about the job at first, not to mention that shortly before the Street Fair was scheduled, I began a divorce of my first marriage, presenting me with a stressful personal challenge to deal with at the same time.  Despite the concern and stresses, it quickly became evident to me that although I had been named the Chair of the event, the majority of the responsibility fell on the shoulders of professionals with years of experience.

The city liaisons were extremely helpful, not to mention instrumental, with the organization of law enforcement, traffic management, and promotional functions such as hanging Street Fair signs on Cochran and Los Angeles Avenue.  Chamber staff members were key to managing placement of vendors on the street and arranging safety features like concrete barriers on either end of the Fair.  Other promotional and coordination functions were handled by willing and eager volunteers.  It was impressive to see it all come together.  As the Chair of the Event, my job was little more than to accept applause when the event was over.  Undoubtedly, the event is successful as a result of the cooperation and collaboration of the entire team.

I’m definitely interested in seeing if the numbers are as impressive this year at the Simi Valley Street Fair.  Consumer and businesses alike are sensitive to spending, but many vendors in and around Simi Valley depend on the Street Fair as one of their primary promotional and revenue generating venues.  I have high hopes that it’ll be just as successful this year.

If you can, swing by the Street Fair this Saturday and check it out.  If you do stop by, come by here again and leave some comments on what you thought of the Street Fair this year.

Lose Candlelight, Lose Revenue

This week, the Simi Valley Planning Commission showed Candlelight Nightclub no love according to the Simi Valley Acorn on Friday.  The Planning Commission voted to send the matter back to the City Council, but only after a 3 hour session including comments from approximately 30 area residents and remarks from the commissioners.

“When you have a CUP, and you have residents that are going to be impacted by it saying ‘no,’ it’s very hard to go against their wishes,” Commissioner Keith Mashburn said. “Your nightclub operation, from what I’ve seen, is not compatible with a residential area.”

No doubt, nobody wants to tell pissed off residents that they need to stand by and wait for the owners of this nightclub to make a good faith effort to resolve the issues.  Who would want to?  They’re pissed off!  But this place earns money for the city AND (and read this, because this is the most important part) the owner’s genuinely WANT to resolve the issues completely and be good neighbors!  Not sure you believe me?  Read on…

The Gerson family continues to earn a decent living on various business ventures, including similar nightclubs and other entertainment/event venues such as Calamigos Ranch in Malibu.  Frankly, closing shop in Simi Valley won’t destroy their bottom line.  They’re here because they like it here and they want to be here.

I’ll bet if you asked them for a tour of the facility and a demonstration of efforts to reduce noise, they’d show you every renovation and the invoices that reflect the cost.  I once watched them get a harsh scolding by our Mayor in a City Council meeting and then eavesdropped on their conversation with a disgruntled neighbor resulting in their unconditional agreement to pay cash for damages related to hit and run vandalism.  Mind you, this was done with no proof or evidence that the vandal was a patron of the club, this was just an assumption.  Further, I rudely listened in while the father and son owners discussed in the City Hall parking lot what they could do to power-up their efforts and make good with the residents.  In my mind, these guys are 100% genuine in their efforts to do good business that works for this city.

Nevertheless, Commissioner Tim Shannon said he believed Glen Gerson, developer and operator of The Vineyards/Candlelight, when he said the current problems can be resolved.

“I believe you can get these issues rectified, if you’re motivated, in short order. And I don’t think there is any neighbor that, if you truly rectify the issues, will stand in your way,” Shannon said. “We need business in Simi Valley, but we don’t need any business at the expense of our residents and that’s the issue that I think needs to be resolved.”

I think everyone believes that last statement, including the owners of Candlelight.  I think if you take a proactive effort to find out what the Candlelight owners are doing to resolve this problem, you’ll fully believe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.  Take Chris Kim, for example, who is the former manager of the Dakota’s restaurant that previously operated at the exact same location:

“I think that Candlelight’s making the effort and it should be acknowledged that they are making the effort to meet the requirements of the city and the neighbors,” Kim said.

The most fascinating element of this story is knowing that based on current city guidelines, Candlelight is already operating within the required limits in regards to noise and amplified music.  The efforts they are taking right now go way above and beyond and are a blatant showing of the Gersons’ good faith efforts to fit in.  Really, all they need is time, a lot to ask of impatient, frustrated neighbors.

So with this issue once again facing City Council, the big question is will they do what’s right for Simi Valley business and the general fund?  Will they inform citizens of the effort being made and ecourage them to wait and see while promoting Shop Simi First, or will they answer the angst of pissed off neighbors and ensure their votes for the next election cycle?  This is politics, after all.

Read the Acorn article here…

Community Medical Group – You Lose!

Community Medical Group and Regal Medical Group of Simi Valley have both been engaged in silent war.  Regal finally won me and my family over. It’s a shame, but it’s a matter of simple business practices.  Both groups have good doctors, but Community Medical’s customer service is weak and their handling of this well publicized doctor exodus is poor.

Imagine having a long term medical history either with yourself or your children and depending on a doctor for many years to treat and evaluate your treatment.  That doctor leaves your medical group and a new doctor is assigned to you.  Troubling, right?  You’d imagine a solid business would prepare its staff to handle these concerns professionally.  You’d imagine that the doctors who step in to replace those who left would research your or your childrens’ file.  Instead, you’re presented with these scenarios:

* A doctor says to you, “That medicine your child has been taking for 2 years with effective results… I won’t prescribe it.  I’m not comfortable with it.”  No explanation is given. Sure, he’s the doctor… but he wants to keep you as a patient, right?  So explain!

* A receptionist says to you, “That doctor is out for the entire week and we’re unable to schedule appointments for him in the future.”  This is what they say when you schedule an appointment with a doctor who has already left for Regal.  Tell us he’s gone so we can schedule an appointment with someone else.  We’re sick!

* The Sycamore and Alamo front office staff is brutally rude.  Yes, they’ve got some very pleasant people working there, but those one or two rude ones really kill it.  Why aren’t doctors offices held to the same customer service standards as other businesses?  They want to earn money, right?  They’re out to build loyalty and increase profits, aren’t they?

The bottom line is when Community Medical Group lost their doctors, the only thing they had to fall back on was good service… and they don’t seem to have any of that.  That shook up my confidence in their abilities to serve me and my family.

Here’s a quote from a recent Ventura County Star article on the topic from Keith Richman, Community Medical’s Regional VP.

“This is a business practice of Regal Medical Group,” he said of the unfolding drama. “Their practice is to go in and recruit the physicians of other medical groups.”

Yep, that’s a pretty good business practice if you’re in the business of providing medical services — get the best doctors you can to offer the best possible service and ensure loyalty and profitability.  Regal, here I come!