About Paul Koretz
On July 1, 2009, Paul Koretz took the oath of office, thereby becoming the current Los Angeles councilmember for the city’s historic Fifth District.
Paul’s election, one month earlier, culminated a neighborhood-friendly campaign in which he emphasized the District’s great need for an actively involved council office, not just at City Hall but on a non-stop basis in the community life of the 5th District.
Both as a candidate and an elected official, Koretz has pledged his commitment to governmental efficiency, transparency, accountability and accessibility – principles that have guided his life of activism, service and leadership.
Born in the San Fernando Valley, Koretz was raised and schooled in the Westside portion of the Fifth District, attending Canfield Elementary School, Palms Middle School, Hamilton High School and UCLA, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history, founded the Bruin Democrats and ventured forth in many volunteer endeavors aimed at improving society and helping others.
Paul’s awareness of humanitarian and political issues should be no surprise: his father escaped tyranny and Nazi Germany’s prosecution of Jews, emigrating to the United States and the Los Angeles area where he was a dedicated member of the hotel and restaurant employees union. Paul often joined his father on picket lines and in other efforts aimed at improving people’s lot in life.
Paul learned the rigors, lessons and blessings of city service as an aide to two different Los Angeles City Councilmembers of monumental stature – Zev Yaroslavsky and then Marvin Braude – and during those years, would help many of the same residents and neighborhoods he now serves as Councilmember.
From the mid-1980s, Paul lived in the City of West Hollywood, which is surrounded by the Fifth District. Paul helped lead the effort to incorporate that new city in 1984, thus establishing greater local accountability and constituent service. He was appointed as an aide to one of West Hollywood’s original councilmembers, Alan Viterbi, whom he was elected to replace when Viterbi retired in 1988.
As councilmember for the City of West Hollywood – and as its mayor – Paul initiated and participated in many key efforts that boosted the city’s efficiency and accountability, promoted jobs and the local economy, protected renters and homeowners, championed human and civil rights, delivered premium city services in a fiscally prudent manner, and made West Hollywood a regional model regarding the quality and aesthetics of city management.
Following in the tradition of Councilmembers Yaroslavsky and Braude, Paul also showed a staunch willingness to advocate and legislate concerning difficult causes, often in the face of torrid special interest opposition. He took on the gun lobby with pioneering legislation limiting the sales of handguns and banning assault weapons, thereby setting the standards for many other jurisdictions across the nation. His ordinance prohibiting smoking in restaurants similarly drew the fire of major lobbyists and interest groups, but he prevailed over the tobacco industry and the model established in West Hollywood has inspired others and promoted public health nationwide.
Paul has also gained a national reputation as an environmental leader. He was the first Southern California Director of the California League of Conservation Voters, and served as Administrative Director of the Ecology Center of Southern California.
In 2000, Paul was elected to the California State Assembly, representing the 42nd Assembly District that includes much of the City of L.A.’s 5th District. He was reelected twice to his assembly post, serving the maximum-allowed three terms. In that capacity, he continued with many of his lifelong causes, serving as Chair of the Assembly Labor Committee, championing environmental bills and leading efforts to reduce gun violence. But he also helped to save California taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by fighting to reform workers compensation. He saved many lives with legislation such as his bill mandating that cigarettes sold in California be self-extinguishing -- thus reducing the risk of fires set by smoldering cigarettes. And his “divestment” bill concerning Darfur made news worldwide about our moral standards and willingness to confront and end genocide.
At the same time, then-Assemblymember Koretz focused ceaseless energy on helping constituents in their daily lives, by promoting local transportation improvements and neighborhood empowerment.
In his first term as 5th District Councilmember, Paul and his staff have been a steady and constant presence in the neighborhoods of the district. Day and night, they’ve appeared at many neighborhood council, homeowner group and chamber meetings. They are delighted to answer constituent questions, follow through on issues and hold town hall meetings.
Among Paul Koretz’ many efforts and accomplishments while serving as Los Angeles councilmember, some of the most memorable have included:
– leading the fight to prevent cuts in our city’s essential fire and emergency services, while fighting for pension reform and tough budgets to ensure that even in harsh economic times, the City of Los Angeles is fiscally sound;
– championing successful efforts to save beloved civic, community and cultural landmarks such as the historic Century Plaza Hotel, Los Encinos Park and the Sepulveda Garden Center;
– providing crucial leadership in the crafting and passage of the Hillside Ordinance, thereby protecting our hillsides from destruction by developers;
– fighting for honesty and transparency from the LADWP, including by establishing a ratepayer advocate to protect against unwarranted rate hikes;
– ending various abusive city policies such as those involving apron parking and red light cameras;
– getting many trees trimmed, potholes filled, streets paved and needed traffic signals installed despite the city’s severely limited budget;
– teaming with Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and other community organizations to enhance neighborhoods and promote neighborhood-friendly businesses and job creation;
– closing down neighborhood nuisances such as party houses and the club Mermaids;
– outlawing the dreaded designer drugs know as “bath salts,” which had been legally distributed in Los Angeles despite horrific acts of psychotic episodes and violence linked to bath salt usage;
– introducing landmark animal welfare initiatives such as the banning of cat declawing and puppy mills;
– promoting key environmental measures;
– working with residents and community groups to fight intrusive billboards and cell towers; and
– creating and supporting new parks and recreation facilities and the upgrading of old ones.
Paul hopes that his council service in the City of Los Angeles also marks the start of a heightened commitment by the city to listen to the voice of the people, and to be ever-engaged in the life of our local neighborhoods. He is always eager to hear from, and work side-by-side with, Los Angeles constituents, organizations and community leaders. It is the perspective of Councilmember Paul Koretz that this city is to be governed and enjoyed not just by the anointed few, but by all who call it home.
E-mail Paul at email@example.com