Neighbors in the News
Wednesday, Aug 03, 2011
Each and every year, the Los Angeles City Commission on the Status of Women asks each Councilmember to recognize one “Pioneer Woman” from her/his district -- an honor that is meant to illuminate and celebrate women who have made amazing contributions to their community and city.
Roz Wyman, this year's 5th Council District Pioneer Woman, could not be more deserving. Roz was born in Los Angeles in October, 1930, and went to college at USC, and, while she was at USC, she announced her candidacy for the Los Angeles City Council, 5th District -- and was elected before she had even graduated! This made her the youngest person and second woman ever to sit on the City Council, as well as the first Jewish Council member in 53 years.
During her three terms, she was always much respected as a top-notch and diligent Councilmember, but Roz is best known for her crucial role in bringing the Dodgers here from Brooklyn. While this year is a tough one for the Dodgers and Dodger fans, there is no doubt that bringing the Dodgers to Los Angeles in 1958 has brought pride and joy to millions of Angelenos while adding immense status and global prestige to the city, placing Los Angeles in the select pantheon of cities with Major League teams. It is also true, but less well known, that Roz was instrumental in getting the Lakers to move here from Minnesota.
After leaving office, she has remained immensely active in public, political and humanitarian affairs. Roz served as chair of the 1984 Democratic National Convention -- the first woman from either major political party to wield a gavel at a presidential nominating convention. She has served on the UNESCO Commission and National Endowment of the Arts as well as many other local and national boards and charities, and is an active leader of the Los Angeles Jewish community. Sadly, her beloved husband, Eugene Wyman, passed away unexpectedly in 1973.
In accepting her honor, Roz Wyman was delighted to sit once more in a Council chair (Paul Koretz's!), and was roundly applauded as many people came to see and hear her on her return to City Hall. She spoke with feisty eloquence about how important it is for women to be welcome participants in government. Certainly, she was a trailblazer in that regard, and she still is a relentless champion for greater opportunities for women in politics. Los Angeles is a far better place because of Roz Wyman, and so congratulations to her for being recognized as a 2011 Pioneer Woman!
Posted at 3:47 PM
Friday, Sep 24, 2010
Construction on the 405 expansion continues and Metro has sent the following notice:
The Contractor will be clearing trees and removing plants and will need to close the eastbound and westbound Santa Monica Freeway (I-10) connectors to southbound I-405.
What: Full closure of the SB I-405 connectors from EB I-10 and WB I-10. When: EB 10 and WB 10 connectors to SB 405 will be closed at 10:00 p.m. on Monday, September 27, 2010 and will reopen at 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 28, 2010. This activity is anticipated for five nights, weather permitting.
Where: Westbound I-10 and eastbound I-10 connectors to SB 405.
What to Expect:
• Full closure of southbound I-405 connectors from I-10.
• Emergency vehicle access will be maintained.
• Please share the road with cyclists. “Give Me 3” requires that drivers allow three feet when passing bicycles. Be especially cautious in construction zones.
• For daily closures, please visit us at Twitter, http://twitter.com/I_405
• Work is weather permitting and subject to change.
• Visit our website for the latest project updates, www.metro.net/I-405
Posted at 4:07 PM
Friday, Sep 24, 2010
Have you ever driven by an old couch or busted TV sitting on the side of the road? There are two possibilities: someone has scheduled the item to be picked up as a “bulky item” or it was illegally dumped. Obviously, one is the right way and the other is the wrong way.
The City encourages residents to recycle bulky, reusable items through charitable organizations and thrift stores. However, if that is not possible, the Bureau of Sanitation (BOS) will pick-up large or bulky household items, such as mattresses, couches and other furniture from City residents free of charge. To arrange for the removal of these items from your curbside, please call 1-800-773-2489, from Monday through Friday, between 7:30 a.m. and 4:45 p.m., at least one day before your regular collection day. Bulky item pick up can also be scheduled online by filling out a BOS Service Request Form: On line service requests take two days to process.
Unfortunately, some people choose to discard unwanted material by illegally dumping it along curbsides, and in alleys, cul-de-sacs and common refuse collection areas located in apartment complexes. The Bureau of Sanitation will pick up most illegally dumped, unclaimed material. However, the Bureau of Street Services (BOSS) will collect for illegal dumping on vacant lots and for large items on City streets blocking traffic lanes on the public right of way. To report illegal dumping in progress between 7:00 am - 4:00 pm call the BOSS Enforcement Division: (213) 847-6000. After hours call: (877)ASKLAPD. Or go online to report illegally dumped material.
Posted at 3:54 PM
Friday, Jul 30, 2010
Save yourself some traffic-related grief!
The intersection of San Vicente and 3rd Street will be undergoing major emergency sewer repair work for the next 7 weeks, starting August 2, 2010.
Traffic will be slowed – perhaps significantly. Consequently, you may want to avoid that busy intersection, if at all possible. Here’s a notice that’s been distributed in the San Vicente/3rd Street neighborhood:
July 29, 2010
San Vicente Blvd. and 3rd Street Emergency Sewer Repair Project
Dear Residents and Business Owners,
The City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works Bureau of Engineering Emergency Sewer Division will soon start the San Vicente Blvd. and 3rd Street Sewer Repair Project at the intersection of San Vicente Blvd. and 3rd Street on Monday, August 2nd, 2010.
During the next 6 to 7 weeks, please note:
“No Parking” signs will be posted along the northbound lane on San Vicente Boulevard between 3rd Street and Beverly Boulevard, and on 3rd Street between Holt Avenue and Sherbourne Drive to accommodate the construction. Any vehicle parked in the “No Parking” zones will be towed at the owner’s expense.
* The Contractor will be working Monday thru Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
* There will be “NO LEFT” turns at this intersection during construction working hours.
* Residents and businesses will continue to have local access. Expect traffic delays.
* You will notice noise and dust during construction.
Please be assured that we will make every effort to finish the job quickly and safely, with the least possible inconvenience to your neighborhood. If you have any questions, please call (213) 978-0329.
Olga S. Morales
Harris and Company
Public Affairs Office, City Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Posted at 5:00 PM
Friday, Jul 30, 2010
If you have ever been victimized by a tow truck operator, the Los Angeles Police Commission now has a new way for you to get help: a hotline for complaints about rogue tow truck operators. The goal is to reduce the number of towing companies that are operating unethically or illegally. By calling (323) 680-4-TOW (4869), you can report suspicous or illegal towing practices to an investigator from the Commission's Investigation Division. Illegal tow truck operators often monitor police and fire department radio frequencies so that they can be first on the scene at traffic accidents. These trucks then charge excessive towing fees or demand cash payment. Additionally, they often partner with unscrupulous repair shops, attorneys and medical practitioners. For more information regarding the tow company complaint hotline and towing issues within the City of Los Angeles, please call Detective III Ben Jones, Commission Investigation Division, at (213) 996-1230.
Posted at 4:00 PM
Friday, Jul 30, 2010
It’s not too late to be counted in the 2010 Census – but if you haven’t participated yet, time is running out. You need to act today. You can do so, even if you’ve lost your form or never received one. All you need to do is call the toll free number of the US Census Bueau: 866-872-6868. Phone lines are open until 9 p.m. tonight, and are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Russian. An accurate count benefits Los Angeles, because a lot of federal funding is based at least partly on census numbers. In the last census, Los Angeles lost $206 million in federal dollars because 76,800 Angelenos were not counted. Getting our full share translates into a stronger local economy and a better quality of life. You can help. If you haven’t yet been counted, please consider doing so, before time runs out: it just takes 10 minutes. Or, if you know anyone who hasn’t participated in the 2010 Census, contact them and tell them that it is an easy and confidential process, but that they have to do it now, if they want to be counted and if they want to help the city in this manner. The number to call is 866-872-6868.
Posted at 9:00 AM
Tuesday, Jul 27, 2010
July 26th was the deadline for public comments to be submitted regarding the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit Project Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Assessment (EIR/EA).
Councilmember Koretz submitted his comments, in which he pinpointed various issues. He expressed his concern about the impact to the Westwood Scenic Corridor, the likely consequences facing adjacent east-west streets such as Santa Monica Boulevard, and the fallout of cut-through traffic on such streets as Comstock Avenue.
While the project should improve traffic time for Metro buses along Wilshire, it is very unclear whether it will draw a substantially significant number of new riders to the line. The real fix, though not yet in place, is the Westside subway extension that Councilmember Koretz strongly supports.
Posted at 6:00 PM
Tuesday, Jul 06, 2010
A couple of weeks ago, Councilmember Koretz hosted the “CD 5 Westside Leadership Summit,” which followed on the heels of the “CD 5 Valley Leadership Summit."
These summit conferences allow community activists and leadership to hear from departmental heads and discuss, face-to-face, the issues facing our neighborhoods.
The great news is that somebody was transcribing the recent summit, which was held at Fairfax High School. We think there’s a lot of good information and ideas in this transcript, so we are providing this link. We do want to offer one disclaimer: a CD 5 staffer did review the transcript to try to clear up any misspellings, transcription errors or grammatical confusion, etc. But if you look at the transcript, you will get a great sense of what happened: Councilmember Koretz doing the introduction, followed by our guest city officials making their presentations, followed by audience Q&A.
Posted at 4:30 PM
Friday, Jun 18, 2010
This weekend there are two great opportunities to adopt a special companion animal. First, Los Angeles Animal Services gives you an excuse not to bring home another boring tie for Father's Day - bring home a loving friend instead! Running through this Sunday, June 20, Animal Services is offering a special Father's Day discount on dog and cat adoptions. Please visit www.laanimalservices.com to learn more.
Also, on Saturday, June 19, Found Animals and L.A. Animal Services host the "Better with a Buddy" event. For one day only, Found Animals will help pay for the cost of an adoption from our City shelters. Please visit www.foundanimals.org to learn more.
Of course, you can adopt an animal any time of the year by calling 1-888-452-7381 to reach any one of our six animal care centers. In addition, photos of our available animals and information on all of our shelters can also be viewed on the Animal Services website. Anyone who is interested in a particular animal should plan on visiting the shelter to meet the animal and to speak to one of our qualified shelter representatives.
Posted at 5:00 PM
Thursday, Jun 17, 2010
Overdevelopment and poorly planned development can have a very negative impact on life in the 5th Council District – even when the massive project in question is not located within the boundaries of our district, but just outside.
That’s why Councilmember Koretz has been quite concerned about the traffic and quality of life impacts posed by the proposed Bundy Village project, located at Bundy and Olympic (in Council District 11).
Very productive meetings have been held with Councilmember Bill Rosendahl (CD 11) who shares many of the same concerns.
Bundy Village is an enormous medical, retail and residential project that would add more than 20,000 cars daily to the already congested Westside. The proposed project includes over 384,000 square feet of medical office, 68,000 square feet for retail and restaurant, a 51,000 square foot supermarket and 177 condos.
Councilmember Koretz is dismayed that during the bureaucratic planning process, intersections in CD 5 were left out of the traffic study. He also feels that this project is not consistent with its surroundings, and full public review needs to be a critical portion of the approval process.
Both Councilmembers, Rosendahl and Koretz, are working with community groups as this proposal is scrutinized and debated.
Councilmember Koretz took office determined to ensure that decisions about proposed projects involve careful planning, tough thinking and full public input, and that involves any project that might impact the quality of life in CD 5.
Posted at 5:00 PM
Thursday, Jun 17, 2010
Councilmember Paul Koretz wants to hold the L.A. Department of Water and Power accountable for having blithely misrepresented its financial condition to the City Council. That’s why he has initiated strict steps to make certain that the DWP does not escape a recent condemnatory audit unscathed. The Councilmember revealed his intentions at an Audits and Governmental Efficiency Committee meeting where DWP was notably absent despite having been repeatedly invited to attend.
As Chair of the committee, Councilmember Koretz concluded its June 15th meeting by introducing three separate motions (unanimously embraced by the committee) regarding the DWP’s March refusal to transfer promised funds to the City.
The DWP had earlier justified its refusal to turn over $73 million by claiming that it had insufficient funds, but a subsequent audit released by the Los Angeles City Controller’s Office found this claim to be fabricated. (City Controller Wendy Greuel was at the June 15 committee meeting and made a full presentation of the audit. She was joined by staff from Crowe Horwath LLP, which was the outside auditing firm used in this matter.) “I would like to thank Controller Greuel for this important audit and its thorough scrutiny of DWP’s finances and behavior,” Councilmember Koretz said.
He continued, “We need to find out who is being punished for this scam by DWP, which caused grievous harm – the City’s bond rating suffered as a result. We need to determine whether there was any illegality involved in DWP’s duplicitous conduct. But we also need to address DWP’s disregard for our bond ratings, by removing that agency’s authority over its own bonding.”
The Koretz motions call for:
1) A report back from the Mayor and the DWP, to the Audits and Governmental Efficiency (AGE) Committee, detailing who in those offices – including the DWP Board – is being disciplined as a result of this misconduct [falsely claiming that a sizable Energy Cost Adjustment Factor rate increase was needed or no transfer of funds would be possible].
2) The City Attorney to report back to AGE on whether any of said misconduct reaches or breaches the threshold of criminality.
3) A report back from the Chief Legislative Analyst and City Administrative Officer to AGE committee on the timeline for removing bonding responsibilities from within the DWP to the City Administrative Officer – the agency that does bond items for other departments in the City. (Councilmember Koretz explained that, “For too long the DWP has played politics with its bond ratings, using it as a tool to hogtie Council into decisions that may otherwise be imprudent.”)
Councilmember Koretz said that the DWP’s failure to send a representative to the meeting was “outrageous. In a department that may have 10,000 employees, you’d think that they could find someone, even if it’s just one person, to be here to listen to our questions and concerns regarding what Controller Wendy Greuel and her auditors have uncovered. That the DWP couldn’t even bother to send a single person to this meeting shows the incredible arrogance that got them into this particular mess to begin with. Their lack of candor has lost them the confidence, trust and respect of the people of Los Angeles.”
Posted at 3:00 PM
Wednesday, Jun 02, 2010
There are less than 6 weeks left to participate in the 2010 Census. If you didn’t mail back your Census form, then you’re guaranteed a visit by a Census taker. Door-to-door visits to households that did not mail back their Census forms began on Saturday, May 1st and will continue through July 10th. The Census taker will ask you for your responses to the 10 questions on the Census form, which should only take about 10 minutes to complete. By completing the 2010 Census, you are helping your community get its fair share of federal resources.
All Census takers carry an official badge and a shoulder bag – both with the U.S. Department of Commerce seal – and a binder. If you’re still not sure about their identity, please call the Los Angeles Regional Census Center at (818) 717-6700 to verify their employment by the U.S. Census Bureau. Official Census takers will not ask the following:
• To enter your home
• For a Social Security number
• For financial information
• For a driver’s license
• About your immigration status
• For donations
• For a signature
If you would like a quick and easy way to complete the Census, just call one of the telephone numbers below to provide your responses to the 2010 Census:
• English: 1-866-872-6868
• Spanish: 1-866-928-2010
• Chinese: 1-866-935-2010
• Korean: 1-866-955-2010
• Russian: 1-866-965-2010
• Vietnamese: 1-866-945-2010
• TDD (Telephone Display Device for the hearing impaired): 1-866-783-2010
For more information on the 2010 Census, please visit the LACounts2010.org website.
Posted at 10:00 AM
Friday, May 28, 2010
Most people want their neighborhoods to shine – but too often, have felt frustrated and limited in what they can do to protect and improve the local quality of life. That’s why the two newest Councilmembers, Paul Koretz (District 5) and Paul Krekorian (District 2) joined together with the City’s Bureau of Street Services on May 22 to co-host a code enforcement training workshop.
Close to one hundred community activists attended the event at Sportsmen’s Lodge in the San Fernando Valley to learn how to work with the City in order to identify, report and resolve problems, including illegal signs, potholes, graffiti and other code violations.
The two Councilmembers described how beneficial it will be for neighborhood residents to help with such matters, especially in times of budgetary crisis when the City’s ability to enforce the code may be limited due to layoffs and other budgetary actions. Councilmember Koretz also stated that empowering the community in this manner is the right and proper thing to accomplish under any circumstance.
Larry Morales then spoke – he’s Senior Street Services Investigator II for the Bureau of Street Services, and he gave a detailed presentation and answered many questions about problems people encounter in their neighborhoods, while letting the audience know how to help with code enforcement in a safe, knowledgeable, responsible and appropriate manner.
Many in the audience shared their own ideas that are now being followed up on in City Hall.
Councilmember Koretz said afterwards, “I think this was an important effort and that people learned a lot of valuable information, and we are planning to do more such training events in the future.”
Posted at 5:00 PM
Friday, May 14, 2010
Posted at 5:00 PM
Friday, May 14, 2010
This Sunday, May 16th, friends, neighbors, businessess and community leaders will join together in Melrose Village for a Sweep the Streets Clean-Up Event. You are welcome to join in! This event is a great example of people working together to protect and improve a treasured neighborhood. Those involved include Melrose Action Neighborhood Watch, Pacific Graffiti Solutions, Melrose Avenue Merchants Alliance, the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, Melrose Area Neighbors in Action, Melrose Elementary School Mathematics, Science and Technology Magnet, Fairfax High School and the LAPD Wilshire Community Police Station.
Melrose Village Sweep the Streets
Meet at Melrose Elementary School
Melrose at Detroit Street (west of La Brea)
10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Posted at 12:00 PM
Friday, May 07, 2010
The 5th Council District’s Valley Leadership Summit was a great success!
On May 6th, community leaders and neighborhood activists joined top city officials from key city departments at this Leadership Summit, hosted by Councilmember Paul Koretz. After each official made a presentation the audience, filled with representatives of many community groups, participated in Q&A.
The feedback following the event was extraordinarily positive. One community leader said that holding the Summit was "a stroke of genius." Another said it was "an excellent meeting. These are tough and trying times for all Angelenos. Working together with good communication with all city departments will make life better for all of us." Yet another called it "a fantastic event." Those are but a few of the many rave reviews.
Councilmember Koretz said, “We’ve always needed to have more of this kind of coming together, but now that the city’s in the midst of a dire budget crisis, the need has never been so apparent. Yes, we face a loss of personnel and a diminishing of city services, and there are many harsh choices ahead, and that’s exactly why we need to share the facts and understand the circumstances, with this information delivered face-to-face. That’s the best way to choose priorities and create positive solutions, using the insights and activism of people across this city who care enough to make a difference.”
Guest Speakers from the City included: Rita Robinson, General Manager, Department of Transportation; Bill Robertson, GM, Bureau of Street Services; John Mukri, GM, Recreation and Parks; Kevin Regan, Assistant GM, Recreation and Parks; Valley Chief of Police Kirk Albanese; Captain Bill Eaton, Van Nuys LAPD Division; Captain Justin Eisenberg, North Hollywood Division; Captain John Egan, West Valley Division; Chief Don Frazeur, Los Angeles Fire Department; and Captain Stacy Gerlich, LAFD CERT.
In the audience were community leaders and representatives of many organizations: the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council; Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association; Sherman Oaks Chamber of Commerce; Sherman Oaks Beautification Committee; Village at Sherman Oaks Business Improvement District; Rotary Club of Sherman Oaks; Encino Neighborhood Council; Encino Homeowners Association; Encino Chamber of Commerce; Encino Community Center; Encino Neighborhood Watch; Leeza Gibbon's Circle of Care Foundation; Sherman Village; Bel Air Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council; Benedict Canyon Association; Studio City Neighborhood Council; Studio City Residents Association; Studio City Beautification Committee; Watch2.org; Residents of Beverly Glen; VICA,; Van Nuys C-PAB; Westfield Shopping Center; Valley Village Neighborhood Council; Valley Village Homeowners Association; Bellina Canyon Neighborhood Watch; Oak Forest Canyon Association; Senior Lead Officers; Fire Fighters from different stations; Greg Schwartz, David Rankell, Paul Kelson, and Wayne Kartin LAFD CERT.
This event was taped by L.A. CityView 35, and will eventually air on Channel 35. Councilmember Koretz believes that such events are a good thing to do on a regular basis, and is planning an upcoming Westside Leadership Summit.
More from the Summit: at top left: Department of Recreation and Parks GM John Mukri; at top right: LAFD Deputy Chief Don Frazeur; at bottom left: Gerry Silver of Homeowners of Encino; and at bottom right: Jules Feir of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association.
Posted at 5:30 PM
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Last week, a taxpayer-friendly motion proposed by Councilmember Koretz took a huge step forward. This motion would raise development fees to equal the city costs of processing developer applications, thereby ending the practice of taxpayers being forced to subsidize the review of private development.
The Koretz motion was approved unanimously by the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management committee. The Councilmember put forth this motion because at a time of crucial cuts the City has an obligation to pursue all possible revenues sources before considering layoffs. The cost of planning entitlements should be borne by the developers not the taxpayers.
Those speaking in favor of the motion included Barbara Broide of Westwood South of Santa Monica Association, Sandy Brown of the Holmby Westwood Homeowners Association, and Michael Davies of the Engineers and Architects Association. All were concerned about the cuts to the city due to the budget crisis, and how this motion might protect the city and city services by protecting the taxpayers from having to pay for what developers might more properly fund.
The next step for the motion will be a hearing, in the next few weeks, in the Budget and Finance committee.
Posted at 5:00 PM
Friday, Apr 23, 2010
On April 22, Councilmember Koretz appeared before the Los Angeles Police Permit Review Panel in Van Nuys and, in the strongest possible terms, called for the revocation of the Mermaids Cabaret club's café-entertainment license.
Councilmember Koretz told the Police Panel, “This location has been terrorizing the neighborhood for the last three years. It continues to terrorize the neighborhood today and all signs show that it will continue to terrorize the neighborhood in the future,” unless the Commission takes appropriate action.
Mermaids is the latest in a series of clubs affiliated with the same owner-operator and located on an Encino site that was once home to the original El Torito family restaurant. There have been many reports of nuisances disturbing and afflicting the local neighborhood: past violations included service of alcohol without a license and service of alcohol past 2:00 a.m. A recent undercover investigation by LAPD Vice Officers and Building & Safety found a multitude of alleged violations and serious concerns, echoing the angry complaints of people living in the area. Issues raised have included possible public intoxication, scantily clad employees giving lap dances, late night partying and patrons littering and urinating on surrounding properties upon leaving the club.
This undercover investigation was conducted at the instigation and urging of Councilmember Koretz.
Councilmember Koretz, local residents and neighborhood groups attended the Police Panel hearing and called for action against Mermaids.
The Panel seemed very receptive to the Councilmember and the community. Because the City Attorney requires a few weeks to complete all the necessary legal paperwork, the Panel agreed to take legal action at a subsequent hearing. At the request of Councilmember Koretz, the Panel will hold that hearing at the very beginning of next month, which is much sooner than would normally occur.
Councilmember Koretz explained, “We are doing everything in our power to protect this community by getting rid of a neighborhood nuisance as quickly as possible.”
Posted at 7:00 PM
Monday, Apr 19, 2010
Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz has introduced a city resolution in support of Assembly Bill 1934, which if made into law will make it illegal for anyone who is not in law enforcement to openly carry a handgun in public places anywhere in California.
Joining the Councilmember was Assembly Member Lori Saldana, author of AB 1934, as well as many longtime anti-gun violence activists – many of whom themselves have been victims of gun violence, or had lost family members to such tragedies.
Activists from the anti-gun violence community who were present at the press conference included Ann Reiss Lane of Women Against Gun Violence (WAGV); Sheri Barnett, WAGV Board President & gun violence survivor; Nadine LeBlanc, WAGV Board Member & gun violence survivor; Suzanne Verge, President, Los Angeles Chapter, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence; Sarah Londer, Member of San Fernando Chapter, Brady Campaign (Million Mom March); Loren Lieb, Brady Campaign, San Fernando Valley Chapter; and Oscar Grant, Development Director, Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles.
Councilmember Koretz said, "Today, I am asking the City of Los Angeles to join the California Police Chiefs Association in supporting California State Assembly Bill 1934. The status quo is both shameful and shocking -- people who are not police officers, and who may have no training or permits, can carry handguns openly into almost any public place. That places innocent bystanders in instant danger. Think of how terrified you might be, how intimidated or traumatized, to suddenly see an unknown stranger packing a handgun, and to know that there's no sensible recourse. Think of the effect on a child, or on a person who has already been victimized by gun violence."
Assembly Member Saldana said, "Right now, just about anybody can openly carry a gun in public under current state law, no permit or training required. Guns are an intimidating presence – the average citizen can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys. We are much safer leaving public display of firearms to law enforcement. Open displays of firearms can create potentially dangerous situations. If peace officers respond to a call about a person with a gun, and the armed person behaves in a way that is perceived as threatening, the officers may be forced to respond in a way that is deadly. I have seen a gun go from unloaded to loaded in less than two seconds."
Posted at 12:00 PM
Friday, Apr 09, 2010
Major construction has begun on the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Widening Project. This key effort to transform our transportation system will add a 10-mile HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lane northbound from National Blvd. to Ventura Blvd., thus finally completing our entire network of carpool lanes along the 405 linking southern Orange County and the north San Fernando Valley. Along with the HOV lane, the project will also introduce ramp improvements, replace some bridges that cross freeways, and implement new and better sound walls to protect neighborhoods from noise. The aim is to reduce traffic congestion, decrease air pollution and increase safety. Anyone who might be impacted by this construction is encouraged to visit the MTA Metro website, read more about this project and sign up for email news alerts, at http://www.metro.net/projects/I-405/.
Posted at 12:00 PM
Friday, Mar 26, 2010
City Councilmember Paul Koretz helped lead the successful opposition to a proposed Department of Water and Power rate increase called ECAF (Energy Cost Adjustment Factor). He said that "an unstudied, expensive program is simply bad policy."
As a result, the proposal was overwhelmingly rejected by the L.A. City Council. If the Council had done nothing, the increase would have taken effect, but now it’s back in the hands of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners as to whether or not to come up with a new proposal.
Councilmember Koretz made clear that a significant rate increase is a particularly questionable idea at a time when so many residents and businesses are already hard-hit in our struggling economy.
A champion of open government, the Councilmember pointed out that there had been no opportunity for thorough review by the City Council, Neighborhood Councils, ratepayers or the community as a whole: “Any increase going forward must be informed, thoughtful and transparent. The current proposal does not meet this bar.”
Because he is a lifelong environmentalist who has held leadership positions with many environmental groups, Councilmember Koretz stressed that “we all have the same goal of transforming Los Angeles into a cleaner, greener city. The ECAF proposal does nothing to quickly replace coal-burning power plants with cleaner sources of energy, despite what some have suggested.”
He added that, “most Angelenos support a green, transparent and efficient DWP. Angelenos, however, will not support large rate increases and new programs that no one has had the time to evaluate.”
Posted at 4:15 PM
Friday, Mar 26, 2010
By Allen A. Gomez
As a student at the University of Southern California majoring in Public Policy, I had a course requirement that I intern in a governmental office or other office associated with public affairs. I wanted to see how the nation’s second largest city works internally, so I contacted three city council offices. Only one got back to me – the Office of Councilmember Paul Koretz.
At the start of January, 2010, I interviewed with the Councilmember’s scheduler and also met the Councilmember and his Chief of Staff: they were very friendly and supportive, but they all wanted to make sure that an intern is diligent and that constituents are well-served and not hampered by a relative novice.
I am proud to say that they accepted my request and I began to serve as an intern. I came into the office three days a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, usually from 9am to 2pm. I can guarantee you that most of that staff works very long hours, including well into the evening and also over the weekends! So occasionally, I found myself staying later than I had expected – at least, when school allowed – so that I could help out on a key project.
That’s also something that I want to emphasize: it’s common for City Hall interns to be assigned “grunt” work like answering phones and filing documents, and of course I did that, though so does everyone in that office, when a phone rings or something needs to get done. But I was very pleased that they also asked me to come up with ideas, help analyze policies and issues, and otherwise contribute to very important discussions. I think this is typical of the Councilmember and his staff, because they very much believe in being accessible and involving others, within the CD5 community and also including anyone else who cares about our city. People have a misconception that politicians don’t listen to constituent concerns but from my experience I can say that this is false – the staff in CD5 takes all constituent concerns seriously.
My timing for interning in CD5 could not have come at a better time, from a purely selfish perspective – I got to see first-hand how city officials deal with a monstrous crisis. The budget crisis has made things in this building very rough, and every day I’ve been here I’ve seen the faces of people show sorrow, whether it’s constituents who come here to fight to save their libraries, or people who work for the city and are losing their jobs or have friends losing their jobs, sometimes after 20 years or more of service. I can tell you that these people, at least as far as I can tell, all really care about this city, so we are losing a lot of good, hardworking people.
Today – Friday, March 26 – is my last day as an intern here, and the office’s director of communications asked me if I’d like to write a little something about my experience. I urge students who are interested in either working in the public sector or thinking about being in politics to intern in CD5. I know doing so gave me the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge I have learned to the real world. As for me, I’m finishing up my junior year, and next year I will be getting my B.A. in Public Policy. I plan on going to law school, so that I can pursue a career in criminal law and eventually become a judge.
Posted at 3:00 PM
Thursday, Mar 25, 2010
The City of Los Angeles is in the midst of a severe budget crisis that’s been worsened by the slowness of the nation’s economic recovery. Unfortunately, there is no immediate light at the end of the tunnel, in terms of revenues that might normally flow toward the city and help replenish the city’s coffers.
That means that in order to fix the budget, many drastic steps have been proposed and some have already been taken. Thousands of city employees may be laid off, and some are already gone. City services are being slashed or curtailed, and departments are being consolidated or threatened with elimination.
Constituents are signing petitions calling for many jobs to be saved, and also for the preservation of libraries, park services, arts programs, public safety resources, and other aspects of our city governance. Councilmember Koretz has had countless meetings with constituents, both in CD 5 communities and City Hall, to hear your ideas and concerns about the budget. People throughout City Hall are listening hard and trying to be responsive to the public will -- but these are tough times and tough choices are being made.
Councilmember Koretz, who took office when this crisis was well underway, and who immediately took a self-imposed 10% salary cut upon being sworn in, says, “Repairing the budget is our single greatest priority. We need to make tough decisions. My staff and I are working night and day in order to make sure that the city acts wisely and with true determination. We will do what it takes to ensure the city’s immediate and long-term fiscal security, and that means significant sacrifices will continue to be made. Our crucial goal is to make sure this city can function and function well, and that means we have to put our fiscal house back in order.
“At the same time, I am dedicated to making certain that nothing of value is sacrificed needlessly, and that those things that the people of our city love and need the most are protected. That’s true whether we’re talking about key personnel, essential programs, important city services or valuable city assets.”
To shrink the budget gap, the Councilmember encouraged productive negotiations in which the city unions agreed to many early retirements and other concessions, thus saving the City many millions of dollars without resorting to mass layoffs. But some in City Hall have argued that mass layoffs are still needed – the magic number went, in the course of one day, from a supposed 1,000 to be laid off, to 4,000, though backup analysis justifying such a job bloodbath wasn’t provided. Councilmember Koretz has pointed out that mass layoffs will harm many Angelinos and their families and increase local unemployment, thereby damaging the Los Angeles economy. Mass layoffs would also mean sharply reduced or eliminated city services. That’s why the Councilmember wants to minimize the number of layoffs, by focusing on identifying and implementing efficiencies and other reforms that can help balance the budget without devastating the city’s work force and key city services.
One thing that Councilmember Koretz is doing is hearing ideas that come from the public and sharing them, along with his own ideas – and some of those ideas are already translating into savings and revenues that could help save essential programs that might otherwise get cut. One such idea was to ask companies that have contracts with the city to voluntarily accept a cut of as much as 10% in what they are slated to receive from the city for services rendered.
According to a March 15, 2010 front page article in the Los Angeles Business Journal, this idea of Councilmember Koretz is already paying big dividends! Many city vendors are doing their part for the city by willingly agreeing to give up some of what they are slated to receive from the city. For example, 107 vendors who do business with the City’s General Services Department (out of 540 contacted) have already agreed to cuts; 240 of the 255 recipients of grants from the Cultural Affairs Department have already agreed to 10 percent cuts. Some businesses can not do the full 10 percent but still take a lower cut – Councilmember Koretz recognizes that this may be an economic reality and still appreciates the gesture and its material benefits to the City. Other businesses have volunteered to give back as much as 15% of what they have contracted to receive.
Councilmember Koretz says, “It is very heartwarming to see so many people and businesses throughout Los Angeles exhibiting this kind of civic patriotism. Their sacrifice and commitment bodes well for the city, because the funds that are saved will help us keep our priority services, but also because we are a city family that wants the best for Los Angeles in the years to come. The generosity of spirit shown by so many in these tough times can only point to harmonious efforts in the kinder times that will come. In the meantime, I will continue to point to efficiencies and new ideas that we can use to help bring the budget back in order.”
Posted at 10:00 AM
Friday, Mar 19, 2010
Thursday, Councilmember Paul Koretz called on the Board of Water and Power Commissioners to reject a proposal to dramatically increase the power rates of DWP customers for the Energy Cost Adjustment Factor (ECAF).
The Board later approved the increase, which will go into effect unless overturned by the City Council. Councilmember Koretz now will urge his colleague on the City Council to join him in rejecting this ill advised rate increase.
Councilmember Koretz set forth his views in a letter to the Board of Water and Power Commissioners.
Posted at 10:00 AM
Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010
Councilmember Koretz is reaching out to many old friends and new, seeking assistance and potential partnership to help solve the City’s budget crisis.
On this particular day, he met with California State Board of Equalization Member Jerome E. Horton and conferred with California State Controller John Chiang, both of whom have key roles regarding tax and fiscal policies impacting Los Angeles.
Posted at 12:00 PM
Friday, Mar 05, 2010
One reason the City of Los Angeles is in a tough financial predicament is that some large business operations have been grossly delinquent in failing to pay the taxes and interest they owe this city. Councilmember Koretz has been very outspoken about the need to use our city’s might to go after those scofflaws who fail to pay their fair share. We need to do what we can to collect what’s well past due.
According to the city's Office of Finance, the worst offender is Prestige Parking, Inc., which is said to owe a whopping $72,733,060.45 in parking occupancy taxes and business taxes. You can find the complete list of the city's top debtors here.
Posted at 5:20 PM
Friday, Feb 19, 2010
On February 17th, everyone who is outraged by billboard blight had not just one but three causes for celebration.
That’s because the West Los Angeles Area Planning Commission agreed with the testimony of Councilmember Paul Koretz and many concerned neighborhood activists, and ruled that three digital billboards must be removed.
The Councilmember testified that “constituents from countless communities are outraged by the overwhelming epidemic of signage. But now the tide seems to be turning, thanks in large part to the great efforts of so many community activists and organizations including those in the room today.”
In speaking before the Commission that evening, Councilmember Koretz noted that these particular digital billboards had resulted from permits improperly granted by the Department of Building and Safety, which had failed to take into account local zoning prohibitions about such things as flashing, moving lights. He said, “Digital billboards are a visual blight, traffic hazard, energy drain and source of glare disturbing local residents and their normal sleep patterns. The signs are an imposition and intrusion doing harm to the community’s quality of life.”
The three digital billboards that now must come down as a result of the Commission’s rulings are at or near the intersection of Westwood and Santa Monica Boulevards. Councilmember Koretz has called for the elimination of all digital billboards citywide.
Posted at 3:30 PM
Thursday, Feb 18, 2010
Councilmember Paul Koretz invites all members of the community to attend the Los Angeles City Council’s Budget & Finance Committee Community Meeting on Monday, February 22, 2010. The meeting will take place at 6:00 p.m. in the Hamilton High School cafeteria. Come voice your concerns and give recommendations at this very informative meeting regarding the City's budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
Hamilton High School
2955 South Robertson Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90034
For more information please contact the West LA District Office at 310-289-0353.
Posted at 1:00 PM
Friday, Feb 12, 2010
An agreement has been reached to save the famed Century Plaza Hotel from demolition.
In 2009, the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed the hotel as one of America’s 11-Most Endangered Historic Places, after a project was proposed that would have torn down the hotel and replaced it with a massive, dual tower mixed use development.
Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz – who took office in July 2009 and represents the 5th Council District that includes the Century City community where the Century Plaza Hotel is located – declared that the hotel would be demolished “over my dead body” and strongly urged that discussions take place to figure out a way to save the hotel. Those taking part in the discussions leading to the agreement include hotel property developers Next Century Associates, the Los Angeles Conservancy and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Councilmember Koretz says, “I am thrilled that this extraordinarily important building will be preserved and not demolished. For far too long, the City of Los Angeles has had a sad history of losing many of its key landmarks and institutions. Whether we’re talking about such icons as the Brown Derby, the Red Car or more recently the Ambassador Hotel, these are places and things that have shaped Los Angeles and that have been precious to the people and communities of this city. Unfortunately, too many were taken from us despite being incredibly vital and integral to Los Angeles life. The demolition of the Century Plaza Hotel would have been an incalculable loss to the entire Los Angeles region but especially to Century City and all of our City’s Westside, and we certainly don’t need a massive development in its place. That’s why I did everything in my power to have parties come together and work out an agreement saving the Century Plaza Hotel.”
The Councilmember noted that, “This agreement accomplishes some invaluable goals: we’re preserving a hugely significant community and cultural asset, and we’re protecting a sizable number of jobs that would be lost if the building was demolished and all the employees there were put out of work.” Koretz also stated that, “The work of preservationists concerning the Century Plaza Hotel will continue, step-by-step throughout the process, as the project evolves towards construction and then in any building might occur. I’ve made sure of that, by calling for the creation of a Preservation Advisory Group that will include representatives of the L.A. Conservancy and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.”
The Century Plaza Hotel, located at 2025 Avenue of the Stars, opened in 1966 as the centerpiece of Century City, a community that rose on the former back lot of 20th Century-Fox Studios. The 19-story curved hotel has been a prominent Los Angeles landmark and world-class destination for more than four decades. The existing 726-room hotel with its unique sweeping curved facade has been a gathering place for celebrities, politicians and world dignitaries, serving as a “West Coast White House” and important site for key events such as a presidential celebration for Apollo 11 astronauts. The hotel was designed by renowned architect and engineer Minoru Yamasaki, who would later design New York’s World Trade Center twin towers.
The revised development project will preserve the existing hotel building while providing a mix of residential, office and retail uses on the property. The owners have the right to propose structures to the rear and/or the sides – any such proposal will require all necessary public review and permitting procedures before any approval may be granted. Whatever else may or may not be proposed for eventual consideration, the hotel building will continue to be the centerpiece of the property along Avenue of the Stars. New open space will be easily accessible to pedestrians. The preservation project will provide much additional required parking for all existing and proposed additional uses. The new project will have to comply with the Century City North Specific Plan.
“We are very pleased to have reached agreement on a plan that preserves the Century Plaza Hotel as a vital asset and cultural touchstone for Los Angeles,” says Linda Dishman, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Conservancy. “We’re extremely grateful to Councilmember Koretz for his leadership in bringing us all to the table, and to his staff for their dedication in finding a preservation solution.”
Councilmember Koretz thanked those who have shaped the agreement: “I truly appreciate the continuing collaborative efforts of Michael Rosenfeld and Next Century Associates, the Los Angeles Conservancy and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in saving the hotel.”
On February 12, a motion by City Councilmember Koretz will formally request the City’s Cultural Heritage Commission to review the preservation project and maintain its eligibility as a City Historic-Cultural Monument. The project will undergo normal City review and approval processes including a full environmental impact report (EIR) which will be prepared later this year – a Draft EIR should be available for public review around mid-summer. The projected schedule includes approximately 18 months for environmental review and entitlement approval, and if such approval is granted, 3½ years for construction.
The agreement includes very detailed protocol for the sake of achieving significant, meaningful preservation – indeed, the agreement goes beyond preservation to include restoration of features to the hotel’s original luster, wherever possible: for example, aluminum panels will be carefully cleaned and given protective coating to reinvigorate the hotel’s signature exterior.
The existing hotel has 726 rooms. In the preservation project, the hotel building will be reconfigured to include some condominium residences and approximately 400 hotel rooms. A few other aspects of the Hotel will change, including some which have already changed many times over the years, such as the ballroom, which will be replaced by a new ballroom. The sunken plaza will be significantly filled in, but in a manner that will celebrate its shape and footprint. All such changes have been determined to be acceptable by the preservation experts studying the proposal, and will be further reviewed by the City’s Cultural Heritage Commission.
(Photos by Andrew Hara and Dave Smith courtesy of the Los Angeles Conservancy.)
Posted at 12:00 PM
Monday, Feb 08, 2010
Last Friday, Councilmember Paul Koretz proudly honored current Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association board member, Ellen Vukovich and three past board members: Nancy Kaleel, Wayne Williams and David Rankell. Councilmember Koretz said, "These four community leaders have been forces for good on a wide variety of crucial causes. They have each devoted countless volunteer hours over the years to keeping the neighborhoods and people of Sherman Oaks informed on local as well as city-wide issues, challenges and successes. We are grateful, because these civic patriots have improved the quality of life of San Fernando residents and helped to ensure that government is accountable and that our local communities are well-served and fully empowered."
Posted at 11:00 AM