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My staff and I want to wish you the best on this Memorial Day holiday.
On this occasion, we pay special tribute to the men and women who have served our nation, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We've all known people ? perhaps you are one, yourself ? who served in the military, willing to risk life and limb to protect our country and its peace and security. Some of us have lost friends, or members of our family, because of their willingness to be in harm's way in war time, for the sake of the greater good. Let's do the best we can to honor such courage and sacrifice, each in our own way, including by coming together in our neighborhoods and communities, not just on holidays but every day, respecting diverse views and backgrounds to forge the great future, and the peaceful world, they wanted for us all. Have a good and safe weekend.
Palms Station Grand Opening
The weekend of May 20-22 was a historic occasion ? not just for Palms, where a huge turnout of people enjoyed the festivities and free rides associated with the Grand Opening of the Palms Station, but for everyone who wants Los Angeles to be a great transportation city. (The day before the Palms event, a Grand Opening event celebrated the Expo Line Extension, allowing commuters for the first time in a generation to travel from Downtown L.A. to and from the Santa Monica shoreline, without setting foot in a car. (Of course, there are stops in between ? what a great way to explore various Los Angeles neighborhoods.)
The event at the Palms Station was great fun, with various attractions, entertainment, and of course food trucks. The 5th Council District Office, a co-presenter of the event, thanks fellow co-presenters, Metro and the Motor Avenue Improvement Association, and salutes everyone who were among the huge throngs of attendees, because they ? and you -- are all a part of the big picture, which is improved public transportation, lessened traffic and better air quality for our region ? plus swell new and added transportation options!
Happy 70th Anniversary!
Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell, Paul Koretz and David Ryu, along with City Attorney Mike Feuer and L.A. County Assessor Jeffrey Prang, joined together in a City Hall ceremony to honor the Park Labrea New and Beverly Press on the 70th anniversary of that outstanding journalistic enterprise.
It began in 1946 as a newsletter, the “Park Labrea News,” serving what had been built to be the largest apartment community west of the Mississippi; by 1948 that newspaper had been converted into a newspaper. In the 1950s, it was appearing twice a month. Current publishers Michael and Karen Villalpando purchased it on January 1, 1990, and within six months, had turned it into a weekly and expanded its circulation, including by serving the Miracle Mile, Hancock Park and Fairfax communities. A further expansion took place the following year, and a further expansion was memorialized through the new use of an additional name, the “Beverly Press.” Today, more than 13,000 readers, including in the City of West Hollywood, read one or the other of the newspapers, which are available in hard copy and online, and while an ongoing partnership with the Los Angeles Times allows for a very productive joint distribution arrangement with the L.A. Times, the Park Labrea News and Beverly Press remain independently owned by the publishers, the Villalpandos.
Councilmember Koretz praised Michael and Karen Villalpando, Editor Ed Folven, Managing Editor Gregory Cornfield and all the rest of their journalistic team, and spoke of how for many years, he has eagerly read the paper each and every week, adding, “unless you live or work in the communities they serve, and are part of their readership, you may not comprehend the massive value these newspapers provide, the sense of community they instill, and the people and neighborhoods they empower, through their diligent, fair and thorough coverage… they are always noticing something of interest and never hesitating to ask what’s up, whether it’s about a neighborhood cause, community event, possible development or challenging issue. And they do that through tremendous investigating and reporting, not in a 'gotcha' tone but to discover the true details and share them with readers, in a factual, entertaining and informative manner.”
Congratulations, the Park Labrea News and Beverly Press, on 70 years of great reporting!
From left: Managing Editor Gregory Cornfield, Editor Ed Folven, County Assessor Jeffrey Prang, Councilmember David Ryu, Publisher Michael Villalpando, Publisher Karen Villalpando, Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell and Paul Koretz, Rebecca Villalpando, Emily Villalpando, John Jilg, and Restaurant Reviewer Jill Weinlein.
An Inconvenient Truth
Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council followed Councilmember Koretz's lead in declaring May 24th, 2016, as "An Inconvenient Truth" Day to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the release of former Vice President Al Gore's vitally important climate change documentary. The documentary, which received two Academy Awards, including for Best Documentary, has been touted as drastically and positively altering the worldwide discussion on global warming. Councilmember Koretz was pleased to congratulate Mr. Gore in person at the Participant Media celebration of the anniversary that same evening. The Councilmember joined more than 70 environmental leaders, business owners and government officials from around the world, including Mayor Garcetti and Andy Lipkis of TreePeople, in sharing his personal story of the impact the film had on him. That interview footage will soon be released online.
While positive steps have been taken, such as the City's effort to remove coal from its power generation load, Councilmember Koretz agrees with most scientists that we still are not moving fast enough to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit the most extreme impacts of climate disruption. His motion, detailed in this LA Times article, to set aggressive targets to reduce the City's greenhouse gases 45% of 1990 levels by 2025, 60% by 2035, and 80% by 2050, was approved by the City Council last month.
In December at the Paris Conference of Parties (COP), 195 countries adopted the first-ever universal, legally-binding global climate deal to take action to keep the average global climate temperature below 1.5°C. In February, global average temperatures broke 1.5°C of warming. On March 21, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), issued a report warning that climate change is occurring at an “alarming rate” and that world leaders must act to curb greenhouse gases now,“before we pass the point of no return.”
Councilmember Koretz and Al Gore.
A tough battle won
Because the federal government has jurisdiction over cell phone towers, it is very difficult for the City of Los Angeles -- or any city -- to have much of a say regarding the installation, placement, size and design of those towers. However, Councilmember Koretz and his staff, working hand-in-hand with concerned communities, have been able to win some victories against the odds. These matters become somewhat easier to resolve favorably when an installation is taking place on a city facility.
Such was a recent case involving a proposed cell tower on Drexel Avenue, in Beverly Grove. (The tower proposal included co-location on a power pole, requiring an adjacent above-ground facility or cabinet on city right of way.) The proposal received initial approval from the Board of Public Works, which also denied the homeowner's appeal. However, the Board's hearing took place while the homeowner, Shaun Regen, was out of town, raising due process concerns. Also important was that there is a pending application for the appellant's home to receive a historic designation, because it was designed by the great architect, Richard Neutra: when a property is declared historic, the related standards require that cell phone towers be less intrusive.
Scores of community members began to express their dismay, and Councilmember Koretz asserted City Council jurisdiction over the issue. Testifying before the committee, 5th Council District Deputy Jeff Ebenstein joined Ms. Regen and her land use consultant representative, Rob Glushon (a past president of the Encino Neighborhood Council) in urging the City Council's Public Works and Gang Reduction Committee to veto the cell phone tower and above-ground facility at this location. The Committee voted its unanimous agreement, and the companies responsible for the cell tower application, after hearing from the Council office, pulled their application.
Legislative Deputy Jeffery Ebenstein (left) with Rob Glushon (middle) and homeowner Shaun Regen (right) after the Council meeting.
A great Pick Pico success
The annual Pick Pico neighborhood street fair brings together businesses, artists, and a variety of other groups for a day full of community engagement, fun, and celebration. Pico Blvd. itself is a lengthy boulevard of much history and diversity, but when Pick Pico happens, the focus of celebration is the segment between Century Park East and the 405, and the event showcases the many businesses and community leaders that create a local flavor unique to CD5. Each and every year, Pick Pico is a great way to meet neighbors, shop locally, and celebrate the community!
This year's event was held on May 22, and Pick Pico's attendance reached nearly 6,000 total, surpassing last year's numbers. Councilmember Koretz was delighted to be among the many, and he thanked the Westside Neighborhood Council, major sponsors and everyone else who made this event such a great success. He also gave special recognition to the students on the Service Learning, Student Council and Greenification Team at Westwood Charter Elementary School for being great stewards of the Earth and helping to keep Pico Blvd clean during Pick Pico weekend.
Councilmember Koretz, Chief of Staff Joan Pelico and LAPD Captain at Olympic Division, Tina Nieto.
Councilmember Koretz presenting certificate of appreciation to organizers Lisa Morocco, Terri Tippit, and Jae Wu.
Best Foot Forward
On May 21st, a special “Best Foot Forward” event was held at El Camino Charter High School – and Councilmember Koretz was among the many delighted people in the audience.
In 2006, Larry and Gloria Weinstein began the Best Foot Forward program to allow children to have the opportunity to learn ballroom dancing. The Weinstein’s were dance teachers and after retiring they wanted to continue teaching children the art of dancing. They believed that dancing is not just a talent that can be learned but also teaches children about their own cultivating character.
The program began with six kids in 2007 and by 2009 it nearly tripled in number. Larry and Gloria decided to start a dance festival for local schools in the San Fernando Valley. Now, there are eighteen Title One schools that have joined the dance festival. This year was their 8th year doing the festival. Many schools from the San Fernando Valley, including Encino Elementary School of the 5th District, were represented by dancing youths. The children that participated in the dance festival competition ranged from 1st to 5th grade. The program included ballroom dancing, salsa dancing, cha cha dancing and disco. The event concluded with a small tribute to Larry Weinstein, who passed away three years ago. All guests were welcome to join in dancing to his favorite song. Thank you, Gloria and Larry and everyone who has made this extraordinary endeavor possible.
Best Foot Forward Founder Gloria Weinstein receiving a certificate of appreciation from Councilmember Koretz.
It's a hot topic
The Planning Department's public hearing on the draft Home Sharing Ordinance (short-term rentals/AirBnB) was held on Saturday, May 21, at the Deaton Auditorium at LAPD Headquarters.
Approximately 700 people showed up. The 500-seat auditorium was filled well before the 10 a.m. start time, so an overflow room was opened and also filled. Some loudspeakers were set up in back so that folks waiting outside could hear the hearing. Anyone who came to testify was allowed to do so eventually, even though some had to wait outside for quite a while.
The testimony tended to be divided amongst people who don't like short-term rentals at all, those who don't like them in rent-controlled apartments, those who don't like them in single-family homes or condos, those who like them and think the draft ordinance is too restrictive, and those who don't think there needs to be an ordinance. There weren't many of the latter, however.
The key information that emerged from the event is that the Planning Dept. will continue to take comments through June 6: IF YOU WANT TO PROVIDE YOUR COMMENTS, PLEASE USE THIS LINK. After reviewing all public input, departmental staff may then tweak the ordinance and send it to the City Planning Commission for another hearing on June 23rd, currently set for Van Nuys City Hall (they expect another big turnout, so they may relocate the meeting to a larger facility).
If the Planning Commission takes action on the 23rd, the ordinance would then go to the Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee and finally to the City Council, which has been estimated could happen by August, best case scenario. The City Attorney could take a couple of months to draft a final ordinance, which could be approved by Council in November, though at this stage, such a timetable is based on best estimates and guesswork.
Councilmember Koretz has not yet taken a formal position on the draft ordinance and, with another revision expected in the coming weeks, is not expected to do so until the Planning Commission hearing, or sometime thereafter. In the meantime, we'll keep you posted as things evolve.
There was an overflow in attendance at the Home Sharing Ordinance public hearing.
The vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court
On May 24, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a Resolution, authored by LA. City Councilmember Paul Koretz, urging the United States Senate to schedule, promptly, a hearing in the Senate's Judiciary Committee, and then a confirmation vote by the U/.S. Senate, regarding the nomination by President Obama of Judge Merrick Garland to fill the now vacant seat on the United States Supreme Court. Here is a link to the resolution: http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2015/15-0002-S166_reso_04-22-2016.pdf.
Garland is the Chief Justice of the U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He was nominated by President Obama to fill the seat made vacant by the sudden death of Antonin Scalia, but so far, the U.S. Senate, in what has largely been attributed to partisan politics, has failed to act to hold any hearings, much less vote on the nomination. Some of the U.S. Senators who are refusing to move this nomination forward are the same ones who had earlier heaped praise on Garland for being an impartial and outstanding jurist. President Obama has said that pressure on the Senate to do its job must come from the people and communities across the land. Councilmember Koretz has pointed out that the vacancy has an impact on the Court’s ability and willingness to rule on issues of importance, including to Los Angeles. Recent court decisions have included what amounted to an inconclusive 4-4 split on one key matter, and another case in effect being booted back to the involved parties to see if they can work out a decision: the Court’s capacity is, arguably, being undermined by the Senate’s unwillingness to give it a 9th Justice, with those unwilling senators claiming that somehow it being an election year means that inaction is appropriate.
Two special guests came to the May 24th City Council to speak – both were former clerks of Judge Garland, so they were able to share personal insights. Kristen Eichensehr is a Visiting Assistant Professor, UCLA School of Law. Along with clerking for Judge Garland, she also clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Sonia Sotomayor. Professor Sam Erman of USC Gould School of Law, besides clerking for Judge Garland, also clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justices John Paul Stevens and Anthony Kennedy.
(Assistant Professor Eichensehr’s husband, Assistant Professor of Law Richard Re at UCLA, was also on hand but didn’t address the Council, because he never clerked for Judge Garland, though he did clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.)
Here are the comments of the two professors who spoke.
Assistant Professor Eichensehr said, "Chief Judge Garland is a brilliant and fair-minded jurist, and he would be a tremendous asset to the Supreme Court. Over his 19 years of service on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Judge Garland has built a well-deserved reputation as a consensus builder and someone who commands universal respect from his colleagues on the court and from the lawyers who practice before the D.C. Circuit. His meticulous attention to each and every case means that he often knows the factual record and all of the relevant precedents better than the litigants that appear before him. Nonetheless, he is both humble and unfailingly respectful of litigants, court staff, his own staff, and his colleagues.
“Serving on the Supreme Court would be the culmination of a long career in which Judge Garland has dedicated himself to public service. Before becoming a Judge, he served in the Department of Justice, including as the lead prosecutor in the Oklahoma City bombing case. His commitment to public service is something he impresses on his law clerks in the course of giving career advice. And he himself goes above and beyond with community service, including tutoring elementary school students in Northeast Washington. Chief Judge Garland could not possibly be more qualified for the position of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he deserves a hearing and a prompt vote. The Supreme Court has a key role in the federal government and in the country as the final arbiter of many significant legal disputes, and it can only fully play that role when it has a full complement of nine Justices. I hope that the Senate will hold a hearing and show Chief Judge Garland the same respect and collegiality that he embodies."
Professor Erman told the Council, “I clerked for Chief Judge Garland in 2009-2010. I learned more about being an excellent lawyer in that year than in my prior training. He was an unfailingly careful and fair jurists. He respected his colleagues, his employees, and the parties and lawyers who appeared before him. Judge Garland has a well-deserved reputation as a consensus builder. And he has more integrity than any person I have ever met.
“I'd also like to say something about the resolution before the Council. The Constitution requires the Senate and the President to work together to staff the Supreme Court. The Senate's refusal to play its part leaves a crucial branch of government short-staffed and sets a bad precedent. The main check that the Constitution envisions for such behavior is the people, us. That check can be exercised at the ballot box, in constituent letters, and in resolutions like this one. I think the resolution is commendable and appropriate. I support its passage.”
Professor Sam Erman of USC Gould School of Law (left), Councilmember Paul Koretz, visiting Assistant Professor, UCLA School of Law, Kristen Eichensehr (second right) and her husband, Richard Re (left).
Pick of the week
Meet Davey, a cuddly two-month-old kitten who came in as a stray and is looking for a good home. He is a bundle of energy and lots of fun. He also has five other brothers just as cute as him waiting for a new family. Davey's ID number is A1629545 and he is available for adoption this Friday, 5/27 at the West Valley Animal Shelter, located at 20655 Plummer Street, Chatsworth, 91311. For more information, visit LAAnimalServices.com or call 888-452-7381.