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On October 20, Councilmember Koretz was pleased to testify before the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission to ask for their support in funding the Westwood Neighborhood Greenway Project with Proposition 84 funds. He said, “In addition to the vitally-important water capture and cleaning aspects, this project will revitalize city land here on either side of the new Expo Line light rail tracks, and provide much-needed open park space in a park-poor region. We intend it to be part of a larger outdoor learning center where students and thousands of Expo Line riders can learn about the importance of cleaning and conserving water and make the direct connection between their daily habits and the health of Santa Monica Bay.”
The SMBRC voted unanimously to recommend $2.2 million in funding for the project, which is half of the necessary funds. The State Water Resources Control Board will next take up the SMBRC funding recommendations and make a final funding determination at a later date.
The Councilmember was joined by and thanked the members of the Westwood Greenway Steering Committee (WGSC) who also testified, including Jonathan Weiss, Sarah Hays, David Wendell and Sean McMillan. The WGSC has been instrumental in moving this project forward.
On Friday, November 4, Councilmember Koretz was joined by community members, city department representatives and environmentalists at a sign unveiling ceremony celebrating the October 20th SMBRC vote for the proposed educational park/watershed enhancement project.
“The Westwood Neighborhood Greenway is a powerful example of how we can — and should — work together to protect the environment while making our communities more livable and engaging,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti in a statement issued for the occasion. “Councilmember Koretz’s leadership, and his commitment to working with the community, will bring new open space to Westwood, and give Angelenos of all ages a beautiful place to learn more about water conservation and L.A.’s natural heritage.”
Those present included Councilmember Koretz, Executive Director of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, Tom Ford, Public Works Vice President Heather Repenning, LA Sanitation GM and SMBRC Chair Enrique Zaldivar, Recreation and Parks Assistant GM Ramin Barajas, National Resources Defense Counsel Senior Attorney and Director, Southern California Ecosystems Project, Damon Nagami, and Westwood Greenway Steering Committee Members.
Gun violence and campus safety
On the morning of November 3rd, Councilmember Koretz provided opening ? ?remarks for a Gun Violence and Campus Safety forum at UCLA, hosted by ? ?LA City Attorney Mike Feuer. The forum generated a very important conversation and discussion about what local leaders are doing to keep student safe on campus.
The forum was in response to student concerns about gun violence throughout society, including those deadly shootings that seem to have become a frequent occurrence on or near school campuses: tragically, one UCLA professor lost his life to gun violence earlier this year. The day of that shooting, as the news quickly spread (including due to a safety alert warning students and others of a possible ongoing threat), there was an impressive showing of hundreds of law enforcement officers from various agencies. Safety in the immediate face of a deadly threat is the foremost goal, under any such circumstance, but it's also important to look objectively at the vastness of the gun violence epidemic, to see what solutions and safety measures and practices are possible.
Unfortunately, gun violence remains very much a grim reality that potentially affects all of us and that needs to be reckoned with, now more than ever. Gun violence claims 30,000- 40,000 American lives a year, and permanently tears at survivors, families and whole communities.
The UCLA community has demonstrated great unity regarding this issue, both in the immediate wake of the shooting that claimed the professor's life, but also through this forum, which brought students, faculty and alumni together. It's clear that UCLA wants its voices heard, and a dialogue fostered, across local and state governments in an effort to end gun violence. The Councilmember thanks City Attorney Feuer for his leadership, and all those who were in attendance for their presence and participation.
Council moves to place cannabis taxation measure on March ballot, sets hearings
Acknowledging the need to update the City’s existing medical marijuana tax structure and anticipating the possibility that recreational use will be approved statewide via Proposition 64, the City Council is working to put a pertinent measure on the City’s primary election ballot in March 2017.
The “Cannabis Enforcement, Taxation and Regulation Act” (CETRA) calls for maximum daily criminal and civil fines and other penalties for unlicensed cannabis dispensary and other businesses beginning July 31, 2018. It also creates a tax structure of 6% on medical and 10% on recreational sales (on top of any taxes imposed by state law or Prop. 64). CETRA also addresses other tax and penalty situations and also sets forth a game plan and time line for setting up revised regulations to supplant Measure D, the ballot measure approved in 2013 that has proven to be inadequate in regulating the burgeoning medical marijuana business.
Under state law, any changes to any aspect of the City’s taxation laws must be submitted to the voters for approval.
A second measure, authored by the United Cannabis Business Association, has also qualified for the March ballot. It proposes a more extensive regulatory scheme that grandfathers existing medical marijuana dispensaries for permitting purposes, and limits what the City Council can do to amend it. By contrast, CETRA would allow the Council to put together the regulatory structure based on input from concerned members of the community, law enforcement, business interests and the cannabis industry.
The Council’s Rules, Elections, Intergovernmental Relations and Neighborhoods Committee is holding three large-scale public hearings on the issue. The first was held in South Los Angeles on November 2nd. Subsequent hearings will be held as follows:
Tues. Nov. 29th @ 6pm - Los Angeles City Hall, John Ferraro Council Chambers - 200 N. Spring Street, 3rd Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Wed. Dec. 7th @ 6pm - Van Nuys City Hall, Council Chambers - 14410 Sylvan Street, 2nd Floor Van Nuys, CA 91401
Koretz calls for reform of the City’s Environmental Review Process
In October 2015, speaking before a group of representatives of various Fifth District homeowner and neighborhood organizations, Councilmember Paul Koretz suggested he would propose a change in the way the Department of City Planning oversees the California Environmental Quality Act Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process in Los Angeles. His idea was to take the process of choosing who prepares the EIRs from developers who have a vested interest in the content and recommendations of those EIRs and return it to the City, which has the legal jurisdiction over the whole process.
For reasons primarily of convenience and expense, the City has turned over much of the process to the developers and their hired consultants. City Planning reviews the draft documents submitted before finalizing them for public review, but time and personnel constraints sometimes make it difficult for Planning to apply the critical eye many members of the public would prefer.
As it happens, Councilmember Koretz isn’t the only one who was thinking about this situation. It had been discussed by City officials in the past but nothing was ever done. But early this year, Mayor Eric Garcetti proposed a set of “entitlement” reforms meant to both streamline and strengthen the City’s overall process in dealing with development proposals. One of them happened to be the EIR oversight process that Councilmember Koretz raised concerns about.
At the Mayor’s request, City Planning developed a set of options for how to deal with EIRs, including the current process in which the developer makes the choice of consultant, a variation whereby the City would create a list of qualified, pre-screened environmental consultants for developers to choose from, another variation whereby the City would choose the consultant from that list, and finally a variation whereby City Planning would do the work itself.
Since the first two options would essentially reaffirm the status quo and the latter option would leave the process vulnerable to the staffing and budgetary uncertainties of a Planning Department which has seen substantial cuts in the last few years before this year’s recovery-fueled surge in staff hiring, Councilmember Koretz opted for the third variation. This one would have Planning choose the consultant. It was closest to what he proposed last year in the first place.
When the matter came before the Council’s Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee for discussion on Tuesday, September 13th, Mr. Koretz submitted a letter expressing his preference to the committee’s five members. That letter is reproduced here for your reference.
PLUM continued the matter for further discussion in the near future and Councilmember Koretz is looking to introduce a motion to bring his proposal to the full Council expeditiously.
City Hall recently saluted Carol Schatz, a 5th District constituent who for more than 20 years has led Downtown L.A.'s Central City Association as its President and CEO. She has stepped down from those posts, but will continue to serve as President and CEO of CCA's sister organization, the Downtown Center Business Improvement Association, which she helped to found.
The City Council recognized her for her great dedication and accomplishments, and thanked her for her steadfast commitment to Los Angeles. Under her leadership, the CCA has played an extraordinary role in the ongoing transformation of Downtown Los Angeles, which twenty years ago was a business center with little night life and only a modest number of residential units. In the past two decades, Ms. Schatz and CCA have many served as a crucial guiding force helping to make possible the dynamic growth of Downtown, even while facing many challenges and issues (such as the Great Recession of 2007-2009).
Jessica Lall will be become CCA President and CEO on January 3, with Suzanne Holley, the CCA's Senior Vice President and Chief Operationg officer, currently holding those positions on an interim basis.
AIDS Walk Los Angeles
The 32nd Annual AIDS Walk L.A. took place on October 23, and Councilmember Koretz was proud to take part, as he has nearly every single year since the start of this crucial and wonderful fundraising effort and awareness-raising event. A great thank you goes to everyone who made it possible and everyone who participated in it.
Pictured from left to right: Mayor Eric Garcetti, Councilmember Paul Krekorian, City Attorney Mike Feuer, L.A.County Supervisor Hilda Solis, Councilmember Paul Koretz, Pauley Perrette of NCIS, and Sam Sayyad (husband of Supervisor Solis)
P-22 Day intersects with the Koretz Wildlife Corridors initiative
The mountain lion known as P-22 is renowned for his presence in Griffith Park. The young male cougar somehow safely crossed two major Los Angeles freeways after leaving his mother to find his own territory. On October 22, Councilmember Koretz was pleased to have the honor of (sort of) carrying P-22 (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) the last half mile of the 40-mile hike tracing the actual P-22’s incredible journey to get to his current home in Griffith Park. Marking the occasion, the Councilmember unveiled the LA City proclamation of Oct. 22 declaring it to be P-22 Day in Los Angeles.
The National Wildlife Foundation and the Santa Monica Mountains Fund, CLAW (Citizens for LA Wildlife), Friends of Griffith Park, the LA County Natural History Museum and their partners are raising funds to build an urban wildlife crossing bridge at Liberty Canyon in Agoura Hills so that our favorite mountain lion can escape to mate. (Here’s a relevant link: https://urbanwildlifeweek.funraise.org/#/?_k=hmuwaf.) These efforts are harmonious with those by Councilmember Koretz to protect Wildlife Corridors from development, in the hillsides from Griffith Park to the 405. The City Council approved the Koretz pilot project several months ago and the Planning Department is hard at work on implementing it.
Food Day 2016 and Organic Waste motion
On October 25th, Councilmember Koretz hosted the City’s annual Food Day event, where each Councilmember recognizes a Good Food Champion from his or her district. Councilmember Koretz recognized Lee Wallach and the Motor Avenue Improvement Association for their work this year in creating the city’s first parklet with food growing in it, for its ongoing and innovative Urban Garden Program, which educates our children and neighbors on the importance to our shared future of nutrition, sustainability and community cooperation, and for the weekly Motor Avenue Farmer’s Market, which provides fresh produce to the surrounding neighborhood.
Food Day began in 2012 with the approval of the Councilmember’s motion creating the Good Food Purchasing Program, which uses the City’s purchasing power to have a huge positive impact on our regional food system in terms of environmental sustainability, animal welfare, fair labor and local economic opportunity, as well the health of residents served by city food programs.
This year, the City Council has approved a Koretz motion calling on the City to create a robust organics (food and landscape waste) recycling program, which will keep organics out of landfills where they can create methane, one of the most dangerous greenhouse gases. Instead, we hope to use the organic waste to create high grade compost and healthy soil, which can sequester carbon dioxide and actually help reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Thanking DRB members for their leadership and time of service
From left to right: Councilmember Koretz, Terri Tippit, Jann Williams, and Kenneth Korman.
Councilmember Koretz recently thanked and honored honor three community leaders for their dedicated service on the Westwood Design Review Board: Terri Tippit, Kenneth Korman and Jann Williams.
Terri Tippit has been an advocate in the community for over 40 years, was the Chair of the Westwood DRB and is also the co-founder of the Westside Neighborhood Council and currently serves as its Chair. Architect Kenneth Korman was raised in Westwood and attended Fairburn, Emerson and University High, and has a Bachelor of Architecture from UC Berkeley and a Master of Urban Planning from the University of Michigan. Jann Williams holds a Masters of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania, has her own practice as an Architect for residential, institutional and commercial projects all over the City of L.A., and is a founding member of the Westwood Neighborhood Council Steering Committee.
Design Review Boards play a crucial role in promoting orderly, attractive and harmonious development, and these members have given countless hours to ensuring a very high design and architectural standard for Westwood Village.
Westwood Village is unique because it has beautiful cultural resources with many of its structures influenced by Mediterranean and Spanish colonialism and revival architecture. The Westwood DRB is tasked with maintaining the integrity and design of a structure while also considering the unique architectural character and the environmental setting of the Westwood Village.
Councilmember Koretz said he is “forever grateful to these board members for volunteering their time, keeping a keen eye to detail, and offering their unwavering commitment to quality.”
Bel Air Ridge HOA
The Bel Air Ridge Home Owners Association recently held a great meeting regarding public safety. Joining the HOA members and Councilmember Koretz were Chief Jon Peters, Captain Tina Nieto and Senior Lead Officer Chris Ragsdale, from the LAPD and Veronica De la Cruz from the City Attorney's Office. Councilmember Koretz thanks all those who were present, and salutes the HOA members for their longstanding and devoted community involvement.
On October 30 -- a s-c-a-r-y time -- Councilmember Koretz attended Warner Elementary School's Halloween Haunt, joining students, parents, and faculty in enjoying the food, games and -- of course -- the at least occasional piece of candy. Thank you, Warner Elementary, and especially Principal Kamau and the Warner Elementary parents who made this spooky event possible.
Heyler Harvest Festival
The Heyler Harvest Festival is a terrific annual block party, providing great fun while promoting a wonderful spirit of community. Councilmember Koretz was honored and pleased to take part in the proceedings, including by honoring community activists Barbara Broide and, posthumously, Marilyn Cohon. Council District 5 thanks Heyler Realty for hosting this event every year!
Beverlywood HOA meeting
Councilmember Koretz thanks the Board of the Beverlywood Homeowner's Association for inviting him to speak and take questions at the association's semi-annual meeting. The Councilmember applauds the board members for their advocacy, and thanks everyone involved for their activism in making Beverlywood a beautiful neighborhood.
Westwood Charter Halloween HOOT!
Councilmember Paul Koretz attended this year's Westwood Charter Halloween Hoot where Friends of West LA generously donated $30,625 to the school. Thank you, FOWLA, for all you do and contribute to the community, and to Westwood Charter's Principal Kathy Flores, who does a stellar job handling a multitude of tasks each and every year and going the extra mile to make Westwood Charter what it is today. Last but certainly not least, thank you to all of the local community partners who help sponsor events like the Halloween Hoot every year and bringing wonderful one-of-a-kind experiences to our neighborhoods.
Councilmember Koretz hosted a recent meeting of the Bel Air-Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council Members and L.A. City Planning Department representatives, to draft new protections for the City's ridges and peaks in hillside zones.
Bel Air-Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council
From left to right: Tom Rothmann, Faisal Alserri, Chief of Staff Joan Pelico, Don Loze, Kevin Keller, Robin Greenberg, Councilmember Paul Koretz, Nickie Miner, and Bob Schlesinger.
Councilmember Koretz visits Congregation Shaarei Tefila
Congregation Shaarei Tefila was founded as the Western Jewish Institute in the 1930s. During the last 80 years, their classes, services, and community programs have made this place a center of traditional Jewish worship, education, and social activity. One of the biggest ways they are committed to the community is through their Senior Program. On Tuesday, November 1st, Councilmember Koretz was invited by Congregation Shaarei Tefila to speak at their senior group. He talked about neighborhood quality of life issues, spoke on citywide issues and policy, and received questions from the members. He also honored the congregation with a certificate of appreciation from the City.
PlatinumCare LA Grand Opening & Ribbon Cutting
Congratulations to PlatinumCare LA for opening their second office here in Los Angeles. They recently moved from West Hollywood, with their first already being located in Culver City. The focus on internal medicine and help meet the needs of residents by helping to improve their physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Councilmember Koretz’s Chief of Staff, Joan Pelico, was on hand to represent the City of Los Angeles and welcome them to our city. Congratulations!
Dr. Shamim Shakibai, CD 5 Chief of Staff Joan Pelico and Dr. Vinay Aggarwal.
In the most recent (November 2) issue of this Hi 5 newsletter, the article "Koretz Rental Housing Initiative takes a big step forward" highlighted key efforts by Councilmember Koretz to offer better protections for tenants faced with being put out on the streets by their landlords.
As the article stated, "all of these proposals were developed in collaboration with both tenant and landlord advocacy groups.” Special efforts such as these warrant special thanks, and so we want to applaud two key organizations which have provided major assistance to Councilmember Koretz, the Housing and Community Investment Department and the City Council's Housing Committee in developing amendments to City statutes on rent control and evictions. Those organizations are the Coalition for Economic Survival, an important tenants' rights group, and the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, the region's most prominent landlord consortium. Councilmember Koretz thanks and congratulates them for their efforts.
Keeping our streets clean and clear of debris is a vital part to the quality of life in our neighborhoods. That is why Councilmember Koretz and his 5th Council District office are working closely with the Bureau of Sanitation's Clean Streets LA program to eliminate dumping and to preserve the cleanliness of our streets. As part of this program, Sanitation workers are deployed across the city to take on dumping hot spots and remove bulky items so they don't linger on our streets attracting additional blight. You can help us by using the MyLA311 app or by calling 311 to report dumped items, graffiti, or any other service needed from the city. By being our eyes and ears in our local communities, you can help keep the 5th District and our city beautiful.
Pet of the Week
Anne (ID#A1655345) is a darling 10 year young Chihuahua mix who came to the shelter as a stray. She is a lovely little lady in search of a second chance at a happy life. She will curl up on your lap or proudly walk by your side. Anne deserves a nice warm bed to sleep on. Can you open your heart and home to her? Come meet her and her furry friends at the West Valley Animal Shelter, located at 20655 Plummer Street, Chatsworth, 91311. For more information, visit http://www.laanimalservices.com/ or call 888-452-7381.