Spring is here and so is the warmer weather. Spring is a wonderful time of year in Council District Five and a special time to enjoy the many outdoor amenities offered in our communities.
Whether it’s a swim program, a walk in our parks, or viewing an outdoor concert, you and your loved ones can make your local experiences fun and memorable.
Councilmembers Direct Staff to Research Divesting from Wells Fargo over Dakota Access Pipeline Investment
Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Mitch O’Farrell introduced a motion that starts the conversation about divesting taxpayer funds from holdings with Wells Fargo Bank, due to its financial support of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.
The motion directs the City’s Office of Finance to report within 30 days with options for divestment from all holdings with Wells Fargo, and includes recommendations for immediate reinvestment of proceeds from any divestment actions into responsible securities or holdings with other financial institutions that comply with the City’s Responsible Banking Ordinance (CF 09-0234-S3). The City of Los Angeles currently holds over $40M in securities with Wells Fargo that have a one to four year maturity. Recently, the Seattle City Council voted to break ties with Well Fargo due to its financial support of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline Project. Opponents of the Pipline Project have expressed concern that it will cause environmental devastation to the regions it crosses, including the lands of the Standing Rock Sioux. Last year, the City Council unanimously approved a resolution opposing the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The long-awaited ordinance to regulate short-term rentals (STRs, such as AirBnb) is anticipated to be heard at an upcoming Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee in April (no hearing date available yet). The ordinance will clarify where STRs will be considered legal and where they won’t, how many days a year a given location can be used for home-sharing and under what circumstances. It also will require hosts to register their homes with the City and pay transient occupancy taxes. It appears the Department of City Planning will oversee the registration and enforcement processes, while the Department of Finance will collect the taxes.
The current version of the ordinance allows home sharing in a host’s primary residence, which could be a single-family home, condo or non-rent controlled apartment. Hosts who violate the ordinance could lose their right to home-share. However, there are details still to be debated and finalized, including what the threshold for disqualifying violations will be, and how many days a year a host will be allowed to home-share.
Key goals of the final ordinance that goes to the Council includes providing clear guidelines as to where home-sharing is allowed and not allowed (something that has proven difficult to determine under current City codes), establishing enforceable ground rules for home-sharing, providing mechanisms to control party houses and prevent the eviction of tenants from rent-controlled units so they cannot be used for short-term rentals while shrinking the City’s supply of affordable housing. Also, obviously, the ordinance will facilitate the collection of new taxes, estimated to total $30M for this fiscal year and possibly as high as $37M for 2017-18 once legal home-sharing hosts are paying their fair share.
Unfortunately for some vocal critics of short-term rentals, the ordinance will NOT outlaw them in single-family zones and condos and there doesn’t seem to be the votes in Council sufficient to change the ordinance to do so. It should, however, be easier to get enforcement against noise and bad behavior at home-sharing sites and to revoke their registration for repeated citations.
The passage of Measure M on the March 7th ballot sets the stage for the next phase of reworking the City’s marijuana regulations. M clearly assigns the task of developing new regulations to the Council, and the Rules Committee is working on it. Their first product - a proposal to establish a “Cannabis Licensing Commission” - was approved by the Council on March 22nd. This Commission will administer whatever new regulations are established and, as its name implies, determine who will get licenses for dispensaries, growing, labs and whatever other marijuana-related businesses are allowed under the forthcoming regulations.
Having been an early supporter of the responsible use of medical marijuana, Councilmember Koretz is following the process closely. He is highly cogniscent of the concerns many of his constituents have with regard to the impacts of marijuana-related businesses on the community.
Because Proposition 64, which passed last fall and legalized recreational use of marijuana, requires that local jurisdictions wishing to set up their own permitting procedures have them in place by January 1, 2018, the City Council's Rules Committee is looking to have L.A.’s ready to go by September 2017. That means a lot of work remains to be done with regard to how many dispensaries will be allowed, where they will be allowed, how they will be policed, how other related businesses will be sited and regulated, whether home deliveries will be permitted, and so on.
The Rules Committee recently hosted guest panelists - regulators from Colorado, Oregon and Washington- three states that have legalized both medical and recreational cannabis - at its public hearings to provide insights and advice based on their experiences.
Updating the City's Community Plans
Recently the Los Angeles City Council voted to implement a plan to update Community Plans across the City within the next six years.
Community Plans need to incorporate and balance a variety of priorities, including maintaining the integrity and stability of existing neighborhoods of all types, providing the ability for increased housing stock, protecting our natural and open space resources, maintaining economic vitality by preserving vibrant commercial areas with businesses of all sizes, and preserving industrial areas that provide high quality, good-paying jobs. The plans consider transportation initiatives and how these relate to land use patterns. At the end of this balancing act, the City Council will have created a blueprint for growth into the future.
As the guide for land use development across the City, many of our Community Plans have not been updated in years. The City has laid out a plan to commence these updates on a six-year cycle, and is considering an increase to the General Plan Maintenance Surcharge (applied to most permit application fees) to fund the acceleration from ten to six years.
Community Plans should provide a realistic set of expectations for neighbors on what development can happen where, while providing certainty of the rules for property owners who want to invest in communities. Updates and maintenance to these plans are needed to continually ensure that the community’s and City’s overall needs are being met.
Celebrating a New Orthodox Boys High School
Councilmember Koretz attended a celebration for the beautiful new complex for the Yeshiva University Los Angeles (YULA) Boys High School campus. Located on Pico Boulevard, the modern Orthodox boy’s high school campus complex has been long in the making with the fundraising effort being led by Chairman David Nagel. The Councilmember was proud to present a certificate of recognition to Rabbi Dov Emerson, Head of School. He played an active role in mitigation negotiations between the school and the neighbors in the adjacent neighborhood.
Touring the New Horizons Facility
New Horizons, in North Hills, is an organization which helps individuals with special needs and other developmental disabilities, fulfill their dreams. Through partnerships, community education, and advocacy, they help create a brighter future in which their clients are accepted by, participate in, and add value to the community. Councilmember Koretz and Valley Area Director Gurmet Khara recently had the opportunity to tour the facility. They were able to check out the manufacturing workshop as well as talk with staff and clients. Thank you, New Horizons, for your work in our communities.
UCLA’s Volunteer Day is Approaching
On March 21st, during a City Council meeting, Councilmember Koretz recognized his alma mater, U.C.L.A. for their Eighth Annual Volunteer Day, which is around the corner. It is one of the nation’s largest community participation events and it’s a day of service for hundreds of students, alumni, staff, parents, and community members who visit numerous sites across our great city including schools, food banks, parks, shelters, senior citizen facilities and a lot more. In seven years, volunteers have donated nearly 28,000 hours of service in our communities! If you’d like to volunteer, check out volunteerday.ucla.edu.
Honoring a Champion for the End of Life Act
The Los Angeles City Council was one of the first municipal legislative bodies to unanimously pass a resolution in 2015 to support the End of Life Option Act in California, which took effect last June. The law gives mentally capable, terminally ill adults, with six months or fewer to live, the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication in order to die peacefully should their suffering become unbearable. Councilmember Koretz honored Mexican actor Mauricio Ochmann, the first celebrity in Hollywood to publically endorse the California campaign. Koretz thanked Ochmann for becoming a champion for terminally-ill Latinos and their families.
Councilmembers Koretz and Jose Huizar celebrated Nowruz with a Council Presentation on March 24th. Nowruz, which is Persian for “new day,” marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Iranian calendar. The councilman is proud to represent the largest group of Iranians in Los Angeles and he’s grateful for their contributions to our great City. Here’s to a healthy, safe, and successful Nowruz in 1396!
LA Sanitation Welcomes Visitors
LA Sanitation will once again open its doors to its six district sanitation yards in a series of weekend events. Families and children of all ages are invited to attend these free Annual Open House Events.
Times and locations are as follows:
May 6, 2017 / Saturday / 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. / West Valley District Yard
8840 Vanalden Avenue, Northridge, CA 91324
June 24, 2017 / Saturday / 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. / West Los Angeles District Yard
2027 Stoner Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90025
Additionally, City Plants will provide FREE shade trees to residents who live in or own property in the City of Los Angeles on a first come, first-served basis. Identification will be required to verify city residency. In conjunction with the free tree giveaways, LA Sanitation will also distribute free mulch that is recycled from its green waste program. For information, call (800) 773-2489 or visit www.lacitySAN.org.