December 11, 2017   

Dear Friends,

It has been a trying time in Council District 5 and throughout the Valley due to the various fires across the Southland. Almost everyone in Los Angeles has been impacted whether they have been evacuated, lost power or trees, or are dealing with poor air quality, school closures, Red Flag parking or traffic and road closures around fire zones. As Mayor Garcetti said at a press conference this week, “These are times that can break your heart," but I will add that it is also during these times when we find the best in our neighbors.

As I was reminded repeatedly over the past week days at the Skirball/ Bel Air Fire Command Post, Los Angeles is full of incredible generosity. I continue to be in awe of the wealth of volunteers and first responders who have donated in abundance and continue to give their time and services for the well-being of fellow Angelenos. While we are happy to welcome home those who were evacuated from the Skirball Fire, many throughout the County have lost their home or are waiting to find out their fate. We will continue to be vigilant during these high wind and low humidity weather conditions and use this as a time to make sure our own Ready, Set, Go plans are in order for any disaster that might occur now or in the future.

Thank you so much to residents for your cooperation through this challenging time. As always, many thanks to Los Angeles Fire Department, Poilce Department, and outside agencies who were on hand from up and down the State to minimize damages. Because of your efforts and all of our emergency responders, no residents were injured. For that we are all eternally grateful.

Sincerely,

Paul Koretz
Council Member - Fifth District

 

LEGISLATIVE ACTION


Redirecting Navigation Apps Users Away From Danger Zones

On December 5 and December 6, the Mayor declared a local state of emergency in response to the Creek and Skirball fires. Thousands of residents have been subject to evacuation orders and numerous roads have been closed.  However, on the day of the Skirball Fire evacuation, drivers’ phones were navigating them into the fire zone, onto streets they weren’t familiar with.  Not only did it steer them into life threatening danger but it caused congestion where public safety officials were ordering streets cleared so residents under evacuation orders could safely get out and we could get our fire equipment in.

In order to quickly and safely evacuate residents and allow unobstructed access for public safety personnel, it is critical that roadways in evacuated areas remain uncongested. Many people rely on navigation apps to travel, especially when they are in a hurry to reach their destination. The most widely used navigation apps in Los Angeles are Google Maps, Waze, and Apple Maps. These apps, and others like them, will often create elaborate alternative navigation routes, frequently utilizing side streets or mountain roads, based on traffic data at the time.

As a result of the high volume of traffic on the accessible roadways during recent fires, the navigation apps recommended routes that included streets that were within evacuation areas because the data indicated there was no traffic. Navigation app users have no way of knowing whether the route suggested by their app is in the path of a fire. Evacuees often head to unfamiliar areas with unreliable road access; ensuring that drivers do not encounter additional danger caused by their navigation apps is paramount.

Therefore, Councilmember Koretz introduced a motion to report on efforts to coordinate with navigation app developers to prevent their apps from directing drivers into evacuated areas. Hopefully, it will be revealed that a simple change in the program code could be made to work to assist traffic away from danger and incidents like those of last week will hopefully be avoided in the future.



What Happened to The Conditions on Alcohol Permits?

Councilmember Koretz introduced a motion calling on the Department of City Planning to report to the City Council on an alarming situation regarding alcohol sales permits and to make recommendations on how the Conditional Use – Beverage permitting process can be restored to a level of rigor that provides our communities with the protections they deserve.

For decades the City of Los Angeles used its land use and planning authority to place specific conditions on alcohol sales through what are known as Conditional Use – Beverage permits (CUBs). These, in conjunction with permits issued by the California State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, determine where businesses can sell alcoholic beverages and under what circumstances.

The alcohol-specific conditions imposed by the Department of City Planning’s Office of Zoning Administration after holding public hearings have over the years constituted a blueprint employed by restaurants, bars, markets and liquor stores to eliminate negative impacts on their neighbors. They typically have included such concerns as hours of operation, security measures and prohibitions against on-site consumption at liquor stores.

However, in 2012, the City’s legal experts began prohibiting Zoning Administrators from imposing alcohol-specific conditions via these CUBs on the grounds that state law pre-empts the City’s ability to do so. This substantial change in a long-standing City practice took place without public discussion or any consideration by the City Council.

Councilmember Koretz feels this unfortunate turn of events is based on outdated evidence that reflects neither current state law nor the practices of numerous other jurisdictions in California. He says it’s imperative that Council offices and all interested parties be notified and included in any process that could lead to fewer conditions being imposed on sellers of alcoholic beverages.

The motion calling for a thorough discussion of this situation has been referred to the Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee for further consideration early in the new year.



Cannabis Is Coming

On Wednesday, December 6th, the City Council unanimously voted to approve three major ordinances establishing regulations and procedures for the legal sale, cultivation, manufacture and distribution of both medicinal and recreational marijuana (cannabis) in the City of Los Angeles. The ordinances will go into effect immediately and pave the way for people and companies seeking marijuana licenses in Los Angeles to apply for those licenses in advance of January 1, 2018. No new cannabis businesses can legally operate before then.

Already established cannabis businesses will need at least temporary licenses from the City in order to obtain permits from the state that will be required for them to operate on or after the first of the year. The ordinances provide for such temporary licenses for existing medical marijuana dispensaries or for others who can meet the new regulations. Temporary licenses for the dispensaries will provide important continuity for patients with medical cannabis prescriptions.

The complex regulations, which amount to approximately 60 pages plus maps depicting where various types of cannabis businesses may be located, work in conjunction with state regulations mandated by Proposition 64 passed by the state’s voters a year ago, and derive from Measure M, approved overwhelmingly by City voters back in March.

They are intended to ensure that cannabis businesses can function successfully while minimizing impacts on neighborhoods, children and others. Many of the protections and requirements built into the regulations are informed by lessons learned from the City’s efforts to deal with medical marijuana dispensaries established over the last decade, including those which failed to follow the City’s laws.

A new City Department of Cannabis Regulation has been established to oversee the regulatory process and enforce the new laws. Its responsibilities will include holding public hearings on any applications not involving medical marijuana dispensaries that have been operating legally in the last several years.

As a long-time supporter of medical marijuana – which has been legal, but arguably under-regulated, for some 20 years both in California and Los Angeles – Councilmember Koretz was one of the councilmembers most involved in crafting the ordinances under the careful guidance of City Council President Herb Wesson.

Mr. Wesson entertained additional amendments to the ordinances right up until the historic Wednesday vote, which Mr. Koretz missed because he was out at the Bel Air fire site with firefighters working to make sure Fifth District constituents were safe. Wesson will hold further hearings in January to consider these amendments, and the full Council is expected to consider further changes after lessons are learned from the initial establishment of these businesses.

This newsletter will provide links to the ordinances and other relevant information as soon as they are available.

LOS ANGELES VALUES YOUR OPINION


City Planning Holds Initial Hearing on Ordinance to Close the Loop on Koretz Puppy Mill Regulations

About five years ago, the City Council approved Councilmember Paul Koretz’s ordinance forbidding pet shops from selling mill-bred puppies and kittens.  This pioneering ordinance, which has been replicated in jurisdictions across the country and also now is the law throughout California, was aimed at converting pet sales to pet adoptions by requiring the shops to obtain adoptable animals from shelters or rescue organizations.  Over time it is expected to put the pinch on business for puppy and kitten mills known for mistreating both breeding animals and their offspring.

Unfortunately it turns out there was a glitch in the City’s Planning and Zoning Code that prohibited pet shops from keeping dogs or cats older than four months on their premises overnight anywhere but in certain industrially-zoned locations.  To be able to overcome this prohibition, the shops would need to obtain Zone Variances or Conditional Use Permits.  These involve expensive, time-consuming application and hearing procedures that have proven prohibitive to all but one establishment (Rockin’ Rescue in Tarzana). 

Recognizing the counter-productiveness of this situation, Councilmember Koretz (and later Councilmember Blumenfield), introduced proposals to amend the Planning and Zoning Code so that these adoption centers and pet shops could, under certain prescribed circumstances, locate in commercial areas without having to get special permits from City Planning (they still would have to meet all requirements imposed by the Department of Animal Services).

On December 7th, a City Planning hearing examiner held a hearing to receive public comments on the draft ordinance prior to it being sent to the City Planning Commission (currently anticipated for February 8, 2018).  Most of those in attendance, including a Koretz representative, supported the ordinance while pointing out flaws they felt should be corrected before it receives further consideration.

Comments on the draft are welcome until December 22nd.  More information can be found at these links:

Hearing Notice (with info on submitting comments): https://planning.lacity.org/ordinances/docs/PetShop/HearingNotice.pdf
Q&A: https://planning.lacity.org/Ordinances/docs/Petshop/QA.pdf
Draft Ordinance: https://planning.lacity.org/ordinances/docs/PetShop/draftordinance.pdf



Pets and Apartments Can Get along Swell

The Los Angeles Department of Animal Services is partnering with the Los Angeles Housing and Community Development Department, with participation of the Housing Rights Center, to provide the community with a series of educational workshops on “Pets in Rental Housing.”

Councilmember Koretz encourages anybody with questions about their pet-related rights as a tenant or as a landlord to attend one of these important and informative workshops:


SOUTH LOS ANGELES – Tuesday, December 12, 10:30 a.m. at the South Los Angeles Animal Shelter, 1850 West 60th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90047 (off Vermont south of Slauson).

WILSHIRE/DOWNTOWN – Thursday, December 14, 10:30 a.m. at the offices of L.A. Housing and Community Investment Department, 3550 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1500, Los Angeles, CA 90010.

WEST LOS ANGELES – Friday December 15, 10:30 a.m. at the West Los Angeles Animal Shelter, 11361 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90064 (west of the 405 freeway).

EAST VALLEY – Monday, December 18, 6:30 p.m. at the East Valley Animal Shelter, 14409 Vanowen Street, Van Nuys, CA 91405 (east of Van Nuys Blvd.).

These workshops will provide information on pets in rental housing, focusing on tenant and landlord rights and responsibilities. They will include information related to fair housing issues for service and companion animals, as well as information on licensing, spaying and neutering, and micro-chipping.

The discussion is expected to include information for both landlords and tenants on the benefits of renting to tenants with pets. This is a topic Councilmember Koretz feels is very important.

Los Angeles is a city of renters, where more than 64% of our residents live in rental units. If we are to achieve and maintain our goal of making L.A. a “No Kill” city, finding homes for our shelter animals will mean many must be placed in apartments.

At the same time, if tenants are fully aware of their rights it might help to ensure pets are not used as an eviction tool and that renters don’t needlessly surrender their pets to our shelters in fear of eviction when, depending on their situation, the laws protect them. 

Admission is free. Spanish language and sign language interpreters, assistive listening devices, or other auxiliary aids and/or services may be provided upon request. Contact the Housing Department regarding this need three days in advance of the event. You can make this request by calling (213) 928-9075.

After the workshops located at shelters public tours of the shelters are expected to be available.

(Thanks to Larry Gross, president of the Board of Animal Services Commissioners, and the Department of Animal Services for providing this information.)

 

NEWS YOU CAN USE


Give Wisely This Holiday Season

The Los Angeles Police Commission has issued the following awareness campaign and asked us to share this helpful information with you.

During the holiday season, many Angelenos traditionally donate money and goods for charitable causes around the world. The charities include their favorites as well as start-up charities created in response to crises. This generosity, however, produces a spike in solicitations.

Angelenos can arm themselves with methods to distinguish the honest and effective charities from the frauds and ineffective charities.  The Charitable Services Section (CSS) of the Los Angeles Police Commission offers assistance and advice for giving wisely to charities, including a list of endorsed charities (See below.).

CSS recommends prospective donors take the following steps:

Make sure the solicitors possess the required Information Cards issued by the CSS.

Nonprofit organizations that solicit within the city limits of Los Angeles are required to possess an Information Card for general appeals and one for each special event. Mailed solicitations must include a copy of the Information Card. The cards may be valid for up to one year after issuance.

The Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) concerns nonprofits registered as 501(c) 3 organizations with the IRS. Donations to these organizations are tax deductible. The LAMC also relates to people and organizations who solicit for donations on behalf of 501(c) 3 nonprofits.

Evaluate the charity.

Answer the following questions before donating:

  • How much of your donations will cover the charity’s expenses and how much will go to the cause. The City of Los Angeles’ Information Card contains these results for similar past events. Also, ask the charity for a financial statement and/or check its IRS Form 990.
  • Is the charity legitimate? Contact CSS and explore the web sites of the charity, and of the State of California Attorney General’s Office (See below)
  • Is the solicitor legitimate? Does the solicitor possess a valid Information Card? Contact the charity to verify the solicitor is a current employee or volunteer. Beware of sound-a-likes – check with the agency the solicitors claim to represent. Alert your local police station if they are soliciting illegally.
  • Will the charity take noncash payments? It is highly recommended that you donate with a check or credit card. Nevertheless, it is best not to give any personal information over the telephone.

Beware of email/Internet appeals/social networking sites

  • Unsolicited emails may contain viruses. Do not respond or click on links or attachments.

Contact the following:

  • Charitable Services Section, Los Angeles Police Commission. CSS is available to answer your questions. The section may be reached at 213 996-1260. For further information about Giving Wisely or the LAMC ordinance governing charities, visit the CSS Web site at www.lapdonline.org. Search for “charitable” and click on “charitable services section.”
  • FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center. Contact the Center at www.ic3.gov to report suspicious emails or websites.
  • The California State Attorney General. The Attorney General’s Web site at www.oag.ca.gov has additional information regarding your charity.

 

COMMUNITY NEWS


First Dog Park in CD 5 To Open at Westwood Recreation Center

Save the Date. On Monday, December 18th, 2:00 pm, Councilmember Koretz and the Department of Recreation and Parks hope you and your canine companion will join them at the grand opening of the Westwood Recreation Center Dog Park located at 1350 Sepulveda Blvd. (on Veteran Ave. side of the park near the intersection of Veteran Ave. & Wilkins Ave.)

 



Adopt Some Love

Looking for a new furry companion? Check out these LA Animal Shelter Dogs and Cats of the Week from the East and West Valley City Animal Shelters. Please come meet our dogs and cats – they need homes now. The shelters are open Tuesday through Saturday 8 am to 5 pm; Sunday 11 am to 5 pm (closed Mondays). Click on any photo below for details.


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Los Angeles Councilmember Paul Koretz
200 N. Spring Street, Rm. 440
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 473-7005