Apil 28, 2018   

Dear Friends,

Please note: Benedict Canyon will be closing daily to update water pipelines from Mulholland to Hutton every day Monday through Friday, 9am – 9pm, and scheduled Saturdays starting May 1st until November 2018. Please plan your commute accordingly, and if you can avoid the area completely, that will reduce the traffic impact on adjacent canyon roads. Benedict Canyon residents will have local access.

Last week, Mayor Eric Garcetti’s presented his State of the City address. In particular, he announced a new homelessness initiative, A Bridge Home, which sets forth a plan for creating emergency shelters in each of the 15 City Council Districts. The Mayor also signed two ordinances: one to fast track our efforts to permit supportive housing, and the other to convert motels into supportive housing. 

Click here to watch the State of the City address: https://www.lamayor.org/SOTC2018

Some of the loudest complaints and expressions of concern I hear from constituents are about what the City is, or is not, doing about homelessness.  As Mayor Garcetti has said, “Homelessness isn’t AN issue, it’s THE issue.”  

Read on for more in-depth information about what these ordinances will mean on a practical level and what it will take to implement them in CD5.


Paul Koretz


The City Is Stepping Up To Deal With Homelessness

On the heels of the Mayor’s announcement that he will include money in the Fiscal Year 2018-2019 budget for each Council district to address the issue more aggressively and constructively than we have been able to do so far, Councilmember Koretz and his staff are already at work to do just that.

Councilmember Koretz is working on all fronts to implement Measures H and HHH, the countywide and City measures passed overwhelmingly by voters. But it's impossible for those measures to instantly solve the problems associated with homelessness because they established funding streams which are spread out over 10 years and we're just in the first year of being able to access any of that money.  Also, common sense tells us that you can't build housing overnight.  The first HHH projects are just in construction now, but we don't expect them to be open until late 2019 at the earliest.  That suggests that a lot of people will still be sleeping outside, in cars and in the existing, inadequate network of shelters and housing for years to come. 

It's important to understand that, under a court order, the homeless can sleep on public property overnight unless and until the City provides a certain amount of housing for them.  Obviously we're not there yet.  The Mayor’s announcement attempts to re-think how we look at homeless encampments by having at least one formal shelter site in each district that will be policed, cleaned and provided with services, so that the current chaotic situation can be improved.  The recently-approved installation of trailers in a parking lot at El Pueblo downtown is just the first of these. 

The program also includes providing some means for homeless persons to store their personal belongings, since many living on the street won’t accept services when everything they own is with them and there's nowhere to store it.  There's a court order about that too, so finding storage sites - at least one in CD5, or located in conjunction with any shelter sites that are created - needs to be a priority. 

And affordable housing is something Councilmember Koretz is truly concerned about. Every member of the City Council has pledged to try to create at least 222 units of Supportive Housing in the next three years, and he’s working to do that while fighting to preserve existing affordable housing as well as create new units in a manner that protects neighborhoods.  But make no mistake: People losing their affordable rental housing and being unable to find new places where they can afford to live near their jobs, schools, family and friends, is one of the biggest causes of new homelessness in Los Angeles.

The impacts on neighborhoods is an important aspect of all of this.  The Council office has been increasing the number of encampment clean-ups as we work with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, Sanitation and the LAPD to provide services where available. 

Being homeless is not a crime but we are aggressively working to make sure homeless people aren’t allowed to engage in criminal behavior.  (Many homeless people would be the first to agree, since they often are the first victims of the crime-committing transients living on the streets.) It’s the kind of public safety issue that requires a delicate balance but can’t be ignored.  

Councilmember Koretz has communicated to LAPD and the other agencies that he strongly supports enforcement against criminal behavior, done lawfully, of course, and done with an eye toward reducing homelessness, not just moving it around from place to place.  Realistically we all have to admit this is a work-in-progress.

Another aspect Councilmember Koretz strongly supports is family reunification, something that too often is overlooked when outreach providers work with homeless persons in the community. Re-connecting people with family members who may not even know of their plight can be one of the most cost-effective and humane ways to help someone regain his or her footing. The Council office is working to make sure the outreach teams have it high on their list of options as they work in CD5 and elsewhere.

As we all work together to take on the challenge presented by homelessness in our communities, we all need to be resolute, realistic and compassionate. Councilmember Koretz is seeking solutions, not band-aids, but that doesn’t mean that any idea that doesn’t immediately move all the homeless off our streets is unacceptable. Meeting this challenge takes work and patience on everyone’s part.

Koretz Proposes Tightening of Condo Conversion Rules

The conversion of rental apartments to for-sale condominiums is a growing issue in Los Angeles. It’s considered an economically advantageous way for building owners to increase profits from rent-controlled apartments and the number of conversion cases in certain CD5 neighborhoods is on the increase.

After a couple of recent cases in which Councilmember Koretz had to join neighborhood activists in successful battles in front of the Central Area Planning Commission opposing proposed conversions he felt were unwarranted, he’s decided that the rules governing conversions need clarification.

On April 20th, Councilmember Koretz introduced a proposal to add provisions to the Municipal Code section on condo conversions to clearly spell out how the Department of City Planning’s decision makers should interpret the crucial concept of “cumulative effect” as it applies to conversions.

Typically the concept has been taken to apply only to the number of other conversion cases in the vicinity of the proposed conversion, not to all the kinds of reasons rental – especially rent-controlled – units are removed from the market. Thus, even though rental units are being removed for a variety of reasons, City Planning has been saying that only other condo conversions applied to the cumulative effect calculation. If adopted, Councilmember Koretz’s proposed change would require that all reasons be taken into account.

This is not his first effort to improve how City Planning handles condo conversions. Last year the Council adopted his ordinance requiring that the department make sure its apartment vacancy rate data is kept up-to-date. This is important because a vacancy rate below 5% is considered legal grounds for rejecting a conversion application.

Councilmember Koretz’s new condo conversion motion has been referred to the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee for consideration

City Of Los Angeles Scores High As First U.S. City To Utilize Innovative Biodiversity Index

LA Sanitation, the lead agency for the City’s environmental programs and initiatives, released the 2018 Biodiversity Report for the City of Los Angeles. Prepared in collaboration with Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Sustainability Team and Councilmember Koretz, this Report calculates the Singapore Index of Cities Biodiversity for Los Angeles and is the first step toward implementing the Biodiversity Motion that was approved by the City Council last year.

For metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, biodiversity includes the natural areas, urban landscapes, parks and all other environments that a variety of species inhabit. The City of Los Angeles is fortunate to be located within the California Floristic Province, a globally-recognized hotspot of native biodiversity of plants, insects, birds and mammals (like this mountain lion cub discovered in the Santa Monica Mountains). However, urbanization can threaten biodiversity, and innovative strategies are needed to ensure its sustainability.
The motion introduced by Councilmember Koretz underscores that the City does not have an integrated program to sustain and enhance the unique biodiversity within the larger urban ecosystem in the City. Recognizing this, Mayor Garcetti’s Sustainable City pLAn and Councilmember Paul Koretz’s original motion specifically call for the development of a “no-net-loss” biodiversity strategy.

The survival and well-being of the City's residents depends directly on our ecosystem built directly from an integrated community of natural biodiversity. Biodiverse landscapes provide benefits to residents such as moderation of urban heat, improved air and water quality, recreational and educational opportunities and instilling a greater sense of community pride.

More information on the LASAN Biodiversity Report is viewable here.

Los Angeles City Council Approves Exploration of New Climate Emergency Mobilization Department

In the aftermath of an extreme and unprecedented winter wildfire season, the Los Angeles City Council voted yesterday to explore the creation of a Los Angeles Climate Emergency Mobilization Department (CEMD), which would oversee a citywide mobilization on climate change, including interdepartmental, intergovernmental and citywide coordination. Per the motion, the mobilization will be directed under the banner of a “just transition” so that as we move to a clean energy economy, displaced workers will receive retraining, the communities that have been the most negatively affected by fossil fuel pollution will receive the first benefits of clean energy pilot projects and a clean energy economy, and a green jobs initiative implementation plan will be launched.

The motion, authored by Councilmembers Paul Koretz, 5th District, and Bob Blumenfield, 3rd District, was approved unanimously by the City Council, 13-0, directs the City’s Chief Legislative Analyst and Chief Administrative Officer to report back on the establishment of a Climate Emergency Mobilization Department with all powers to plan, coordinate and help fund via robust grant writing, all of the City's climate and resilience responses. Councilmembers Mike Bonin, 11th District, and José Huizar, 14th District, seconded the motion. The City’s Environmental Affairs Department, established in 1989, was disbanded in 2009.

The proposed CEMD has been endorsed by a variety of groups and individuals from across the City, including Communities for a Better Environment, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 848, Esperanza Community Housing, Pacoima Beautiful, American Indian Movement SoCal, The River Project, The Center for Biological Diversity, The Sierra Club Angeles Chapter, Global Green, Heal the Bay, The Trust for Public Land, Grid Alternatives, SoCal 350 Climate Action, 5 Gyres, The Climate Mobilization, The Leap, South Bay 350 Climate Action, Surfrider Foundation, Californians Against Waste, and environmentalist/ actor Ed Begley, Jr.

The original motion proposing the CEMD quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stressing that, “We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late,” and adding that if the city acts too late or does too little it risks condemning LA citizens to an uninhabitable future. The proposal was developed in collaboration with the non-profit organization The Climate Mobilization (TCM) and a coalition of Los Angeles social and environmental justice leaders that advocate for an emergency response to climate change rooted in the struggles of communities on the frontlines of the ecological crisis.



TRAFFIC ADVISORY: Benedict Canyon Drive to Undergo Partial Closure May 1 to November 30 for Major LADWP Water Infrastructure Project

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) will be instituting a partial closure at Benedict Canyon Drive and Liebe Drive from May 1, 2018 to November 30, 2018 from Mulholland Drive to Hutton Drive in order to increase water system reliability and improve existing fire protection in the area. The road closure will take place between the hours of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on scheduled Saturdays. Benedict Canyon Drive and Liebe Drive will be open to traffic outside of the closure hours. Local residents and designated visitors will be provided access to homes and businesses during the closure.


Bel Air-Beverly Crest Fight Blight Cleanup Today

Please join Bel Air-Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council and City Councilmembers Paul Koretz and David Ryu for a community clean up, this morning (Saturday, 4/28) from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Volunteers will help pick up the trash along the roads, remove signs nailed to telephone poles and report abandoned cars.

There are two different locations – one in CD4, and one in CD5 – to check in and receive cleaning supplies.

Choose the one convenient for you:

In CD4:
Nancy Hoover Pohl Overlook
8401 Mulholland Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90046

In CD5:
Stone Canyon Overlook
13931 Mulholland Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90077


KLAL Means Community – Join us on May 4 for a Celebration of Jewish Angeleno Culture & Civic Engagement

Join me and fellow Councilmembers Bob Blumenfield, Mitchell Englander, Paul Krekorian, and David Ryu for a Celebration of Jewish Angeleno Culture and Civic Engagement. KLAL is also sponsored by Jewish Federation of Greater Los AngelesJewish Historical Society, & UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies.  Go to website bit.ly/2FPclB2 to RSVP and for a full schedule of food, art and music events from 10 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. 


Koretz Speaks at Pando Populus “Junk Battle” event

Councilmember Koretz attended this year’s annual Pando Populus “Junk Battle” with Andy Shrader, CD5's Director of Environment and Sustainability. Together, they examined the  handywork of Marcela Oliva and her LA Trade Tech team. They were remarkably impressed by the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the participants.

Pando Populus is doing the transformative, on-the-ground work necessary to create an ecological civilization.  As a member of Pando's governing board, Councilmember Koretz is always delighted to witness the creativity with which we approach the great challenges of our time and waste is one of the biggest.


Picture of the Week

Rescue + Freedom Project

Councilmember Koretz loved spending time this past Wednesday with rescued beagles that were invited into Council for a presentation hosted by Councilmber Bob Blumenfield to honor the Rescue + Freedom Project, previously known as the Beagle Freedom Project, an organization that rescues beagles from animal testing labs and places them in loving forever homes. They also work to educate the public about which household product companies test on animals and others that don’t.

By downloading the free Cruelty Cutter app, consumers can make informed purchases and avoid purchasing the products that test on animals. Moreover, Councilmember Koretz was pleased to second a motion from Councilmber Blumenfield that proposes LA government purchase only “cruelty-free” office products and request that City Attorney Mike Feuer report back on the most effective means of ensuring that the City discontinue the use of animal tested products

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Los Angeles Councilmember Paul Koretz
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