Last week I was proud to video record a commemoration addressing the 2020 graduating classes of Fairfax and Hamilton High Schools. This class of high school graduates face a strange and remarkable time of intense scrutiny and self-reflection. Thanks to the Internet, these students and teachers were able to pivot to online learning during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Sadly the 5th, 8th and 12th grade students finished their year without class festivities or school dances. They said goodbye to their friends and teachers not with a hug, but rather in most cases a click of their computer or smartphone.
At the same time, the students are experiencing great change, as are we all. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, there are demonstrations happening around the world over police brutality and calls for reforms across the U.S. following the May 25th brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis which has tragically been followed by other deadly incidents in New Jersey, Atlanta and Palmdale. In their history books, students have learned about the more than 400 years of racism in America from slavery through Jim Crow and the Klu Klux Klan and lynchings and the Civil Rights Movement. In addition, they’ve learned about the riots here in Los Angeles in 1992 when four Los Angeles policemen — three of them white — were acquitted of the savage beating of Rodney King, an African-American man. Caught on camera by a bystander, graphic video of the attack was broadcast into homes across the nation and worldwide.
When the class of 2020 was getting ready to start kindergarten, Barack Obama was elected and sworn in as the first black President, serving for eight years. At the same time, clashes between police and black communities continued, witnessed not only on the news but on every smartphone and computer in America with the boom of social media. The students graduating today are more well-informed than any other class before them because information and connection are instantaneously accessible.
This is a class that witnesses inequality between races and between levels of wealth. This is a class that shares the grave responsibility of saving our planet with the imminent effects of climate change threatening the demise of our entire species.
With maturity comes the ability to try to reconcile that more than one thing can be true at the same time. My colleagues and I are looking at a variety of societal reforms, including to support efforts to restore affirmative action and to look at changing how we use less-than lethal force in law enforcement. Also we have many investigators looking into the 58 complaints of LAPD’s misconduct during the protest. And I plan on supporting the state bill that is looking into a state ban on eliminating affirmative action.
If we separate the term "defund" from the underlying effort to redefine and re-envision policing in the 21st century and look at how best to actually do that, I have to wonder whether making arbitrary cuts to LAPD's budget is the right place to begin that process. I think we can all agree that reform is necessary, it's just determining the best way to achieve it. I’m very skeptical about the advisability of chopping up the LAPD's budget without adequate analysis.
Yet still there is hope. I am confident that we are on our way to meaningful change, change that is based on a genuine acknowledgement of historic and systemic inequities that require more than superficial reforms. Consequently, the City, the Mayor and the City Council are taking steps in that direction and we're all committed to seeing them through.
Furthermore, I continue to meet with community leaders, organizations and experts to listen, to look into these issues, and work together to set our course on a path to a compassionate and thriving Los Angeles. It’s time for all of us to show we know how to be “LA Strong” for each other.
Councilmember Paul Koretz, Fifth District
In the News
Hearings On Cuts to LAPD Budget on Monday, June 15 - Let Us Hear Your Thoughts
On Monday, June 15th, the Los Angeles City Budget Committee will begin budget discussions. The primary discussion will be about cutting $150 million, or more, out of the LAPD budget. Let us know your thoughts on this important budget issue.
Members of the public who would like to offer public comment on the items listed on the agenda should call (669) 254-5252 and use Meeting ID No. 161 829 4030 and then press #. Press # again when prompted for participant ID. Once admitted into the meeting, press *9 to request to speak.
The audio for this meeting is broadcast live on the internet at www.lacity.org/government/follow-meetings/council-committee-meetings. The live audio can also be heard at: (213) 621-CITY (Metro), (818) 904-9450 (Valley), (310) 471-CITY (Westside) and (310) 547-CITY (San Pedro Area).
Los Angeles COVID-19 Updates
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) has confirmed 61 new deaths and 1,275 new cases of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). To date, Public Health has identified 67,064 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of LA County, and a total of 2,768 deaths. Ninety-three percent of people who died had underlying health conditions. Many reports are showing that the spread continues to increase, and although the County has reported that there are currently enough ventilators available, ICUs and hospitals will be at capacity in a month if spread continues to increase at this rate.
Gyms and fitness centers, museums, galleries, hotels for leisure and day camps and their pools within the City of L.A. may reopen Friday. In addition, film, TV, and music production can resume. Stadiums and arenas can also resume without spectators.
Members of the film industry, please note that FilmLA is reactivating its operations beginning Monday, June 15th. On that date, they will begin accepting applications to film in any partner city that is ready to issue permits. Reopening our communities to filming is predicated on the film industry’s adherence to specific, County-issued health protocols. Those protocols include social distancing, sanitation standards, and regular testing requirements. If you have questions about the reopening process, I’d love to be of help. Our COVID-19 Resource Center (www.filmla.com/covid-19) is also a resource in the meantime.
Every business that is reopening is required to implement the County’s detailed public health protocols. Physical distancing and wearing face coverings will be required. Protocols and guidelines can be found at Coronavirus.LACity.org/Business.
There are still many types of businesses and activities that will remain closed: nail salons, tattoo shops, bars and wineries, movie theaters, concert halls, arcades and bowling alleys. All gatherings and parties, inside or outside, are still not allowed.
Los Angeles Homeless Update
The Los Angeles Homeless 2020 Count was released this week, which showed 66,433 people in Los Angeles County experiencing homelessness. This represents a 12.7% rise from last year’s point-in-time count of 58,936. The city of Los Angeles saw a 14.2% rise to 41,290.
The City, however, saw a 14% increase in the number of individuals experiencing homelessness (13% increase countywide), even though the region housed far more people than in the previous year (39% increase in the city’s sheltered population). And the number of individuals falling into homelessness continues to outpace the number being sheltered.
The results were sobering on many fronts: The number of families that are homeless has increased and African-Americans continue to be widely disproportionately homeless in Los Angeles. Also, the number of seniors experiencing homelessness increased by 20%. And we know that the current pandemic and resulting economic collapse are going to make homelessness worse, especially if tenants who haven’t had to pay their rent for several months still cannot pay it once the Emergency Declaration is lifted.
In Council District 5, we’ve unfortunately seen a rise of 19% in overall persons experiencing homelessness to a total of 1,205 including both sheltered and unsheltered people. The district’s communities include several apartment-rich neighborhoods and, if the kinds of calls our three offices have been getting since well before the COVID-19 crisis are any indication, rising rents and a shortage of affordable (both programmed and naturally-occurring) housing are a major driving force of increased homelessness.
Within the financial constraints we face and the relative unavailability of land usable for shelter and permanent affordable housing, especially in Council District 5, there have been serious constraints on what can be done. In our district, there are two HHH supportive housing projects working their way through the approval process and a new A Bridge Home shelter facility just opening for homeless families.
In the short term, we’re housing several hundred at-risk-for-COVID-19 individuals experiencing homelessness at the Cheviot Hills and Westwood Recreation Centers, and a couple hundred more at three Project Roomkey hotels in the district. Additionally you may have heard, or read in the media, about the “LA Alliance” federal lawsuit that looks like it will force the City to find shelter for, in the short term, people camping near freeways or under freeway overpasses, and later on a larger number of people from encampments. The same constraints CD5 faces in finding or creating housing also hold true for the court orders that will result from this lawsuit. Federal Judge David Carter is insisting that each Council office find space for these folks within their own districts, which will be a huge challenge for us.
Coming Soon: New Mercy Housing for Seniors and Senior Veterans
Great news! The Mercy Housing project in the Pico-Robertson community is nearing completion. It will provide supportive housing for low-income, veteran, and homeless seniors. Mercy Housing will be accepting applications from low-income seniors and veteran seniors from June 12th through June 26th. For low-income seniors, a lottery will be held on July 6th and for veteran seniors, individuals will be chosen through the Coordinated Entry System.
In addition, twelve apartment units are available for homeless senior veterans through New Directions, which will serve as an onsite service provider for veterans. If you have questions about eligibility or the application process, please call (323) 302-4264.
For more information and to download an application, please visit the Pico-Robertson Senior Community website at https://www.mercyhousing.org/california/pico-robertson/
Team Koretz and L.A. Works Pitch In to Clean Up Beverly-Fairfax District
Team Koretz staff joined forces with volunteer organization L.A. Works to clean up the Beverly-Fairfax District following the demonstrations in the area.
Free Food For Your Family - No Eligibility Required
Los Angeles families will have an opportunity to obtain free food. Through the collaborative efforts of Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, the County of Los Angeles, and the office of Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, families will be able to pick up family-size boxes (three 20-pound boxes) of free food on Wednesday ,June 17th at the Hollywood Bowl (2301 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068) without leaving their cars. There are no eligibility requirements and the event is open to all!
When you arrive, please follow posted signs to the pickup area. Due to COVID-19 and for your health and wellbeing, please be sure to bring a face covering for you and any other passengers in your vehicle. Unfortunately, this event will be unable to accommodate walk-ups. All participants must remain within their cars during pick-up.
If you or other members of your organizations would like to volunteer, please send an email to our Hollywood and East Area Field Deputy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out about additional free food resources at https://covid19.lacounty.gov/food/
Here to Serve
My office, like all City of Los Angeles offices, is following recommended protocols such as social distancing and working remotely to slow the spread of the coronavirus. That said, my staff and I are always readily available to help with your questions, concerns, and needs during this difficult period. We can be reached by phone at 213-473-7005, 323-866-1828 (West LA), or 818-971-3088 (Encino) and through email email@example.com. Since we are experiencing a higher-than-normal volume of calls, feel free to email the staff member you wish to contact directly. The accompanying link contains those e-mail addresses.
I know these are really confusing times and that new information is changing quickly, so please continue to check and verify official information through these credible resources: