Councilmember Koretz continues to be very active on the legislative front working to help the residents of Council District 5. The first several items specifically affect Los Angeles. Further down you will find several statewide, national and global issues. If you’d like to contact your legislators on any of those bills you care about, please contact your state representative and your US House Representative for the federal bills.
Los Angeles Issues
Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) Report
As the City works to create a program to house more of the homeless in response to the LA Alliance for the Homeless lawsuit, one of the challenges are those who refuse assistance. The willingness of persons living in encampments and elsewhere on the streets of the city to be relocated into housing or shelter, reunited with family members or friends, or other options, will be a crucial component of any success the program achieves. To help work towards the goal of housing more homeless individuals, Councilmember Koretz introduced a motion so the City can learn more about the experience of Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) and its community partners in winning the confidence of persons experiencing homelessness, so we can get more of them to accept help.
The motions request that officials from LAHSA make a presentation to the full City Council on its outreach experiences with persons living unsheltered or unhoused in the city in terms of establishing lines of communication, providing services and relocating them to appropriate shelter or housing, including the number and percentage of persons who reject services or housing or both.
This research is crucial so that we are sure that we understand the reality of the situation and the challenges we face. We hope this will lead to a more effective effort to end homelessness in our city. Please click here to read the motion, and to subscribe to the Council File to receive automatic updates.
Rancho Park Drill Site
In January 2017, the Council District 5 office was made aware of the presence of unpermitted equipment located onsite at the Rancho Park Drill Site, including in particular, a CEB 1200 Enclosed Gas Burner, designed to burn excess natural gas produced at the site in the course of oil drilling operations, and thereby creating additional air pollution in the area. Councilmember Koretz introduced a motion directing City Departments to do a thorough site review.
A site review was conducted by the City’s Petroleum Administrator which resulted in the removal of the CEB 1200 Enclosed Gas Burner. The Hillcrest Beverly Oil Company (HBOC) subsequently made proactive efforts to work with the City, the Council office, and the surrounding community group on bringing the site up to code.
Additionally, on November 29, 2017, Council District 5 residents surrounding the Rancho Park golf course began complaining of a strong and noxious odor, which reportedly could be detected across a four-mile area all the way to Playa Vista. The source of the odor was a spill of Mercaptan odorant from a pump failure of Southern California Gas Company equipment at the Rancho Park Drill Site. Residents were understandably frightened and shaken by the incident and, until then, many were not even aware of the drill site located within their neighborhood. Consequently, Councilmember Koretz introduced a motion directing City staff to report back on causes and solutions for the spill and City response. As a result, a detailed report by the Board of Public Works has finally been released with recommendations from the acting Petroleum Administrator, which Councilmember Koretz will be working on to move forward as soon as possible given the enormous COVID-19 crisis issues facing the City Council.
Also, Hillcrest Beverly Oil Company agreed to fund and perform a 3rd party inspection of the Rancho Park Drill Site with a deadline of August 17, 2020, install air monitoring equipment, and work towards ways to remove the Mercaptan odorant equipment from the site altogether.
To ensure this matter is handled with transparency and opportunity for public comment from the surrounding community, Councilmember Koretz introduced a new motion to direct the City’s Petroleum Administrator to work with the Oil Company to report back on the results of the 3rd party inspection of the Rancho Park Drill Site, the status and results of the ongoing air monitoring, and ongoing efforts to remove the Mercaptan odorant equipment from the site. The overall goal is to protect the health of the surrounding neighbors, particularly the health of the children at the three schools within close proximity, from toxic emissions. Please click here for more information, to submit a comment, and/or subscribe to the Council File (CF 17-0149-S1) for updates.
Short Term Rental Enforcement
During the existing COVID-19 pandemic, short term rental homes have increasingly become gathering spots for loud parties in violation of the City’s ‘party house’ ordinance and the Home Sharing Ordinance administrative guidelines noise limits. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the City has a vested interest in ensuring that parties in short-term rentals do not contribute to the community spread of the COVID-19 virus, or inadvertently facilitate situations that generate more COVID-19 cases in the city and concomitantly in the Southern California region.
Disappointed in what he’s been hearing from frustrated constituents and alarmed by several huge parties in rented homes, Councilmember Koretz has prioritized improved enforcement of the City ordinance governing these activities. To facilitate this goal, he’s met twice with officials in the City Planning Department (which is responsible for Home Sharing registration and enforcement) to explore how best to do that.
Additionally, the Councilmember is elevating the issue by asking the City to establish a strict prohibition known as an Interim Control Ordinance. Last spring he proposed that the Council look at banning or more heavily regulating short-term rentals for health reasons during the COVID-19 pandemic, but now he feels that an Interim Control Ordinance needs to be implemented to protect the public safety, health and welfare of the community, by placing a cap of ten guests per Home Sharing listing transaction.
The Councilmember’s new motion asks that the Planning Department amend the Home-Sharing Administrative Guidelines and Home Sharing Guest Code of Conduct, to include the following public safety, health, and welfare standards related to the COVID-19 pandemic: (1) Dwelling units with more than six habitable rooms (excluding kitchens and bathrooms) or 3,000 square feet shall not be permitted or considered essential for short term rental until the Safer at Home orders are lifted; (2) Valet service, catering service, professional stage and sound equipment, Disk Jockeys, Live Entertainment, event tents, stages, dance floors, are prohibited; (3) Property Owners, Lessees, and Property Managers shall be equally held responsible for any violations and shall reimburse the City and County for the full cost of all enforcement and contact tracing related to violations of this ordinance.
If this proposal is approved by the City Council, it will give the City an additional tool to create a safer and more peaceful environment for residents and visitors.
Strengthening Los Angeles’ Protected Tree Ordinance
A motion approved this week by the Los Angeles City Council and authored by Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Mike Bonin instructs the Urban Forestry Division and the City Forest Officer, Rachel Malarich, to convene and consult with stakeholder groups to determine methods to preserve overall native tree cover and habitat areas, limiting damage to trees during development, and possibly adding more trees, based on circumference and species notability, to the protected list.
The motion originated from concerns raised by hillside community members about how trees are being too easily removed by developers even before development permit applications are submitted, trees are not being protected during construction activities, and building permits are routinely issued without the Department of Building and Safety being aware of the presence of protected trees on the affected properties. One simple suggested fix is to prioritize trees at the top of the Building and Safety checklist, rather than the bottom, where they are merely an afterthought.
After initially introducing this motion, Councilmember Koretz realized we need more expertise in the City to work on these issues and worked with Mayor Garcetti and his team and the City Council Budget Committee to create and fund the City Forest Officer position.
Please click here to view the complete Council File (03-1459-S3).
New Civil and Human Rights Department
In June 2020, the Council voted to accelerate the establishment of the Civil and Human Rights Department (CHRD), in part to address systemic racism and structural injustices that were highlighted by the protests that followed the killing of George Floyd.
To develop concrete plans for how the Department should be configured in order to best support its goals, Councilmember Koretz has offered a motion seeking to ensure that the CHRD is able to fill its positions promptly in order to begin the Department’s important work.
The motion asks that the new department, with assistance from the City Administrative Officer and Personnel Department, be directed to report to the Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee on the Department’s hiring plan and to exempt the Civil and Human Rights Department from the City’s hiring freeze.
BEYOND LOS ANGELES
The United States Postal Service
Responding to the national controversy over what appears to be deliberate attempts by the new Trump-appointed Postmaster General to implement changes to the United States Postal Service (USPS) to slow down handling and delivery of the mail, Councilmember Koretz has called on the City Council to support pending federal legislation which would provide much-needed funding to the USPS and eliminate a requirement that the agency pre-pay 75 years of pension and health care costs. The latter requirement, adopted by Congress in 2006, has been the difference between USPS showing a profit and running an annual deficit of around $5 billion in recent years.
Councilmember Koretz’s resolution also calls on the Postmaster General to halt any further operational and programmatic changes until Congress and Postal oversight commissions can review them. Responding to the public and media pressure, the Postmaster General already has indicated that USPS will hold off on such changes through the November election, but Councilmember Koretz is quite concerned about the changes that have already occurred in a very short period of time in their negative impact on postal service.
The Latest European Country to Deny Their Involvement In the Holocaust
In recent years, some European politicians and their respective political parties have attempted to rewrite history surrounding their parties’ and countries’ support and collaboration with Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. One of those nations is Lithuania, where it is estimated that more than 95 percent of about 250,000 Jews who lived in the country when the Nazis invaded in 1941, were slain.
In January 2020, Arunas Gumuliauskas, leader of Lithuania’s ruling party, announced that his party would sponsor legislation declaring that neither the state of Lithuania nor its then-leaders participated in the Holocaust.
As part of the City’s ongoing efforts to denounce hate and reject hateful speech, including defamation of Jews, LGBT people, immigrants, and other minority groups, the efforts by Lithuania and other Western European nations should not go unnoticed.
Councilmember Koretz has offered a resolution that passed the Los Angeles City Council finding that Lithuania’s efforts to minimize or even deny its historical involvement in the holocaust is contrary to a truthful depiction of the Holocaust and its atrocities, and that the City Council denounce Lithuania’s efforts to distort the historical record, which shows that many Lithuanians actively collaborated with Nazi Germany in the assassination of Jewish nationals.
Moratorium on Anti-Coagulant Rodenticide
Councimlember Koretz has been working for several years to stop the use of anticoagulant rodenticides, or rat poison, as it has a deleterious effect on the welfare of wildlife. In California, more than 29 species of animals have tested positive for rodenticide exposure. Even worse, the rodenticide stays in the system and poisons predators that eat poisoned prey. In fact, 92% of the bobcats and 94% of mountain lions tested in the Santa Monica mountains were found to have rodenticide in their systems. Furthermore, you may remember that several years ago, Los Angeles’ most famous mountain lion, P-22, became gravely . This was due to large amounts of rodenticide in his system. Luckily, the National Park Service was tracking him and was able to help him in time. Unfortunately, most wildlife that are exposed to rodenticide suffer a slow and painful demise. Domestic animals do get harmed as well, such as a cat eating a poisoned mouse.
Earlier this year, Councilmember Koretz introduced a resolution in support of AB 1788, which the City Council approved. Authored by Assembly Member Richard Bloom, this bill would place a moratorium on the “second generation” category of anticoagulant rodenticides in California until the Department of Pesticide Regulation can prove that these products do not pose a significant adverse impact to our wildlife.
This week, Senator Portantino and staff helped shepherd the bill through the Appropriations Committee. The bill will next be heard on the Senate Floor followed by a vote by the full Assembly to concur in Senate amendments.
Please read the letter that Councilmember Koretz sent to Senator Portantino explaining the importance of bill’s passage and the wide support it has from Los Angeles environmental experts and advocates.
Please call your representative and ask them to support AB 1788. You can find contact information for both of your state representatives here and ask them to support the bill in order to place a moratorium on rodenticide.
Thank you to Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife (CLAW), Friends of Griffith Park and Raptors Are The Solution (RATS) for helping to lead the effort in support.