March marks the beginning of Women’s History Month. I would personally like to recognize and thank the incredible women on my team who work tirelessly to serve the constituents of Council District 5. Their contributions and leadership are an integral part of what I am able to accomplish as your Councilmember. Today and every day I rely upon their extraordinary efforts in leading and serving this City with grace, conviction, and strength.
Happy Women's History Month!
Councilmember Paul Koretz, Fifth District
FROM THE DESK OF MONICA MOLINA
Although it has been a long time since students were able to enjoy in-person schooling, there seems to be a good chance to salvage the end of this school year. Earlier this week the state announced the allotment of 25,000 vaccinations for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to meet their goal of re-opening their elementary and early childhood centers by April 9th. LAUSD has already adopted a safety plan and is currently negotiating with the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) regarding the criteria for meeting its goal and reopening elementary schools. If LA County improves slightly to get to the Red Tier, this hopefully will happen by April 9th or a bit later.
However, we should work to save some of the school year for middle school and high school students as well. The state’s plan includes reserving 10% of available vaccinations for educators, while the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has opened a vaccination site at Cal State University-Los Angeles. That will be nowhere near enough to reopen all schools. Therefore, Councilmember Koretz introduced a Resolution Wednesday calling upon the state, Los Angeles County, and FEMA to increase their vaccine allotment to educators in numbers sufficient to allow all LAUSD teachers and staff to be vaccinated in a timely fashion. The Resolution aims to increase the amount of vaccinations made available to all staff to not only help meet LAUSD’s current goal of reopening preschools and elementary schools but to also vaccinate remaining staff and reopen Middle Schools and High Schools shortly thereafter.
The students of Los Angeles have been without in-person learning for nine months and the academic, social and emotional impacts of isolation and remote learning may prove to have deleterious effects on their overall well-being. It is the Councilmember’s personal belief that getting the schools open is a major priority, doing everything he can to support and recommend safety measures in the reopening process.
As families prepare for the reopening in the near future there are two different instructional models that will be available for them when students can return to campuses. To learn more about these models you can review LAUSD’s Return to Campus Family Guide covering safety practices in place at schools, including cleaning of classrooms, social distancing, and the school-based system of COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.
Councilmember Koretz Introduces Resolution Calling for Prioritization of LAUSD Vaccinations
Click on image view video
In the News
Los Angeles City Council Votes to increase Hero Pay for Grocery Workers
This week the City Council finalized an emergency ordinance presented by Councilmembers O'Farrell, Price and Koretz to require large grocery and pharmacy retailers to offer employees an additional $5 per hour in hazard pay amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The $5 hazard pay will be required for all non-managerial employees at grocery or drug retail stores with more than 300 employees nationwide, or more than 10 employees on-site, as well as retail stores, such as Walmart and Target, that dedicate 10% of their sales floor to groceries or drug retail. The hazard pay will be given in addition to employees’ base wages for the next 120 days.
When Council voted on the motion last week Councilmember Koretz addressed the urgent need to protect grocery workers who are currently five times more susceptible to contracting COVID 19 than the general population of Los Angeles. Please watch the video here.
The City Council Goes Deep on Homelessness Outreach
On Wednesday, March 3rd, the City Council took a deep dive into the issue of outreach to persons experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles. Invited by Councilmember Koretz, representatives from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), Los Angeles County Public Health and Los Angeles County Mental Health engaged with the Councilmembers on the variety of sensitive topics relating to our homeless neighbors.
LAHSA’s team, led by Executive Director Heidi Marston, discussed their various outreach teams, led by the interdisciplinary E6 teams which operate in most of L.A.’s neighborhoods. Their main function is to connect persons experiencing homelessness with services and, when it’s available, shelter and housing. Even with existing shelters, the A Bridge Home shelter project, Measure HHH supportive housing, Project Roomkey, the upcoming Project Homekey, and the various pandemic-related interim housing solutions, the lack of available beds remains the primary reason, not just “service resistance” as is widely thought, that people are not moved off the streets and out of encampments more quickly. Council questions clearly suggested that LAHSA’s efforts are not considered satisfactory at times.
Prominent among the other topics was the availability of help and services to people struggling with mental health issues. Under state law, the County has frontline responsibility for public and mental health, but ever since the State largely divested itself of the mental health responsibilities back in the 1960s and ‘70s without providing adequate resources to counties to handle them, the connection between mental illness and homelessness has steadily grown. Both LAHSA and County officials described their work to help the homeless in dealing with these issues, but Councilmembers seemed to agree that those efforts remain inadequate.
“Our effort to address homelessness and serve both those experiencing it and our housed constituents is strengthened by our having a better understanding of what an agency like LAHSA can and cannot do, and where their jurisdiction starts and stops,” said Councilmember Koretz. “That’s why I asked them to appear at a Council meeting which I think we all benefited from, even if we didn’t always like what we heard. By having a better understanding of who does what, we know better who to call in when an issue arises in our districts.”
Councilmembers Koretz Introduces Motion to Enhance Tracking, Transparency and Accountability around the City’s Carbon Impacts
Councilmember Koretz introduced a motion this week asking the Climate Emergency Mobilization Office, among others City departments, to report back on the feasibility of developing and/or procuring artificial intelligence (AI) technology to provide a more accurate accounting of the City’s carbon footprint, as well as regular reporting and public disclosure of the City’s organization-wide greenhouse gas emissions. The aim of today’s carbon accounting motion is to have more accurate, timely and transparent reporting if the City is going to make real progress toward achieving and exceeding the environmental goals presented in the Mayor’s 2019 Green New Deal Pathway.
The carbon accounting motion was introduced in concert with the passage of a Resolution introduced by Councilmembers Koretz and de León in support of SB 260 (Wiener). If the bill passes the State legislature, it would be the first law in the country to require U.S.-based companies doing business in California and generating over $1 billion in gross annual revenue to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions and set science-based targets to reduce those emissions.
“We need clear and transparent accounting of our greenhouse gas emissions if we are going to work to reverse our carbon footprint,” Councilmember Koretz pointed out. “The City provides a number of services - from lighting and maintaining municipal buildings, facilities and streetlights, to paving roads and operating a transit fleet, and delivering water and operating reclamation facilities - all of which come with environmental impacts. If we’re going to take our carbon reduction goals seriously, and make a real difference in the lives of frontline communities near LAX and the Port of Los Angeles, we need a better, more consistent, and more transparent accounting of our emissions.”
Weekend Traffic Advisory: Wilshire/San Vicente Intersection Restoration This Weekend
On Saturday, March 6, and Sunday, March 7, the street surface in and around the Wilshire Blvd./San Vicente Blvd. intersection in Mid City will begin restoration work activities and is expected to occur over two consecutive weekends, March 6 to 7, and March 13 to 14. This work will require the use of heavy equipment, paving equipment, and extensive traffic control and is expected to begin at 5:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, and continue through Sunday night.
Safety Upgrade at Overland and Olympic
Our staff joined the community in mourning the tragic car accident at the corner of Overland and Olympic Blvd resulting in the loss of a life and injuries for those involved. While it shouldn't take a tragedy to make our streets safer, Councilmember Koretz and his staff are grateful to LADOT for their promptness in initiating the permanent installation of Westbound and Eastbound turn signals at that intersection. LADOT is determined to complete the project in 4 to 6 weeks. Typically, traffic signal upgrades are designed to go out to bid and take approximately two years to complete.
Feeding Our Seniors
In collaboration with Adine Forman, Executive Director of the Hospitality Training Academy (HTA) and Meals on Wheels West LA, Councilmember Koretz’s staff were able to coordinate the distribution of 100 meals to seniors throughout the region. A special thank you to Susan Strouse (pictured here) a dedicated volunteer who has been delivering meals every day since the pandemic started.
New $100,000 Hate Crime Prevention Security Fund for Vulnerable CD5 Organizations
According to a new report by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), 2020 saw 93 hate crimes reported, up from 79 during the same time in 2019, which is a 17.7% increase in hate crimes. Citywide hate crimes have steadily increased from 229 reported hate crimes in 2016 to 355 reported hate crimes in 2020. Across religions, anti-Jewish crimes were the highest last year and hate crimes against African Americans, Asian Americans and transgender and gay men have all increased as well, with the largest increase in hate crimes being against the Asian community, a 114% increase over 2019.
It is imperative that marginalized institutions be as prepared as possible to prevent injury and harm to attendees. For this reason, Councilmember Koretz has announced a new $100,000 fund to be made available, in grants of up to $2500 each, to vulnerable institutions in Council District Five that are at high threat risks due to religious, lifestyle, cultural or ethnic practice.
“We are not immune to a rising tide of hate, and after what we saw happen in our nation's capital and the increase in hate crimes against individuals, it demands that we step up and protect every Angeleno - no matter what they look like, or how they pray,” said Councilmember Koretz. “Given the rise of hate motivated attacks, hate speech and increased hate crimes aimed at individuals and institutions, I have created a security fund to help institutions implement additional safety measures so that their members will be free to observe in peace. I encourage all faith, LGBTQIA and cultural institutions of Council District Five to apply if they have unmet security needs.”
Councilmember Koretz wants to ensure that we take these statistics seriously and help make a difference in protecting more local vulnerable faith-based, cultural and LGBTQIA institutions physically located in Los Angeles’ Fifth Council District against rising threats. The funding will be provided through Council District Five discretionary funds, therefore security grants can only be awarded to organizations within Council District Five.
Funds can be used for specific infrastructure hardening security needs (i.e., security cameras, security gates, gated windows, upgrades to current security systems, bullet proof windows, gates for parking lot, etc.). Institutions within the boundaries of CD5 that serve a communal public service are eligible. Funds can be applied for items that will help shore up any physical security gaps and shortfalls and or current systems that need upgrades that will make the institution safer for people attending communal services and events. The grants may also be eligible for crisis response training for staff and membership and other security training needs should this make the core infrastructure hardening improvements stronger. The grants cannot be used for security staff salaries.
We should be increasing our funding and protection for vulnerable communities and be proactive about hate crime prevention. If City leaders don’t stand up for these communities, who will?
The application deadline is Friday, March 12 and to access the Council District 5 Hate Crime Security Grant application, please follow this link: http://www.councilmemberpaulkoretz.com/resources/security-grant-program
California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program
California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate announced this week that there will be four new funding rounds for the CA Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program. This announcement follows Governor Newsom signing into law a comprehensive package that includes relief to individuals, families, and businesses that have experienced economic hardships due to the pandemic.
The recently signed package provides $2.075 billion for grants up to $25,000 for small businesses impacted by the pandemic, and also includes a $50 million allocation for non-profit cultural institutions. In addition, four competitive funding rounds will be conducted by CalOSBA’s selected intermediary, Lendistry.
Businesses and nonprofit organizations interested in applying can visit the careliefgrant.com website for more information on eligibility and dates for each of the upcoming rounds: California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program
Metro's Fareless System Initiative
Upcoming Virtual Meetings
Metro is studying how we could eliminate fares on our buses and trains and we want to hear from you!
The Fareless System Initiative study is underway and a leading concept has emerged – a fareless pilot program that would provide free rides on Metro buses and rail service for low-income riders and K-12 students starting in January 2022- Metro invites you to learn more about this concept and provide feedback.
The Fareless System Initiative project team will present at the five local Service Council meetings in March. Metro’s local Service Councils advise on planning and implementation of Metro services in five geographic regions, but the presentation will be the same and you can attend any of the meetings, regardless of where you live. These meetings will also be an opportunity for participants to ask questions and provide input. Below you can find details of the upcoming meetings.
All agendas will be posted here and you can access all the meetings here.
If you have any questions about these meetings or about the Fareless System Initiative, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
- San Fernando Valley Service Council, on Wednesday, March 3rd at 6:30pm
- San Gabriel Valley Service Council, on Monday, March 8th at 5:00pm
- Westside/Central Service Council, on Wednesday, March 10th at 6:00pm
- Gateway Cities Service Council, on Thursday, March 11th at 2:00pm
- South Bay Service Council, on Friday, March 12th at 9:30am
Metro Sepulveda Transit Corridor to Be Addressed at March 25 Board Meeting
Recently, Metro released its recommendation for two private sector teams to conduct Pre-Development work to advance the Sepulveda Transit Corridor Project. The Metro Board is scheduled to vote on the staff recommendation on March 25th. Learn more about Metro's recommendations on Metro’s blog The Source and follow the links to read the board report and for the presentation which has the routes.
Make a difference - Please Give Blood THIS Sunday!
Critical blood donations are still down due to the pandemic, and a healthy blood supply is critical to public health.
Thanks to the Bel Air-Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council and The Bel-Air Association who have organized a blood drive at the Bel Air Association, 100 Bel-Air Road this Sunday, March 7th from 11 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please make a reservation by going to www.cedars-sinai.org/giveblood and entering group code BABC.