Header Image - Paul Koretz
April 24, 2021   

Dear Friends,

Today we commemorate the horrific efforts of the Ottomon Empire to eradicate the Armenian people in a systematic genocide in 1915, leading to the death of 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children. Until today no President has publicly recognized these atrocities.

I am grateful to California Representatives Adam Schiff and Brad Sherman who have been instrumental in leading this change at the federal level and proud that President Biden made history today by breaking ranks with his predecessors when he officially recognized the Armenian Genocide. The Presidential act today was a foundational stance that the world must unite with a new expectation for all of humanity. But it was more than that, it was an act for both accountability and a commitment to healing through powerful truth.

As a son of a Holocaust survivor, I have always felt kinship to the Armenian people, who for generations have been denied the healing that would come with recognition and remorse. I will never forgot the anger I felt when I took a class in Turkish history at UCLA in the late 70’s, from a professor who was a Armenian Genocide denier. At least the German government and people acknowledge the Holocaust and the need to make sure they never repeat it.

I have joined the fight for recognition ever since. I wrote my first resolution about the Armenian Genocide in the mid-1980’s, putting the new City of West Hollywood on record calling for recognition of the Genocide. I authored a bill which passed in 2002 as a member of the State Assembly, to create a curriculum focusing on the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide. And I continue to march, protest and speak out.

 
Los Angeles Armenian Community gathers for Genocide Memorial 2018.  

When we discuss the Holocaust, we say ‘Never Again’. It is a process that the Armenian people mirror in their chant to 'Never Forget'. The healing will begin with recognition and then education and a strong societal commitment to look squarely at the worst of the inhumanity and resolve to evolve as the human family while celebrating our unique human lineages.

The work we all do is not in vain, it is in memory of the one and half million Armenian Christian martyrs killed by the Turks. It is in the spirit of the famous Spanish philosopher George Santayana’s aphorism, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".

Unfortunately, I believe that the continued denial of the Armenian Genocide led to recent atrocities reminiscent of those in 1915. During forty-four days of Azeri and Turkish attacks, they committed grizzly murders including beheading and skinning of innocent Armenians and cutting off their ears as trophies.  Azeri troops also used illegal phosphorus munitions to burn civilians hiding in tree-lined areas. Turkey used Azerbaijan as a tool to try to finish what Talhat Pasha began in the early 1900s. Those barbaric assaults on the Armenian people last year in Artsakh were truly a horrendous attack on all humanity.

The Armenian Diaspora has been and will continue to be a driving force for good in the City of Los Angeles, while maintaining it’s critical role in support of the nation of Armenia. I am so fortunate to represent many Armenian organizations and institutions in my district. We will continue to collaborate on creating a better tomorrow for Los Angeles and the World.

Earth Day

Also, as we celebrated Earth Day this week, I wanted to highlight some areas we in the City of Los Angeles led the country on as we brought several of my initiatives to fruition and to give my hard-working Director of Environmental Affairs Andy Shrader a little extra space below to detail the work he and I have been doing to combat the still-looming climate emergency and ubiquitous plastic pollution, and, to protect the creatures and natural areas with whom we share our city, who are vital to the health and well-being of us all. I’d also like to acknowledge my Communications Director Alison Simard in these efforts. Before she worked for me, she spent much of her time working to protect the wildlife in the hillside communities.

I'm especially excited to share that, closely following on the heels of the December release of the City’s groundbreaking LA City Biodiversity Index, which also arose from my original legislation, City Planning is ready to announce and present both the Ridgeline Protection Ordinance AND the draft Wildlife Corridor Ordinance that my staff and I have been working with Planning on over several years. Both efforts are extremely popular and the Los Angeles Times has praised the legislative efforts on several occasions with our hillside communities and I’m pleased to bring them, at last, to fruition. That said, they will both need ongoing and continued community support, particularly during budget season which starts this week, if they are to truly achieve the vision we have all set forth together.

The draft Wildlife Corridor Ordinance is expected to be released sometime in the next two weeks. You can learn more about the draft Ridgeline Protection Ordinance further down in this newsletter.

Author Nelson Henderson, drawing upon centuries of tradition, once said, “[t]he true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” There was no other way I’d rather celebrate Earth Day 2021 than by planting a tree.

Thank you to our friends and colleagues at StreetsLA for coordinating all aspects of our tree planting along White Oak in Encino. The 23 newly planted trees will improve our urban forestry, reduce street temperatures with new shaded areas, clean the air, and create a more attractive streetscape for years to come. A special thank you to Scott Harmon and Hector Banuelos who were instrumental in working with my staff and the community on this project. And a big thank you to Alex Garay from the Encino Neighborhood Council for joining me today.

Lastly, I would be remiss to send out an Earth Day newsletter without including some Greener Living Tips. Please click the link to read these from LA Magazine.

Sincerely,
Signature of Paul Koretz
Councilmember Paul Koretz, Fifth District



In the News

 

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From the Back Porch of Andy Shrader
Director of Environmental Affairs and Sustainability

In January, while our eyes were pinned to Washington D.C., climate scientists, including Daniel Blumstein from UCLA, warned us of a “ghastly future” if the international community didn’t dramatically step up emissions reductions efforts, something Super Typhoon Surigae reminded us about as it menaced the Philippines this week. This despite some immediate strong and necessary steps made by President Biden as well as his remarkable Climate Leader Summit effort this week. In fact, the global community would be well-served to deem every day from now to 2030 as Earth Day, because that is the day elected officials are politically able to focus on the environment for a few short days and, consequently, so much gets accomplished.

Here in LA, we have to think of it as walking and chewing gum at the same time. While we must absolutely and simultaneously continue our vital work to shelter, feed, and support our unhoused community, as well as the multitudes still struggling from COVID economic impacts, and continue providing the City services necessary to keep Angelenos healthy and thriving, we cannot lose sight of the desperate need for ever-more aggressive reductions in our greenhouse gas emissions and, perhaps more importantly, LA’s global leadership role in this effort. As Councilmember Koretz likes to say, what happens in LA doesn’t stay in LA.

Towards that end, this week:

  • Mayor Garcetti announced a moratorium on new oil and gas drilling,
  • The City Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee moved forward an effort strengthened in December by an amending motion from Councilmembers Martinez, Krekorian, and Koretz to not simply establish safety buffer zones, but to declare oil and gas operations in the City a non-conforming land use and end it altogether, including at all oil drilling sites in Council District 5, and;
  • Councilmember Koretz, after participating as a speaker in one of President Biden’s official Climate Leader Summit side events, brought forward to a unanimous Council vote a resolution calling for an international Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty to end fossil fuel production around the world as soon as possible.

The treaty initiative, which began in Vancouver, B.C., and well-described in this LA Times editorial, aims to phase out the production of fossil fuels and thereby exceed the essential but still dangerous 1.5 degrees Celcius Paris Agreement goals. The further goal is to increase international cooperation for an equitable transition to clean energy and no-carbon solutions and protect workers whose jobs may be negatively impacted. Today, oil, gas, and coal are responsible for close to 80 percent of carbon dioxide emissions and, while LA, led in part by Councilmember Koretz, successfully shut down and, in December, demolished the Navajo Generating Station**, one of its major coal plants, other cities, states, and countries have been, concerningly, much slower to act. Councilmember Costa Constantinides from the New York City Council has introduced a similar treaty resolution, another in an ongoing policy partnership with Councilmember Koretz. Wednesday’s vote was celebrated by no less than international climate leader, Bill McKibben, who tweeted his support and also acknowledged the City’s ongoing work and need to phase out its own oil and gas operations. [**It should be noted that, as a result of the leadership by Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, LA is working with the Navajo Nation on a large-scale solar project to replace the jobs lost at the coal plant and Kayenta coal mine.

Mayor Garcetti also committed this week to fully fund the Climate Emergency Mobilization Office (CEMO), created by Councilmember Koretz and the Leap LA Coalition. The CEMO’s director, Marta Segura, has been hired and is busily putting together her team. To ensure equity and justice are at the center of the City’s climate efforts, the CEMO’s first tasks will be to convene Community Assemblies in the most polluted neighborhoods of the city in order to create a climate emergency mobilization implementation plan. The motion to create the CEMO, co-authored by Councilmember Blumenfield, inspired the cities of Berkeley and Richmond to declare climate emergencies, followed by other cities around the Bay area, then London, England, New York City, and a cascade of declarations around the globe, now totaling 1,932 and counting.

As well, Councilmember Koretz and I have been integrally involved in helping create close-knit coalitions across the state and country, where climate-awake elected officials have been working together, mentoring each other, swapping best practices, and filling in the gaping climate leadership void that had been left empty for four years at the international level. With President Biden thankfully now filling that space, with Mayor Garcetti’s key leadership with the larger cities and our work with the smaller ones, we feel that the elements are in place to finally make actual, substantive headway on emissions reductions.

Lastly, while the COVID crisis meant a temporary reduction in air and climate pollution, it also meant a drastic increase in plastic pollution, up over 30 percent. The oil and gas industry, recognizing the global effort to end the use of fossil fuels, has shifted its business model towards plastic production, spending an estimated $200 billion since 2010 on 333 plastic and chemical projects in the U.S. alone. Unfortunately, the climate and environmental impacts of doing so are not being reduced. Fracking, which Governor Newsom is phasing out by 2024, accounts for a major portion of the plastic production and also for a significant portion of fossil fuel pollution. Addressing plastic pollution has also become an important focus.

With COVID safer-at-home orders in place, many if not most of us shifted to delivery or takeout from our favorite restaurants, and you may have noticed very quickly that the plastic utensils, napkins, and condiments you receive with each order either end up in a drawer or in the trash. To combat this growing problem, and to give restaurants a financial break, Councilmembers Koretz and Krekorian brought forward a “foodware accessories upon request” motion, which resulted in an ordinance that was approved by City Council on Wednesday. In six months, restaurants and delivery services will be required to provide those items only if the customer requests them. Delivery services such as Grubhub and the rest, seeing the writing on the wall, have already made simple changes to their phone apps and websites. At a press conference on Wednesday after the vote, one of the small restaurateurs said that he expected the ordinance would save him $20,000 per year, which is, as Councilmember Koretz put it, “a win win win”: a win for the restaurants, a win for the environment, and a win for our kitchen drawers.

he LA County Supervisors are expected to follow suit with their own ordinance in a few weeks and the delivery companies have made it clear that LA’s action will likely have a positive impact on their operations across the country. It's remarkable that a simple change in habit and technology can provide unexpected financial benefits to struggling restaurants everywhere.




Planning Releases Draft Ridgeline Protection Ordinance

In 2016, Councilmember Koretz introduced a motion to permanently protect the natural crests of the mountains that surround and bisect Los Angeles for ecological and geological purposes. After many years of scientific study, mapping, and community input the Los Angeles City Planning department has prepared a draft Ridgeline Protection Ordinance. The proposed ordinance establishes a new Supplemental Use District (SUD) with two levels of protection that are available to be applied to ridgeline or ridgeline adjacent properties.

The draft of the Ridgeline Protection Ordinance has been released for public review and comment. For more information on what this proposed ordinance does and does not do, please see the Fact Sheet and view a Ridgeline Protection Ordinance recorded webinar overview here.

To submit written comments on the proposed ordinance, please email Patrick Whalen at patrick.whalen@lacity.org, and please include reference case number CPC-2021-3001-CA. The next step in this ordinance process will be to hold a staff-level public hearing, where members of the public can learn more about the proposed ordinance and submit official testimony to the case file to further inform the ordinance.

To receive future updates regarding this proposed ordinance, please sign up to join the interested parties list on the Department email signup page.

 

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City Nature Challenge

The City Nature Challenge is an international effort taking place from April 30th to May 3rd, 2021, to document nature in cities. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge all participants to carefully follow public health guidelines. Here's how you can participate:

  1. Download the iNaturalist app from the App Store or Google Play.
  2. Find wildlife - near your home, yard, or neighborhood - within the boundaries of Los Angeles County.
  3. Take photos of WILD plants & animals.
  4. Share your observations in the iNaturalist App. If they’re not wild, be sure to mark them as captive/cultivated!
  5. Help identify what everyone found from May 4 - May 9.

You can download the flyers here:

English Version | Korean Version | Spanish Version | Chinese Version



Walk-In Vaccine Appointments This Weekend

A limited number of “no appointment needed” on-site registration spots are being offered at all County-run mass vaccination sites through Monday, April 26th while supply lasts. Anyone 16 and older living or working in Los Angeles County can now get vaccinated without booking an appointment at the below locations (minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian).

Balboa Sports Complex

Cal State Northridge

Pomona Fairplex

17015 Burbank Blvd
Encino, CA 913616

Tuesday-Saturday
9am-3pm

18343 Plummer Street
Northridge, CA 91325

Monday-Sunday
9am-4:30pm

2370 E. Arrow Hwy (Gate 15)
La Verne, CA 91750

Monday-Sunday
9am-4:30pm

Eugene A. Obregon Park

The Los Angeles Forum

LA County Office of Education

4021 E. 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90063

Tuesday-Saturday
8:30am-3pm

3900 Manchester Blvd
Inglewood, CA 90305

Monday-Sunday
9am-4:30pm

12830 Columbia Way
Downey, CA 90242

Monday-Sunday
9am-4:30pm

Palmdale Oasis Park Recreation Center

College of the Canyons

3850-A East Avenue S
Palmdale, CA 93550

Monday-Sunday
11am-7pm

25000 Valencia Blvd
Santa Clarita, CA 91355

Monday-Sunday
11am-7pm

 

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 (Bel Air/ Encino) and through email paul.koretz@lacity.org. 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.

 

This message was sent to  by:

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