As we enter into this Memorial Day weekend, I know that so many people are looking forward to a long weekend outdoors, seeking some semblance of normalcy and rejoicing in the idea of gathering with friends and family.
That said, Memorial Day is not about barbeques and beach days but remembering those who have served and those who have fallen for our country. These past few weeks have been filled with quite a bit of pain with the continued rise of hate crimes against our neighbors and our families be they Jewish or Muslim, be they Asian-American or African-American, whether they identify as LGBTQ or whether they pray in a different house of worship.
On this Memorial Day, let’s remember all of those who sacrificed their lives to preserve the freedom of the United States. That freedom is built on an ideal of equality and liberty from oppression. Let’s take some time to reflect about those sacrifices and that the gratitude we show for that service be expressed in our own self-examination and expression of love for the fabric of all Los Angeles and America. We are only our best selves when we celebrate our beautiful diversity of backgrounds as well as beliefs.
So to all members of the armed forces and their families, past and present, I wish to express a most sincere thank you for your service and your tremendous sacrifice.
Please note, the Los Angeles National Cemetery in Westwood will be holding a small flag placement this Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. The cemetery will be open all weekend for the public who would like to visit and pay their respect.
Councilmember Paul Koretz, Fifth District
In the News
Los Angeles Times: How do I get cash prizes from California’s $116-million COVID vaccine lottery?
City News: City Council Approves Paid Time Off For Getting COVID-19
Water Online: Tree Summit 2021: Water And A Healthy Urban Forest
Council Adopts Koretz Motion Providing Employee Paid Leave for Workers Seeking COVID-19 Vaccine
The Los Angeles City Council voted this week to approve a motion authored by Councilmember Paul Koretz (CD5) that requests the Mayor revise the existing Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Emergency Order to permit use of supplemental paid sick leave to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination and to recover from any vaccine related side effects, as well as draft a complimentary Emergency Order that would require all employers, regardless of size, to provide Employees up to 4 hours of paid time off to obtain each injection, and up to 8 hours for recovery from vaccination related side effects.
“As we begin to emerge from this pandemic and our economy continues to open up, it is critically important that we get as many people vaccinated as possible,” said Councilmember Koretz. “Unfortunately, vaccination rates in the City and nationwide have been waning in the last month – so much that our largest vaccination sites are shuttering -- while our most disadvantaged communities, and Angelenos who have served as essential workers and on the front lines of this pandemic have been left to choose between making ends meet and getting vaccinated.”
“Having a strong work ethic shouldn’t cost you your health,” said Council President Martinez. “It breaks my heart to see reports that two-thirds of Latinos want to get the COVID-19 vaccine but haven’t for fear of missing work due to potential side effects. We need to do everything possible to protect our families--both physically and financially.”
“With the County’s re-opening date of June 15 fast approaching, it’s important that we remove as many barriers to vaccine access as possible. Collectively, the County and the City are committed to an equitable distribution of the vaccine that ensures our essential workers and many others are not barred from accessing the vaccine because they can’t afford to take time off work,” shared Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair, Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District. “Together, we are addressing community concerns of missing work to get vaccinated or in taking the needed time off when experiencing side effects from the vaccine.”
California Senate Bill (SB) 95, requires all employers with 25 or more employees to provide 80 hours of COVID-19 related sick leave for full-time employees, and for part-time employees, hours to cover the normal schedule that employees would work over two weeks. Last week, LA County approved an emergency ordinance that covers vaccine-related time off for workers who work for employers with fewer than 25 employees, as well as those that may have already exhausted the existing 80-hour benefit due to either prior infection or exposure to COVID-19, and thus lack the necessary hours to take time off from work to get vaccinated.
Regaining Economic Equilibrium
Last week, the City Council unanimously approved an $11.2 billion City Budget that focuses on picking up the pieces from a calamitous, pandemic-induced budget trainwreck and restoring the City of Los Angeles to a relatively stable fiscal state. At the low point of the pandemic in 2020, the City’s operational deficit was estimated to be as high as $700 million.
Called by Mayor Eric Garcetti a “Justice Budget,” the Council’s action on May 20th took advantage of an influx of more than $700 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding to bring the City’s emergency reserves back to levels necessary to allow it to withstand precisely the kinds of setbacks the pandemic brought on after mid-March of 2020. After the push-and-pull of the budget adoption process, those reserves ended up being around 11.3% of the overall budget, exceeding the legally mandated target of 10%. Without the federal funds, there would have been little hope of accomplishing this.
The reserves (which can be thought of as “rainy day funds”) kept the City’s operations from hitting a wall when revenues from sales, parking, transient occupancy, and other taxes cratered as a result of waves of business and activity shutdowns to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the final quarter of Fiscal Year 2019-20 and the first three quarters of 2020-21. (Perhaps not so ironically, the only category of tax revenues to increase during that time was from licensed cannabis-related business activities.) To keep the City operating and providing very basic services, the Mayor and Council drew down the reserve funds to make up for the lack of incoming revenue. The new budget restores them to acceptable levels for future emergencies.
For the just-adopted 2021-22 City Budget, the Mayor and Council generally worked to continue the effort to combat COVID-19 (including $75 million for vaccination programs), bolster efforts to address homelessness to the tune of about $800 million spread over a number of programs, boost public safety spending by more than 3% over where it ended up in the current fiscal year after $150 million was diverted to social and community needs, and mitigate the impact of the tight revenue situation on most of the City’s more than 40 departments, many of whom lost dozens of employees to an early retirement program instituted to deal with the budget shortfalls in 2020.
Councilmember Koretz was able to see many of his highest budget priorities met. The budget provides for staffing up his long-standing effort to create a Wildlife Corridors Plan, creating an oil and gas well compliance program, bolstering LAPD patrols in the face of an unfortunate upsurge of violent crime, restoring LAPD’s participation in the multi-department Animal Cruelty Task Force, funding the start-up of a citywide effort to sterilize feral “community cats,” and increasing the number of CARES clean-up teams servicing homeless encampments.
Creating a budget for the country’s second-largest city isn’t easy or pretty, but this year’s budget is a testament to the hard work of the Council and Mayor and the wisdom of the Biden Administration in recognizing the crucial role of cities in bringing the country back from the COVID-19 disaster. In addition, Councilmember Koretz is looking forward to further economic and budgetary recovery in the new fiscal year beginning July 1.
To learn more, please visit https://cao.lacity.org/Budget/index.htm.
Curious About Redistricting?
A new Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission (LACCRC) website is live and open to the public. Please note that this website is in its first iteration and will soon be enhanced utilizing a more visual, user-friendly and interactive platform with access to more Redistricting information and tools in the coming weeks.
This initial LACCRC website was launched to make sure the public was able to have easier access to key information such as background on Commissioners and staff, meeting dates, agendas, Zoom links to upcoming meetings and Redistricting information.
Learn more at http://redistricting2021.lacity.org/LACCRC/index.html where you can get involved and learn about future City Council Redistricting Commission Meetings:
- Thursday, June 3, 6:00 p.m. - Outreach Committee Meeting [AGENDA]
- Wednesday, June 16, 6:00 p.m. - Special Meeting of the LACCRC
Save The Date - June 10 - Wildlife Ordinance Workshop
In 2014, Councilmember Koretz authored a motion directing City Planning to create an ordinance that would protect the wildlife corridors of the Santa Monica Mountains that would extend from the “Hollywood Hills” to the “Rim of the Valley.” The Department of City Planning recently released the Draft Wildlife Ordinance for the first stage pilot area along with additional project information on the new Wildlife Pilot Study webpage.
During the City’s annual Budget hearings, Councilmember Koretz requested in his budget letter and was grateful the Council’s Budget Chair, Councilmember Paul Krekorian, and the whole Budget Committee, included the positions and funding to complete the pilot project and to begin the creation of the entire “Rim of the Valley” project and ordinance. We will need ongoing public support from across the City to see this through to completion.
Now you are invited to a live, online workshop to hear additional feedback, provide comment and ask clarifying questions about the ordinance.
Watch this video to learn more
The Wildlife Pilot Study has informed the creation of a draft ordinance to support the City’s sustainability goals to conserve and protect important habitats and the connections between them. The effort identifies areas of ecological value for wildlife in the City of Los Angeles and proposes regulations for new development that can be more compatible with the land, water, plants, and animals that make up our city’s world class natural environment.
In an effort to work with the community, Los Angeles City Planning continues to value your input and participation. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, engagement continues online, expanded resources have been made available online and staff remain available to listen and discuss. You can learn more about the Wildlife Pilot Study Program and sign up to get updates from the Wildlife team. Please send comments or questions to Lena Mik at OurLA2040@lacity.org.
Wildlife Ordinance Online Workshop
Thursday, June 10, 2021
6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m
Jewish American Heritage Month Exhibit Online
This week, along with the City Council, we celebrate the 5th year that Los Angeles has officially recognized May as Jewish American Heritage Month. Jewish American Heritage Month provides an opportunity to recognize diversity through many examples of Jewish American trailblazers who have advocated for and embodied the spirit of justice through an online exhibit entitled “tzedek, tzedek, tirdof” which means justice, justice, you shall pursue. It is curated to recognize Jewish individuals and organizations who have advanced equity and justice not only for the Jewish community but for all Angelenos. With this spirit, I invite you to visit the online exhibit celebrating 100 years of Jewish American change-makers in the City of LA at www.jahmla2021.com.
Save The Date - June 13 - Westside Neighborhood Council Shop Local Community Business Walk
The Westside Neighborhood Council will be hosting their SHOP LOCAL initiative with a Community Business Walk. Residents are invited to join the walk along Westwood Blvd. and Pico Blvd. where businesses will be hosting open houses and serving free coffee. Free WNC mugs will be handed out at the corner of Pico and Westwood on June 13th from 11:00 a.m to 2:00 p.m. This is a wonderful opportunity to show some love to your neighborhood and small businesses!
LA Public Library Reopening 12 Additional Libraries as the Next Chapter of Phased Reopenings Begins June 1st
The Los Angeles Public Library will be reopening twelve additional library locations on June 1st for limited in-person services. This brings the total number of reopened locations to 50, including the Central Library. This also includes two libraries converted into in-person locations from strictly pick-up services, the Palms Rancho-Park Branch and the Westwood Branch -- both locations are in the Fifth Council District.
The libraries will offer select services that may include quick browsing, computer access, pick up of holds and mobile printing orders, checking out of materials inside libraries, and the convenient Library To Go contactless pick up service.
For a complete list of libraries and the services offered at each location, please visit www.lapl.org/reopening. Follow #LAPLreopen on social media for updates.
This is the third phase of an ongoing effort to gradually restore library services following the closure of all libraries last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A recipient of the nation’s highest honor for library service—the National Medal from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Los Angeles Public Library serves the largest and most diverse urban population of any library in the nation. Its Central Library, 72 branch libraries, collection of more than 6 million books, state-of-the-art technology accessible at lapl.org, and diverse programs provide everyone with free and easy access to information and the opportunity for lifelong learning.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.