September is National Preparedness Month, an opportunity to remember the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. The 2021 theme is “Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love.”
This is a great reminder that we all must prepare ourselves and our families now and throughout the year to ensure that we are ready to respond to disasters when they occur. In Los Angeles, this can mean earthquakes, extreme heat, wildfires, and drought among other dangerous events. Even the Covid-19 pandemic has provided good reminders that emergencies can come on quickly with little warning. So please take some time this month to review your family’s emergency plan and supplies. Make sure your supply kit includes enough food and water for at least three days, medical necessities (prescriptions and first aid kit), a CHARGED cell phone, a flashlight, a fire extinguisher, and a whistle. Visit ReadyLA.org to help you and your family make a plan, prepare, organize and practice.
For our hillside residents who know too well that fire season is now year-round in Los Angeles, as the heat beats down on our city, please look further down in this newsletter for tips on emergency preparedness, evacuation plans, and other wildfire-related resources. Prepare and plan now, and I hope you never have to use it.
Remembering 9/11 Twenty Years Ago
On a more somber note, please take some time to remember that twenty years ago, the acts of September 11th were engineered by individuals who used the worst kind of violence and terrorism.
By being intolerant and unaccepting of communities and individuals different than their own, they caused an immeasurable amount of pain. Their violence changed our world forever. At this time of reflection, please keep the families and people who lost loved ones during this horrific time in our nation in your thoughts and prayers.
In recent years we have seen others engage in intolerant and unaccepting acts perpetrated on innocents in our community. More specifically, here in Los Angeles, we are hearing appalling reports of increased hate crimes. Ultimately, any act or statement grounded in hate must be addressed and not go unchecked. As the son of a Holocaust survivor, I know the importance of confronting acts of hatred at their first instance before they can erupt into a genocidal storm. In these times, please consider kindness and inclusion. These acts, no matter how small and insignificant they may seem do have a positive ripple effect on the greater humanity.
Yesterday, I was honored to speak at the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum of Tolerance September 11 Memorial and Prayer Ceremony. Joining were the Santa Monica Fire Chief, Inglewood Police Chief, LAPD Command Staff and multiple other agencies, with Master of Ceremonies Rabbi Abraham Cooper
Today I was joined at City Hall by LA Civil + Human Rights and Equity Department Executive Director Capri Maddox and Los Angeles high school and college students from the PESA Teen Court organization. As part of the remembrance, the students read the names of 50 of the fallen victims of that tragic day. Please click here to watch the program shared as educational curriculum with schools across Los Angeles. And, you can view this morning's memorial here on my Facebook page.
Councilmember Paul Koretz, Fifth District
In the News
Councilmember Koretz Appeals to Governor Newsom to Veto SB 9 and SB 10
Councilmember Koretz sent a strongly worded letter to Governor Newsom asking him to veto SB 9 and 10 (the Los Angeles City Council recently voted to support his resolution opposing both bills), noting that the seriously detrimental intrusion on local control these bills represent may very well upend the substantial work the City has undertaken to effectuate a voter-approved measure (Measure J) to increase the City’s stock of affordable housing.
The letter further points out the wide array of shortcomings both of the bills have in comparison to a variety of affordable housing programs that are in process in the City of Los Angeles; as well as the myriad of negative environmental impacts the bills will have on the City if signed into law.
Click here to read the letter in its entirety.
Please click here to contact Governor Newsom and ask him to veto SB 9 and SB 10.
On the Road to Safer Streets: Assembly Bill 43 and Speed Limit Reform Heads to Governor's Desk
Good news: the California legislature gave final approval yesterday to AB 43, the Speed Limit Reform Bill. Councilmember Koretz applauds this decision as he has been an outspoken advocate for the length that this legislation will go to improving traffic safety throughout our City.
The bill is expected to be sent to Governor Newsom’s desk to be signed in the next week or so. If signed, AB 43 will grant municipalities greater control in setting speed limits on city streets. Currently, the California Vehicle Code requires cities to conduct regular speed surveys to set and enforce speed limits, which are determined by the 85th percentile of driver speeds recorded in the survey. In practice, this process results in streets where speed limits regularly increase with every survey cycle regardless of local safety concerns. With speed being the primary factor in determining the severity of a crash, AB 43 gives cities an opportunity to save hundreds of lives. For example, a pedestrian struck by a vehicle going 35 miles per hour has a 68 percent chance of survival — a rate which plummets to 35 percent if the vehicle is going 40 miles per hour.
Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, Los Angeles has experienced an epidemic of speeding on streets, resulting in a similar number of fatal and severe injury crashes during 2020 compared to prior years despite a significant decline in overall traffic volumes.
For more background, the news website Cal Matters has published an opinion article penned by LADOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (Muni) Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin, detailing these legislative efforts to reform the process for establishing municipal speed limits.
Please click here to contact Governor Newsom and ask him to sign AB 43.
For additional information about AB 43 — including the text of the bill and its procedural history — please click here to visit the California legislative information website.
Keeping Melrose Safe
In an effort to assuage the heightened community concerns related to crime and traffic enforcement in the Melrose District and to make sure that the necessary vital resources continue to be deployed and engaged in the area, Councilmember Koretz’s staff this week collaborated with BSS investigators, LADOT and LAPD in a multi-agency response on to current crime trends on Melrose Avenue. Joining were his Director of Public Safety Greg Martayan, area Field Deputy Jill Kline and Case Worker James Ingram. In addition, City Personnel engaged with businesses and residents to assess their needs and facilitate solutions.
Clean & Green Teams Keeping CD5 Spiffy
Councilmember Koretz and staff would like to extend our sincere gratitude for the wonderful efforts of the LA Conservation Corps Clean and Green Teams. With a resurgent pandemic compounded by a sharply reduced budget, they tirelessly continued to show up in our district to keep our communities safe and clean. In fact, in CD5 alone, over the last fiscal year they hauled away more than 18,000 pounds of garbage, maintained 9800 linear feet of land, and cleared and abated more than 30,000 square feet of weeds.
Fire Season Is Here - Are You Prepared to Ready, Set, Go?
Fire season is here, and as we’ve seen over the last few years and during last week’s Caldor Fire, our region is experiencing longer, more intense fire seasons. This intensity underscores the more extreme weather conditions we are seeing worldwide due to climate change.
In addition to the work the City is doing to reduce our carbon footprint, L.A. is prepared to tackle our toughest fires with the best-equipped and most effective fire department in the U.S. We're also prepared to assist when others need our help, and this week, we answered that call by sending 44 LAFD firefighters and 10 engines to join the fight against the Caldor Fire.
How to Create a Wildfire Evacuation Plan
Understanding Evacuation Alerts
US residents can download the FEMA app to receive alerts from the National Weather Service or sign up for community alerts at Ready.gov.
NotifyLA - Please sign up to receive emergency alerts from the City of Los Angeles about local emergencies at https://emergency.lacity.org/notifyla.
LAFD 'Wildfire' Page - Please visit for tips on hardening your home, preparing for an evacuation order, and viewing safety videos on wildfires in the City of LA: https://lafd.org/wildfire.
Ready, Set, Go - Have a plan in place to prepare your family and property for the wildfire season: https://www.lafd.org/ready-set-go.
Downed Power Lines - Never touch a downed or dangling power line or anyone or anything in contact with one. Always assume a downed line is still energized. Please report any downed power lines immediately by calling the LADWP at 1-800-DIAL DWP (1-800-342-5397).
Downed Trees, Tree Limbs, or Tree Emergencies - Report any tree emergency via MyLA311.
Three common wildfire evacuation recommendations:
1- Shelter in Place - Take shelter where you are or at the nearest safe structure. This is usually ordered when evacuation is either unnecessary or too dangerous.
2 - Evacuation Warning - You should evacuate as soon as you can, with minimal time to gather important valuables.
3 - Evacuation Order - You should evacuate immediately without taking time to gather important valuables.
Assemble an Emergency Supply Kit
You should create an emergency kit for each person in your household and keep it in your car or at another easily accessible place to ensure you can quickly access it if you need to evacuate. Download a printable checklist here.
Protecting the Home
Fortifying your home against wildfires is very important. Use fire-resistant building materials, make sure your sprinkler system is operational, and manage ignition sources by removing brush and flammable material surrounding all structures on your property. Please review the latest brush clearance requirements and restrictions as they continue to evolve to make sure it is done safely and to the latest inspection standards.
Creating a Wildfire Evacuation Plan
Creating a wildfire evaluation plan will ensure you and your family will know what to do if an evacuation is ordered. You need to know where to go, where to meet if you are separated, and what to bring.
You should communicate with your family to establish an emergency meeting location in a safe area in case you are separated while evacuating. You should review evacuation routes and ensure everyone understands exactly where to go in case they need to evacuate on their own.
Ensure your phones are charged, and make sure to bring chargers and cables with you. If time allows, contact neighbors to ensure they are aware of the evacuation order and have a way to evacuate.
Plan for Pets
During an emergency, TAKE YOUR ANIMALS WITH YOU!
As soon as an evacuation is ordered, place your pets in a cage or carrier to take with you. It is simply too dangerous to leave companion animals unattended during natural disasters. The best way to ensure the safety of your pets is to evacuate with them. Make sure your pets have tags and are microchipped in case they are lost during the evacuation. And don’t forget to bring food and fresh water for your pets, as well. LA Animal Services has a handy guide to help you plan and prepare for your pets in an emergency. Click here to see all pet tips. including horse and large animal preparedness for emergencies.
Returning Home After a Fire
When preparing to return home after a wildfire:
- Do not return home until local authorities have deemed the area safe for return.
- Avoid burning debris, downed power lines, smoldering embers, and other hazards.
- Wear protective clothing, including masks and long sleeves, when cleaning your home.
- Take pictures and videos to document property damage.
- If you smell gas, open windows, leave your home, and contact SoCalGas, or your local utility provider
- Exercise extreme caution at all times.
- If flashlights are not working, please do not light a match in case of gas leak.
UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge
Please join the UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge for an online conversation on Los Angeles wildlife corridors and the pending draft wildlife ordinance, which is currently open for public comment.
Wildlife corridors connect areas of habitat and provide a vital pathway through human development that could otherwise impede biological life of all kinds. Over time, structures like buildings, roads and fences can be barriers to wildlife movement and survival as they fragment the habitat into smaller and smaller pieces.
In April 2020, the California Fish and Wildlife Commission found that it may be warranted to list mountain lions as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) within a proposed evolutionarily significant unit (ESU) located in Southern California. This ESU includes the Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles. Under CESA, a candidate species is afforded the same protection as listed species and is CESA-protected during the ongoing review period. Other species of plants and animals in the same area may be similarly threatened if aggressive protective steps are not taken.
In July 2021, the UCLA Sustainable LA Grand Challenge released its Ecosystem Health Report Card for Los Angeles County, which dedicated a chapter to Land Use and Habitat Quality that covered habitat connectivity and fragmentation and corridor projects throughout the region. The report card found that only 57% of critical habitat corridors in the county are protected, and recommended policy to increase that protection to 100% to ensure no more extinction in one of the nation’s only biodiversity hotspots.
The Los Angeles City Council, led by Councilmember Koretz, is leading efforts to protect these irreplaceable natural resources as they contemplate the city’s first-ever pilot Wildlife Ordinance District, which is being developed to balance wildlife habitat and connectivity with private property development and residents in western Los Angeles, mainly within the Santa Monica Mountains between the 101 and 405 freeways.
Please join Councilmember Koretz, staff from the Los Angeles Planning Department and a panel of UCLA experts in environmental law, biodiversity, arts and architecture, and urban planning with perspectives on the ordinance and its beneficial impacts on wildlife and Angelenos alike.
RSVP here for the Zoom webinar on Tuesday, September 21st from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
First Delta, Now Mu
As the LA County Department of Public Health continues to track variant cases in LA County, the most dominant circulating variant in LA County continues to be the highly transmissible Delta variant. Now, the Mu variant has also become a subject of interest and is being closely monitored. As of September 3rd, Public Health has identified 167 Mu variant infections in LA County. It was first identified in Colombia in January 2021 and it has since been reported in 39 other countries. The Mu variant is found to have key mutations linked to greater transmissibility and the potential to evade antibodies. More studies are still needed to determine whether the Mu variant is more contagious, more deadly, or more resistant to vaccine and treatments than other COVID-19 strains.
The identification of new variants highlight the need for LA County residents to continue taking measures that break the chain of transmission of COVID-19 such as getting vaccinated and wearing a face mask. Anyone 12 and older living or working in LA County can get vaccinated against COVID-19. Many vaccination sites across the county, including all the County-run sites, are also offering third vaccine doses to eligible immunocompromised people. Vaccinations are free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status. Please click here to read the full news release.
Please visit www.VaccinateLACounty.com to find a vaccination site near you, make an appointment at one, and much more. If you don’t have internet access or you have trouble or can’t use a computer, you can call 1-833-540-0473 for help finding an appointment, connecting to free transportation to and from a vaccination site, or scheduling a home-visit if you are homebound.