Getting Developers to Foot the Bill
As anyone who reads or listens to the news knows, the city is in difficult financial straits, with no resolution in sight. It may surprise you that despite this desperate financial position, the taxpayers of Los Angeles are still subsidizing the development process. In fact, 1.7 million dollars of taxpayer money per year go toward overhead and related services for the processing of development applications.
This should change. Councilmember Paul Koretz introduced a motion on February 24, 2010 to immediately phase-in and charge for all the development overhead. (See City Council File 0969-S1). This $1.7 million can be used toward balancing the city’s budget, possibly saving jobs and public services and potentially even saving important oversight services in the planning department. The proposal will inevitably face huge opposition from powerful development and business interests, but charging these fees is in the best interest of the taxpayers. This measure impacts only development projects and will not impact appeal or other fees paid by the general public.
Councilmember Koretz's motion to end development subsidies has been scheduled before the City Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee for Tuesday April 27, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. in the Public Works Hearing Room at City Hall. As always, the public is welcome to come and comment. We hope you will speak out for this proposal. If you would like to participate, or share your views in advance, please feel free to contact CD 5 planning deputy Christopher Koontz at email@example.com.
The Mayor's Budget Speech
Councilmember Koretz was among the many who gathered to hear Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's annual budget speech.
This year's speech held particular drama due to the last several months of debate and activity in City Hall and citywide, regarding the current budget crisis. Councilmember Koretz has constantly challenged those who argued that thousands of layoffs and severe cuts in city services were needed to survive the crisis -- the Councilmember has helped identify many other options, including efficiencies that could generate significant savings. Mayor Villaraigosa's new budget proposal does indeed move in that direction, with 3,000 fewer layoffs and fewer service cuts than had been anticipated.
The City Council's Budget Committee begins hearings on the Mayor’s proposed budget this week.
Ending a Neighborhood Nuisance in the San Fernando Valley
On April 22, Councilmember Koretz appeared before the Los Angeles Police Permit Review Panel in Van Nuys and, in the strongest possible terms, called for the revocation of the Mermaids Cabaret club's café-entertainment license.
Councilmember Koretz told the Police Panel, “This location has been terrorizing the neighborhood for the last three years. It continues to terrorize the neighborhood today and all signs show that it will continue to terrorize the neighborhood in the future,” unless the Commission takes appropriate action.
Mermaids is the latest in a series of clubs affiliated with the same owner-operator and located on an Encino site that was once home to the original El Torito family restaurant. There have been many reports of nuisances disturbing and afflicting the local neighborhood: past violations included service of alcohol without a license and service of alcohol past 2:00 a.m. A recent undercover investigation by LAPD Vice Officers and Building & Safety found a multitude of alleged violations and serious concerns, echoing the angry complaints of people living in the area. Issues raised have included possible public intoxication, scantily clad employees giving lap dances, late night partying and patrons littering and urinating on surrounding properties upon leaving the club.
This undercover investigation was conducted at the instigation and urging of Councilmember Koretz.
Councilmember Koretz, local residents and neighborhood groups attended the Police Panel hearing and called for action against Mermaids.
The Panel seemed very receptive to the Councilmember and the community. Because the City Attorney requires a few weeks to complete all the necessary legal paperwork, the Panel agreed to take legal action at a subsequent hearing. At the request of Councilmember Koretz, the Panel will hold that hearing at the very beginning of next month, which is much sooner than would normally occur.
Councilmember Koretz explained, “We are doing everything in our power to protect this community by getting rid of a neighborhood nuisance as quickly as possible.”
Thanking our Police Officers!
Councilmember Koretz is always pleased and proud to personally thank the Officers of the Los Angeles Police Department for their remarkable dedication and service. He was able to do so most recently at the Van Nuys Community Police Station this past week.
Councilmember Koretz has often said, “The work by our Officers is the best that I’ve seen in my lifetime, as far as policing in this city or perhaps anywhere across this country.The LAPD is doing an absolutely phenomenal job!”
At the Van Nuys Community Police Station, Councilmember Koretz applauded the efforts and achievements of each and every one of its Officers, support staff and volunteers: “I am so grateful for what’s done here to keep the people of Sherman Oaks and Sherman Village safe, and for the extraordinarily effective commitment to community-based policing,” under the leadership of Captains Tia Morris and Bill Eaton. In particular, Councilmember Koretz particularly recognized the neighborhood support given by Senior Lead Officers George Aguilar, Justin Bergman and Lucas Hamilton.
Westwood Gardens Library Park
Earlier this week, Councilmember Koretz participated in a wide-ranging meeting of the Holmby Westwood Homeowners Association. One of the important topics of discussion was the Westwood Gardens Library Park. Construction has begun on the park, and there is an anticipated opening in June/July 2010. Some questions and concerns had arisen and at the request of the Council Office the Project Manager/Landscape Architect met with the involved neighborhood representative to go over the site plan. The approved plan that was first developed by Lisa Landworth is the site plan Rec and Parks is using with minor adjustments to meet Department standards, including improved materials. The project will have two phases, with the second phase including a proposed bathroom. This reading park will be a great addition to the Westwood Community.
Upcoming CD 5 Valley Leadership Summit
Councilmember Koretz will be holding the first CD5 Valley Leadership Summit on Thursday, May 6, from 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. at Valley City Hall Chambers (14410 Sylvan Street, in Van Nuys). The Councilmember says, “By bringing together so many community leaders, we can help create solutions to local and citywide issues during this very challenging time.”
Special guests will include key officials from city departments who will discuss how neighborhoods can achieve maximum service during a time of diminished city resources. A key goal of this meeting is to educate and empower local residents and businesses regarding ways in which volunteers can work with the city to protect and enhance our local quality of life. The CD 5 office asks neighborhood councils, homeowner associations, chambers, rotaries and other community groups to send representatives and help get the word out. Everyone is welcome, and it’s free to attend. Parking is in the Marvin Braude parking structure. Your RSVP is appreciated: (818) 971-3088 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each year it seems that more and more Earth Day events are held to celebrate environmentally friendly efforts and raise awareness about ongoing and looming threats to our planet.
A lifelong environmentalist, Councilmember Koretz was a guest speaker at one of this year's largest Earth Day events, held in the San Fernando Valley. Put together by Janie Thompson and co-sponsored by the Encino Neighborhood Council, the event was well-attended and had many educational booths and presentations.
Councilmember Koretz explained what he is doing as a Councilmember to advance environmental goals: “I am fighting for more green space; I am fighting for California-friendly, drought resistant plants in our parks; I am fighting for zoning regulations that protect and replenish our groundwater supplies; I am fighting for water conservation measures; I am fighting for energy efficiencies in all of our City owned buildings; I am fighting to keep trash out of our water ways, and I am fighting so that empty rooftops are a thing of the past and we can enjoy solar energy from the 300+ days of sun that L.A. has to offer."
Councilmember Koretz concluded by thanking everyone there for being present and speaking to environmental issues, adding that everyone of us can make "a profound difference, in how we live our lives, and the principles and values we uphold, and in the environmentally friendly actions that we take. We are all in this together."
Councilmember Koretz talks with Earth Day event organizer Janie Thompson.
Remembering the Armenian Genocide
Every year, the City of Los Angeles holds an annual commemoration to mourn for and remember the Armenian Genocide -- the first genocide of the 20th Century. Councilmember Koretz has long been active in promoting awareness of this dreadful event in history. He participated in today's (April 23) event held in the Tom Bradley Room atop City Hall, and that included Council President Eric Garcetti; Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and Tom LaBonge; City Controller Wendy Greuel, honorable members of the Armenian National Committee; Armenian Consul General Grigor Hovhannisian; Archbishop Hovnan Derderian; of the Armenian Church of North America Western Diocese and Dr. J. Michael Hagopian, founder of the Armenian Film Foundation and at age 96 one of the last remaining survivors of the Armenian Genocide. Dr. Hagopian has dedicated his life to the visual documentation of the Turkish extermination of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 -- his work encompasses nearly 400 interviews of survivors and witnesses and 40 years of research.
One Community Group that was all Tee’d Off – but Happy!
Councilmember Koretz attends many community group events. And while many such events often involve serious and extended discussion, sometimes there are moments of relaxation and levity. Here he enjoys a fun miniature golf gathering held by the Encino Chamber of Commerce.
Councilmember Koretz and Chamber President Melissa Loeffler work on their short game.