City’s Budget Hearings Begin
Facing a very difficult budget year, Councilmember Paul Koretz joined his colleagues on the Council's Budget and Finance Committee in hearing many hours of testimony and analysis of the budget proposed by the Mayor for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2010. Working late into the night many days, the Councilmembers heard from the Mayor, the City's Administrative Officer, the City’s Legislative Analyst and many City department heads including LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.
In early budget hearings, Councilmember Koretz led the charge against unfair budget cuts leveled at the Office of City Attorney Carmen "Nuch" Trutanich. Koretz was pleased that it appears that there was a consensus among Committee members that the City Attorney's budget required augmentation. In addition, Koretz fought to increase the budget of Controller Wendy Greuel arguing that reducing funds for audit services was not in the City's interest in difficult times requiring increased efficiency.
Councilmember Koretz consistently argued for fiscal prudence, while at the same time arguing that further cuts to already decimated City services should be avoided if at all possible.
Budget hearings – including more late night hours – continue next week.
Making Developers Pay Their Fair Share
Last week, a taxpayer-friendly motion proposed by Councilmember Koretz took a huge step forward. This motion would raise development fees to equal the city costs of processing developer applications, thereby ending the practice of taxpayers being forced to subsidize the review of private development.
The Koretz motion was approved unanimously by the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management committee. The Councilmember put forth this motion because at a time of crucial cuts the City has an obligation to pursue all possible revenues sources before considering layoffs. The cost of planning entitlements should be borne by the developers not the taxpayers.
Those speaking in favor of the motion included Barbara Broide of Westwood South of Santa Monica Association, Sandy Brown of the Holmby Westwood Homeowners Association, and Michael Davies of the Engineers and Architects Association. All were concerned about the cuts to the city due to the budget crisis, and how this motion might protect the city and city services by protecting the taxpayers from having to pay for what developers might more properly fund.
The next step for the motion will be a hearing, in the next few weeks, in the Budget and Finance committee.
Super Good News
The City recently received money from a legal settlement regarding a supergraphic advertisement in Westwood. Councilmember Koretz subsequently authored a motion directing that funds associated with that settlement be appropriated for use by the City Attorney’s Office, in order to hire investigators to seek out billboard and signage crimes and assist attorneys in filing lawsuits against illegal operators.
The Los Angeles City Council has now approved the Koretz motion, and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich will now begin hiring these investigators to crack down on signage offenders and bring penalty revenue into City coffers.
Councilmember Koretz says, "It’s very important that we keep up the pressure and end the epidemic of billboards and other outrageous signage that has become a blight on our communities."
Sherman Oaks Clean Up
Assemblymember Mike Feuer, CD 5 Senior Field Deputy Joan Pelico
and Councilmember Koretz take break during the clean up.
On Saturday, May 1, Councilmember Koretz joined many caring community members in a Sherman Oaks Community Clean Up that was part of the Mayor’s "Big Sunday and Mayor’s Day of Service" program. (Yes, the event itself was held on a Saturday!) Participating groups included the Sherman Oaks Beautification Committee, the Sherman Oaks Chamber of Commerce, the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council and the Sherman Oaks Business Improvement District. Many schools, such as Buckley and Van Nuys Middle School, also took part.
The clean up covered Ventura Blvd. from Kestor to Sherman Oaks Avenue. Weeds were pulled, debris was cleared, and cigarette butts were removed from tree wells.
Bagels and coffee were donated by Western Bagel (at Coldwater), water by Sherman Oaks Hospital and coffee by The Coffee Roaster. Thanks to everyone who volunteered, for coming out and keeping Sherman Oaks and all our communities beautiful. We couldn't do it without you.
Councilmember Koretz believes that two great goals – historic preservation and economic revitalization – often go hand-in-hand.The net result is a boon for the local community, and a blessing for the entire city that too often has lost important landmarks.
That’s why saving the Century Plaza has been a crucial goal of great benefit to Century City, and that’s also why the news about two landmark movie theatres, the Village and the Bruin, is so exciting.
Both theaters are City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments built in the 1930s that were in danger of going dark – a fate that has sadly befallen many movie palaces across the nation, and that would have been a blow to L.A.’s and Westwood’s cultural life. The exciting news is that a change of operators of these two treasured sites, to Regency Theatres, has occurred. Regency has a significant track record operating such sites, and is firmly committed to keeping the Village and the Bruin active and vibrant.The Village, the Bruin and Regency Theatres are our celluloid heroes!
Pride and Celebration
Councilmember Koretz with Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, Rabbi Jonathan Rosenberg, State Senator Carol Liu, Barry Pinsky and Israel Bick.
To commemorate Israeli Independence Day, Councilmember Paul Koretz joined Shaarey Zedek Congregation of Valley Village as they held an Israel & Jewish Culture Day Fair on Sunday, April 25, 2010.
The fair featured Israeli art from the Michael Hittleman Gallery in addition to special exhibits highlighting Israeli stamps, coins and British government WWII maps. This event was a wonderful way to showcase Israel's culture, diversity and pride.
Congratulations and Thanks, Castle Street Elementary!
It gives great hope for the future to see young people learning and leading the way regarding environmental practices. That's why Councilmember Koretz is so delighted by the accomplishments of Castle Street Elementary and its students, and so proud that the school has been named a "City of Los Angeles 2010 Recycling Excellence Winner."
Castle Street fifth graders were welcomed last week at City Hall as a result of this honor.
The school has recent first- and third-place finishes in rankings of all Los Angeles schools regarding recycling.Everything is recycled at this school, and so they have 25 blue bins out at the curb every week, full of materials that will be reused instead of having to be dumped into already overflowing landfills.The school also had an e-fair recently – among the many wonderful things on view were students pedaling away on bicycles that produced clean energy.
Councilmember Koretz says, "I am thrilled to congratulate and applaud all the students, families, teachers, administrators, staff and volunteers who make Castle Heights Elementary such a wonderful example of the clean and green direction Los Angeles is taking!I encourage everyone to check out the amazing Castle Heights video on YouTube. It will make you smile and make you remember to join Castle Heights in taking care of our planet." The video link is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZcGx-MBr-U.
A Sign of the Times
Elected officials, community members and city staff joined together
for the sign unveiling.
Four years ago, the Studio City Neighborhood Council said that it would be of great benefit to place "Studio City" signs, with our city seal, at all the ports of entry into Studio City.
These signs would be great for Studio City and great for surrounding neighborhoods and communities, because a sense of individual identity and local pride empowers all of us to create a better community and to feel like we’re a part of it.
Community members, the Neighborhood Council, various City Council offices and the Department of Transportation all worked together on this effort and, as this past weekend’s unveiling of signs demonstrated, dedication and perseverance paid off. Congratulations to everyone involved!