Saving the Fairfax DASH Line
The City is a big step closer to saving the Fairfax DASH Line. The City Council took a key vote on Friday, June 4th, regarding cuts to Department of Transportation services: various DASH lines as well as other DOT transit services were very much endangered due to the budget crisis. The Fairfax DASH line initially was slated for elimination.
Councilmember Koretz took the lead to save the Fairfax DASH line, which is invaluable to many transit-dependent constituents of the 5th Council District. The June 4th vote approved saving the Fairfax line. Unfortunately, numerous other transit services across the City were eliminated, and even those that were saved may experience fare increases or lessened hours of service. The Council still has to approve actual Ordinance language to mandate these changes, and that should take place on Friday, June 11.
Action Alert! Having Developers Foot the Bill
A motion by Councilmember Koretz, aimed at ending the use of city taxpayer dollars to subsidize development applications such as variances, was initially to be heard by the full City Council on Friday, June 4th. Instead, this item has been continued, so it is now scheduled to be heard by the Council on Tuesday, June 15th. The City now uses $1.7 million of our tax dollars annually to pay for these developer-related expenses, even though the City has already decided that such expenses should be borne by those developers seeking variances on their projects. At a time of severe budget crisis, when vital City services are endangered, approval of this motion will immediately preserve those tax dollars for important City usages and not for subsidizing developers.
Many neighborhood and community activists have spoken out in favor of this motion (Council File 09-0969-S1). A last minute lobbying campaign from a small number of developers has made the outcome of this motion uncertain, and so your voice still needs to be heard at City Hall. If you’d like to communicate your views, including by coming to the City Council to speak out in favor of this motion, please contact Christopher Koontz at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (213) 473-7005.
Baseline Hillside Ordinance Update
An aerial view of some of our hillside areas
Councilmember Koretz is a strong advocate for laws that protect the nature and character of our hillside communities. That’s why he’s been working diligently to make sure that the Baseline Hillside Ordinance, also commonly referred to as the Hillside Mansionization Ordinance, moves forward to approval. (“Mansionization” is the building of oversized homes on comparatively small lots.) The ordinance has been in the works for more than three years, but is now heading toward the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM), where it should be heard very shortly; then it will go for final consideration by the full council. Councilmember Koretz says, “This ordinance is our best opportunity to provide lasting protection for the natural beauty that is our hillsides, while also protecting our neighborhoods.” The ordinance is supported by many community groups including SOHA (Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association), the Encino Neighborhood Council and the Bel Air-Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council.
Sidewalk Dining AND Local Parking
Sidewalk dining is a delight for many, and an attractive feature of life in Los Angeles. But everyone needs to act within the rules to ensure safety and to respect those who live close by. Such rules exist, but have not been easily enforceable. Now, though, the City Council has created penalties for those who use the public sidewalk without permits or violate the conditions of their permits. (Council File 08-3167.)
The new system will result in annual inspections of outdoor dining areas as well as escalating penalties for those who do not follow the rules, which govern such things as keeping a portion of the sidewalk clear to assure safety for pedestrians, patrons and motorists.
Councilmember Koretz supported this effort as yet another item where the City should do a better job and now will do a better job, not only of enforcing rules but collecting revenue in the form of penalties.
While supporting this item, the councilmember also sought to fix the gaping loophole in outdoor dining by requiring off-street parking for the added seating. Until now, restaurants were only required to provide parking for indoor seating, despite the fact that outdoor dining can double the number of patrons and magnify the need for parking. This lack of parking has hurt businesses when would-be patrons cannot find a place to park, but also hurts neighborhoods as hordes of cars invade residential streets searching for places to park.
Councilmember Koretz’s motion (Council File 08-3167-S1) will be heard in the City’s Planning and Land-Use Management Committee in the months to come. The motion very simply calls for requiring off-street parking before outdoor dining permits are issued.
Tract 7260 Hosts Budget Panel
Councilmember Bernard Parks, City Controller Wendy Greuel and
Councilmember Koretz answer some tough questions. (Photo courtesy of Barry Levine)
Councilmember Bernard Parks and City Controller Wendy Greuel joined Councilmember Paul Koretz in discussing the City's budget with more than 100 activist constituents at Tract 7260's annual meeting, held at Temple Isaiah this past week. Tract 7260 President Mike Eveloff opened the discussion which lasted almost two hours. LA Times City Hall reporter David Zahniser and then neighbors quizzed the panel and were provided intelligent and sometimes sobering information from the budget wars. Special thanks to Councilmember Parks and Controller Greuel for joining us on the Westside.
We Gain When Violent Felons Lose
A new California state law prohibiting violent felons from possessing body armor has now been signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Councilmember Koretz called this “an essential step for the sake of law enforcement and public safety.”
In December 2009, the Second District Court of Appeals overturned a previous ban, saying it was unconstitutional because its definition of body armor was too vague.
Councilmember Koretz and many others were outraged and concerned because of the Court’s decision, and so Councilmember Koretz immediately authored or seconded three separate Los Angeles City Council efforts aimed at prompting corrective legislative and/or judicial actions.
LAPD vehicles damaged during the violent North Hollywood shootout.
The initial law prohibiting possession of body armor by violent felons came about in large part because of the notorious North Hollywood shootout in 1997. Eleven LAPD officers and six civilians were wounded during a prolonged exchange of gunfire with two bank robbers who were armed with very powerful weaponry but were themselves covered in assembled body armor and able to withstand bullets fired by regular police gunnery. Councilmember Koretz says, “The shootout was a frightening spectacle and horrible event, because so many people were hurt or endangered. And that will always be the case when violent felons, armed to the teeth, can act with total impunity because they are covered by body armor. We needed to fix this problem right away and I am so grateful to all involved who helped create, lobby for or sign this bill.”
Senate Bill 408, sponsored by California State Senator Alex Padilla and authored by Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, expressly and clearly prohibits violent felons from possessing body armor. The new law is "straightforward and provides a common sense definition of body armor as ‘a bulletproof vest, meaning any bulletproof material intended to provide ballistic and trauma protection for the wearer,'" said Paul M. Weber, President of the Los Angeles Police Protective League.
12 Angry Men, Koretz-Style
A famous film called “12 Angry Men” portrays a jury deciding the fate of a single defendant. Though a work of fiction, that one story has taught many people what to expect, if and when called for jury duty.
Those who have served on real-life juries report varying experiences: some find time on a jury to be profoundly moving and dynamic, while others are frustrated by the process or outcome. Either way, those who serve are to be thanked for making our system of justice possible, and for gracing it with their dedication.
Just like his fellow citizens, Councilmember Koretz gets called for jury service – that’s why, this week, he’s been part of a jury pool that contained many people from all walks of life (including a star of film and television).
CSW Turns 40!
(From l-r) Vince Wong, UCLA; Rev. Neil Thomas, Metropolitan Community Church L.A. (MCCLA); Rev. Troy Perry, MCCLA; Rodney Scott, CSW; Councilmember Bill Rosendahl; Sue Sexton, CSW; Karina Samala, CSW; Sam Borelli, CSW; and Councilmember Koretz.
Los Angeles began its celebration of Gay and Lesbian Pride Month with Councilmember Bill Rosendahl and the entire City Council honoring s/heroes of the LGBT movement, including the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and charismatic Bishop Jon Bruno who were saluted for their courage in electing the nation's first openly Lesbian Bishop, Mary Douglas Glasspool.
Also recognized during the ceremonies was Christopher Street West, the nation's oldest LGBT pride parade and festival. CSW, represented by founder the Rev. Troy Perry and others, turns 40 this year and still looks good! (This year's parade is Sunday, June 13.) CSW president Rodney Scott reminded the Council that, amidst the celebration, there is work still to be done around the world and right here in California. And Councilmember Koretz and his colleagues promised to keep the fight going. Congratulations to Bill Rosendahl for his courage and his leadership. He looks as young as CSW!
CD 5 Finds a New Home for Our Furry Friends
Councilmember Koretz and his staff were delighted to work with the Westside German Shepherd Rescue in obtaining permits for a new adoption and care center in West Los Angeles. The center found a new home within the industrial portion of the 5th Council District, and will build a state-of-the-art facility for dogs desperately in need of care and new homes. The 11,185 square foot facility will include individual kennels, training and exercise areas, veterinary facilities, puppy rooms and offices. The Councilmember and his staff helped the rescue organization navigate the City Planning and permitting system, supported its application at the Zoning Administrator hearing and will be helping it to prepare for construction.
Westside German Shepherd Rescue is a long-respected no-kill organization that works with city shelters and other organizations to save dogs the shelters are not able to place. Once these dogs are transferred from shelters to the rescue organization, they are cared for by expert veterinarians, trained, and ultimately matched with adoptive families. Over the last ten years the organization has saved and placed thousands of dogs, and even a few cats, into loving homes.
In the current budget environment the work of charitable organizations, such as Westside German Shepherd Rescue, is more critical than ever in partnering with City animal shelters to save animals and improve their lives, while also enriching countless human households.
Robin Jampol of Westside German Shepherd Rescue says, “We are very excited about our new care center in West Los Angeles.We appreciate the support of Councilman Koretz in helping make the center a reality. We have been in existence for about 8 years; we are placing about 800 dogs a year to qualified homes. We have always boarded our dogs but finally we are going to have a home of our own. We specialize in German Shepherds, but rescue a variety of herding breeds and mixes. With so many dogs without homes because of the economy, there are more wonderful family dogs looking for another chance. We rescue family dogs with wonderful temperaments but we also rescue dogs with a working drive who have become well-known search and rescue dogs, who are top in their field. We are very proud of our dogs. We are excited about our new facility, but also plan to have outreach programs, especially with school age children. The long-term answer to the tragic situation with too many dogs for the amount of homes has to be ultimately addressed by education. We have a large conference room and will be offering a variety of seminars to people in the area.”
Wedding Bells in CD 5
Congratulations and best wishes to the newlyweds of Council District 5 -- Eric Norton and Liz Sherman. Many of you know Eric Norton, who is one of the mainstays of the CD 5 staff and one of the editors of our newsletter. We wish them many years of joy!