Questioning the DWP
Councilmember Koretz questions DWP Chief Operating Officer Raman
Raj, Board of Water and Power Commissioners President Lee Alpert,
former DWP General Manager S. David Freeman, Interim General
Manager Austin Beutner and Interim Chief Financial Officer Mario
Ignacio (not pictured).
The Department of Water and Power was well-represented at the Tuesday, July 20 City Council meeting. Perhaps that’s because Councilmember Koretz had threatened to issue subpoenas to force DWP attendance, following recent no-shows by DWP's top brass.
With DWP management choosing to be present for the Tuesday meeting, members of the City Council were able to ask tough questions about the recent DWP effort to force a massive rate hike despite opposition from the Council.
Before DWP leadership spoke, City Controller Wendy Greuel and her team testified, including by noting that DWP’s showdown with the Council had taken a costly toll on the City’s credit rating. A recent audit released by Controller Greuel found that the DWP had misled the Council regarding key facts, including concerning whether or not the DWP was truly in financial jeopardy sufficient to require such a major rate hike. Much of the Council debate involved discussion about moving forward with the creation of a ratepayer advocate, who might help champion the cause of greater fiduciary responsibility, fiscal accountability and managerial transparency at the DWP.
Councilmember Koretz asked whether the DWP’s activities had breached the threshold of criminality, and called for a report back from the DWP regarding what measures will be taken to prevent future misdeeds. He also asked for the Chief Legislative Analyst (CLA) and the City Administrative Officer (CAO) to report back to the Council on the feasibility of removing bonding responsibility from the DWP by transferring it to the CAO, the agency which does bonding for most City departments and agencies.
He also introduced a motion noting that the DWP has been searching for a new General Manager for approximately 9 months, yet there has been very little information with respect to the status of the search and whether any viable candidates have been found. Consequently, the Koretz motion, seconded by Councilmember Bernard Parks, calls for a monthly report by the Interim General Manager of the DWP to the Council regarding the status, process and cost of this search for the next DWP GM.
Update on the Baseline Hillside Ordinance
On Tuesday, July 20, the Los Angeles Planning and Land Use Management Committee – commonly known as PLUM – heard testimony from constituents and other stakeholders regarding the proposed Baseline Hillside Ordinance, or BHO.
Councilmember Koretz attended the meeting and was proud to strongly support this much-needed ordinance, which will protect our natural hillsides and hillside communities.
Having taken this important testimony from many concerned people, PLUM committee will begin deliberations on the intricacies of the proposed ordinance at the committee’s next meeting on Tuesday, July 27 at 2:30 PM.
Limited parking at Berri's Pizza Cafe
Berri’s Pizza Cafe is a destination spot for late night L.A. eaters, including some who may be coming straight from bars and clubs. However, many feel that the restaurant, which is open until the early morning hours, has not been holding up its end of the bargain when it comes to being a responsible neighbor and a member in good standing of the community. Berri’s has been cited by the City's Department of Building and Safety because a trailer, evidently used by Berri's as an office, takes up much of the parking space designated for diners – as a result, there’s often a noisy late night spillover of cars onto adjacent residential streets. Berri's has sent some of its loudest, rowdiest customers to wait outside – as you can imagine, this can be quite disruptive for neighbors who are trying to sleep. It's especially disquieting when restaurant patrons get into fights with Berri’s valets, as has been known to happen!
Believe it or not, Berri’s recently sought a liquor permit – the good news is that Councilmember Koretz, working with neighborhood activists, successfully opposed the granting of any such permit. But more needs to happen to make the current situation truly acceptable to the needs and peace of mind of neighbors. And if Berri's won't get its act in order then the city must do a better job of ensuring compliance with its own codes. That's why Councilmember Koretz has called for swift action on his City Council motion which calls for prompt administrative fines to be imposed for citations such as those given to Berri's. Currently, such citations can take months or even years to be resolved in the present system, and Councilmember Koretz thinks that such a broken system needs to be fixed.
The widening of the northbound 405 through the Sepulveda Pass has been going on for a few months now. This key effort to transform our transportation system will add a 10-mile HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lane northbound from National Blvd. to Ventura Blvd. Along with the HOV lane, the project will also introduce ramp improvements, replace some bridges that cross freeways, and implement new and better sound walls to protect neighborhoods from noise. The aim is to reduce traffic congestion, decrease air pollution and increase safety.
A major component of this project is the demolition and reconstruction of the Sunset Bridge. The freeway cannot be widened through the pass unless the Sunset Bridge that spans the 405 is lengthened. Metro anticipates that demolition on the southern portion of the bridge will begin this Friday, July 23. You can get updates on this part of the project and all other construction and traffic aspects of the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Widening Project by visiting http://www.metro.net/projects/I-405/ or signing up to receive e-mail updates by sending your name and e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bicycle Plan 2010
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who suffered a broken elbow in a recent bike accident, is only the latest victim to prove that biking in Los Angeles all too often is risky and can end in collisions between motorists and cyclists. That’s why it is vitally important to increase and improve bike infrastructure and make it our goal that every street in the City be a safe place to ride a bike.
The Department of City Planning has released the draft 2010 Bicycle Plan, and on Thursday, July 22 will hold an online “webinar” to discuss the Plan. The webinar will consist of two separate one-hour presentation and discussion sessions. The first presentation, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., will provide an overview of the entire 2010 Bicycle. The second presentation, from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., will introduce the 2010 Bicycle Plan’s proposed Five-Year Implementation Strategy. Each session will include a question and answer session.
To learn more about the 2010 Bicycle Plan and to register for the webinar, please visit www.labikeplan.org.
Animal Services GM
The City of Los Angeles has filled a crucial departmental leadership position by approving the Mayor's appointment of Brenda Barnette as the new General Manager of the Department of Animal Services. Councilmember Koretz welcomes Ms. Barnette and wishes her the best in this key post. As always, Councilmember Koretz is eager to help lead by working with people who love animals in order to institute needed reforms that will protect the well-being of animals and boost our local quality of life.
Reminder: One Week Left for Wilshire BRT Public Comments
The deadline for public comments on the Wilshire Bus Rapid Transit Project Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Assessment (EIR/EA) is this Monday, July 26. As noted in a previous newsletter, the Draft EIR/EA was released in June, and is available on-line at http://www.metro.net/projects/wilshire/, and at public libraries in the area. Public meetings will also be held, and times and places will be noted in future newsletters and at the Metro website. You may submit your comments by e-mail to: email@example.com or by US Mail to: Martha Butler, Project Manager, Metro, 1 Gateway Plaza, 99-23-1, Los Angeles, CA 90012.
Farewell to Gail
Gail Goldberg says goodbye to the City Council.
Gail Goldberg has stepped down from her post as Director of Planning for the City of Los Angeles -- a position she held for more than four years. She was on-hand in City Council to formally bid adieu, joined by many friends and supporters from the Department of Planning, neighborhood councils and the business community. Of course, she’ll still be a visible presence, working with universities and others on various civic and planning matters.
Councilmember Koretz thanks Ms. Goldberg for her service, and wishes her all the best in her new pursuits. He appreciates how she made outreach to neighborhood and community groups a key priority for the Planning Department.