October 6, 2010

In this issue:

Preserving Open Space

CORE Blueprint

Happy Median

Fire Protection

Mobile Office Hours

Taste of Encino

Mobile Billboards

In the Community

Contact Information

West LA Office
822 S. Robertson Blvd.
Suite 102
Los Angeles, CA 90035
(310) 289-0353

Valley Office
15760 Ventura Blvd.
Suite 1020
Encino, CA 91436
(818) 971-3088

City Hall
200 North Spring Street
Room 440
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 473-7005


Restaurant Week, sponsored by dineLA, runs October 3-8 and 10-15. Find a participating restaurant in your neighborhood and try a three-course meal from one of L.A.'s best eateries.

Beginning Thursday, October 7, the Los Angeles Public Library will hold a series of free public workshops on personal finance as part of its "Language of Money" program. Click HERE for details.

On Saturday, October 9, the Bureau of Sanitation will hold an E-Waste Collection event in Van Nuys. Click HERE for details.

The 27th Annual Claude Pepper Day will be help Saturday, October 16, at the Claude Pepper Senior Citizen Center. Call (323) 938-7023 for details.

The Sherman Oaks Chamber of Commerce will host the Sherman Oaks Street Fair on Sunday, October 17. Click HERE for details.

On Thursday, October 21, Los Angeles will participate in the Great California Shakeout, an emergency preparedness drill. Click HERE to learn more.

On Thursday, October 21, the Century City Chamber of Commerce will host its 2010 Women of Achievement Awards Luncheon. Click HERE for details.

The Century City Chamber of Commerce will hold a Halloween "Spook-tacular" Networking Night on Thursday, October 28. Click HERE for details.

Riverside Drive Elementary School will host its Fall Festival on Saturday, October 30. All ages are welcome and all proceeds benefit school programs.

Send us your news and events!
If you or your community group have any upcoming events that you would like to see featured in our next newsletter or on my website, please e-mail me at paul.koretz@lacity.org.

Please feel free to send this newsletter along to your friends and neighbors and tell them to visit the CD 5 website at http://cd5.lacity.org to sign up for this newsletter.

BREAKING NEWS... Open Space Preservation in CD 5: Huge Win Today!!

Have you ever been at Laurel and Mulholland and noticed the pristine open space right above the dog park and thought “I hope that stays open space forever?” Well, Councilmember Koretz has, and today the City did its part to make this a reality!

A protected open space brings many crucial benefits to an urban setting. It promotes a better environment by absorbing air pollutants and reducing runoff. It helps put the breaks on runaway development and mansionization. It can inspire quiet enjoyment and reflection. In the words of John Muir: 'Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.'"

Literally, the first week that Councilmember Koretz took office he was approached about an open space preservation idea with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. The deal involved multiple players at the state level, the local level, and the private sector.

After introducing a motion on this item, Councilmember Koretz spent the last nine months making phone calls, cutting through red tape, and working against the clock to get this deal through. Today, the Koretz motion that unanimously passed through the Los Angeles City Council will preserve open space in two parts of the District – Beverly Glen and at Laurel and Mulholland.

The City action preserved an important section of the Laurel/Mulholland parcel, but community support is still needed to purchase the entirety of the land available.  Councilmember Koretz looks forward to supporting and joining with activists as preservationists work to collect the remainder of the necessary funds.

Many individuals and groups were instrumental in getting this far! Our thanks goes out to Nickie and Larry Miner, Benedict Canyon Homeowners Association; Alan Fine, Benedict Canyon Homeowners Association; Steve Twining, Roscomare Valley Association; Carol Sidlow, Lookout Mountain Alliance; Robert Ringler, President and the entire Bel Air Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council; Beth and Alan Dymond and the Studio City Residents Association; Marion Dodge, Hillside Federation; Marcia Selz, Founder CD5 Coalition of Homeowners; Tensie L. Palmer, President of Residents of Beverly Glen, Inc.; Richard Serini and Tony Tucci, Laurel Hills Association; Lawrence Lazar; Joe Edminston, Paul Edelman and Diane Sacks, MRCA and all supporters. But we have to give a special shout out to force of nature Anita Sokolovsky.

Reforming City collections

At the CORE press conference were (from l-r): Michael Gagan, CORE Commissioner; Ron Galperin, CORE Chair; Mayor Antonio Villairagosa; City Council President Eric Garcetti; Councilmember Koretz; Controller Wendy Greuel; Hon. Cindy Miscikowski, CORE Vice Chair; Brandon Shamim, CORE Commissioner; and Mark Ames, CORE Commissioner.

The City has been presented with a crucial plan for improving our fiscal well-being. Councilmember Koretz says now we have to “make it work, people!”

At a press conference attended by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Controller Wendy Greuel, Council President Eric Garcetti and Councilmembers Bernard Parks and Koretz, the City’s Commission on Revenue Efficiency (CORE) released its new “Blueprint for Reform of City Collections,” with members of that Commission also present.

Of the $541.1 million in non-tax receivables owed the City, more than 75% is at least 120 days past due. More than 40% has gone uncollected for over 2 years. Those funds, if collected, could protect or restore key city services such as library hours or Fire Department staffing, which have faced cutbacks due to our budget crisis. Implementing Blueprint recommendations will save our City many millions of dollars.

That's why, as chair of the Audits and Governmental Efficiency committee, Councilmember Koretz said he considers the Blueprint to be “job number one. We need to fix the City's collections capacity, and we need to fix it right away.”

The Blueprint’s recommendations include reforms of collections procedures, enhanced technology, possible sale of the oldest delinquent accounts, and a non-tax amnesty program. Councilmember Koretez was particularly pleased by the Blueprint’s call for creating an independent Inspector General: the Councilmember said, “An Inspector General can give us knowledgeable, objective, no-nonsense reports indicating who in the City is succeeding and who is failing when it comes to embracing the Blueprint and making it work.”

No large city collects 100% of what’s owed – and certainly, some people who owe the City lack the money to easily make good on the unpaid ambulance calls and outstanding traffic tickets that cumulatively make up the bulk of the City’s uncollected debt. Still, other large cities do a better job of collecting on such debts – and even collecting 10% of the delinquent debt would bring in more than $50 million, which would make a huge difference for Los Angeles in these tough times.

In years past, the City and its departments have failed, time and time again, to implement available solutions, corrections and improvements regarding revenues and collections.  As the Blueprint states in its Executive Summary, "Successive good ideas have remained ignored…. A majority of departments routinely disregard directives and guidelines for collections." At the press conference, Councilmember Koretz said, “that kind of longtime, irresponsible management is an embarrassing disgrace, and has proved to be a costly threat to our city's fiscal well-being. We need to adopt a ‘no tolerance’ policy toward bureaucratic resistance and departmental indifference regarding collections. Anyone who can't get with the program should move toward the door and get out. If we can't fix our City's collections procedures and practices, heads should roll.”

Koretz said that his Audits and Governmental Efficiency committee will study the Blueprint and have a full and fair discussion, but will also demand action and set benchmarks so that there will be no more needless delay. He saluted the CORE Commissioners for their dedication and hard work – particularly Commission Chair and Vice Chair Ron Galperin and Cindy Miscicowski – and said that now the whole City has to roll up its sleeves in order to implement the Blueprint.

A happy median!

Progress, at last! The median strips are finally being cleaned up, one after another, following several months during which some of the medians of major streets in the city were going untended. Weeds and fallen branches accumulated, causing aesthetic disarray and even public risk.

The problems began at the start of the fiscal year when the Bureau of Street Services suddenly made clear to surprised City Council offices that median maintenance and cleanup services performed by departmental personnel were no longer budgeted. Concerned Councilmembers took steps to ensure that maintenance was resumed. Council motions authored by Councilmember Koretz and others were quickly initiated. Still, the process towards clean up was too slow. Now, though, regular service has started anew, and medians at Burton Way and the northern portion of San Vicente have been among the first to get a makeover for the better, with other median strips such as the southern portion of San Vicente soon to follow.

Maximizing protection from fire

Councilmember Koretz speaks with Fire Chief Millage Peaks.

Our City needs to be fully prepared to protect and defend our residents against potentially deadly fires. That’s especially true as we enter brush fire season, which is of tremendous concern for residents of Council District Five and the many CD 5 neighborhoods nestled within high brush fire zones.

Fires too often claim lives and can devastate whole neighborhoods at incredible human, property and fiscal cost to this City. Having sufficient firefighting resources and personnel can make all the difference in preventing a fire from occurring, or in stopping a small one quickly before it turns into a major disaster.

Unfortunately, the budget crisis has threatened all city departments, including the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD). Councilmember Koretz has been quite outspoken in leading efforts to prevent, as much as possible, any cutbacks that might diminish our city’s capacity to respond to fires and other emergencies. That’s why he was strongly critical about budget cuts taking 15 firetrucks out of commission last year, and why this week he supported Mayor Villaraigosa’s decision temporarily suspending that “Modified Coverage Plan” and restoring those firetrucks to service during brush fire season.

At the press conference attended by Mayor Villaraigosa, Fire Chief Millage Peaks and Councilmembers Koretz and Jose Huizar, the Mayor also explained ordering 51 LAFD assistants to the front lines during the wildfire season, in order to temporarily end reduced staffing at stations. Chief Peaks voiced disagreement – he feels that these staff assistants are vital for helping the command staff perform optimally. Councilmember Koretz supports both goals: he believes we need to have full staffing at our stations and also wants the command staff to have any necessary support. Councilmember Koretz firmly believes that our budget challenges need to be solved by finding appropriate efficiencies without risking the public safety, which is why he is so focused on implementing audit recommendations and other budgetary reforms that can save many millions of dollars without compromising key city services.

Inspector Nobel briefed community members on high risk brush fire zones at the CD 5 Westside Leadership Summit in June.

Mobile office hours

This past weekend, Councilmember Koretz had a "mobile office hours" event at the Westside Pavilion.

People came to discuss a wide variety of issues having to do with our city and its neighborhoods, but people also came to take advantage of the event's other feature: pet adoption. Many dogs were adopted, and Animal Services said this was one of the most successful pet adoption efforts, which of course is of great benefit to the animals themselves and our currently overburdened shelters.

This event was cosponsored by the Westside Neighborhood Council, Los Angeles Animal Services and the Pavilion itself – congratulations to all involved.

Taste of Encino

At last year's Taste of Encino, Councilmember Koretz joined Diana Donovan, Encino Chamber of Commerce CEO; Melissa Loeffler Encino Chamber of Commerce President; and Karie Purcell of KSA Management.

Mouths are watering!

Coming up this Saturday, October 9th, is one of the Fifth Council District's most savory events – Taste of Encino.

For many years now, Encino has been home to this wonderful gastronomical festival, and people come from throughout Encino, the San Fernando Valley and indeed the entire Greater Los Angeles Region to enjoy the wide variety of fabulous local restaurants, games and rides for the kids, music and shopping boutiques showcasing the very best that Encino has to offer. Thanks to the Encino Chamber of Commerce and all others who are involved in this fun and yummy happening.

Mobile Billboard

Help is on the way. Last week Governor Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 2756 which FINALLY gives Los Angeles and other jurisdictions the ability to prohibit the parking, on any public street, of an unhitched trailer with advertising attached to it. A great word of thanks to Assemblymembers Bob Blumenfeld and Mike Feuer who led the charge in Sacramento for this important legislation.

Months ago, Councilmember Koretz and Dennis Zine were responsible for a joint motion which jump started the process of examining our mobile billboard laws. Now, Councilmembers Zine and Krekorian have called on the City Attorney to begin drafting an ordinance to enforce this new law ASAP. Councilmember Koretz will work with Councilmember Zine as the ordinance comes to Transportation committee and the full council. The new ordinance should be on the books and enforceable in early 2011. Stay tuned!

In the community

Councilmember Koretz with the West of Westwood HOA board members.

The best place to have a full vetting of local issues is in the community, which is why Councilmember Koretz is so grateful to the many community organizations that hold public meetings where great discussions take place. This meeting took place last week thanks to the West of Westwood HOA. As always, many important views were shared, and key information was provided. The 5th Council District benefits profoundly from its wonderful core of involved activists.

Councilmember Koretz joins the neighbors for some fun at the Troon-Wigtown block party.

Block parties are a fantastic way to boost neighborhood morale, make new friends and create a safer neighborhood where everyone knows each other. That's why Councilmember Koretz was delighted to join the friendly folks at the recent Troon Avenue/Wigtown block party.

If you would like to find out information about how to put on a neighborhood block party, please feel free to call our district offices: (818) 971-3088 (Encino) or (310) 289-0353 (West LA).

Counilmember Bill Rosendahl (left) joined Councilmember Koretz at the Fall Festival. Richard Saltsman, President of Westside Village HOA, accepted a certificate commemorating the event.

On Saturday, October 2, Councilmember Paul Koretz joined the residents of Westside Village at their 7th Annual Fall Festival where he had the opportunity to take part in this well attended community tradition. It was a great event all around. Geared towards children and families, the festival hosted a local band, pony rides, a petting zoo, arts and craft projects and various informational booths sharing information on matters ranging from how to join the neighborhood watch to how to plant a sustainable garden in your backyard. Councilmember Koretz congratulated the Westside Village Homeowners Association on another successful festival and looks forward to attending again next year.

Councilmember Koretz attended a breakfast meeting with the board of the Cheviot Hills Homeowners Association. For city officials and community leaders alike, taking care of business is a full time effort.

This message was sent to  by:

Los Angeles Councilmember Paul Koretz
200 N. Spring Street, Rm. 440
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 473-7005