October 27, 2010
In this issue:
Pension Reform Update
Fighting Digital Billboards
Mobile Billboard Celebration
Cleanups, Cleanups, Everywhere
3rd Street Walk
In the Community
Saluting Congressmember Diane Watson
West LA Office
822 S. Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
15760 Ventura Blvd.
Encino, CA 91436
200 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
On Wednesday, October 27, the Van Nuys Area Community Police Advisory Board will host an Officers Appreciation Barbeque. Click HERE for more information.
The Century City Chamber of Commerce will hold a Halloween "Spook-tacular" Networking Night on Thursday, October 28. Click HERE for details.
The West L.A. LAPD Station will be hosting a free Haunted House on Friday, October 29 and Saturday, October 30 from 6-10pm at 1663 Butler Ave. 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.
West L.A. LAPD will have their annual Open House on Saturday, October 30 from 12-5pm at the station at 1663 Butler Ave. For more information, please call (310) 444-0739.
With Halloween on Sunday, October 31, the Los Angeles Police Department has compiled Halloween safety tips for children and their parents. Please click HERE for details.
On Thursday, November 4, Councilmember Paul Koretz and Jerome Horton, Vice Chair of the California Board of Equalization, will be holding a free Business Seminar. For more information and to register, please click HERE.
On Monday, November 8, the South Robertson Neighborhoods Council (SORO) is hosting a community town hall on the topic of emergency preparedness, response and recovery. For more information, please click HERE.
Bring your unused cell phone to City Hall before Friday, November 12! Your cell phone from any service provider will be refurbished and sold for proceeds to be given to victims of domestic violence through local domestic violence agencies. Just remember to erase your personal information first!
With any equipment that can't be refurbished, Verizon will recycle the phones and accessories in an environmentally sound way saving our landfills from tons of electronic waste (200 tons so far!). For more information please visit www.verizonwireless.com/hopeline.
The Friends of the Encino-Tarzana branch of the Los Angeles Public Library will be holding their Used Book Sale on Friday, November 12 and Saturday, November 13 from 10 am to 5 pm. There will be a broad selection of fiction, non-fiction, children's books, cds, dvds and audio books -- all at bargain prices. 18231 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana, CA 91356. 818-343-1983.
On Sunday, November 14, weSPARK Cancer Support Center
will host their 2nd Annual 10K Run & 5K Run/Walk at Lake Balboa in Encino. All proceeds will benefit the families of weSPARK, whose lives have been touched by cancer. Click HERE for details.
For the latest construction notices and closures along the I-405, please visit Metro HERE.
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Pension Reform Update
The City Council this week passed the most sweeping pension reform in City history, unanimously requesting the City Attorney draft ballot language for the voters to consider at the March 2011 City election to toughen the City’s pension system for sworn officers with the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles Fire Department. The proposed changes – which must be approved by the City’s voters – would save an estimated $152 million over 10 years by requiring new hires to work longer and pay more into retirement and health care systems than current workers. Current firefighters also agreed for the first time to contribute more now to their pension system. Councilmember Koretz joined his colleagues in approving these changes and urging the City’s residents to pass this measure. Some have argued for even greater roll backs in pension benefits; any further changes would be considered by the Mayor and Council over time but after the voters’ consideration of the current measure.
While changes to the City’s Police and Fire pension system require voter approval, the City Council and Mayor can make changes to the pension system for the City’s civil employees (librarians, custodians, attorneys, etc.) who are members of the City’s LACERS pension system without voter approval. The City’s Chief Administrative Officer last week issued a report recommending that the City Council and Mayor adopt pension reforms for the City’s LACERS newly-hired employees. The City Council is expected to consider these reform proposals in the coming weeks.
Finally, the City Council voted overwhelmingly to further study one Councilmember's proposal to give jurisdiction over the DWP's pension plan to the City Council, effectively removing oversight authority from the Board of DWP Commissioners. Under the City's Charter, as with any changes to the City's Police and Fire pension system, this proposal would have to go to the voters for approval. Many Councilmembers, including Coucilmember Koretz, agreed that this idea – which has had no actuarial study and no analysis from the City’s City Administrative Officer or Chief Legislative Analyst or from members of the current governing board – needed more study. This issue was subsequently referred to committee for further deliberation.
Fighting digital billboards
A press conference was held last Friday, at the intersection of Westwood and Santa Monica Boulevards, to announce some very exciting news -- the national organization known as Scenic America is going to be teaming up with Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight in order to increase the fight against digital billboards and to put a hold on those "weapons of mass distraction."
Scenic America has done some very innovative things in various states to try to stop the onslaught of digital billboards, and the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight has been courageous and dedicated in organizing local residents and building a grassroots effort to reign in the epidemic of signage that disrupts and demeans our communities. Together, they are planning on making major new strides in protecting our neighborhoods from illegal and invasive signage.
Councilmember Koretz was very pleased to take part in this press conference. Others present included Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight's President, Dennis Hathaway; Scenic America's national Executive Director, Mary Tracy; Abby Dart, Executive Director for Scenic Minnesota (that state's Scenic America entity); Ossian Or, Executive Director for Scenic Michigan; and many key community leaders, including Barbara Broide, President, Westwood South of Santa Monica HOA; Stephen Resnick, President, Westwood Homeowners Association; Wolfgang Veith, President and Founder, North Westwood Village Residents' Association; Sandy Brown, President, Holmby-Westwood Property Owners Association; Steve Twining, President Emeritus, Bel Air-Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council; and Joyce Foster, Commissioner, West LA Area Planning Commission.
The Westwood/Santa Monica site was quite apt, because there are several digital billboards in that immediate area, including ones that are currently in litigation but where Councilmember Koretz has helped lead the fight that may eventually result in their permanent removal. At the press conference, Councilmember Koretz spoke of those and other efforts, including some big victories against the entrenched billboard company special interests, but said, "We have far to go. In fact, we have just begun to fight. We need Dennis Hathaway, Ban Billboard Blight and Scenic America to continue their heroic work on behalf of the residents of this City. We need community leaders like those who are here today, to keep the pressure on everyone in public office. I thank them all for their tireless efforts -- they are my inspiration."
Mobile billboard celebration
On Monday, October 25 Assemblymember Bob Blumenfeld hosted a reception to celebrate the Community for helping to pass AB 2756, the anti-mobile billboard law to regulate mobile billboards. This will allow the City of LA to create an ordinance to ban this blight.
Assemblymember Blumenfeld was joined by joint author Assemblymember Mike Feuer and City Councilmembers Paul Krekorian and Dennis Zine. Joan Pelico, District Director for Councilmember Paul Koretz, was also in attendance (pictured on the left with Assemblymember Blumenfeld),
Everyone joined in the ceremonial "billboard" cake cutting and the community also received a round of applause for all their calls, letters and efforts in making this state bill possible.
Councilmember Koretz congratulates Rabbi Yonah Bookstein of Jewlicious (left) and Noah Bleich, the organizers of Tikkunfest.
As you may know, “Tikkun” means “repairing” in Hebrew. This past Sunday, a wonderful “Tikkunfest” took place in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood. This great effort was organized by Jewlicious (which is also responsible for the annual Jewlicious Festival) and people from The LA Green Mile. Special praise goes to Noah Bleich for his key role in initiating this beautification drive, and thanks to The Jewish Community Foundation for their generosity as a major sponsor. (Councilmember Koretz was among the co-sponsors.)
As a result of Tikkunfest, many blocks along Pico Blvd. were cleared, cleaned and adorned with colorful planters full of herbs and fruit trees. Councilmember Koretz was proud to be among the many who took part in this wonderful endeavor. There will be follow-ups to this event. Congratulations to all of the participants!
Cleanups, cleanups, everywhere
New Council District 5 staff member David Giron (pictured on the right) was among those on hand for the another great Palms Neighborhood Council "Palms Clean Up", hosted of course by the PNC. Participants included students from Hamilton High School and various other members from the community. There are plans for having these cleanups every month. Congratulations and thanks to all involved, and kudos to everyone across the 5th Council District who helps out by joining in wherever there's a local beautification effort.
3rd Street walk
This past Saturday, members of Councilman Koretz's staff joined with the Mid City West Community Council, residents, property owners, business owners and stakeholders on a walking tour and study session devoted to considering the future of Third Street.
The Community Council is holding a series of workshops to develop a vision for the future of Third Street between La Cienega and Fairfax, and the walking tour and study session proved to be very effective tools in generating information, opinions and ideas. There's already a significant awareness of the parking, congestion, sidewalk blockage and other challenges facing Third Street. Indeed, Councilmember Koretz and his staff are working on those difficult issues every day. But coming up with the best solutions and planning for a neighborhood is best accomplished when there's the benefit of abundant community input, in order to help determine shared goals and delineate what people enjoy about the area. One of the major purposes behind Saturday's workshop was to find out what works on Third Street so that everyone knows what to enhance and retain. Participants noted the walkable nature of the street, the variety of small shops and restaurants, the convenience of walking or bicycling from their home to the street, and the "funky" combination of colors, retailers and architecture found around the street.
This workshop was only the beginning of a long process to chart out Third Street's future. Councilmember Koretz noted "I am so happy that the local homeowners association, community members, the community council, businesses and property owners are all working together on Third Street. I look forward to supporting and implementing their efforts." For more information contact John Darnell at our Westside District Office at (310) 289-0353.
In the community
Being in the community and meeting with constituents is a big priority for Councilmember Koretz. That’s why on Thursday evening of last week, he was pleased to attend the semi-annual Beverlywood HOA meeting (pictured above) and the South Robertson Neighborhoods Council board meeting (pictured below). At both events, the Councilmember gave an update about local and city-wide issues and heard from CD 5 residents about issues in their neighborhoods and in the City as a whole. As always, he was impressed and enlightened by the questions, views, dedication and resolve of the residents of our Fifth Council District and their devotion to their community.
Saluting Congressmember Diane Watson
The Honorable Diane Watson will be retiring from Congress at the end of the 111th Congress, in January 2011. Council President Eric Garcetti invited her to City Hall this past week in order to commend her for her illustrious career of public service.
A graduate of UCLA where she received her BA in English, she was an elementary school teacher, school psychologist and health occupation specialist before being elected to the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education (the first African-American woman elected to that body). This happened back when LAUSD School Board Members were still elected citywide and not by district. She was later elected to the California State Senate, and then served as U.S. Ambassador to Micronesia before being elected to represent the California's 33rd Congressional District, a position to which she's been reelected four times.
The entire Los Angeles City Council saluted her for her leadership and accomplishments (pictured above). Councilmember Koretz was especially pleased because he's been a fan of hers since the 1970s when, as a teenager, he volunteered to help in a Diane Watson school board race, one of the first campaigns in which he took part. They've been friends ever since, and he's greatly admired how she's been one of our foremost advocates for quality education and health care for the young and the poor. He wishes her the best in years to come, and congratulates her for her extraordinary lifetime of service.