November 22, 2010

In this issue:

Giving thanks

Food for thought

Bus lanes along Wilshire Blvd.

Governing medical marijuana

Subway to the Sea

Don't Waste LA Launch

Walking for education

Good news for Sherman Village

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


UPCOMING EVENTS

On Monday, November 22nd beginning at 7:00 pm, Battalion 18 will host a community meeting at Fire Station 59 (11505 W. Olympic Blvd, 90064). The evening's speaker, Ryan Tuchmayer, Disaster Resource Center Coordinator for Cedars Sinai Medical Center, will discuss preparations for and the complexities of a major disaster.

The National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles will be hosting their Annual Free Clothing Giveaway on Sunday, December 5 from 8:30am until 12:30pm. For more information or to sign-up for a volunteer opportunity, please call 323-852-8515.

West Third Street will have their annual Holiday Street Party on Thursday, December 9 from 6-9 p.m. Dozens of stores up and down West Third Street will be participating. For more information, please click HERE.

On Tuesday, December 14, the LAPD Van Nuys Area Station will be hosting a Community Town Hall Meeting to receive feedback from the community about public safety as goals for crime reduction in 2011 are being set. For more information, please call the station at (818) 374-9500.

The Claude Pepper Sr. Citizen Center will hold a special Monte Carlo Day on Friday, December 31 to bring in the New Year. There will be great entertainment, music, food, and door prizes.  Please call (310) 559-9677 for more information. 

Don't just wait for the holidays. You can donate toys all year long at any Los Angeles Fire Station! For more detials, please click HERE.

The Office of the Mayor is now recruiting Crisis Response Team (CRT) members. These are community volunteers who respond to traumatic incidents at the request of the Los Angeles Police and Los Angeles Fire Departments. CRT volunteers provide immediate on-scene crisis intervention, attend to survival and comfort needs, act as a liaison between the victim and emergency personnel and give referrals to victims and their families affected by a death, a serious injury, a violent crime or other traumatic incidents. For more information on how to volunteer, please call (213) 978-0697 or email LACRT@lacity.org.

LA City CLerk Election Division has started their drive to recruit pollworkers to staff polls for the 2011 Municipal Elections. For more information and instructions on how to sign up, please visit their website HERE.

The Los Angeles Housing Department launched its new Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) website. This new comprehensive website will assist the public in purchasing rehabilitated/rebuilt homes, locating rental properties in the City of Los Angeles, and much more. The NSP website may be found by going to http://lahd.lacity.org/nsp/

For the latest construction notices and closures along the I-405, please visit Metro HERE.


iWATCH is a community awareness program created to educate the public about behaviors and activities that may have a connection to terrorism. It is a partnership between your community and the Los Angeles Police Department. For more information, please click the logo above.


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.

Giving thanks

Dear Friends:

Thanksgiving Day, 2010, rapidly approaches. I hope that for all of us, it is a day not just for feasting but also the simple pleasures of friendship and family, as well as contemplation of the gifts we've been given.

My heart is filled with gratitude to my wife and daughter, my late parents and others of my family, my teachers and friends, as well as neighbors and neighborhood activists -- the people of the 5th Council District and the City of Los Angeles -- who enrich each day.

Thanksgiving also helps focus me on those who are not as fortunate. Just last week, my office was contacted by a volunteer at the SOVA Food Pantry of Jewish Family Services asking for help. 

"I got a real eye-opener this morning on my first day of volunteer work for the new  SOVA Food Pantry. I was shocked by the number of people who continually kept coming in the door in need of food. It was a staggering crowd, very diverse, some homeless but many who have fallen victim to the horrible economic climate.

"We offer a long list of food stuffs but one thing that we have run out of continually and is in constant demand is dried milk. I think it is called powdered milk. Everyone asks for it. It is a real staple which probably explains why it is often unavailable.

"SOVA is in an emergency state. … As it is the end of the year the number of clients during this holiday season is ever rising and this particular item is in great demand."

SOVA is one among the many individuals and agencies who make a special effort to provide food and added dignity on Thanksgiving Day and really all year round to those who are not so lucky or privileged or having the best of times.  Perhaps SOVA (www.jfsla.org/sova), the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank (www.lafoodbank.org) and/or one of its partner agencies (listed on its website) will resonate with you. Please consider reaching out to find out how you might assist in what they do.  

My staff and I take great pride in serving you and the communities of the 5th District.  Whenever this City can help you, we are here to try to make that experience a successful one.  We all feel so honored that you have trusted us, and I thank you with all my heart for your friendship and that trust. 

My family, my CD 5 staff and I wish you a lovely Thanksgiving, and hope you enjoy blessings and good cheer all year-round. 

Sincerely,

Paul Koretz


Food for thought



At a press conference held on November 11th in the 5th Council District, the Alliance for Healthy and Responsible Grocery Stores released grades they were giving each grocery chain in Los Angeles -- and then marched into one chain's local branch to hand its particular grades to the store manager.

The Alliance consists of many different community-based organizations and faith leadership. The grades released by the Alliance assessed the grocery chains in the areas of food access, store quality and job quality.  The Alliance is addressing such issues because of the presence of "food desert" communities in our city -- whole neighborhoods and communities that sorely or completely lack stores that sell affordable, healthy foods, and often have ready access only to fast food venues. Without access to nutritious food and good dietary options, people, especially in food desert communities, often pay a huge toll in their health and health care costs, well being, energy and overall quality of life.

Elliot Petty, Director of the Alliance for Healthy and Responsible Grocery Stores, explained that, "While none of the chains is failing overall, the industry is completely failing a large portion of Los Angeles. The chains scoring well on store quality, who provide healthy food and better job standards, are not locating in the areas of L.A. that are most in need. Meanwhile, the few chains that are locating in those areas are providing substandard service." 

Councilmember Koretz, who participated in the November 11th press event (pictured above), noted that the 5th Council District may be as far away as you can get from being a food desert community -- in fact, he called the 5th a "food oasis" because of the significant number of grocery stores in the District:  stores that generally offer a wide variety of attractive choices and/or specialize in health food offerings. But the Councilmember also said, "All of us want, or should want, a City with people who are healthy and easily able to find affordable, nourishing food. I do think that grocery chains have a responsibility beyond the bottom line. They cannot treat some neighborhoods as economic gold mines, while leaving others entirely behind."

Councilmember Koretz concluded, "The grades given today and in the future will acknowledge and celebrate those who are enlightening and caring, and who do the right thing for customers and employees. At the same time, these grades will provide benchmarks for improvement, and will let the public and its community groups know which chains are failing. Those chains which are failing are failing us, and we all need to know that. So I congratulate and thank the Alliance for this next step in achieving accountability and change." 

To see the grades given to grocery chains in Los Angeles, please visit www.goodgrocerystores.org. 


Bus lanes along Wilshire Boulevard



For the last several years, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation have been studying the idea of a dedicated bus lane during peak hour traffic along Wilshire Boulevard between downtown and the Westside. Over the past year, Councilmember Koretz has expressed concerns about aspects of the project as it impacts some of the communities in CD 5.

These concerns were highlighted when several of the communities in the Westwood area retained their own traffic engineer to study the project. The consultant’s final report called into question whether there would be any significant time savings for bus travel through portions of the Westwood community, specifically the stretch of Wilshire between Comstock and Selby Avenues.  The Westwood community, particularly the Holmby Westwood Property Owners Association and the Comstock Hills Homeowners Association, argued strongly that this “Condo Canyon” stretch of Wilshire actually works,  and that the proposed bus lane would impede traffic and be negative for both bus riders and local residents.

This past week, the project’s final environmental impact report came before the Metro Planning and Programming Committee. The Westwood community, joined by Councilmember Koretz’s Transportation Deputy Jay Greenstein, advocated strongly for the removal of that segment of the project.

Metro Boardmembers Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Richard Katz expressed their concern with keeping this segment in the project. Following their leadership, the full committee directed Metro staff to explore the exemption of the segment and how that would affect federal funding for the remainder of the dedicated bus lane project.

While the Westwood community can hardly claim victory at this point, they certainly have advanced the ball significantly.  We hope that Metro Board and staff will convince the federal government that the project is worthy of funding without this particular segment. Councilmember Koretz thanks and commends Supervisor Yaroslavsky and Board Director Katz for their leadership and for their sensitivity to community concerns.  Most of all Councilmember Koretz thanks and commends the Westwood community – especially Sandy Brown, Connie Boudikis, and Jan Reichmann -- for their tireless efforts on behalf of Westwood.


Legislative update: Amendments to City’s laws governing medical marijuana

After much debate and impressive community participation, the City Council adopted tough but fair legislation last June to ensure both that medical marijuana is available to those who truly need this medicine and that neighborhoods are protected from the explosion of medical marijuana outlets which operate as bad neighbors.  This new ordinance was quickly challenged in court, and the City Attorney continues to defend the ordinance.

As the litigation has progressed, the City Attorney and the Council have continued to review the initial ordinance regulating dispensaries.  While most of the ordinance appears to be working well, further review made it clear to Councilmember Koretz, the majority of his colleagues and the City Attorney that some shifts in the policy were appropriate to make the ordinance more effective. 

In partnership with the City Attorney, Councilmember Koretz and his colleagues adopted three amendments to the ordinance at Wednesday’s Council Meeting.

The first piece of legislation extended the time that approved collectives have to comply with the ordinance.  Originally a compliance deadline was set for December, but because the list of approved collectives is still incomplete (due to litigation), this deadline was unrealistic.  Both collectives and City agencies needed more time. Rather than have the Court mandate an extension, Council addressed the need.

Unfortunately, there are some bad operators still out there, and the City is working hard to shut down and prosecute those who are abusing the system. The City Attorney found that there was a sentence in the ordinance that some criminal defendants were attempting to use to shield them from prosecution. Councilmember Koretz was happy to be able to address this through the second motion he introduced, which changed the language to ensure that criminals cannot co-opt the City’s Medical Marijuana Ordinance to defend actions that are clearly illegal.

Finally, one goal of the ordinance was to allow for operators that opened before the City’s 2007 moratorium on new dispensaries to get “priority” status if they met a number of good operator criterion.  The operators only received this “priority” status if they had the same management and/or ownership.  When the City Clerk created this initial priority status list, over two-thirds of those who applied didn’t make the cut.  This was a surprise to many on the City Council, especially since a number of those left off the list were known to be good operators.  Upon closer examination, it turned out that many were left off because of a technical reading of the ordinance regarding “ownership/management” which did not comply with the intent of the ordinance.  For example, an operator who fired a bad employee was excluded because there had been a “change in management” at that collective; this result simply didn’t match Council’s intent.  After working with the City Attorney and his colleagues on new language, Councilmember Koretz’s motion fixed this issue by providing clearer direction that will require consistency in ownership only.  The City Clerk will compile an updated priority status list with this clarification.

This package of legislation will aid in the prosecution of criminals, and keep the process fair and consistent.  Most of our City’s worst operators have already been shut down, and many of the illegal collectives in the Fifth District have been shuttered, with the City Attorney and LAPD working to close the remainder as soon as possible.  If you see an unauthorized collective operating in your neighborhood, please contact CD 5 staff immediately.


Subway to the Sea – or at least Westwood: An update



Several weeks back, Councilmember Koretz appeared before the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) board to speak in support of the proposed Westside subway extension. Metro endorsed extending the subway to Westwood, but deferred a final decision on the exact route and the exact location of the proposed Century City station.  This issue – the location of the proposed Century City subway station – has generated a great deal of community input from the residents of CD 5.

Councilmember Koretz has heard from many stakeholders -- including many Century City property owners, businesses, the Century City Chamber of Commerce and adjacent homeowners and homeowner associations -- regarding the best location for the Century City stop.  The great majority of these have advocated for a centrally located station at Constellation Boulevard and Avenue of the Stars rather than the alternative location farther north at Avenue of the Stars and Santa Monica Boulevard.

Last week, Councilmember Koretz met with Comstock Hills Homeowners Association President Jan Reichmann and 12 of her association members (pictured above) who asked for his support for the Constellation station. He agreed with their assessment that this location would better serve the community because it is in the heart of Century City and gave his commitment that he will advocate for this location as the project advances.

“The Constellation stop is the most logical place for Century City because it is central and will more easily serve the businesses in this major employment center,” Councilmember Koretz said.

Councilmember Koretz strongly supports this project, but joins Supervisor Yaroslavsky and others in demanding that Metro ensure that issues of concern to local residents are satisfactorily addressed in future engineering studies (particularly the safety, vibration, noise and seismic issues related to underground tunneling). The Councilmember looks forward to having a safe and reliable transportation alternative that will help link vital city neighborhoods and employment centers such as Westwood and Century City.


Don’t Waste LA Launch:  Stopping our landfill addiction


Councilmembers Koretz and Jose Huizar at the Don't Waste LA Launch.

On Monday, November 15th, Councilmember Koretz spoke at the Don’t Waste LA Launch along with Councilmembers Huizar, Rosendahl, and Alarcon, and other dedicated activists.  The Don’t Waste LA Coalition is a group of nearly 30 organizations from the environmental, faith-based, political, and labor communities, committed to ensuring region-wide standards in the waste and recycling industry.

Currently, recycling in our workplaces, businesses, and most apartment complexes, is completely voluntary – and there’s little incentive to encourage more. These commercial and multifamily sectors are feeding landfills to the tune of nearly 2.5 million tons per year.  Councilmember Koretz believes that we need to make it easier for customers to recycle by offering consistent service and rates, and by partnering with responsible waste companies.  At the launch, he committed to joining the Don’t Waste LA Coalition and called for “a waste-flow system to service our City’s businesses and apartments that ensures more recycling, clean air trucks and green jobs.”

In order to move this idea forward, legislative action is required. On November 16, Councilmember Koretz co-presented a motion with Councilmember Huizar to start the process for requiring greener and more systematized waste hauling and recycling for the commercial sector. There is already a motion working its way through the legislative process asking for the same changes for multifamily housing. These actions are crucial steps in changing the way the City addresses waste management and recycling for the commercial and multifamily sector.


Walking for education



This past Monday, some of the streets in Westwood were filled with children, parents and teachers happily marching around Fairburn Elementary School. The occasion was the school's inaugural walk-a-thon fundraiser called Walk for Education. Over 400 students, teachers, faculty and their families walked laps around the school to help raise money that will go toward crucial school programs.

The event was kicked off and led by their dedicated Principal, Mrs. Abramowitz, and exuberant walk-a-thon chair, Mei Lani Poindexter.  As Principal Abramowitz said, "Mei Lani Poindexter exemplifies Fairburn's parent commitment to do 'whatever it takes' to support Fairburn's educational programs!"  Even Senior Lead Officer Chris Ragsdale was there to support the community and keep everyone safe. The event was an amazing success and showed the importance of the community coming together to support our children and their education.

Good news for Sherman Village

Amid this month's flurry of neighborhood and community meetings attended by Councilmember Koretz was one where Thanksgiving came early -- that's because the Councilmember was able to tell the Sherman Village audience some very good news.  As part of his discussion of various local and city issues, the Councilmember announced that some much-needed street paving will be accomplished -- happy tidings, especially at a time when the city is in fiscal crisis and it is a long, hard battle to get any one street repaired in a city so vast. Councilmember Koretz understands the frustration of constituents who have been waiting too long for their repaving and is very appreciative of community and neighborhood groups throughout the 5th District that work in tandem with his office and staff on such important efforts.  Due to the city's budget problems there are not always easy or quick solutions, but the hard work certainly can pay off, as it has for Sherman Village.


In the community



Councilmembers LaBonge, Garcetti, and Koretz (pictured above from left to right), each of whom represent a portion of Hollywood, joined in celebrating with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce for the 50th Anniversary of the world famous Walk of Fame. 


This message was sent to  by:

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