December 17, 2010

In this issue:

Medical Marijuana Update

Melrose BID

Robertson Branch Library

Illegal Filming

Rotarians United

817 Alfred St.

Wilshire - Gayley Project

Hanukkah at City Hall

Congrats to Fairfax High!!!

Young Bruins Lead the Way

In the Community

Larry King comes to Council

Editor's Note

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


The Encino Chamber of Commerce will host their annual Holiday Party, Toy & Book Drive on Thursday, December 16 from 5:30pm to 7:30 pm at McDonald's of Encino. They will be donating toys and books to the West Valley LAPD and local Fire Station #83 to be distributed to needy youth in the San Fernando Valley.

From now through Friday, December 17, the public may drop off toys (unwrapped for children between the ages of one and sixteen) at any Sheriff's station or facility. Toys will be distributed to underprivileged children throughout Los Angeles County during the holiday season.

The Palms Neighborhood Council will have another Clean-Up on Saturday, December 18 at 10am. They will meet at Fire Station #43 and PNC will provide all the necessary supplies. Just bring comfortable shoes, clothes that can get dirty, and a positive attitude! For more information, click HERE.

On Sunday, December 19 Bikur Cholim will hold a community blood drive at Bais Yaakov High School. If you are interested, please make your appointment HERE.

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.

In an effort to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the transit system through better use of their resources, Metro makes adjustments to their bus and rail service twice each year. The next round of service changes is scheduled to go into effect beginning Sunday, December 12, 2010 or later. To learn more about the changes, click HERE.

Peace Over Violence is proud to announce a holiday fundraising collaboration with the Los Angeles Westside Region Branches of Union Bank! Ten Westside branches will be collecting gift cards and donations to benefit Peace Over Violence clients and services. For more information, 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

The Los Angeles Fire Department is pleased to unveil LAFDmobile, a free application for iPhone and Android smartphones. For more information, please click HERE.

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 LA Homeless Services Authority is getting ready to conduct the 2011 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. With a goal of recruiting over 4,000 volunteers to assist in securing an accurate  count, they need your help. For more information and to volunteer, please click 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

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

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

Medical Marijuana Update

As you likely know, the City has been in litigation defending the legality of our Medical Marijuana Ordinance for nearly six months.  On December 10, 2010, the first ruling on the Ordinance was issued by the Honorable Anthony J. Mohr of the Los Angeles Superior Court, who entered an Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Preliminary Injunction in Case No. BC433942, Medical Marijuana Collectives Litig. Americans for Safe Access, et al. v. City of Los Angeles.

In this Order, the Court ruled on the legality of the City of Los Angeles’ Ordinance No. 181069, also known as the City’s Medical Marijuana Ordinance.  While the Court upheld the majority of the City’s Medical Marijuana Ordinance, the Court also found that a few provisions of the City’s Ordinance violated State and/or Federal Law including issues pertaining to the City’s privacy provisions, details surrounding which collectives are allowed to participate in the City’s Priority Registration Program, and the level of due process required if and when a Collective’s registration is rejected.

While the City Attorney evaluates the Court’s ruling and then recommends to the Council and Mayor a litigation strategy going forward, Councilmember Koretz is committed to preserving the successes achieved by the City thus far with regard to both public safety and curbing the proliferation of unauthorized Medical Marijuana Collectives.  That is why he co-introduced a Motion requesting the City Attorney to appear before Council with interim solutions that will immediately clarify and/or amend certain portions of the Ordinance consistent with the Court’s ruling.

The City Attorney is scheduled to bring these suggested changes to Council January 4th, 2011, the first day back after the Winter Recess.

Melrose BID moves toward final vote

Melrose Avenue is one of L.A.'s great streets to walk and shop, with a tremendous assortment of businesses to visit.  It justly remains a top, fun attraction for Angelenos and tourists alike.  But time and the economy have taken a bit of a toll, and that's why many of the local businesses are working with Councilmember Koretz to bring a new vitality to Melrose.

In a victory for efforts to boost the economic health of Melrose Avenue, the City’s Jobs and Business Development Committee approved a motion by Councilmember Koretz to provide city funding to begin the necessary study process towards the creation of a Business Improvement District (BID) in the area. The Melrose BID was proposed by the Melrose Avenue Business Association and provides a way for property owners along the boulevard to agree to pay for extra improvements to the area such as aesthetic upgrades, sidewalk maintenance and security beyond levels provided by the City. BID backers believe that such enhancements will draw traffic to LA’s original eclectic shopping mecca.  With committee approval in hand, the motion will now proceed to a vote by the City Council. If the Council and Mayor approve, the BID study will begin with City support.

Councilmember Koretz looks forward to continuing to work with Melrose businesses and neighbors in order to make the BID a tremendous success. In these challenging economic times, it is encouraging to see property owners band together to promote their common interests and improve the neighborhood. Making Melrose Avenue an even more attractive place to shop and dine boosts the local economy, creates jobs and increases tax revenues which in turn help pay for city services that benefit everyone.  Thanks go to everyone in the Melrose area, including businesses, employees, residents and community organizations, who are doing so much to promote the neighborhood's quality of life!

Robertson Branch Library - Open on Sundays?

On November 30, Councilmember Paul Koretz hosted a community meeting with Los Angeles Public Library's General Manager, Martin Gomez.  The meeting focused on creating and implementing a key pilot program that would open up the Robertson Branch Library on Sundays instead of Saturdays, in order to provide access for the community's Sabbath-observant residents.  There was a great turnout and a huge outpouring of letters and emails in support of the proposed program. Councilmember Koretz will continue to work with the LAPL to make sure this happens.

A special thank you goes to Cheryl Collins, Director of Branch Library Services and Carol Duan (pictured here), the Robertson Branch Manager, both of whom have been wonderful to work with during this process.

Cracking down on illegal filming

Illegal filming of movies, television productions and advertising commercials can be a major neighborhood nuisance, bringing parking problems, noise and other quality of life issues. That was certainly the case with the frequent filming associated with one house, off of Mulholland Drive, that has allegedly been used for many productions, including that of pornographic films.

Until now, the only ones held liable for illegal filming have been productions companies, who can face misdemeanor charges if the filming hasn’t successfully gone through the permitting process.  Production companies and their employees can be charged with a misdemeanor offense for filming without a permit, and can face up to a $1,000 fine or imprisonment in the County Jail for a period of not more than six months, or both.

But sometimes – as exemplified with the filming at Mulholland – the prime source of illegal filming is a property owner who constantly leases out property in order to allow filming to occur on the premises, regardless of whether the filming is permitted, and without the protective guidelines in place that help protect a community.

That’s why Councilmember Koretz  has worked with CD 5 homeowner groups and neighborhood councils in coming up with a means for holding those abusive property owners accountable, and not just the production companies. The Councilmember has introduced a motion calling for the City Attorney to come up with an ordinance making such property owners similarly liable as productions companies for unpermitted filming, and equally subject to potential misdemeanor charges.

Councilmember Koretz said that, “If a property owner continually leases out property for illegal purposes, they should be held liable. There are instances in which property owners habitually lease out their property to different productions for unpermitted filming. Legal measures directed solely toward a lessee -- a production company -- are problematic because the lessee may be a one-time user, while the property owner may be allowing frequently repeated and illegal use of the property, which is a long-term problem. This effort protects neighborhoods, the film industry and the city itself, by ensuring that a crucial industry is in harmony with our city and our local residents."

Rotarians united

Earlier this month, Councilmember Koretz relished the unique opportunity to address three local Rotary Clubs at one time. On that occasion, Westwood Village, Rancho Park and Century City Rotary Clubs all met for a joint luncheon with Councilmember Koretz as their invited guest speaker.

Councilmember Koretz gave an update on the City's current budget situation and spoke about the work he has done as Chair of the Audits and Governmental Efficiency Committee, the establishment of the Commission on Revenue Enhancement, and the City's efforts to promote creation of more local jobs, especially in the film and television industries. The Councilmember then answered questions from the audience and stayed afterwards to speak one-on-one with constituents and to hear their ideas on what more can be done to revitalize their communities and the City.

A special thank you is in order to Christopher Bradford of the Westwood Village Rotary Club, who helped to organize this event. Thanks also to Michael Carlin, President of the Century City Rotary Club; Cyrus Meshki, President of the Rancho Park Rotary Club; and Gordon Fell, President of the Westwood Village Rotary Club, for bringing their groups together in the goal of "Service above Self.” The City of Los Angeles benefits immeasurably from these civic groups and their commitment to community betterment and the common good.

817 Alfred Street:  The community saves a troubled project

Councilmember Koretz with community activist Stefani Poretz and Mitchell Bradford, President of Sycamore Urban Properties

In addition to a deep recession and an over $400 million budget deficit, Councilmember Koretz inherited a number of existing planning controversies on his first day of office July 1, 2009.  One of these projects was at 817 Alfred Street in the Mid City neighborhood.  This 18-unit condominium project began the development process back in February of 2004. Between stops and starts, construction delays and, ultimately, the economic downturn, the property did not open its doors to new owners until November of this year.

During this multi-year process, the property’s tract map (permission to sell the units as condos) expired, the building rules for the neighborhood changed, the original developer lost the property to the lender, and a new owner came forward.  The issue faced by the Council Office, community and Planning Department was what to do with an existing building not going anywhere or coming down, with an expired set of permits.  Denying the new tract map would not have meant tearing down the building or guaranteeing the additional landscaping and architectural articulation that would be required of new buildings; rather, denying the permit simply would have required the units to be apartments not condominiums and may have left the property bankrupt and abandoned yet again.

Instead of simply granting the entitlements with a blank check or denying them and leaving an abandoned structure, Councilmember Koretz worked with community leaders and the developer, Sycamore Urban Properties, to fashion a win-win solution.  Sycamore was able to obtain their condominium map approval and several units have already been sold. At the same time the residents of the 800 block of Alfred Street and surrounding neighbors now have a fully repaved alley across the entire block, repaired curbs, gutters and sidewalks for the block and dozens of new large streets trees, and will soon have traffic-calming speed bumps and stop-signs – all paid for by the developer.

Councilmember Koretz explained, “At a time when the City simply does not have the financial resources to provide these improvements but the community desperately needs them, Sycamore and the community worked together in a model fashion to bring about a beneficial solution for everyone.” Community activist Stefani Poretz should particularly be honored for her tenacious efforts to gain improvements for her neighborhood and resolve the planning standoff with 817 Alfred Street.

Wilshire – Gayley project

Thousand of jobs and millions of dollars in private investment are headed toward Westwood after the City Council approved final entitlements for Kam Hekmat’s Wilshire-Gayley hotel project on December 8, 2010.  Working hand-in-hand with a large base of community supporters, Councilmember Koretz shepherded the project through the approval process.

The 29-story luxury hotel will rise on the former site of a video store and gas station, thus representing a substantial beautification improvement.  Strategically located along Wilshire Boulevard adjacent to the future subway portal, the Robert Stern-designed signature piece of architecture will anchor the southern end of Westwood Village, providing an iconic entry to the village and an economic catalyst for the village’s revival.  Community leaders from the Westwood Neighborhood Council, Westwood Community Council and Westwood Business Owners Association all joined together to support this positive project.

Developer Kam Herkmat should be applauded for setting an example of responsible, community-driven development in Los Angeles.  The project started years ago when Kam sat down with community leaders such as Sandy Brown and Steve Sann to discuss their shared goals for Westwood. The architect, design and process were all a result of active community involvement.  Robert Stern was hired as the lead architect on the recommendation of community activist and planner Mike Metcalf.  The building that he has designed will taper down in height as it transitions from the high-rise nature of Wilshire into the mid-rise structures of Westwood Village – all upon the recommendation and analysis of Westwood leader Laura Lake.

In the end, a quality project was approved and it was enhanced through the extensive community involvement.  The project should break ground in late 2011 and everyone involved should be very proud of what they have accomplished.

Celebrating Hanukkah at City Hall

As part of the holiday season, several Councilmembers as well as the City Attorney and City Controller joined together in the City Hall Rotunda to celebrate Hanukkah. Councilmember Koretz recited the blessing over the candles after all eight were lit. The Board of Rabbis of Southern California and the Jewish Federation along with the Mayor’s Office put this wonderful event together, which also featured a children’s group singing the stirring and delightful songs of this holiday.


Fairfax High School has celebrated two great triumphs!

The school’s football team won the Division II City Championship, and the Marching Band, Color Guard and Drill Team gained the LAUSD City Championship. 

As a result, there was much rejoicing on campus and in the community, culminating with a wonderful parade on December 15.

There will be more news to come regarding these victories, as Councilmember Koretz plans on inviting all involved to be honored in City Council Chambers. But in the meantime, the City wholeheartedly congratulates everyone whose talents, dedication and teamwork made these terrific accomplishments a reality.

Young Bruins lead the way

Last Friday Councilmember Koretz honored two young men who are helping to fight homelessness and hunger in their community and the City.

Abdallah Jadallah (pictured above on the left) and Bryan Pezeshki are UCLA students. Abdallah is the coordinator of the UCLA Food Closet. The Food Closet helps to address an unspoken and often unknown issue affecting some students on campus – hunger – by offering a place where students can anonymously visit and take food that has been donated by other students and the surrounding community. About 30 to 50 students use the Food Closet every day to help them get through a difficult time in their lives while they study and work towards a better and brighter future.

Bryan coordinates the Swipes for the Homeless Program, which offers students a chance to help alleviate hunger in the community. Students who have a meal plan that allows them to roll over unused meals from week to week tend to accrue many unused meals or "swipes" over time. Swipes for the Homeless is a mechanism for students to donate those unused swipes at the end of each academic quarter. These donated meals are then taken to homeless shelters and homeless people throughout Los Angeles. Additionally, Swipes for the Homeless is targeting ways to save wasted food from residential dining halls, on-campus fast food restaurants and community businesses, mirroring a program recently implemented by the City that directs all departments to establish a surplus food policy.

In the community

Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center

Councilmember Koretz joined with (from left to right) Dr. Donald Marcus, Medical Director, KP LAMC; Mark Costa, Executive Director, KP LAMC; Carole Donahue of the SOS Mentor Program; and fellow Councilmember Tom LaBonge at the Celebration of Healthy Partnerships.

Councilmember Paul Koretz was among the guests at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center’s Celebration of Healthy Partnerships as Kaiser honored its 2010 Local Community Benefit grantees. Through its 2010 Community Benefit Grant Program, Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center has offered nearly $600,000 in grants to 52 different organizations in the Los Angeles region, supporting services that improve the health and well-being of countless neighborhoods and communities.

Federation of Hillside awards

Councilmember Koretz was deeply honored to be among this year’s award recipients of Federation of Hillside and Canyon Associations, Inc. These awards were given in recognition of work that went into acquiring the Laurel Canyon / Mulholland Drive Open Space and also the overall effort to achieve the hillside ordinance and guarantee protection of the hillsides. Honored along with Councilmember Koretz (and pictured above from left to right) were Marion Dodge of the Federation of Hillside and Canyon Associations, Inc., Anita Sokolsky, Carol Sidlow and Nikki Minor of Save Laurel / Mulholland and Paul Edelman of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

NCJW's Annual Clothing Giveaway

On Sunday, December 5, the National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles had their annual free clothing giveaway at their main office on Fairfax.The employees and volunteers of the NCJW/LA spent months preparing for the event, and it was estimated that at least 3,000 people attended, and over 70,000 articles of clothing were given away.

The NCJW counts on the generosity of people to donate to their Council Thriftshop. Because of these donations, the NCJW/LA is able to put on this event each year and serve those in need.The event has grown every year, and they expect it to grow next year as well given the current state of the economy.

Council District 5 co-sponsored the event and Field Deputy John Darnell (pictured to the right with Ruth Williams, Director of Advocacy and Hillary Selvin, Executive Director of NCJW Los Angeles) attended the event and presented a certificate of commendation to the NCJW/LA for their great work. Mario Ramirez, Facility Director of Poinsettia Recreation Center, helped supply tables for the many booths which offered government services such as Medicare at the event.

Thank you NCJW/LA for helping those in need!

Remembering Harold Katz

Councilmember Koretz recently honored a giant figure of the Century City community. Sadly, Harold Katz, a founding member of the Century City Chamber and a leader of tremendous vision, passed away on November 22, 2010. Councilmember Koretz adjourned in Mr. Katz’s memory, giving other members of the City Council an opportunity to cherish their memories of him.

Harold Katz was very active in the Los Angeles community, serving as a Director of the Los Angeles Business Council- Chairman of Transportation and Planning, Chairman of the Los Angeles Citizens Advisory Redevelopment Project Committee, Director and founder of the Skid Row Development Corporation (a non-profit corporation), Director and former Vice President of the Variety Club Children's Charities, Co-Chairman of five telethons and pre-telethon dinners and a member of the Advisory Board to the Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles. 

Furthermore, Mr. Katz was named Century City Man of the Year in 1972 and 2007.
His commitment and dedication to these organizations and his community were unwavering. He will truly be missed by his family, community and the Century City Chamber Board.

SOHA Toy Drive

Councilmember Koretz was proud and delighted to join the Los Angeles Fire Department and the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association for SOHA’s 12th Annual Toy Drive. The Councilmember joined SOHA members in collecting toys benefiting the children of the Department of Children and Family Services. People came from all over the San Fernando Valley to donate hundreds of toys.

Encino Toy Drive

Council District 5 staffers Joan Pelico, Shawn Bayliss and Jeffrey Ebenstein joined Diana Donnavan of Encino Chamber and Steven Ho of McDonald's of Encino.

Another of our great toy drives here in CD 5 was hosted by the Encino Chamber of Commerce. Toys and books were collected and donated to West Valley LAPD and local Fire Station #83 which will then be distributed to needy youth in the San Fernando Valley.

Hatzolah receives its third ambulance

Last week, Councilmember Koretz joined in a salute to Hatzolah of Los Angeles as this important provider of emergency services celebrated the gift of a third ambulance, courtesy of Alex Friedman, a devoted community leader and Holocaust survivor.

At the event, the Councilmember presented a certificate of commendation to Hatzolah and its director, Tzvikah Brenner (pictured here). Councilmember Koretz applauds the trained volunteers, including the highly dedicated dispatchers, who work together with local fire and police agencies in order to respond swiftly to all emergency situations with the skill and equipment necessary to provide competent medical and emergency care. These volunteers and their loved ones make incredible sacrifices of their time and energy in order to be available at all times and whenever needed.

Larry King comes to Council

Larry King came to City Hall on Friday, December 17, 2010 to be honored by the Los Angeles City Council which declared “Larry King Day” in the City of Los Angeles. The legendary talk show host hadn’t had much sleep because of the festivities which surrounded his telecast the night before, which ended his historic 25 year run hosting “Larry King Live” on CNN. Despite his fatigue, he was witty, engaging and delightful in expressing his love for Los Angeles. The Councilmembers praised his graceful interviewing style that helped inform the public about so many significant issues over the years and also thanked him for basing his show in Los Angeles, which has meant many jobs for Angelenos. Though he has ceased his nightly show, Larry King will continue with various projects on television and radio. The City wishes him the very best in his future endeavors.

Editor’s Note: In an earlier issue discussing the possible dedicated Wilshire bus lane we commended the Westwood community for their neighborhood activism. The commendations stand! Unfortunately, we neglected to mention Westwood Homeowners Association as one important member of the neighborhood coalition. Thanks to WHA for their hard work!

This message was sent to  by:

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