January 10, 2011

In this issue:

Sadness in Arizona

Taking on the mobile billboards

Subway update

Community gardens

"Operation Pothole"

Melrose Action in action

Encino CERT training

The Supreme Court rules

In the community

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 Community Center will be hosting a 4 week workshop through the CERT program (see news article to the right) starting Tuesday, January 11 from 10am to 2pm. For more information or to register, please call (818) 995-1690.

The LAPD West Bureau Traffic Committee will be meeting on Wednesday, January 12 from 8:30-10:30am at the West LA Community Police Station. For more information, please email wlatraffic@roadrunner.com.

The Los Angeles Public Library will be hosting a presentation on the topic of estate planning and how to protect yourself from scammers. The event will be on Wednesday, January 12 at 1:30pm at the Encino-Tarzana Branch Library.

On Thursday, January 20 the Sherman Oaks Chamber of Commerce will host a Business Luncheon. For more information, please visit their website HERE.

Metro is busy conducting a Final EIS/EIR for the Westside Subway Extension. They will host the first round of community update meetings for this last planning phase of the project throughout the month of January.  At these meetings, Metro will provide stakeholders with background on the study to date, what community members can expect during the Final EIS/EIR and an overview of the anticipated subway construction process. Whether or not you have followed the project so far, you are encouraged to provide input on Metro's progress with the Westside Subway Extension at any of these upcoming meetings (content of all meetings will be identical):

Monday, January 24, 6-8pm at
LACMA West  – Terrace Room, 5th Floor

Wednesday, January 26, 6-8pm at
Westwood United Methodist Church – Fellowship Hall, 3rd Floor

Monday, January 31, 6-8pm at
Roxbury Park - Auditorium

For more information about the Metro Westside Subway Extension, go to metro.net/westside

The Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) is seeking artists interested in creating site-specific public artwork for newly constructed Police Department (LAPD) and Fire Department (LAFD) facilities located throughout Los Angeles. Artists commissioned as a result of this Request for Qualifications (RFQ) will design, fabricate, and install independent and/or integrated public artworks that will be accessed and experienced by passers-by, facility visitors, and public safety employees, as part of the unified texture and fabric of our City’s neighborhoods. Potential opportunities and sites for artwork exist on interior and exterior walls; within hallways, lobbies, landscaped areas, and courtyards; as well as peripheral spaces throughout the sites.The deadline is Friday, January 28. For details and the complete Request for Qualifications, please click HERE.

On Friday, February 11 and Saturday, February 12, the Friends of the Library will be hosting a used book sale at the Encino-Tarzana Branch. For more information, please click HERE.

The Mid City West Community Council will be organizing free CERT training taking place on seven consecutive Wednesday evenings beginning Wednesday, March 9. For more information and updates as the date approaches, please visit their website HERE.

The American Diabetes Association is holding its Tour de Cure Sunday, May 1 in Long Beach. To learn more about joining the ride from Long Beach to Los Angeles, please click HERE.

LADWP Trunk Line Construction Crew is preparing to install 60” and 36” water pipeline in Moorpark Avenue between Babcock Avenue and Wilkinson Avenue. The construction in this work zone is anticipated to be completed in May 2011. For details on the project and the most up to date information, 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.

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.

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 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.

Sadness about Arizona

Dear Friends,

All of us are greatly saddened and upset by the horrible violence that took place this past Saturday in Tucson, Arizona.  Our hopes and prayers are with the victims and their loved ones, as well as with every innocent bystander – many of whom were heroes of the moment – and an entire city that is traumatized by such senseless calamity.

The tragic shooting deaths of six people, as well as the wounding of many others including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was a despicable assault on those people and their community – but it was also a violation of our belief as Americans, shared across this land, in our right to a democracy where people can show up and participate without fear of being placed in harm’s way.

In this instance, there seems to be one deeply disturbed person to blame. But it is also clear that there is an anger in our society, and that it is too often seized on and exploited in the media and political discourse, as shown by the tendency of some to demonize, distort and disparage others in the harshest terms. That, along with the availability of guns to even the most deranged and dangerous, is something we need to recognize and change.

According to every account, Representative Giffords is a friendly, bright and dedicated legislator who believes passionately in meeting with people face-to-face, as part of the job that comes with serving in government.  That’s why she and her staff have held countless events like the one that was viciously assaulted on Saturday, and why so many good people were in attendance – they simply wanted to hold a peaceable discussion on issues and challenges of the day. What is clear, in the aftermath, isn’t so much the wretched motives of the perpetrator, but that there is so much of a positive nature to cherish in our democratic society.   I think we all need to give more attention to those who are active and compassionate about accomplishing change, and who join in at such meetings because they have a fine idea and vital energy that can make a valuable difference.

Here in the 5th District, my staff and I constantly attend community events, and we are always honored to listen to your ideas, hopes and concerns. Your comments and understandings are treasured because of their wisdom but also because they are freely shared and demonstrate such heartfelt principles.  It is absolutely beneficial and necessary that you continue to show up and speak your piece. We treasure your outspokenness as well as your civility – amazing things are accomplished because of your participation and your voice: we deeply respect your informed commitment to making this a better city.
Even as we devote our efforts to the 5th Council District and the City of Los Angeles, let us continue to cherish the good people of Tucson, holding them dear in our hearts and prayers while sending our condolences.



Taking on the mobile billboards -- successfully!

One of the best things about the start of 2011 has been the exciting news about eliminating mobile billboards from our streets. In the first major crackdown, more than a dozen mobile billboards were towed, and more than 30 offending vehicles were ticketed!

A motion authored by Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Dennis Zine, and seconded by Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, led to a new anti-mobile billboard ordinance being crafted, adopted and implemented. As a result, mobile billboards are being removed from local neighborhoods, starting on the very first weekend of the new year. Mobile signs are being impounded, with misdemeanor penalties from $250 to $1000 and/or up to six months in jail.

Such signs are a safety hazard, visual blight and neighborhood nuisance occupying needed parking spaces.  Now, though, a tough new combination of city and state legislation – the latter, accomplished thanks in particular to Assemblymembers Bob Blumenfield and Mike Feuer – has made the brazen use of mobile billboards a costly business for those who want to park and advertise without caring about the harm they do to a neighborhood’s quality of life.

As always, when it comes to trying to get rid of the epidemic of signage that has filled our city with blight, there has been resistance from the special interests, who always seek to ensure continued profits.  In the face of the new crackdown, purveyors of mobile billboards are doing what they can to upset the applecart, though in this case they're doing so almost literally, by removing wheels and calling signs “sleighs” to get around precise legal wording. Luckily, City Attorney Carmen Trutanich and our City Council are quite active on this issue and will do what they can to ensure there are no loopholes.

Happy New Year!

Subway update

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has formally approved the Westside Subway Extension & the Regional Connector for preliminary engineering (PE), bringing actual construction closer.  Now, both projects will almost certainly be accepted into the federal New Starts program, and the first installment of federal funds could be included in next year's federal budget. 

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority  -- Metro -- now projects completion of PE work for the Subway in late 2011 and for the Regional Connector in early 2012; ideally, utility relocation work for both projects could start in mid to late 2012.

Good news blooms

At a time when so many are already suffering due to the current economic climate, some good news is that those who take part in an Encino community garden will be spared the burden of an extra added expense.

Councilmember Koretz took the lead in calling for the suspension of a proposed rate increase at the Sepulveda Garden Center in Encino.  The suggested increase would have raised the rental fee for a garden plot nearly 500 percent, from $25 to $120.

As chair of the Audit & Govt. Efficiency Committee Couniclmember Koretz always looks to protect the City's bottom line. However, he also knows that many CD5 constituents use this garden as a vital resource, and that they shouldn't be penalized at a time when so many are already economically vulnerable. Plus, the proposed rate increase might have so disrupted usage as to endanger the continuing existence of the garden itself.

The Dept. of Recreation and Parks held a community meeting:  input from Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Tom LaBonge and their staffs, and from the public at large, led to the Department suspending the proposed increase. May a thousand flowers bloom -- along with tasty fruits and vegetables!

Getting rid of holy terrors

Potholes are annoying and potentially dangerous, and can inflict both immediate and cumulative damage to passing vehicles. The recent rains did our streets no favors, and so the city has “ramped up” its efforts to fix the potholes that are the bane of those who travel our roads.

A key part of “Operation Pothole” was accomplished this past weekend of January 8-9, when the city sent out 50 crews per day to fill as many as 10,000-15,000 potholes.  Much of the work on Saturday occurred on the Westside; much of Sunday’s efforts took place in the Valley.

Before the weekend, Councilmember Koretz and his staff intensified their efforts with the City’s Street Services (Department of Public Works) to ensure that a maximum number of CD5 potholes were filled during Operation Pothole. In addition, the CD 5 Office did extensive outreach to local residents and businesses, especially through our local neighborhood councils and homeowner groups, soliciting input to help identify as many potholes as possible that might be fixed as part of Operation Pothole.  The Councilmember and staff greatly appreciate the wonderful cooperation and involvement of Street Services and our community organizations.

It is important to note that while this weekend represented a major commitment to fixing as many potholes as possible in one big swoop, potholes are fixed year-round, and at any time you can call 3-1-1- to report a pothole.  You can also report a pothole to the Bureau of Street Services -- 
http://bss.lacity.org/request.htm -- and/or to the Office of Councilmember Koretz.

Melrose Action, in action

Last week, Councilmember Koretz was honored to be the special speaker at the monthly meeting of the Melrose Action Neighborhood Watch, which is a tremendously effective and dedicated community organization that champions public safety and the well-being and betterment of the Melrose Village area.

Many block captains and other neighborhood activists and leaders were there, as the Councilmember spoke to a wide variety of citywide and more local issues.

One of the great things about Melrose Action meetings is that a lively discussion often occurs, whether it be about parking needs or how we got rid of the problem house associated with illegal drug activity.

Also speaking at the meeting was LAPD Senior Lead Officer Arthur Gallegos, who discussed crime statistics and trends. Councilmember Koretz congratulated both the Los Angeles Police Department and neighborhood watch groups like Melrose Action for their united efforts in fighting crime -- the Councilmember pointed to homicide and crime rates which are at their lowest in 40 years.

One of the highlights of the meeting was the very positive support for the ongoing effort to gain a Business Improvement District for the Melrose area. The Councilmember is incredibly appreciative of the dedication of so many community businesses, residents and property owners who are working so steadfastly with the CD 5 office to make the BID a reality.  In challenging economic times, what makes a huge difference is the wholehearted determination of a community to partner with its government to ensure that progress is achieved. 

Encino: CERT, versus uncertainty

One of the greatest uncertainties in life can be what to do when dreaded widespread emergencies occur, such as a fire or major earthquake.

Yet inevitably, those catastrophes do strike, here in Southern California.  That's why it helps us all to have folks who are trained to help out when a crisis occurs.  And you can be one of those people, by participating in CERT -- a Community Emergency Response team!

Very specific skills and cooperative techniques are taught during a 4 week CERT workshop such as one being offered at the Encino Community Center, on Tuesdays from January 11 through February 1, from 10:00 am.-2:00 p.m. (for more information or to register, please call 818 995-1690:  bring your lunch to the first meeting). 

We are blessed to have many fine people willing to join the ranks.  There are CERT volunteers, and teams of volunteers, throughout our region, who have been educated and trained about disaster preparedness concerning the kinds of hazards that can pose dire threats in this area.  CERT trainees learn how to help with fire safety, how to participate in teams in light search and rescue, and how to engage in disaster medical operations such as triage.  While the city and region are blessed with wonderful public safety personnel and other professional experts, they are often hard-pressed by the sheer magnitude and variety of challenges when facing large-scale emergencies, and sometimes downed communications and blocked access can make it difficult to quickly reach a disaster site. Not only do local CERT volunteers offer invaluable support services, but they are often first responders to a disaster site, as was the case a number of years ago with a major train accident in the Los Feliz-Glendale area, where the local CERT teams made a huge difference in helping people as quickly as possible.

The Encino CERT training is supported by the Encino Neighborhood Council and the Encino Chamber of Commerce, Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield's Office and that of Councilmember Koretz, and by the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks.  Our most earnest thanks go all CERT participants:  the dedicated volunteers, the experienced trainers, the participating public safety agencies and those who are eager to join in the experience.  We strongly encourage people to take part in the 4-week course offered in Encino, if you are in that area, and please check this newsletter for news and announcements about other CERT training programs that are soon to be offered in other parts of the 5th Council District.

The Supreme Court rules!

Well, in this case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled by not ruling -- or by deciding, 7-2, against intervening in an appeal over a federal law banning felons from having bulletproof vests or body armor.

As you may recall, bulletproof vests and body armor were a key part of what protected heavily armed and well-protected criminals, and endangered law enforcement and innocent bystanders, during the infamous North Hollywood shootout of 1997.

Councilmember Koretz has been a strong champion of new laws eliminating the right of felons to have such vests and body armor, and thanks the U.S. Supreme Court and all who have promoted or supported such legislation or allowed it to stand legal challenges:  the end result is a far safer public.

In the community

CM Koretz was joined by (from left to right) Peter Repovich, Director of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, Former Speaker of the CA State Assembly Bob Hertzberg, and Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich at the annual LAPPL Holiday Party. Councilmember Koretz would like to thank the LAPPL and all law enforcement officials for their continued commitment to keeping the public safe. Thank you!

Editor's note:

In the December 17, 2010 issue, we neglected to attribute the photograph from the Encino Chamber Holiday Party article to Harvey Branman. Our sincere apologies to Mr. Branman. Thank you for the great photo!

This message was sent to  by:

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