February 2, 2011

In this issue:

Don't Waste LA

Honoring a remarkable leader

Medical marijuana update

Stuck inside of mobile

Wilshire bus lane

The Help Group

Taking action against dangerous bath salts

Benedict Canyon Association turns 64

When a frond is no friend

Democracy in action

That's not so ruff

Helping at-risk youth

CM Koretz calls for Gold Mountain review

Voter participation training

2011 Homeless count

In the community

Ballot and Budget Town Hall

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 2011-2012 Budget Challenge

Public input about budgetary priorities is of crucial significance -- and that's especially true while the budget is being formulated. 
That's why the 2011-2012 'Los Angeles Budget Challenge,' which has just gone online, may provide an important opportunity for you to share your views and priorities.
Offered by Mayor Villaraigosa, the Challenge is a survey that includes a budget balancing simulation and explanatory information. You can find and complete the survey at LABudgetChallenge.LACity.org. The annual release of the survey is said to be one of the major components of the City's budgetary process, so please consider taking part in the Challenge. 

In regards to the upcoming March 8 election, the California Participation Project, in conjunction with Council District 5 and Council District 11, is hosting an informative voter participation training designed for nonprofits, small businesses, and congregations on Thursday, February 3 from 10am to 12 pm at the Felicia Mahood Center Auditorium in West LA. For details and to RSVP, 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.

On Sunday, February 13 Bikur Cholim will hold a community blood drive at Beth Jacob, 9030 West Olympic Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211 to benefit Cedars-Sinai. This is a critical time of year for our City's hospitals due to the increased need for blood and extreme shortages. Please make your appointment at www.bikurcholim.net or call (323) 852-1900.

Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles is hosting a 6 week Responsive Parenting series, starting Tuesday, February 15. Please contact Melanie Weiner at (310) 247-0864 for more information.

The LAPD Van Nuys Division will be celebrating their 10th annual "Tip a Cop Day" on Monday, February 28 from 11am to 9pm at Vitello’s Italian Restaurant in Studio City. Donations received will go to The Jeopardy Program. For more inforamtion, please contact the Community Relations Office of the Van Nuys Police Station at (818) 756-9802.

On March 8, the City of Los Angeles Municipal Election will include 10 Ballot Measures of significant importance. A representative of the LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS will lead a discussion on the pros and cons of some of these measures. It will take place on Thursday, March 3 at 1:30pm at the Encino-Tarzana Branch Library.

The Los Angeles Police Department encourages you to attend our Community Police Academy!Operations-West Bureau will conduct a Community Police Academy for all community members. Take part in an informative 11-week free course designed to teach community members how to build a rewarding partnership with the Department, help reduce crime, and improve the quality of life in your own neighborhood! The course will meet weekly on Wednesday evenings, starting Wednesday, March 9 to May 18, 2011 at Pan Pacific Park.
Interested community members should contact the West Los Angeles Community Relations Office at 310-444-0743.

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 weSPARK Cancer Support Center will be hosting The Jason Alexander Texas Hold 'Em Poker Tournament on Sunday, March 13. For more information, please click 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 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/

The Contractor will be demolishing a portion of the existing sound wall along Beloit Av, closest to Santa Monica, to create room for the SB I-405 widening. New sound wall construction will include drilling shaft pile and constructing a new concrete barrier and retaining wall. Construction activities are anticipated to begin Tuesday, February 1. 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.

Don't Waste LA

The average person probably doesn't stop to give too much thought to where their trash goes once they throw it in a bin. But the concerned Angelenos of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) think about trash and the environmental impacts refuse has on our communities. That is why they have initiated the Don't Waste LA campaign, which aims to bring cleaner air, green jobs and more recycling to the City's commercial and multi-family residential waste system.

Currently, commercial and multi-family waste is handled privately with little regulation and few options for recycling. "Right now the system is a Wild West free for all," says Greg Good, Director of the Waste and Recycling Project for LAANE. Don't Waste LA wants to change that by asking the City to implement a franchise system that would eliminate wasteful overlapping haul routes, encourage more recycling and require cleaner, fuel efficient trash trucks.

"Our current system is inefficient and wasteful, sending millions of tons of trash directly to toxic landfills. We need a system that is cleaner and that works toward the goal of becoming a zero waste system. The proposals laid out by Don't Waste LA lead the way in that direction," said Councilmember Koretz.

Honoring a remarkable leader

From left to right: Councilmember Paul Krekorian, Janice Kamenir-Reznik, Councilmember Paul Koretz and Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis.

The Los Angeles City Council honored Janice Kamenir-Reznik on January 28, 2011. Councilmembers Koretz and Krekorian were delighted to be the chief presenters. Ms. Kamenir-Reznik was being honored by the City of Los Angeles in conjunction with Jewish World Watch and in recognition of her great humanitarian efforts. A dedicated community activist here in Los Angeles, she is also an outspoken advocate for human and civil rights throughout the nation and the world. In his remarks before the Council, Councilmember Koretz discussed their years of shared efforts devoted to ending genocide in Darfur and praised her tremendous dedication and generosity of spirit. She is truly a shining example of how much one person can inspire and accomplish for the greater good.

A Brief Medical Marijuana Update

Medical marijuana has been in the news yet again, with the City recently adopting new and stricter regulations. As reported here before, the City’s initial regulations were challenged in court. The City now has adopted new regulations – consistent with the judge’s decisions in the court challenge – which provide the tools to shut down illegal operators/dispensaries. The new regulations provide additional/tighter numerical controls to limit the impact of dispensaries on neighborhoods.

Councimember Koretz supports medical marijuana – but only for those who truly need it (people suffering with AIDS, cancer, and certain other dire illnesses and conditions). He does not believe that just anyone should have access for any alleged reason. The City’s new regulation will provide for a system that guarantees safe access, prevents over-concentration and benefits both patients and communities. 

At one point, there were 80+ dispensaries in the 5th Council District; once this ordinance is enforced, there likely will be 12 or less. Please report all problems related to dispensaries to the Office of Councilmember Koretz, and the CD 5 office will pursue enforcement on your behalf.

Stuck inside of mobile

Recently, and perhaps spurred on by the attention given mobile food trucks, mobile goods vendors selling other products have been increasingly visible on major commercial corridors such as 3rd Street and La Cienega Boulevard.

Such commercial activities can have a major negative impact, taking up more than one parking space where parking is already much in demand; would-be shoppers at neighborhood stores are less likely to be able to visit our local shops. 

Councilmember Koretz has now introduced a motion to help figure out how the City might regulate such activities to best protect longstanding stores, consumers and the surrounding neighborhoods. The motion calls for such discussion of mobile goods trucks to be wrapped into discussions of mobile food trucks. The motion goes next to the Transportation Committee.

Taking stock of guns and gun violence

This nation was greatly disturbed by the recent shootings in Tucson, just as local communities are distraught when they are shaken and bloodied by gun-related incidents.  
Making sense of those situations, and determining ways of decreasing gun-related violence in the future, is tough to do when our laws, policies and attitudes are so often contradictory and subject to change or even rendered obsolete by the latest court decision or evolution in weaponry.

That's why Councilmember Koretz introduced a motion (
http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2011/11-0109-S1_MOT_01-21-11.pdf), unanimously approved by the Council, calling for the City Attorney and Chief Legislative Analyst to brief the Council regarding gun measures and issues and "all pertinent legal frameworks, pending litigation and present and future regulatory and legislative efforts." The motion also requested that local community organizations focused on gun violence, such as Women Against Violence and Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, be invited to participate.

It has been a number of years since the last such briefing of the Council, and times and circumstances have changed and the toll of gun violence has grown. Wisdom and necessity dictate that policies be shaped as knowledgeably as possible, in order to stand the test of time and be of utmost use.

A Brief Update on Metro’s Wilshire Bus Lanes Project

As discussed here before, METRO has been studying for some years the creation of a dedicated rush hour bus lane along Wilshire Boulevard which would extend from MacArthur Park to the City’s western border.  Both Beverly Hills and Santa Monica have refused to allow a dedicated bus lane in their portions of Wilshire Boulevard.

METRO’s policy and planning committee previously concluded that the Condo Canyon portion of Wilshire in Westwood should not be included in the project – in large part due to the effective advocacy (including detailed technical studies) from the Westwood community that this portion of the proposed bus lane would in fact be detrimental both to the neighborhood and the goals of the bus lane project.

The City Council today considered a proposal from Councilmember Bill Rosendahl that METRO study shortening the bus lanes project to Wilshire Boulevard east of Beverly Hills.  Initially Councilmember Rosendahl requested that the City Council endorse the shortened bus route.  Councilmember Rosendahl amended his motion, however, to request only that DOT and METRO staff study stopping the project at the Beverly Hills border.  The Council approved the Rosendahl motion, and DOT and METRO staff will present the conclusions of their study to the METRO Board sometime later this year. 

Helping children with special needs

From Left to Right: CM Krekorian, CM Koretz, Help Group Board Chair Gary H. Carmona, Sup. Yaroslavsky, Mayor Villaraigosa, Help Group CEO/President Barbara Firestone, and City Controller Greuel

Councilmember Koretz recently participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony honoring the important work of The Help Group and the completion of a new wing of their Sherman Oaks Center, located in the 5th Council District and one of four major campuses in the Los Angeles area operated by The Help Group.

Since 1975, The Help Group has been a cornerstone for serving children with special needs related to autism spectrum disorders (ASD), learning disabilities, ADHD, mental retardation, abuse, and emotional problems.  Seven specialized day schools offer pre-K through high school programs for more than 1,300 students.  In total, more than 6,000 children and their families each year benefit from the great variety of services and programs offered by this invaluable non-profit. The new facility will ensure that more students and their families are provided with top-notch services and will allow The Help Group to explore new avenues in comprehensive care for its students.

Other dignitaries on hand for the ribbon-cutting included Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, City Controller Wendy Greuel and City Councilmember Paul Krekorian.

In a brief speech, Councilmember Koretz noted that "The Help Group has not only enhanced the quality of life of many students, but has also positively affected families and provided innovative approaches to specialized education programs nationwide."  He thanked all community partners, philanthropic friends and volunteers that had made the landmark occasion possible. Congratulations to all concerned! 

Taking action against dangerous bath salts

Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz has called for a City ban -- and/or other appropriate restrictions -- related to the sale and use of so-called "bath salts" -- very hazardous designer drugs currently legally available in stores and on-line.

The Councilmember introduced a motion at the February 1st Council meeting that would instruct the City Attorney to draft the requisite ordinance.  The Koretz motion also designates the City's Chief Legislative Analyst to report to the City Council on pertinent legislation in other jurisdictions.

In various states across the nation, there's been a recent flurry of reports of frightening and sometimes deadly incidents stemming from use of these hi-power synthetic stimulants, which are not yet regulated by the Drug Enforcement Agency.  Warnings are being sounded by law enforcement and poison control centers, including in California.  (U.S. poison control centers reported no such cases in the entire country in all of 2009, compared to close to 250 in the single month of January 2011.)

Councilmember Koretz says, "What's very clear is that there's a growing and potentially severe problem, yet to be adequately addressed, regarding the easy, legal availability of the innocent sounding 'bath salts.'  Right now, only a limited number of jurisdictions in our country, including a small number of states, have instituted any actual laws, and so regulatory and legislative steps need to be taken.  This motion is one step in that direction."

The motion, seconded by Councilmember Greig Smith, was sent to the Council's Public Safety Committee for discussion there. The Koretz motion can be found HERE.

When I'm 64

On January 24th, the Benedict Canyon Association had its 64th annual town hall meeting! Community-based organizations such as this Association are the bastions of L.A.'s civic and neighborhood existence, and such a longstanding record of achievement in serving constituents is true cause for celebration.

With upwards of 75 people in attendance, Councilmember Koretz spoke and participated in a discussion regarding a wide range of topics, some being local and others more citywide in nature. Preventing mansionization and problematic or illegal development of various kinds was a major focus -- looming implementation of the Hillside Ordinance was described, as was the ability of residents to help serve as the City's eyes and ears in looking out for development in the canyon, and the City's strong commitment to enforcement of building codes. Speeding in the canyon was addressed, including possible solutions. DWP issues and local power outages received significant attention, as did ballot measures on the upcoming March election ballot. Helping shed light on public safety concerns was LAPD Senior Lead Officer Chris Ragsdale. 

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, always a veritable mainstay of such community forums, talked about the county's reserve fund, transportation and the 30/10 plan, as well as supporting the arts.

Congratulations, Benedict Canyon Association, for providing such durable and admirable leadership, these many years!

When a frond is no friend

After the recent winds and rains, fronds were scattered on some neighborhood streets, making an obstacle course of certain sidewalks and clogging gutters and curbs.

That called for a cleanup campaign, and Councilmember Koretz and staff were happy to oblige during a Saturday morning when they picked up fronds and all kinds of trash in the Beverly/Fairfax area and later, along Melrose Avenue.

Throughout the year, the council office and many community groups participate in neighborhood cleanups. The Council office is always happy to support and promote neighborhood cleanups. CD 5's thanks go to these organizations and the many constituents, from longtime constituents to classes of students, who make these cleanups a big success, greatly contributing to civic spirit and neighborhood pride.

Democracy in action

On a recent Saturday, City Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian -- the two Paul Ks -- joined a great discussion held by Valley Grassroots for Democracy. Approximately 50 people came together to discuss open government, campaign and election reform, the budget, upcoming ballot measures, and a wide array of other city issues. 

Throughout the forum, which was held at Van Nuys Civic Center, a theme that was repeatedly emphasized and embodied was the transcendent benefit of living in a society where government is accessible, transparent, and vibrantly connected to the community it serves.

That's not so ruff

Councilmember Koretz with the stars of Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2, Papi and Chloe.

Councilmember Koretz is always ready to champion the adoption of animals from our animal shelters, as well as the spaying and neutering of companion animals. 

Usually, this occurs in unglamorous settings.

Recently, though he took part in a star-studded affair, where L.A. Animal Services gave the Amanda Foundation funding for spay and neutering services. In the event at the West LA Animal Shelter, the guest celebrities were the top-billed heroes of Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2.  Though it would be misleading to label Papi and Chloe giant figures of cinema, these Chihuahuas are to be commended for lending their time and energy to such a good cause. Councilmember Koretz was delighted to make their acquaintance; at the same time, he was also happy to salute Dog News Daily and Disney for their support in this effort.

Helping at-risk youth

From left to right: Beverly Pink Wolfe, Councilmember Koretz, Suzanne Bank, LAPD Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger and Gloria Pink. Photo courtesy of Bill Devlin Photography

Probably most L.A. residents are sports fans from youth, and Councilmember Koretz is no exception.  He's very happy talking about team lineups from 1966 and pointing out something he's collected, whether it is a Lakers bobble head, signed baseball or football pennant. For him, therefore, a recent event held at the Sports Museum of Los Angeles was a special treat, because the museum houses some of the greatest sports memorabilia you can ever hope to see in one place.

Photo courtesy of Bill Devlin Photography

An even bigger treat, though, was the opportunity to support the cause of the evening -- helping the Wilshire Community Police Council fund a 12-week "boot camp" for at-risk youth, who will greatly benefit from the defining experiences and lasting impressions offered, and the discipline, physical counseling, individual guidance, parenting classes and friendships to be gained.  The lives of many young people and their families will be changed for the better. Thank you, Wilshire Community Police Council and all involved!

Councilmember Koretz calls for Gold Mountain review

If you're a fan of the TV classic show, I Love Lucy, you probably remember how Ricky would often say, "Lucy, you've got some splainin' to do." 

Well right now, the people of Encino have every right to assert, "City of L.A., you've got some splainin' to do." 

In 2003 – long before Councilmember Koretz took office in July 2009 – the City approved “Gold Mountain,” a large multi-use project on Ventura Boulevard in Encino.    The project’s developer proposed and the approvals required a Mediterranean style complex.  While many in the Encino neighborhood opposed many aspects of this large project, the tile-roofed Mediterranean style was generally accepted.

In 2007, the developer brought its final building plans for City approval.  The final plans, however, varied dramatically from the initial project.  With no community input or any public notice or discussion, the City approved this new project – a “Mondrian-style” modernist complex rather than the Tuscan development already shown to the neighborhood.

Recently, construction began on the facade. Local community leaders like Encino Neighborhood Council President Louis Krokover and longtime stalwart activist Gerald Silver quickly noticed, were surprised by, and spoke up about the drastically different redesign.  Many people, including Councilmember Koretz, were very unhappy with the look of the facade and its garish mix of red, blue, pink, yellow and white.

As noted in the Daily News discussion of this issue, one can debate the merits of modernist style vs. Mediterranean.  One cannot debate, however, that this project has changed dramatically and the community was not given the option to weigh in on the “new” project.   This is simply unacceptable.

Many in the community have asked: “How could this happen?  We never have even seen this project.  Could this happen again in the future?” The community deserves some answers.

For those reasons, and because he personally is quite dismayed about what has transpired, Councilmember Koretz introduced a City Council motion on February 2nd, seconded by Councilmember Jose Huizar, that (if approved) will give the Planning Department, Building & Safety and the City Attorney 30 days to thoroughly review the Gold Mountain development and its procedural aspects, and then report back to the Council to describe exactly what happened, suggest any procedural lessons learned and offer any recommendations to address the current changes in the Gold Mountain development. The motion was sent to the City’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee; hopefully, we can answers and remedial steps.

Voter participation training

In anticipation of the upcoming March 8 elections, Councilmember Koretz’s office is teaming up with the California Participation Project and Councilmember Bill Rosendahl’s office for an informative voter participation training designed for community organizations such as nonprofits, small businesses, and congregations. The event will take place on Thursday, February 3 from 10:00am to 12:00pm at the Felicia Mahood Center Auditorium in West Los Angeles.

The training session will help organizations plan easy steps to integrate nonpartisan voter participation, register clients to vote, help clients understand what’s on the ballot and how to get them to the polls, get up-to-date resources and materials on voter education and voting rights and will give attendees the opportunity to meet city council staff, local nonprofit leaders, and experts in the field of voting and elections. Open to the public and free to attend. To RSVP or for more information, please call 213-346-3291 or click HERE.

2011 Homeless Count

Standing: CD 5 Field Deputies Eric Norton and Sheila Kouhkan. Sitting:  Steve Lytle, a community volunteer and Helen Lee from LAHSA.

Los Angeles has the highest street homeless population in the nation. The Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, conducted by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) takes place every two years in order to conduct a census of the homeless population in Los Angeles County, which is necessary in order to obtain federal funding.

Last Wednesday night, two Council District 5 Field Deputies, Eric Norton and Sheila Kouhkan, volunteered many hours of their time late into the night to this important cause. Thanks goes out to all of the volunteers and organizations who are so diligent and caring in helping with this effort and in all endeavors aimed at eliminating homelessness in Los Angeles.

In the community

From left to right: LA City Councilmembers Greig Smith, Bernard Parks, Bill Rosendahl and Paul Koretz.

The City of Los Angeles' Budget and Finance Committee held a special meeting on Monday, January 31 in Northridge as part of the "Budget on the Road" initiative. These regional meetings provide an opportunity for members of the public to express their priorities and issues regarding the 2011-2012 budget for the City of Los Angeles.

Ballot and Budget Town Hall

As you know, Budget Hearings are coming up in March as well as the measures on the City's March 8 Primary Election.

Councilmember Paul Koretz is pleased to invite you to a Budget and Ballot Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, February 24 from 7:00pm - 8:30pm. The event will be held at the John Thomas Dye School located at 11414 Chalon Road. LA 90049. This will be a great opportunity for you to ask questions, share your views, hear from the Councilmember and gain key information about ballot measures and budgetary decisions capable of having a major impact on our City.

This message was sent to  by:

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