April 12, 2011
In this issue:
Mayor Villaraigosa signs Baseline Hillside Ordinance
Special Update: Administrative Code Enforcement (ACE) passes Budget and Finance Committee
There are property rights and then there are property wrongs
10000 Santa Monica – filling a hole in the ground
Importance of community involvement
Sunday Library Hours at Robertson Branch
Better protections against gun violence
A word from business
Saving Franklin Canyon
Autism Awareness Month
Cleanup at old Fire Station 43
A national tragedy from a century ago
Chase Foundation ribbon cutting
JWW Walk to end genocide
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UPCOMING EVENTS / ANNOUNCEMENTS
The Sherman Oaks Chamber of Commerce is hosting The Sherman Oaks Community Famers Market every Saturday starting Saturday, April 2 from 8am to 1pm at the corner of Sepulveda Blvd and Camarillo St. (north of the Sherman Oaks Galleria).
On Wednesday, April 13, LAPD West Bureau Traffic Committee will meet at 8:30am at the West Los Angeles Community Police Station(1663 Butler Avenue). For more information, please email email@example.com.
The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust will be hosting a Young Leadership Special Event on Wednesday, April 13 at 7pm at the museum. Salomon Berger is a 89 year old holocaust survivor with a fascinating and inspiring story that he has graciously agreed to share with us. For details, please click HERE.
On Thursday, April 14 the Century City Chamber of Commerce is offering an Emergency Preparedness Expo in Century Park. The event is FREE and open to the public. Please call 310-553-2222 for details.
LADWP in collaboration with the Bureau of Sanitation launched a Recycled Water Advisory Group (RWAG) in December 2009 to get input from key stakeholders from throughout the City during the planning effort. We are providing information about the recycled water master planning process to the 65+ stakeholders in the RWAG and request their input at various stages of the process. The Mid-City Forum will take place within the CD5 boundary and will be held on Thursday, April 14 from 6-8pm at the National Jewish Council of Women – LA Section. To RSVP and for more information, please click HERE.
The intersection at La Cienega Boulevard and Jefferson Boulevard will be closed for street reconstruction work from 7:00 p.m. Friday, April 15 to 6:00 a.m. Monday, April 25. For the complete notice, please click HERE.
The Encino Chamber of Commerce
will be hosting its 7th Annual Encino Open Miniature Golf Classic on Thursday, April 21 at Castle Park in Sherman Oaks. Details can be found HERE.
The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is scheduled to occur at USC on Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1. 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.
The Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative helps new gardeners start their own gardens quickly and easily in a container, in the backyard or at a community garden. Participants are able to turn their interest in gardening into successful, productive gardens that will generate positive changes in their homes by helping to lower grocery bills and enhance opportunities to eat healthy food.
The Grow LA Victory Garden classes are organized and led by UC California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteers. Those who complete the 4-week training will become UC-Certified Victory Gardeners. The 4-week session is every Sunday starting May 1 for 3 hours. For more information, please click HERE.
On Sunday, May 1, Mount Sinai will be hosting a Yom HaShoah Observance and Photo Exhibition, entitled “Through Your Eyes: Holocaust Memorials Around The World” at Mount Sinai Simi Valley, 6150 Mount Sinai Drive, Simi Valley, CA 93063 in the Ziegler Center and Kamenir Chapel from 10:00 to 11:30am. For details, 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.
The seven-week training session begins on Monday, May 2 until Monday, June 20 and will take place on each MONDAY AND WEDNESDAY evening at the South L.A. Sports Activity Center at Figueroa Street and Florence Avenue. For more information on how to volunteer, please call (213) 978-0697 or email LACRT@lacity.org.
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.
The Friends of the Encino-Tarzana Branch Library will be holding a used book sale on Friday, May 20 and Saturday, May 21 from 10am to 5pm. Proceeds used for programs, supplies and books for this branch.
The annual Diabetes EXPO will also be held on Saturday, May 21 at the Los Angeles Comvention center from 10am to 4pm. The event is free and will include a variety of health screenings, healthy cooking demonstrations, diabetes products and services and much more. For more information, please click HERE.
The Annual Palms Bike Rodeo will be held on Saturday, June 4 from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. The Palms Neighborhood Council is again sponsoring this exciting community festival and bike safety event to be held at Palms Elementary School, 3520 Motor Ave. at Palms Blvd. and Motor Ave. For more information, please click HERE.
EXPO LINE ON TRACK TO SANTA MONICA
Moving forward to connect the Westside to the county’s existing rail network, the Expo Construction Authority Board of Directors approved two major milestones today (March 18). The Funding Agreement and Design-Build contract approved by the Board clear the way for design and construction to begin on Phase 2 of the project, which extends the nearly complete light-rail line between downtown Los Angeles and Culver City to its terminus in Santa Monica.
To continue reading please click HERE.
REDISTRICTING ASSISTANCE CENTERS
For the first time in California history state-level legislative district lines will be redrawn by an independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.
The Commission has begun their work and this is your opportunity to get involved.
The University of California, Berkeley, is opening regional redistricting technical assistance centers across the State.
The purpose of these centers is to provide Californians access to data, software, and expertise so that they can effectively communicate valuable information about their communities to the Commission.
For more information, please click HERE.
Call 3-9-9 for Non-Emergency Roadside Assistance on the Highway...
If your car breaks down on the freeway and there is no Call Box in sight, you can use your cellphone to get non-emergency roadside assistance quickly and easily by calling 3-9-9. You can also use this to report obstacles or hazards in the road, (but wait until you have stopped driving to call!). Calls to 3-9-9 are connected to Call Box operators who can Metro Freeway Service Patrol (FSP) tow trucks to your location. If you are covered by AAA, the dispatcher can patch your call straight through to AAA. FSP help is free of charge, and is funded by an additional $1 on every Vehicle Licenses Fee in the State of California. In emergencies, you should still always call 9-1-1.
With the resumption of seasonal rain, the Los Angeles Fire Department is encouraging local residents to take the precautions necessary to protect themselves from injury and their property from storm damage. When rainstorms impact the Los Angeles area, flood control channels, rivers, and arroyos can quickly fill with fast-moving water, creating a potentially life-threatening danger to anyone who gets caught or swept away. It is against the law to be inside a flood control channel in Los Angeles, regardless of the weather.
We urge you to visit the EDIS website and listen to NOAA Weather Radio or local radio and television stations for the latest weather or emergency information.
The Los Angeles Fire Department is pleased to unveil LAFDmobile, a free application for iPhone and Android smartphones. For more information, please click HERE.
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.
News Article - James B. McDaniel: Drought is over but water still precious
By James B. McDaniel
Daily News - 04/10/2011 01:00:00 AM
After a rainy winter, it should hardly come as a surprise that our final snow surveys showed the year's heavy snow and rain storms have effectively replenished our water supply.
Gov. Jerry Brown has already declared that our state's three-year drought is officially over and Southern California's biggest wholesale water supplier, the Metropolitan Water District, said its vast reservoirs are nearly full. So why should the people of Los Angeles still worry about our water supply?
Because the reality is we live in a semi-arid climate, prone to drought, with a limited native water supply that was used up years ago (the Los Angeles River) or has become largely contaminated (the San Fernando basin groundwater).
The reality is that climate change is creating new uncertainties for the traditional water supply.
The reality is that we have relied far too long on importing water supplies from hundreds of miles away - sources such as the Eastern Sierra and Owens Valley, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and the Colorado River.
The reality is that years of little snow and rainfall, pumping restrictions and other legal or environmental obligations have vastly reduced the amount of water that we can import from these traditional sources.
I have worked as a water engineer at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power for the last 28 years - the last six as head of the water system - and I can tell you that this is ‘not your parents nor your grandparents' - DWP. This city-owned water utility is a far cry from the one so famously depicted in the movie "Chinatown," a fictionalized story about the water grab made by L.A. tycoons and politicians so they could get rich by developing the San Fernando Valley.
Whether or not you believe the movie has any veracity regarding L.A.'s water history, the truth is that the mountain spring water that flowed down from the Eastern Sierra supplied the bulk of the city's water for decades as the population quadrupled. But today, almost 40 percent of the water historically diverted to Los Angeles now stays where it belongs in the Eastern Sierra watershed - restoring the Lower Owens River, replenishing Mono Lake, calming dust storms at Owens Dry Lake, and improving vital habitat.
Over the past few years, the combination of these environmental commitments and years of below-normal snowfall in the Sierra have triggered a citywide call for water conservation. Los Angeles is not alone in this. Drought conditions and pumping restrictions due to environmental concerns have reduced water deliveries to much of the Southern California region and elsewhere in the state, while the population continues to grow. Even as normal rain and snowfall return this year, these regions can expect to see water shortages.
To be sure, Angelenos have responded to the call for water conservation four years ago. DWP recently reported that residents living in single-family homes used 24 percent less water in February than the same month in 2007, far exceeding the initial goal of 10 percent set in July 2007 when Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa first urged Angelenos to conserve. Since mandatory watering restrictions took effect nearly two years ago, Angelenos have saved more than 70 billion gallons - more than one-third of what the city typically uses in one year. Los Angeles uses less total water today than it did 30 years ago despite growing to more than 4 million residents.
But there is more that can be done. At DWP, we must push forward with plans to expand uses of recycled water in safe and cost-effective ways. We will continue to work with federal agencies to make those responsible for contaminating the San Fernando groundwater pay for its cleanup. We will continue to work on ways to better capture and store rainwater so that we use this precious resource in a sustainable manner rather than watch it disappear into storm drains and flood channels that end up in the ocean.
As the DWP pursues these measures, we ask Angelenos to continue their diligence in saving. Continue to limit outdoor watering to morning and evening hours and only on the days allowed by your odd or even street address number.
Turn off the hose or faucet when the water is not needed rather than let it run.
Consider forgoing the lawn altogether, and switching to succulents and other drought-tolerant plants. Visit some local native and drought-tolerant gardens and admire the blooms on the succulents and cacti, the rock gardens and native landscapes.
The record rain and bountiful snowfall this season helped sustain our water supply for now. Let's help keep it sustainable forever.
James B. McDaniel is the senior assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Mayor Villaraigosa signs Baseline Hillside Ordinance
Councilmember Koretz speaking at the signing of the City's Baseline Hillside Ordinance. He is joined by (from left to right) Marian Dodge, President of the Hillside Federation; Michael Chasteen, President of the Benedict Canyon Association; Carol Sidlow, Chair BABNC Land Use and President of Lookout Mountain Alliance; Steve Twining, President of Roscomare Valley Association and Member and President Emeritus BABNC; Councilmember Ed Reyes; Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; Susan Mullins, Upper Nichols Canyon NC and Councilmember Tom LaBonge.
The amazing beauty of our city crucially includes the hillsides and their open spaces that provide respite from the urban bustle. But those same open spaces have long been under increasing threat, for they have been pushed further out and up by the pressures of development. As a result, the need to preserve the character and integrity of our hillsides and their communities has become ever more vital.
That’s why Councilmember Koretz joined and helped further Baseline Hillside Ordinance, the effort started years ago by Councilmember Tom LaBonge and approved by the Council weeks ago, and now signed into law by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at a signing ceremony to which many community leaders were invited.
Without a doubt, the Baseline Hillside Ordinance will be of immense value, now and for generations to come, in protecting our hillsides from the ravages of mansionization and overdevelopment. Accomplishing this Ordinance has taken years and has involved the steadfast activism of many key community organizations and determined neighborhood leaders.
As always with any major legislation, the devil can be in the details, and that’s why so much is owed to those homeowners and hillside organizations who in the past year and a half have partnered with the 5th Council District Office and others in City Hall to include much needed additional protections while finalizing the already invaluable draft ordinance.
To make sure an up-slope neighbor doesn't end up in someone else’s backyard, the City will now require that the most severe hillside developments undertake the most stringent Geo-Technical & Reporting Analysis in order to build, and will mandate that Deputy Grading Inspectors be on-site, monitoring the grading of extreme hillsides. These additional protections will help ensure the safety of our remaining hillsides as well as the safety of those Angelenos that call them home, while preserving a sense of spaciousness amid the natural vistas that make Los Angeles a city of great environmental treasures.
At the signing event, Councilmember Koretz saluted all the community leaders who were there as well as those who couldn’t make this ceremony but who participated so gallantly in meeting after meeting during the past years, showing extraordinary fortitude and wisdom. The Councilmember also thanked Mayor Villaraigosa and Councilmembers LaBonge and Ed Reyes for their efforts – the latter for his invaluable leadership as Chair of the City’s Planning and Land Use Committee. Councilmember Koretz also made a special point of applauding the devoted city planners who were crucial to the shaping and passage of the Ordinance, and honored City Planner Erick Lopez, “who has embodied the boundless energy, sharp intelligence and community-friendly attitude that has made all this possible. The truth is that this Ordinance has been a wonderful case of people in City Hall and outside of City Hall, in our communities, working together harmoniously, hand-in-hand. This is indeed a great day for all of Los Angeles.”
Special Update: Administrative Code Enforcement (ACE) passes out of Budget and Finance unanimously!
Neighborhood activists made a huge difference in championing the cause of Administrative Code Enforcement in Los Angeles.
A very special thank you goes to Marcia Selz and many other dedicated activists from the Westside, the Valley and all around the City -- they came to City Hall on Monday, April 11 and waited hours at the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee meeting in order to testify in favor of Councilman Koretz’s and City Attorney Trutanich’s Administrative Code Enforcement (ACE) program. The new program passed unanimously and will now proceed to a vote at the full City Council.
ACE will provide an alternative to criminal prosecution by authorizing police officers, code enforcement officers, and other law enforcement officials to address low-grade “quality of life” violations with real time, efficient and fair enforcement. This means the City will finally be able to act more expeditiously and appropriately in resolving the kinds of issues that can otherwise degrade the quality of life of our local communities. From work without permits to public intoxication, the ACE program will bring code compliance to our neighborhoods in a cost-efficient manner, fining violators instead of dragging them into court -- a process which can take years, precisely because our city attorneys and court system are swamped and otherwise preoccupied with more serious crimes that clearly involve threats to public safety. This program brings Los Angeles into the group of cities with effective code enforcement and quality of life protections such as San Diego and Sacramento.
The Budget and Finance Committee adopted an amendment from Councilman Koretz and seconded by Councilman Smith to start the pilot implementation of ACE with quality of life issues, beginning with the Los Angeles Police Department and proceeding in the months to come with other departments such as Housing, Building and Safety, Street Services and Transportation. The committee rejected a proposal to limit the ACE program only to the Animal Services Department.
Stay tuned for when ACE comes to the full Council.
There are property rights and then there are property wrongs
What’s way, way, WAY bigger than a breadbasket? Well, the answer might have been the proposed 85,000-square-foot residential compound in Benedict Canyon -- only that huge Tower Lane development, which would have had an overwhelming impact on the rest of the neighborhood, is not happening! Significant community opposition and the tough stance of Council Member Koretz made the difference – the owner has scuttled his crucial request for a lot line adjustment, and is now said to be conceiving a smaller and more appropriate project.
Councilmember Koretz said, “I am very pleased that the applicant, Tower Lane Properties, Inc., has withdrawn its request for a lot line adjustment. While this is only one aspect of a very large project, I do not believe that the applicant can proceed with the initial development without this lot line adjustment. So I believe that the applicant will be going back to square one.
“I hope in re-thinking this site, the applicant works with the neighbors to develop a project we all can support. The current proposal is simply inappropriate for the site, and for that reason, I very much appreciate, respect and applaud the neighbors and many members of the community who spoke up and shared their concerns about the potentially resultant and severe negative impacts.
“I also want to reiterate that I will not allow a big compound to be built through piecemeal approvals. This was clearly one big project with multiple structures, and its environmental impacts needed to be reviewed in toto as one big project, a point I have emphasized in writing to City of Los Angeles Planning Director Michael LoGrande.
“I am going to work with our development agencies to make certain that this will not happen in the future.”
10000 Santa Monica – filling a hole in the ground
In Century City, 10000 Santa Monica Blvd (off of Moreno Drive) – now a huge empty hole which is a blight on any community – will soon house a worthy project that can enrich Los Angeles not just aesthetically but economically. This project has been free of the kind of controversy and negativity that happens when a community is left out of the process, its concerns ignored or overridden. Instead, we have what could be a case study of how such efforts SHOULD be handled, with community engagement prioritized and achieved from start to finish.
Councilmember Koretz recently held a press briefing to help share information about the project but also to celebrate the spirit in which it has been undertaken. He invited the developer (10000 Santa Monica Development Partnership) as well as representatives of key community organizations, saying, “The 10000 Santa Monica condominium project represents the best kind of planning process -- one that, throughout, has been full of community input and collaborative decision-making. The benefits have been enormous. The design of 10000 Santa Monica promises to be a magnificent architectural achievement. It's a green project using LEED certification. It is estimated that 10000 Santa Monica will generate more than $300 million in regional economic activity and that it will create close to 2,000 construction jobs. But most of all, there has been vast community engagement, with many neighborhood organizations and community leaders sharing their ideas and their concerns in order to best shape a project so that is fully appropriate and responsive to the area and people most immediately effected.”
Jan Reichmann, President of the Comstock Hills Homeowners Association said, “The proposed project at 10000 Santa Monica Boulevard is a breath of fresh air. It is graceful and elegant, yet addresses environmental concerns. Although zoning allows for a larger structure, this developer did not go for the limits of entitlement. He sensitively designed what was the most appropriate for this beautiful site.”
From left to right: Casey Klein (10000 Santa Monica Development Partnership), Jan Reichmann (Comstock Hills Homeowners Association), Mike Eveloff (Tract 7260 Homeowners Association), City Councilmember Paul Koretz and Glenn Rescalvo (Handel Architects)
Mike Eveloff, President of the Tract 7260 Association and also representing seven other homeowner associations in and around Century City, said, “10000 Santa Monica will be an excellent addition to the Century City skyline and looks to be a special place for people to live, work, shop and do business in Century City. We are excited that the developer intends to price the units in a range that will actually allow for people who work in Century City to live in Century City… it is exceptionally rare for a developer to get the process right the way this developer got it right. They reached out to us as soon as they decided they were moving forward and sought our input. They didn’t try to see how far they could push us and didn’t come in with a clearly oversized project. Instead, they were and are genuinely interested in making sure that this project is the right project for our community.”
Councilmember Koretz commended the 10000 Santa Monica team and especially every single community organization and activist who has taken part in this process because together they are demonstrating how to make a planning process work to everyone's benefit, taking the community's concerns into account while also offering the city and region a green project of aesthetic splendor that will bring many jobs and an enduring economic boost.
Importance of community involvement
Public involvement should be the cornerstone of planning not only for the City of the Los Angeles, but for all decision makers. That includes UCLA when it considers changes to its campus which affect surrounding neighborhoods. Unfortunately, UCLA has not always demonstrated this fundamental principle in the planning process for the university’s proposed new faculty center and hotel.
In January, UCLA planned its community scoping meeting on the proposed project on the same night as the Westwood Neighborhood Council. Councilmember Koretz requested that UCLA schedule an additional meeting so community stakeholders would not have to choose between participating in their neighborhood council and voicing concern (or support) for a new large project in their backyards. UCLA accepted the Council Office’s request and started work on planning a new meeting.
On February 25th UCLA cancelled its own meeting and in a memo to its own staff said that sufficient public input had been received and that no further input would be fruitful. The project’s neighbors were appropriately upset; the second meeting had been promised and public input is always important to the process. Councilmember Koretz then appealed directly to Chancellor Block to correct UCLA’s error and host the promised public meeting. UCLA reversed itself yet again and held this meeting on April 6, 2011.
Thanks to the hard work of Sandy Brown, Laura Lake and other community activists. UCLA has announced that it is going back to the drawing board on the hotel and would come back to the community after a redesign that would take the community’s comments into account. Better late than never; UCLA should be saluted for taking the time to truly consider the community into its planning decisions. Among other issues with the 295,000 square foot, 282 room hotel and conference center are adequate parking, height and lighting visible from residences across the street, unfair competition with area hotels (UCLA, after all, pays no taxes), traffic spillover onto single-family streets, destruction of the existing historic faculty center as well as loud and impactful construction.
The City of Los Angeles has no direct land-use control over UCLA (a state entity), but the Council Office will continue to monitor happenings at UCLA and advocate for neighborhoods and stakeholders to be a full and meaningful part of campus planning.
Sunday Library Hours at Robertson Branch
As you might have heard, the City’s libraries are currently closed on Sundays and Mondays due to budget cuts. Concerned members of the Jewish community approached Councilmember Koretz and expressed a need for at least some library access on Sundays because libraries being open on Saturday are not usable to those who observe the Jewish Sabbath.
In response, during the past several months, Councilmember Koretz has led efforts to implement a pilot program that will provide further access to our great library system and address this critical service need. After working in conjunction with the Los Angeles Public Library, the Board of Library Commissioners took the community and councilmanic input into account and approved a change in service hours for the Robertson Branch Library.
As of April 10, 2011, the LAPL’s Robertson Branch at 1719 South Robertson Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90035, has changed its weekend service hours and is now open Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Better protections against gun violence
Seung-Hui Cho, the shooter responsible for the killing spree at Virginia Tech, was not reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS - the system that determine legal ineligibility for gun purchase) - despite his having been previously refused gun ownership because of a mental illness. Nor was Jared Lee Loughner, the gunman responsible for the attack on Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the deaths of six innocents in Tucson, Arizona, despite having been rejected by the Army for habitual drug use.
It is in this dangerous climate that the LA City Council voted to support the Fix Gun Checks Act of 2011, a federal bill recently introduced by United States Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. On Friday, April 8, the City Council approved a resolution, presented by Councilmember Paul Koretz and Council President Eric Garcetti, in support of the Fix Gun Checks Act of 2011.
The Schumer bill aims to correct flaws in the current NICS, which is now missing millions of records due to lax recording by states and in some cases, federal agencies. If made law, the Fix Gun Checks Act will toughen penalties on states that fail to comply with NICS requirements, with the hopes of preventing tragedies like that in Tucson and Virginia Tech from reoccurring.
Councilmember Koretz and Council President Garcetti’s Resolution supporting the Schumer bill was applauded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is also co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of more than 550 U.S. mayors. Mayor Bloomberg notes that, “Every day 34 people in the United States are murdered with guns – that’s more than 3,000 people killed since the Tucson shooting. If we are going to prevent the next mass shooting we need to fix the gaps in our national gun background check system that allows criminals, drug abusers, and the mentally ill to pass background checks and obtain guns. On behalf of all of the members of our coalition, I thank Councilman Koretz and Councilman Garcetti for their leadership in introducing the resolution calling on Congress to take action to fix the national gun background check system.”
The Koretz-Garcetti Resolution followed on the heels of the Council’s April 6th gun violence related actions supporting a statewide open-carry ban as well as an ordinance banning the open carrying of guns on Los Angeles city property such as city parks.
The Council’s determinations are only part of its greater commitment to gun violence related issues. On April 6th, the Council also held extensive discussions concerning the city’s overall current and potential legislative and policy understandings related to gun violence: participants included the City Attorney, the Chief Legislative Analyst, and representatives from Women Against Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
A word from business
Coucilmember Paul Koretz met with business leaders from across the City to gather their ideas for bringing jobs and business activity back to the City. Topics ranged from the City’s often complicated and contradictory tax and regulatory schemes to opportunities to do business with the City and the relationship between business and the DWP. All the participants agreed that even in a tough fiscal environment, the City can do more to reform policies and practices to benefit residents and businesses alike.
A member of the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee,
Koretz noted, “I went into this meeting ready to listen because I know the livelihood of the City and its residents is linked to our ability to attract, grow and retain business in this City.” The group discussed changes to City policies but also leveraging and enhancing existing programs. As just one example, the City Council previously adopted a 3-year business tax holiday to attract new business to the City. The business leaders applauded the tax holiday but complained that the City – and the business community itself – needed to do more to promote the program and actually reach out to businesses. Koretz promised to partner with business associations and commercial real estate brokers to better inform entrepreneurs about the programs the City offers to new businesses, which in turn can translate into more jobs for Angelenos as well as more revenues to support crucial city services.
The breakfast meeting included representatives of LA’s film and television industry, major grocers, homebuilders, telecommunications providers, retail leaders and major business associations. (Pictured above with Councilmember Koretz is Valley Industry and Commerce Association President Stuart Waldman who was among the attendees). Councilman Koretz noted, “I have worked to attract businesses to the 5th District and am particularly pleased that even during this prolonged downturn we have been able to welcome national brands such as BevMo and Target to the district; we have a landmark hotel approved adjacent to the future subway stop at Wilshire and Gayley; we are seeing new development in Century City; and we have both Ralphs and Vons making major reinvestments in their properties in Sherman Oaks. We have accomplished this without throwing zoning or neighborhood protections out but rather by pushing forward with shared solutions and cutting through bureaucratic barriers. I am proud of the work we have done but I am the first to admit that it has not been enough and I look forward to continuing to work with our business partners on making LA work.”
Saving Franklin Canyon
A repeat offender has threatened the quality of life and natural glories of Franklin Canyon, not once but twice. That person is major developer Mohamed Hadid, who has recently conducted massive grading with expired permits regarding two different hillside projects in Franklin Canyon. This activity was quickly noticed and reported by nearby residents, hikers, etc.
In both cases, the Office of Councilmember Koretz was able to get a Stop Work Order.
Unfortunately, the developer continued grading on both properties after receiving those Orders, but the Councilmember quickly called in Building and Safety to get the work stopped again.
Councilmember Koretz thanks everyone who has spoken up out of concern about the recent transgressions: such activism has been valiant and productive. The Councilmember particularly applauds the proactive coalition-building efforts of “Save Franklin Canyon.” The 5th Council District Office will continue to make partnering with Save Franklin Canyon a major priority.
A traditional Nowruz spread
On March 27th, the Persian community gathered in Westwood to celebrate Nowruz, the Persian New Year. (The year is 1390 according to the Persian calendar -- each year starts with the spring equinox.) Councilmember Koretz was joined by Councilmember Dennis Zine, City Controller Wendy Greuel, Acting General Manager of the Department of Transportation Amir Sedadi and California Secretary of State Debra Bowen in Persian Square, the intersection of Westwood Boulevard and Wilkins Avenue in the 5th District. This area was designated as Persian Square since it is the location of one of the first Persian businesses in California and perhaps even in the country. Since then, there has been an influx of Persians to Los Angeles, especially to Council District Five.
Councilmember Koretz is joined at Nowruz festivities by (from left to right) Shirin Kouhkan, CD 5 Staffer Sheila Kouhkan and Shahin Kouhkan.
Councilmember Koretz is proud to have a large Persian community in the 5th District, which has enriched us with its dynamic culture, commerce and friendships. Eide Shoma Mobarak! (That is a happy new year greeting in Farsi.)
Autism Awareness Month
April is Autism Awareness Month. Autism, a communication and social disorder, affects one in 110 children worldwide, more than pediatric cancer, juvenile diabetes and childhood AIDS combined. To raise public awareness about autism, Councilmember Koretz invited Dr. Barbara Firestone and John Farrimond, President and Vice President of the Help Group, to speak about autism at City Council on Friday April 1, 2011. 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. The Help Group has not only enhanced the quality of life of its students, but has also positively affected families and provided innovative approaches to specialized education programs nationwide. The Help Group has seven specialized day schools that offer pre-K through high school programs for more than 1,300 students throughout the City of Los Angeles. Recently, The Help Group completed a new wing at their Sherman Oaks Campus, which is located in the Fifth Council District. This new facility will ensure that 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.
Valley Torah High School is a tremendous school and is much beloved for forming character and achieving the highest standards of academic excellence. Located in the North Hollywood / Valley Village area of our City, Valley Torah’s rigorous dual-curriculum sets an example for other schools to follow. When you leave Valley Torah, you are truly a scholar and a mensch.
But little did some of us know that such students could make fine points, not just about the sciences but from the free throw line!
On March 5, Valley Torah won the Southern Section Division 6AA championship, making it the first Orthodox Jewish school to win the CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) title. The top-seeded Valley Torah Wolfpack got off to a horrible start in the first quarter and trailed by nine points with only 7 minutes and 30 seconds remaining, but ultimately rallied to defeat the number two seeded Bishop Diego 58-51 in the championship game.
The Wolfpack went on to win in the first round of the statewide CIF Division 5 basketball tournament on March 8, and, despite showing tremendous chutzpah, class, determination and grace, unfortunately lost in the quarterfinals by one point. So not only can we say “Next Year in Jerusalem,” but also “Next Year in the CIF!”
At Van Nuys City Hall, Councilmember Koretz was delighted to commend and celebrate the entire basketball team including players and their families, coaches and administration. The school’s display of teamwork and camaraderie has inspired the community, the San Fernando Valley and the entire City of Los Angeles.
Congratulations! And Mazel Tov!
Cleanup at old Fire Station 43 on National Blvd!
No constituent issue is too small and no task too big to take on and the recent cleanups at 10234 National prove just that. This parcel of land had, until recently, been the historical location for Station 43 in the Los Angeles Fire Department, servicing Palms, Mar Vista and Venice Blvds. The location has shown some wear and tear of late, but a short drive by the old station will show what a little creativity, hard work and, most especially, community involvement can do!
The Los Angeles Conservation Corps, pictured above, has been called out to work at this land for the next 6 months, and will remove graffiti and clean up the landscaping on a rotating, bi-monthly basis: in these tough economic times, we often look to our friends in the non-profit world to help the City family keep neighborhoods clean, safe and livable. A special thanks goes to the Palms Neighborhood Council for their dedication in making sure cleanups like these continue as we work together towards the goal of a permanent solution for the residents and business owners of Palms.
A national tragedy from a century ago
One hundred years ago, in what is now known as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, life was lost needlessly, in monumental numbers under ghastly working condition, in circumstances lacking the most rudimentary safety conditions and barren of respect for life and its safety.
The fire took place on March 25, 1911 – and so 100 years later to the day, commemorative events were held around the world, including throughout L.A. (under the auspices of LA Laborfest) and in City Hall itself, where the Jewish Labor Committee held a memorial bell dedication, ringing the huge bell one time apiece for each of the victims.
That one fire, in a sweat shop factory occupying several upper floors of a Greenwich Village building in New York City, stole 146 lives, and though those people were treated then as anonymous commodities to be used and abused and placed perpetually at risk, these were hardworking decent people, who could have been our immediate past family, and maybe were.
Workers then, in many places such as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory where women's blouses were made, were treated by many businesses as sub-humans, perhaps because they were immigrants, many of them Jewish, women, young and poor. But their only crime was wanting, indeed needing, a better life.
These workers, including many teenage girls, labored in senselessly abhorrent, grueling and grim conditions six days a week, stuffed into rooms with minimal light and ventilation, with few if any safety precautions such as fire escapes despite the clear danger of fire in such settings. Indeed, at the Triangle Factory, stairway and exit doors were kept locked by ownership that didn't want workers to take breaks or to take a few scraps of fabric home. The owners of the Triangle Factory were leaders in trying to suppress any effort by workers to gain rights and improve work place conditions, and refused to settle two strikes in the years just prior to the fire.
When the fire started, perhaps from a smoldering cigarette or perhaps because of malfunctioning equipment, there were no audible alarms to sound the alert. Some doors remained locked. Stairways, when used, collapsed. Inevitably, terror occurred as skin and garments turned to flame and lungs filled with smoke. People were burned, trampled, asphyxiated or, no where else to go, jumped or fell from many stories high. There was no escape for those 146 poor souls.
There's no way to rationalize or justify the terribleness of it all, Yet it's amazing to see, now, how much that is positive has occurred due significantly to that one fire one hundred years ago today. The modern labor movement, and in particular the growth of the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union, was spurred on by the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. In the aftermath of the fire, serious investigations occurred, state labor laws were modernized, and the American Society of Safety Engineers was founded.
At the 100th Anniversary Memorial Bell dedication in City Hall, Councilmember Koretz (pictured above with a great friend of CD 5 and of workers, CD 15 Councilwoman Janice Hahn) noted that, “it is incredibly touching that today, in so many places, people have gathered to commemorate lives lost so tragically a century ago – at the same time, we celebrate how, since then, so many have joined together to improve and overcome oppressive and dangerous work places and unfair wages imposed on people who deserve and have earned far better.”
Chase Foundation ribbon cutting
Photo credit: UCLA/Todd Cheney
Councilmember Koretz joined Controller Wendy Greuel at UCLA's Mattel Children's Hospital to thank the Richards family and the Chase Foundation for their generous support of the hospital's Child Life/Child Development program. UCLA has officially renamed that program as the Chase Child Life Program in recognition of the gift. The Chase Foundation was founded in loving memory of the Richards' son, Chase, who passed away shortly after his second birthday. The program is now the largest of its kind on the West Coast, and it helps so many people in need by generating financial support for Child Life programs and creating healing play spaces for children in the hospital.
JWW Walk to end genocide
On Sunday, April 10, Councilmember Paul Koretz attended the Jewish World Watch’s 5th Annual Walk to End Genocide. Councilmember Koretz joined local leaders, including CD 2 Councilmember Paul Krekorian, CD 3 Councilmember Dennis Zine, CA State Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield, Jewish World Watch staff and supporters and more than 2,000 dedicated participants in this great event, aimed at raising awareness about genocide in Darfur, building a stable Sudan and resolving the conflict in Congo.