December 23, 2011

In this issue:

Happy Holidays!

Office Hours Next Week

A Great Example

Getting Ready to Collect Canvas Bags

Unpermitted Filming

Protecting Wildlife

Making the Village Sparkle

Day Without A Bag

The Unstoppable Mollie Pier

Happy People, Festive Times

Keeping Ourselves Safe from Crime

Living History

Farewell to a Mensch

In the Community

Thank You, Eric Garcetti

Goodbye to Eric Weiser

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


Recycle your Christmas tree! For more information, please click HERE.


The whole family can enjoy an artistic holiday at the Getty, with stepped-up schedules of family-focused activities during the holidays.

Join Family Art Stops at the Getty Center and get up close and personal with a single work of art in a half-hour, hands-on gallery experience geared for families with children ages 5 and up.  From December 20 through December 31, this free activity is offered every day at 2:00 p.m. and again at 2:30 p.m., except for Monday, when the Getty Center is closed.  Sign up at the Museum Information Desk 30 minutes before the program begins. 

Art Odyssey for Families, a 45-minute journey through the galleries, is a fun, activity-filled experience for children (ages 5 and up) and adults to enjoy together. Throughout the holidays, Art Odysseys are offered at 11am on Dec. 21-23, 2 pm on Dec. 24, 11am on Dec. 26-30, and 2pm on Dec. 31. Space is limited; sign-up begins 15 minutes before the tour at the Tour Meeting Place. Ofrecida en español.

The Getty Center is open on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve from 10am to 5:30 p.m.  The Getty Villa is open on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve from 10am to 5:00 p.m.  Both the Getty Center and the Getty Villa are closed Christmas Day and New Years Day.


Los Angeles Firefighters Offer Wind Safety Tips

With the resumption of seasonal winds, the Los Angeles Fire Department reminds Southern Californian's to use caution at home, in the workplace and on the road.

Strong winds compound 
wildfire danger. We therefore ask residents - especially those in foothill and wildland communities, to use caution with flame, heat and spark producing equipment, including vehicles, barbecues and power tools.
Those living near flammable vegetation should remain vigilant to the possibility of brush or structure fires, and report nearby smoke and flames immediately to 9-1-1.

Additional preparation, such as a fire safety survey of your property and a review of
household emergency and neighborhood evacuation plans can help remove the apprehension that many of us feel when winds begin to blow.

With the possibility of downed power lines causing local power outages, drivers should use extreme caution when approaching darkened traffic signals. Whether driving on a main thoroughfare or a side street, motorists should treat all non-functioning traffic signals as a four way stop.

If you encounter downed wires, assume them to be energized and potentially lethal. Be careful that such wires haven't electrically charged puddles of water, chain link fences or other conductive sources.

In many circumstances, but especially during high winds, firefighters discourage the use of candles, lighters, fire pits and fuel-powered lanterns.

Now is a good time to fully charge your cell phone, check your flashlights, portable radios and spare batteries. Place these items strategically, and make sure others know how to find them. Before you activate a portable generator, make certain you know 
how to use a generator legally and safely.

And finally, please take a moment now to secure household items, such as outdoor furniture, that could cause harm or damage if catapulted by a wind gust, and to remove flammable items from around your home. 

When outdoors, be careful for 
toppling trees, wind-blown debris or high profile vehicles buffeted by turbulent wind. If you must get behind the wheel, Los Angeles Firefighters remind you: "Heads Up, Easy on the Throttle and Expect the Unexpected!"


In October, Sanitation sent out their annual informational flyer for the Sewer Service Charge (SSC).  This explains how the SSC is calculated for both residential and commercial customers and provides tips for how customers can keep their bills low. 

On October 19, 2011, the City Council authorized Sanitation to mail notices of the proposed SSC rate adjustments.  These notices are currently being sent to both property owners (to be in compliance with Prop 218) and to our ratepayers.  Industrial customers who discharge high-strength wastewater are also receiving a separate notice for the additional fee they pay, the Quality Surcharge Fee (QSF).  These notices inform the customers of the public hearing on the rate adjustment, scheduled to occur at the City Council meeting on January 27, 2012.  

Please refer to the hotline (800-773-2489) for more information. 


For many of those served by the Los Angeles Fire Department, the coming days will be anything but a holiday. Fires caused by candles and carelessness with fire will certainly damage homes, dampen spirits - and sadly, may take lives.

As we enter the peak of the holiday season, the men and women of the LAFD ask you to join them in putting a stop to these needless and often tragic blazes.

Is there a really a problem?

Citing statistics for 2003-2007, our friends at the 
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report that thirteen percent of home candle fires occur in December, 1.6 times the monthly average.

Why is the LAFD sharing this message now?

Many Americans consider candles as benign holiday gifts, or may use them with little thought of safety 
during Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa celebrations. Christmas Day remains the peak day for home candle fires with Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day following close behind.

The danger not always where you think...

Candles cause 4% of all home fires in our country and an alarming 6% of home fire deaths. More than one-third of home candle fires start in bedrooms, where 44% of candle associated deaths and half of associated injuries occur.

The danger is real - and far from seasonal!

Annually, an estimated 15,260 home structure fires started by candles are reported to Fire Departments in the United States. These fires result in approximately 166 civilian deaths, 1,289 civilian injuries and a direct property loss of $450 million.

Yes, the impact of candles can be staggering.

According to the 

·More than half of all candle fires start when something that could burn, such as furniture, mattresses or bedding, curtains or decorations, were too close to the candle.

·In one-fifth of the fires, the candles were unattended or abandoned.

·An alarming number of fires are started by people (often children) playing with candles.

·12% of candle fires start after the candle user falls asleep - a factor that was prevalent in 36% of home candle fire deaths!

To stay safe...

For those observing Chanukah:

?Place the Menorah in a safe, secure, and well watched area.

?Never place a lit Menorah near curtains, shades, tablecloths, plants, books, or under counters.

?Do not put the Menorah on an unsteady table or surface.

?Avoid leaving the Menorah unattended when burning.

?Do not have open flame if medical oxygen is being used in the home.

?Make sure any oil used for the Menorah is stored in a stable holder, well removed from the flame or heat source.

?Adult supervision is essential when children light the Menorah.

?Assure that infants, toddlers and pets are unable to reach or access the Menorah.

?Store matches and lighters up high and out of children's sight and reach, preferably in a locked cabinet.

For other uses, the 
Los Angeles Fire Department suggests safer alternatives to candles. If candles must be used:

·Extinguish all candles when leaving a room or going to sleep.

·Keep candles at least 12" away from any flammable items, including areas cluttered with holiday decorations - and especially distant from children and pets.

·Don’t burn a candle all the way down — put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container.

·Use sturdy non-combustible candle holders that won't tip over easily and are large enough to collect dripping wax.

·Don't place lit candles in or near windows, blinds and curtains.

·No one should sleep in a room with a lit candle.

·Store candles, matches and lighters up high and out of children's sight and reach, preferably in a locked cabinet.

·Never use a candle if medical oxygen is used in the home.

·Don't use a lit candle when searching for items in a confined space or checking pilot lights or fueling equipment.

·Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage. Never use candles for emergency lighting.

·And finally, please consider gifts other than candles this holiday season!


"Holiday Pet Safety Guide”

Helpful Tips from Los Angeles Animal Services

The holidays can be an exciting time with people visiting, lots of packages, lights, music, trees, wonderful smells from the kitchen, and days getting busier and busier. To ease your pet’s stress, try to keep his/her routine the same.

A real-live tree right in the house! Your dog may be thinking “How thoughtful!” Separating the tree from your pet for the first few days is a good idea so that ‘marking’ can’t occur. Consider using fishing line to secure your tree to the ceiling or wall in case of any accidents, and placing breakable ornaments in higher spots. Also, check out the solution you mix with water for your tree. That and pine sap can be a dangerous drink for a thirsty kitten or pupsters. Try covering the base around the stand with a skirt.

If your pet is a chewer, try placing electrical cords or light strings in out-of-reach areas. Fluffy tails and candles could be a problem too. Place candles in higher spots such as on tables or mantles.

Some holiday plants such as poinsettias, mistletoe, and berries are dangerous and make pets sick if ingested. Don’t wait; consult your veterinarian if your pet eats the Holiday plants.

Pets can be easily enticed with all the wrapping paper, ribbons, tags, and bows around the home. These items can be pretty serious if ingested too. Have a designated helper on ‘paper patrol'.

Holiday food and pastries are very tempting for our pets and us. However, ingredients like chocolate can be dangerous. Special holiday toys, pet biscuits and treats are available at most major pet supply stores. To your pet, having new toys and treats are always fun, especially at the holidays!



LADWP provides rebates of up to $2,000 to residential customers who purchase or lease a qualifying electric vehicle (EV) and install a rapid, Level 2 charger and a separate time-of-use meter at their home. The rebate is also available to residents living in apartment buildings or condominiums as long as they receive permission from the property owner and or homeowner association.

The rebate is designed to cover “out-of-pocket” charger and installation expenses, after other discounts and incentives are deducted, for the first 1,000 customers that submit a completed application. Out-of-pocket expenses include the customer’s final cost for the charger and related equipment, and installation performed by a contractor.
To obtain more information on the new rebate program and download an application, please go to Residential Electric Vehicle Home Charger Rebate Program

For more information on the rate options available for EV customers view the Residential Electric Rate Options for EV Owners webpage.


Want to share your practical, creative and insightful ideas that will keep Los Angeles moving in the 21st Century?

Check out the City's new mobility plan effort HERE.



According to the Energy Star website, even changes like switching to Energy Star qualified decorative light strings would reduce over 700 million kWh of electricity per year, and greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by the equivalent of 100,000 cars. Imagine the savings involved once larger appliances, as well as decorative holiday items like Christmas trees and palm trees, are all Energy Star rated.

Look for the ENERGY STAR label and learn the facts before making your purchasing decision! Rated LED lights are certified by Energy Star to reduce energy maintenance and cooling costs. LED Lights are also durable and don't break like traditional bulbs, and are guaranteed.



Check out the latest newsletters from City of Los Angeles departments:

Department of Building and Safety - September 2011

Planning Department - Summer 2011

"LA Stormwater" - Department of Public Works, Bureau of Sanitation - Summer 2011

Department of Public Works, Bureau of Engineering - August 10, 2011

Los Angeles World Airports



Melrose Trading Post

Described as a cool, eclectic gem of a place to find treasures and rare goodies, the Melrose Trading Post is a great Sunday destination.  You can expect to find something to make you say "wow" every single time you visit.   Enjoy the food court in the beautifully landscaped upper quad.  Relax to the live jazz band's melodic vibes.  Treat yourself to a different kind of day. 
When: Every Sunday from 9am to 5pm. Rain or Shine.

Where: Located in the parking lot of Fairfax High School (Corner of Fairfax and Melrose Avenue)

Cost: $2

The Westwood Village Farmers' Market

When: Every Wednesday from 2-7pm.

Free Parking at the Broxton Avenue Structure.

Sherman Oaks Community Farmers Market

When: Every Saturday from 8:00am-1:00pm "Rain or Shine"

Where: Sepulveda Blvd. & Camarillo St. (North of the Sherman Oaks Galleria)

Electronic Waste Recycling Drop Off

When: Every last Saturday of the month from 9am to 1pm

Where: IMAN Center Parking Lot at 3376 Motor Ave, LA 90034

Westwood LIVE

Showcasing the city's rich creativity and diversity in the community, Westwood LIVE brings together music, art, theater, shopping, and dining. Located in Westwood Villgage, shops, bars restaurants and more will provide guests with live performances by resident musicians and artists along with special happy hour offers, discounts and screenings.

When: Every 3rd Thursday of the month starting at 5pm


Popular food trucks and shops open late as well as offer promotions.

When: First Thursday of every month

Where: Melrose Avenue between Ogden and Stanley


Get Water Quality Grades on the Go

Beachgoers can now check the latest water quality grades at 650+ West Coast beaches via Heal the Bay’s Beach Report Card mobile app for the iPhone or Android, at

The new, free Beach Report Card app provides the only access anytime and anywhere to a comprehensive, weekly analysis of coastline water quality.  The mobile app delivers A through F grades, weather conditions and user tips throughout beach locations in California, Oregon and Washingtonto swimmers, surfers and anyone who loves going in the ocean water.

In addition to discovering which beaches are safe or unsafe, beachgoers can look up and save their favorite local beaches, as well as learn details on beach closures.

Know before you go!


LAFCU Announces New Shop LA City Visa® Card with Triple Rewards

Shop LA City, in partnership with Los Angeles Federal Credit Union (LAFCU), is proud to announce the new Shop LA City Visa Platinum Plus credit card. The card, available to all Southern California residents, is the first of its kind to offer triple reward points for all purchases at merchants in the city of Los Angeles and single rewards points in other cities.* The rewards can be redeemed for travel, merchandise or gift cards through CURewards, or used for consumer loan rate discounts at LAFCU.**

The card also has a six-month 0% introductory rate (for new LAFCU credit card holders) then variable rates as low as 9.90% APR.*** This is almost 50% lower than the average rewards card rate of 17.27% APR**** and could save thousands of dollars in interest charges. Cardholders can save even more by transferring their higher-rate balances from other cards to their new Shop LA City Visa.

Besides earning triple rewards, cardholders will also help the city of Los Angeles.  For every $10 in sales tax paid in the city, the city earns one dollar to help support services like police, fire, libraries and parks.

Applying for the new Shop LA City Triple Rewards card is quick and easy at or by calling (877) MY LAFCU (695-2328).  The website also has details about this exciting new card, and LAFCU’s range of beneficial, low-rate or free financial products and services.


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


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


For more information on the Asian citrus psyllid and how it can affect California citrus, please click


Shopping within the City limits of Los Angeles not only supports local businesses, it also supports City services, its neighborhoods and the well-being of all Los Angeles residents. For every $10 you spend on taxes - $1 goes back to the General Fund! Whether shopping along Melrose or grabbing some food in Encino, every dollar we spend within the city is an investment to the future of Los Angeles. Details


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

Send us your news and events!
If you or your community group have any upcoming events that you would like to see featured in our next newsletter or on my website, please e-mail me at

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

Happy Holidays!

Dear friends,

This holiday season, my family and I wish you good health and the very best of times. 

As we reflect and celebrate, I hope each and every one of us is able to find much to be thankful about, with our personal and family lives, friends, neighbors, community and world. 

I do know that during my years as an elected official, and throughout my entire life, I have marveled at the constant kindness and dedication of people as well as the natural and "man-made" splendors of what we see in our daily lives.  I continue to be touched and inspired by the generosity of spirit of those I work with and those I serve.  May you richly enjoy these festive occasions, and thank you so much for what you do for this city and your fellow human beings. 


Paul Koretz

City Hall CD 5 Office closed final week of December 2011

As you likely know, a great many city employees take "furlough" days -- unpaid time off -- in order to help the City of Los Angeles reduce its budget deficit in these recent years of significant fiscal crisis.  5th Council District employees do their part, and take advantage of the City Council holiday recess and comparative quiet inside City Hall, by taking off December 27, 28, 29 and 30.  Of course, December 26, is a national holiday, so that means the City Hall office will be closed the entire week of Dec. 26-30.  CD 5 field staff are also taking furlough days during that same week, which tends to be the slowest or among the slowest of the year regarding constituent calls, but the Encino office (818-971-3088) will remain open on Tuesday Dec. 27 and Wednesday Dec. 28, and the West L.A. office (310-289-0353) will stay open on Thursday Dec. 29 and Friday Dec. 30.  If you want or need to reach the 5th Council office during that week, please direct your calls to those offices on the pertinent dates respectively.  From all CD 5 staff members, here's wishing you the best of holiday seasons!

A great example

Congratulations to Pressman Academy and its students!  The faculty and administration of Pressman Academy, and its students and their families, were quite upset about something.  The great news is that they did something quite constructive to fix the situation.

Representatives of Pressman Academy (which is located on La Cienega, south of Olympic) contacted Councilmember Koretz and his office regarding the CBS Outdoor billboard that faces the main entrance for the preschool through middle schools of the Pressman Academy and for Temple Beth Am. They said that many images and messages on that billboard were very objectionable and not at all suitable for young people’s constant viewing.

Of course, government does not have an automatic right to regulate the content of billboard advertisements, and the First Amendment of the Constitution limits what government can do.  So while Councilmember Koretz strongly supported Pressman Academy community, he also advised that change can come about when people speak up directly, and so he did what he could to encourage and expedite dialog between the Pressman Academy community and the billboard company. 

In this instance, community input proved to be a powerful tool for helping a business to decide what’s best.  Students and others shared their views, wrote letters, and did everything they could to make clear their concern.  And this dialog had a significant impact, for CBS Outdoor proved to be quite willing to adjust use of the billboard.  CBS Outdoor has respected the wishes of Pressman Academy and its students, by designating the billboards close to Pressman Academy as “School Adjacent,” so that the billboard contents will always be acceptable for children to view.

But the partnership between school administration, students and CBS Outdoor didn’t stop there – everyone involved turned a lemon into lemonade, by agreeing to have the new use of the billboard begin with the sharing of an important message, one created by students, about standing up against bullying.  That message was recently unveiled on the billboard across the street from Pressman Academy and was later to be displayed at other CBS Outdoor sites across Los Angeles.

At the press conference held to showcase the new billboard, with many students, teachers, rabbis and others present, Councilmember Koretz praised Pressman Academy and also CBS Outdoor for being partners in this effort.  He especially thanked the students for recognizing and demonstrating at such an early age that people, when they see something that is wrong or troubling, can get together and make change for the better. It can be tough to make change but what makes it achievable  is the hard work, kindness, will and dedication of a community, and for that, the students get an A+ in civics, and another A+ in being stellar citizens of this city, nation and world.

Start collecting and using those canvas bags, people!

During the Los Angeles City Council’s last meeting of 2011, the major item for discussion was a proposed ban on plastic – and possibly paper – single use bags such as those pictured in a heap, above. These are the types of bags currently offered shoppers at supermarkets and various other stores, and a possible ban has been long discussed.  While the Council didn’t approve the ban yet, it seems almost certain that, in the early months of 2012, the City Council will do so, which will be a major breakthrough for this City in terms of protecting our local environment.

Each year an estimated 2.3 billion single-use plastic bags and 400 million single-use paper bags are used in Los Angeles, with only about 5% of those plastic bags and 20% of the paper bags ever being recycled. Those are deplorable numbers.  Single-use bags become trash in our parks and on our sidewalks and streets, despoiling our neighborhoods and adding city costs:  they also overwhelm our landfills and pollute our waterways and ocean, endangering sea life and imperiling the food chain.

It’s important to note that the ban would still allow for some continued use of these bags, for example whenever food safety might be at issue, such as in the wrapping of meat and fish.  Also, there is continued discussion as to whether both plastic and paper bags would be banned or if paper bags would still be made available, though at a small fee to shoppers.  (Paper bags may be less toxic than those made of plastic, but they require a lot more water to produce and they contribute to the deforestation of the nation and planet.)  Of course, shoppers are already getting increasingly accustomed to bringing their canvas bags to the store, so any ban will simply accelerate the current, environmentally friendly practices of many Angelenos.  And yes, canvas bags are a great way to wrap holiday presents!

During the “bag debate,” councilmembers asked for additional information on specific aspects of a potential ban in order to shape the best possible ordinance. The Council called for more research to be done and a status report back to the Energy and Environment committee within 30 days, a full report back within 60, and then final Council action by the end of March 2012 (in time to have a significant impact not just in our city but also on looming state legislation). 

The bottom line is that Los Angeles will take a huge step forward in 2012 with a landmark ban that will occur in the first quarter of the new year.  In a city where so many residents are knowledgeable and passionate about protecting our environment, this is a crucial breakthrough.

Koretz Ordinance on Unpermitted Filming

For the past year, Councilmember Koretz has been working with FilmLA, the LAPD and the City Attorney's office to enact an ordinance making property owners who allow unpermitted filming on their property just as liable as production companies that fail to get permits. This ordinance will protect neighborhoods from paying the price when unpermitted filming occurs -- the lack of a permit keeps rules, proper standards, mitigation efforts and oversight from being applied.

Especially irksome and harmful to local quality of life are those property owners who transgress repeatedly, creating a constant nuisance.

Unfortunately, the ordinance, which is drafted and will likely be heard by the full City Council in the first months of 2012, was not enacted in time to allow the LAPD to press charges against a property owner who allegedly rented his property out for recent, unpermitted filming of "Girls Gone Wild."  The LAPD, responding to a series of complaints from neighbors, arrested and charged an unidentified man with a misdemeanor for commercial filming without a permit.  This took place at a home in the hills just outside of the 5th Council District. The LAPD, however, could not charge the property owner with any violations despite having allegedly rented out his property for unpermitted activity. The corrective measure advocated by Councilmember Koretz will change all that, if and when approved by the Council -- the matter is pending in Public Safety Committee and should come to the Council floor for a vote in early 2012.

Born free

We share Los Angeles with many living creatures, and that's especially evident in our hillside areas where wildlife roams – but much of that wildlife is threatened by the encroachment of hillside development, especially when impacts of that development are not carefully addressed and mitigated.  That's why it was great news when Councilmember Koretz and many community members recently saved the Stanley Hills Wildlife Corridor.  This corridor -- a 20' wide protected swathe of natural hillside terrain running hundreds of feet in length -- had been promised by a developer as a benefit to the community, but subsequent attempts to nullify that agreement raised alarm bells. Councilmember Koretz worked closely with the concerned community, including the Bel Air-Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council, and a victorious outcome was achieved. The end result is that natural habitat has been preserved, allowing native wildlife free movement up and down hills, and there will be far fewer incidents of such creatures getting caught in backyards or running through homes. 

Making the Village sparkle

Members of the Westwood BID, Village Ambassadors, the Palazzo staff and CD 5 Field Deputy Sarah Mallory pictured above.

The Palazzo Westwood Village and the Westwood Village Improvement Association (WVIA) worked together with the Council Office for a recent community clean up project in Westwood Village. Members of all three entities put on the rubber gloves and got to painting curbs and fire hydrants along the streets to increase safety and brighten up the Village. Councilmember Koretz was able to secure paint and supplies from the City’s Office of Community Beautification and the Department of Water & Power to support the project. CD 5 Field Deputy Sarah Mallory, the Palazzo staff, and the WVIA ambassadors then set out together to paint 16 hydrants and 850 feet of red curb throughout the Village.  Congratulations and thanks to all the dedicated neighborhood activists who made this wonderful effort possible!

Marguerite, a friendly Westwood Ambassador, paints a section of red curb along Westwood Blvd.

Volunteers hard at work.

A Day Without a Bag

The environmental group Heal the Bay coordinates an annual educational grassroots event, A Day Without a Bag, involving businesses and individuals throughout Los Angeles County and encouraging holiday shoppers and retailers to forego single-use shopping bags in favor of reusable bags.  This year's event, which was held on December 15 at various markets and stores, took on special meaning because of the potentially looming ban on plastic (and possibly, paper) single-use shopping bags here in the City of Los Angeles.  The ban will make every day a day without a bag, unless it's  reusable.

The biggest A Day Without a Bag gathering was hosted by Grand Central Market in Downtown L.A.  In attendance were Heal the Bay Executive Director Karin Hall and many of the group's volunteers; Councilmembers Koretz, Eric Garcetti and Ed Reyes; Assemblymember Julia Brownley, who has been a key leader on this issue at the state level; Los Angeles Public Works President Andrea Alarcon; Ralphs Group Vice President Kendra Doyle and actor/activist Amy Smart. They spoke to the press about the need for a single-use bag ban, and also distributed free canvas bags to shoppers and diners at the sprawling market. Adding fun to the proceedings were a "Green Santa" and something called the ChicoBag Monster, which appeared to be a man covered almost completely in mounds of single-use bags. 

Councilmember Koretz salutes all the concerned activists and volunteers who participate in "A Day Without a Bag" throughout L.A. County, and gave special praise to those who showed up and took part at Ralph's in Studio City.  Using reusable and not single-use bags means far less trash and pollution and that's a great goal that is well in reach.

The unstoppable Mollie Pier

Even as we partake of holiday festivities, December can be a powerful time both for reflection regarding the past and hope for a great new year to come.  For some people, that can mean turning tough times, hardship, setbacks and even horrible loss into something positive. 

That’s why Mollie Pier is a wonderful example for us to celebrate and emulate, and why Councilmember Koretz was delighted to honor her recently in City Hall.

Mollie is a beloved 91-year-old San Fernando Valley resident who, in the face of tragedy, helped found Project Chicken Soup, the tremendous volunteer effort that prepares and delivers kosher meals for more than 100 L.A. County residents with HIV/AIDS.  Think of the joy, nourishment and comfort that this service provides people in need!  And yet it was forged in the truly tragic circumstances of a mother losing her son.

Mollie’s late son, Nathaniel, was a blessing to Mollie and everyone he helped throughout his lifetime.  When Nathan first told Mollie that he was gay, Mollie did what all parents should do:  she respected and treasured her son, and decided to learn more by joining organizations such as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays and one for Jewish parents of gay children, and, soon, she was even leading meetings and giving speeches.

Nathaniel was one of the first private doctors to care for patients with HIV and AIDS, when much of the world was too terrified or indifferent regarding this grim epidemic.  Sadly, Nathaniel himself would die of AIDS in 1989.  Before his passing, Mollie was already busy volunteering, cooking kosher meals for people with HIV and AIDS.  Such efforts grew into Project Chicken Soup. 

Twice a month, Project Chicken Soup volunteers create and deliver packages containing three complete entrees plus two quarts of soup, always including one quart of chicken soup, which is also called “Jewish penicillin."  The packages also include two vegetable side dishes, fresh fruit salads, deserts, a breakfast package and nutritional supplement.  Nonperishable packaged goods, toiletries and special holiday packages are also distributed.  The only eligibility requirement is proof of living with HIV/AIDS – and these bags are delivered to sites that are all over L.A. County – and even those who are not in the delivery area can come and pick up a package.  But it’s not just the food that can literally help promote health and sustain life – Project Chicken Soup’s clients are uplifted by the phone conversations they have with Mollie before each delivery.

Mollie’s boundless, tender compassion is displayed not just through her years of involvement with Project Chicken Soup but also by her decades of baking cookies for the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, her YouTube videos supporting marriage equality and her able fundraising for AIDS Walk Los Angeles.  Indeed, earlier this year, Mollie’s presence at the 27th annual AIDS Walk Los Angeles was a spectacular highlight, for though she was in a wheelchair, her shining example and amazing heart put smiles on faces and charmed and energized everyone who took part.  She is truly what we might call a lovely, loving woman and a source of constant mitzvoth. 

It’s great that we’ve made significant medical progress with improved treatment and care, and less discrimination and ignorance, but HIV/AIDS is still devastating whole populations globally and all sectors of society, including by taking a terrible toll on women and children. Mollie Pier reminds us that this disease needs to be conquered, once and for all. We salute her amazing activism and profound heart and soul.

Happy people, festive times

During the holiday season, the beautiful City Hall Rotunda area is given a festive charm, with both a Christmas tree and a Menorah placed within, and on a number of occasions the room rings with song.  Councilmember Koretz was honored to participate in the Menorah lighting ceremony, and he and his staff cheerily welcomed many visitors who came to take part in the season's City Hall events, which also include a visiting Santa and many families on hand with children. 

Additionally, holiday parties are traditionally held at this time of year by various members of the City Hall "family." Councilmember Koretz was pleased, as always, to attend the annual Los Angeles Firefighters and Los Angeles Police Protective League events (pictured below with Councilmember Koretz is Pat McOsker of United Firefighters of Los Angeles City). Happy holidays to all and a special thank you to those who serve the people of Los Angeles so valiantly and often at great personal risk.

Keeping ourselves safe from crime

On December 20th at 2:15, an attempted robbery/home invasion took place in a portion of Sherman Oaks that is close to the 5th Council District.  It is alleged that two suspects knocked loudly on the front door and when the resident didn't answer, they tried to gain entry through the back but fled when the occupant called "911.”   It's great that the innocent target is safe and sound, but this attempted crime is a reminder that bad things can happen and that we can help our cause and stay safe by knowing what to do when faced with a possible crime.

That's why Senior Lead Officer Ron Carter of Van Nuys Division (pictured here) is to be commended for sending out an email offering sound advice for dealing with attempted crimes such as the one described above. In his email, which were are quoting here, he detailed what had happened and then went on to note:

"Please remember that if someone arrives at your door and you do not respond, they may assume that there is nobody at home and try to enter.  It is always best to shout out loudly, from behind a secured door, that you are not interested and ask them to leave. If their response and actions are not proper, then please call '911.'

"After letting them know that you do not want to make contact, if they try to open the door, walk onto your property, your neighbor's property, or become aggressive in any other manner, please call '911' and go someplace in the home that is safe. Stay on the line and let the operator know how to best direct the responding Officers.

"At this time of the year, there are sometimes unexpected packages being delivered, so I would urge you all to #1- Never open the door until you are satisfied that it is a legitimate delivery person. #2 - Look outside for an appropriate truck, uniform, etc. #3 - Ask the person to just leave the package at the door and again, if their actions do not seem appropriate to your requests, Please call '911.'

"This information is being sent out to you in order that you may be better prepared to respond, in the event you are met by one of these tricksters, who will try just about any ruse to get you to open the doors. I want you all to be prepared and not scared. By using some basic common sense applications, we can all enjoy this Holiday season safely with family & friends.

"I have already begun to set up many new Neighborhood Watch meetings for the New Year and would urge you to consider doing the same..."

Officer Carter concluded his email by saying, "Have a safe, Happy & Healthy Holiday Season and a very Prosperous New Year!"  A wonderful wish, and a great resolution for the new year is to study his advice and remember it well.

Living history – and then reliving it!

This past Wednesday, December 21, was the 74th anniversary of a landmark date in cinematic history.  That’s because on December 21, 1937, a major premiere event marked the opening of Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which was the first full-length cel-animated feature in motion picture history, the first animated feature film produced in America, and the first to be made  in full color. 

The premiere happened right here in the 5th Council District – at Carthay Circle Theatre, which had opened eleven years earlier and was in the midst of a sensational run as one of the most majestic and celebrated movie palaces in the world.  Located at 6316 San Vicente Blvd., it would also serve as host for the official premiere of many other notable films.

Unfortunately, the theater was demolished in 1969, having slipped over the course of time from its glamorous spot in the upper echelon of movie houses.  Many at that time (and subsequently)  felt this was a tragic architectural, cultural and civic loss that should have been avoided:  two low-rise office buildings and a city park now occupy the site, across from beautiful Carthay Center Elementary School. 

The exciting news, for those who want to relive and celebrate our past and also share it with younger generations, is that Carthay Circle Theatre is being reborn, in a sense – for it is being replicated in Disney California Adventure Park, where the new structure will house the park’s premiere dining establishment and serve as centerpiece of “Buena Vista Street,” a section of the park that will resemble, in its buildings and all its design elements, the time period of the 1920s through the 1930s. 

While the new Carthay Circle Theatre and Buena Vista Street are to open in 2012, one landmark moment has already been completed and was captured on video – in September, a cupola modeled on the one that topped the original theatre was hoisted to the peak of the new Carthay Circle Theatre  As we end one year and enter a new one, it’s nice to see something of beloved nostalgic value to the 5th Council District shown the reverence it deserves, memorialized in an exciting way, born anew and to be treasured by visitors from all over the world in years to come.

Farewell to a Mensch

Junior's: A great place to see friends and family.

Sadly, Marvin Saul passed away recently.  For half a century, he touched the lives and filled the stomachs of countless local residents and visitors to Los Angeles.  That's because Marvin Saul, the unofficial Mayor of Westwood, was the founder of Junior's Delicatessen, which ranks among our city's favorite culinary and civic landmark institutions.  

The story of how Marvin came to Los Angeles is legendary, and shows how a little luck and a lot of determination can make all the difference in one person's life and in the life of a community. It was the late 1950s and Marvin, a former Colorado uranium miner, was at a crossroads as to what to do next -- so he flipped a coin.  If it had come up tails, he would have headed to Dallas, but instead, it was heads and he came here, in 1959.  Initially he was a valet on La Cienega's restaurant row, but although that was the extent of his experience in the restaurant business, he soon decided to open Little Junior's on Pico, not far from the present Westwood Boulevard location.  

Junior's struggled at first but was helped enormously by the opening of a May Company across the street, and of course by Marvin's extraordinary determination. Eventually, Junior's became one of the 100 biggest-grossing independent restaurants in the country, according to Restaurant and Institutions Magazine. Marvin was profiled by the Wall Street Journal and started showing up in cameo appearances on numerous TV shows.  The food, service and atmosphere at Junior's generated happy reviews, and that has continued until this day. For years, Hollywood stars and regular folks have all mingled at Junior's.  Big name celebrities who were regulars have included Mel Brooks, Danny Thomas, Milton Berle, Anne Bancroft, Armand Hammer and countless political and community leaders.  Conan O'Brien met his longtime TV sidekick, Andy Richter, at Junior's; the true story is that he hired Richter after Richter joked to the waitress that the knish they were being served looked like a breast. 

Anyone who's been there knows that Junior's is like a family, with many of the employees having worked there for decades, creating a relaxed fun atmosphere that is shared by all the regulars and first-time customers, who delight in the expert deli food but also the loving treatment given the food, the setting and every patron. In neighborhoods across Los Angeles, there are wonderful restaurants that give us great meals and cherished memories, but this is an eatery that has reached the pinnacle of culinary success, becoming a treasured icon.  It's been fifty years since Marvin founded the place and twenty years since he handed the reigns at Junior's over to his sons, David and Jon, and the place has evolved to stay fresh and contemporary, but what has survived, indeed thrived, is that wonderful sense of family and friendship that is the essence of a great deli -- and it's that sense of family and friendship that was the star ingredient imparted by Marvin Saul. He will be missed, but he will be remembered with tender gratitude as long as people, young and old alike, love their latkes, chew on bagels, slurp their matzoh ball soup, down egg creams and Dr. Browns, and delight in fine company and swell food. 

In the community

Pictured from left to right: Santa Claus (Marshall Long), Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, SOHA President Richard Close, Councilmember Paul Koretz, Assemblymember Mike Feuer

The Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association recently held their 13th Annual Holiday Toy Drive on Sunday, December 4th at Gelson’s Market in Sherman Oaks. Year in and year out, this event draws crowds from all over the San Fernando Valley, bringing unwrapped toys for a good cause. The Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association collects these toys for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, which then distributes them to many of the 70,000 needy children in Los Angeles County, helping to ensure that those children have a happy holiday season.  Thank you, SOHA, and all who give from their hearts to put smiles on the faces of those in need. 

Thank you, Eric Garcetti

Los Angeles Councilmember Eric Garcetti has represented the 13th Council District since 2001, but, since December 2005, he has also had additional awesome responsibilities, because that's when he was chosen by the City Council itself to serve as its president.  But now he has helmed his final Council meeting, for he is resigning from that post, a move that will become official on January 2, 2012.  At that last meeting of 2011, the Council chambers were filled with people who joined with Garcetti's colleagues to salute his tenure as president.

The Council president has many crucial duties including running Council meetings and making key committee appointments.  In that capacity, Councilmember Garcetti helped steer the City through perilous times, because Los Angeles, like cities across this state and nation, has been tested severely during the horrible economic downturn from which we are hopefully emerging.  Many tough decisions had to be faced regarding how best to preserve city services while dealing with a massive deficit, and the choices about downsizing, jobs and the impact on individuals, families, neighborhoods and the city as a whole were extraordinarily painful.  As Council president, Eric Garcetti has played a major role in all those matters, and he is to be thanked for his leadership and service.

Of course, Eric Garcetti will continue to serve on the Council as the 13th CD representative, and he is also an announced candidate in the mayor's race which will be decided in 2013.  The new Council president will be 10th Council District Councilmember Herb Wesson; 1st CD Councilmember Ed Reyes will be president pro tem.
A hearty farewell

The 5th Council District has been delighted and ably served by Eric Weiser since he joined the staff of Councilmember Koretz 2 1/2 years ago.  Having just graduated from the University of California, San Diego, Eric quickly proved to be smart, funny and charming, with a wonderfully engaging personality and a steadfast determination to learn and help.  Eric has been a true gentleman and dedicated Council aide, first in the field working with constituents and various community groups, and then later in City Hall where he was receptionist while also having a major role with legislative and communication duties.  Showing tremendous dedication and incredible stamina while working endless hours and seemingly loving it, he also has been the office liaison to the Jewish community, point person on environmental issues and the designated staffer on the redistricting process that the city undergoes every decade.

Councilmember Koretz, Eric's fellow staffers and appreciative constituents were by no means the only ones to take note of this fine young public servant, and so he has been offered a job by the Speaker of the California State Assembly -- having accepted, he will start in that new position in January. Undoubtedly, Eric will continue to do great things in that capacity, including for the City of Los Angeles and our 5th Council District.  For now, we simply say thanks for all the accomplishments and hard work and we all wish him the very best on the new path ahead.

This message was sent to  by:

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