Ban on puppy mills
Acting swiftly, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a motion by Councilmember Koretz that may put an end to the deplorable puppy and kitten mills that are responsible for inhumane conditions, unhealthy animals and animal overpopulation.
In accordance with the motion, the City Council has called on the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services (LAAS) to draft a law that will ban, in the City of Los Angeles, the commercial breeding of dogs, cats, rabbits and chickens, as well as the sale of factory-bred animals in pet stores.
LAAS General Manager Brenda Barnette noted that, “We’re not only protecting animals but we’re protecting the people in the community – the people who don’t know that when they go into a pet store they are paying hundreds if not thousands of dollars for an animal that is likely to be sick or have genetic defects.”
Councilmember Koretz said the motion’s passage “will help us reduce our pet over-population problem and will save us a significant amount of money.” He also pointed out that animals that come from the mills often end up causing anguish for new owners: “These animals are inbred and raised in terrible conditions, and that results in medical and behavioral problems, often leading to those animals winding up in our animal shelters.” Unfortunately, 25% of dogs and half of the cats that enter L.A. City shelters are euthanized; around 55,000 animals entered the LAAS system last year.
The Koretz motion promotes:
-- The establishment of a ban on the sale of commercial animal mill-bred dogs, cats, chickens and rabbits within the city limits.
-- The creation of a program whereby LAAS can work with licensed pet stores to make shelter animals available for adoption at those stores on a regular or periodic basis.
-- The creation of a program whereby LAAS, as a part of its normal pet store licensing procedures, publicly and visibly identifies stores that excel in meeting rigorous humane requirements and conditions in the kenneling and sale of animals consistent with all City, state and federal laws, or which do not sell live animals.
-- The prohibition of the establishment and/or operation of puppy, kitten, chicken and rabbit mills within the City of Los Angeles.
Councilmember Koretz praised Judie Mancuso, President, Social Compassion in Legislation; Ed Buck, Social Compassion in Legislation (both pictured above); the Humane Society; Best Friends; LAAS GM Brenda Barnette; Jim Bickhart from the Mayor's office and all the folks and organizations who have taken the lead on this vital concern over the years.
Neighborhood protections approved
For many families, the American dream involves moving into a single family neighborhood, and hoping for and expecting a peaceful environment – a place where a family can befriend neighbors over time and safely raise their children. Unfortunately, this expectation of a tranquil neighborhood can easily be shattered when one home on the block is occupied not by a family but by a business.
Be it a boarding house, a sober living home, a licensed care facility or other potential intrusions into the neighborhood, such facilities can clog entire streets with parked cars and subject residents to noise and light at all hours of the day and night. Some of these sites have proved to be a magnet for vandalism and other crime. As a result, many residents and neighborhoods across Los Angeles have raised concerns and wanted to know what if any rules apply to what can be a very invasive presence near one’s own home.
State law requires the City to accept certain licensed community care facilities within single-family neighborhoods, but the City has lacked rules or laws to control many of the biggest facilities with the most impact. On June 1st, the City Council took a huge step forward by approving the draft of a new Community Care Ordinance: despite a large lobbying campaign by operators of sober-living homes, the City Council adopted this measure by a 12 to 1 vote. The proposed ordinance does not change any existing housing discrimination protections and still recognizes that families come in all types, shapes and sizes – what the ordinance will do is make sure that facilities are licensed, that they are located appropriately, have adequate parking and control their light and noise impacts.
The next step is for the City Attorney to prepare a final version of the ordinance for Council to review and approve, so that it might be signed into law. A special thank you goes to Lucille Saunders for her tremendous activism and leadership.
One of the best ways of coping with traffic problems is to know what’s coming down the pike, with the public fully informed and all pertinent governmental offices given excellent briefings to enable well-coordinated decisions.
That’s why Councilmember Koretz has called for the Department of Transportation, the Los Angeles Police Department, Metro and Caltrans to report to the full City Council about the purpose and impact of a looming, major 405 freeway closure that will have a significant impact from Friday night, July 15 until early morning Monday, July 18. The briefing is scheduled for Wednesday, June 15.
During that July weekend, workers will demolish half of the Mulholland Drive Bridge as part of the $1 billion widening project of the 405 freeway. The Northbound I-405 will be closed to motorists for 10 miles between I-10 and U.S. 101; the Southbound I-405 will be closed for four miles between U.S. 101 and the Getty Center Drive Ramps.
More than 500,000 cars normally travel this stretch during a summer weekend. The goal of the Koretz motion is to let everyone know, in a timely manner, about the options and implications for surrounding neighborhoods, residents, businesses, public safety personnel and commuters. Topics of interest include detours, recommended alternative travel routes, public safety access, emergency routes and whether or not certain neighborhoods should be closed to thru-traffic during the closure. It can only help for the public to get as much information and relief as possible, both in advance and as the work takes place.
Red-light cameras may have been given one-way ticket
The L.A. Police Commission has unanimously voted to end the city’s use of red-light cameras that have been installed at 32 intersections around Los Angeles. Unless the City Council acts to reverse this decision, the cameras will soon be inactive. The company that has been operating this program for the City had been hoping to receive a new three- or five-year contract.
Many critics have questioned whether these cameras actually promote safety. Most of the tickets resulting from use of the camera are for illegal right hand turns. A lot of people have been outraged by, or have simply ignored, the tickets that commonly impose more than $400 as a penalty. An audit last year by City Controller Wendy Greuel found that the program did not pay for itself.
Councilmember Koretz said, “I applaud the Commission’s action in ‘just saying no’ to red-light cameras. The Commission and the Council had repeatedly asked LAPD to justify the continuation of the program, and they just couldn’t do it. Supporters of red light cameras could never undercut the argument that this program was more about revenue and less about safety. Numerous audits have questioned the program. It’s high time to end it.
“My concerns were echoed by the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council in a Resolution stating that unless and until the City is able to clearly demonstrate that engineering and other non-enforcement solutions cannot adequately improve safety at high risk intersections and that increased enforcement is the only viable solution, a red-light camera program should not go forward. If any or all of the intersections that have cameras need safety improvements, we need to make these improvements, period. We shouldn’t rely on ineffective technology in the hopes that people will hopefully comply and do the right thing. Instead, we must rely on engineering countermeasures that are clearly the most effective way to achieve intersection safety.”
One thing we can all regret – Los Angeles has lost way too many historical treasures, many of them architectural splendors but all of them essential to our city’s historical memory and sense of community and identity. Whether it’s the Ambassador Hotel, the Brown Derby, the Red Car or Kiddyland, so many vivid evocations of Los Angeles have vanished, even though they were key to how people grew up, lived lives and gathered cherished memories. Of course, sometimes change is inevitable; but too often in Los Angeles, wonderful landmarks that have helped create a sense of place have been sacrificed unnecessarily, in instances where sufficient foresight and activism would have retained crucial artifacts that meant much in the past and that could have continued to mean much well into the future.
That’s why Councilmember Koretz has fought so hard to save the Century Plaza Hotel from its threatened termination, after it had been listed as one of America’s 11 most endangered places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation – and, likewise, that’s why the Councilmember is so happy to have worked with the truly dedicated and caring members and leaders of the Burton Way Foundation and the Beverly West Residents Association to get cultural-historic monument status for a Paul Revere Williams-designed apartment building located at the corner of Almont Drive and Burton Way .
Paul Revere Williams was a remarkably creative, important and influential architect during the middle of the 20th Century, and was a member of the Los Angeles Planning Commission. His life was particularly vital and inspiring because, as an African-American, he was able to make that kind of mark across this city and our nation despite huge obstacles, during an era in which many African Americans weren’t allowed to own homes in neighborhoods bejeweled with homes built by Williams, who designed or otherwise contributed to a vast number of famous public buildings and private homes, including many homes of Hollywood stars.
Very few Williams’ apartment buildings remain, and the Burton Way Foundation and the Beverly West Residents Association and their presidents, Cary Brazeman and Harold Hahn, were quite concerned that someday this building would be lost to the bulldozers. Not only is this building a fine example of Williams’ architecture, it also exemplifies a spirit in which bold architectural design aims to complement and not overpower its neighborhood surroundings.
Councilmember Koretz was glad to join these community groups and activists in seeking preservation and protection for this important building. The Councilmember applauds the devoted efforts of the community as well as the equally devoted efforts of the property owner in keeping this site in excellent condition over the years. The move to grant historical monument status was unanimously supported by the City’s Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) committee and then by the City Council.
Councilmember Koretz noted, “Williams overcame incredible odds to become one of the leading architects of his time. I am so excited and proud that we have now preserved the building at 330 South Almont. It is my hope that generations to come will not only admire this beautiful building but will also learn about Paul Williams’ incredible Los Angeles story and contribution to our architectural heritage.”
Memorializing in Sherman Oaks
Over the Memorial Day weekend, Councilmember Koretz attended the annual Day in the Park event hosted by the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council. Held at the Sherman Oaks-Van Nuys War Memorial Park, this event was made possible with the help of Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council, The Horace Heidt Foundation and American Legion Post 193.
Councilmember Koretz was honored to join in recognizing all of our armed forces troops serving domestically and abroad as well as decorated veterans in the audience and all who have ever served this nation in uniform. He stressed the importance of honoring those who have given their lives for our country, and urged that we commit to living in a way that ensures that such sacrifices are not made in vain.
Along with commemorating the dedication and heroism of our military personnel past and present, this event gave Sherman Oaks residents the opportunity to meet and greet their neighborhood council board, public safety officials and City representatives. It is always refreshing to see community groups, families and friends come together in support of one another. Such an event showcases the dedication of the neighborhood council in improving the quality of life of Sherman Oaks through stakeholder participation. Congratulations to the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council for hosting such a meaningful event for everyone to enjoy! If you would like to get involved with that neighborhood council, its next meeting is Monday June 13th at 6:30pm in the Sherman Oaks Elementary School Auditorium (14755 Greenleaf Street Sherman Oaks, CA 91403).
Generosity flowering in Encino
Councilmember Paul Koretz presents the check with local gardeners, L.A. Community Garden Council members, and Whole Foods representatives by his side. Credit Lauren Rosenblum at Encino Patch.
One of the most intriguing and fun trends across Los Angeles is the booming interest in community gardens. There are approximately 70 community gardens growing in Los Angles County, serving 3,900 families. Community gardens are vibrant, cooperative organizations that build neighborhood self-reliance and reduce poverty, mitigate global warming and benefit the LA River and Ballona Creek watersheds.
That’s why Councilmember Koretz was delighted to join in a ceremony held at the Sepulveda Garden Center in Encino, celebrating a generous donation of $2,606.35 from Whole Foods Market to the Los Angeles Community Garden Council. The unusual amount of money being donated was five percent of the net sales from the Sherman Oaks Whole Foods’ “Community 5 Percent Day” held in April. A Whole Foods representative has asked that the funds be used as close as possible to the store, and the community garden in Encino is closest to the store of the nine community gardens under the jurisdiction of the L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks (it is also the biggest, with over 800 garden plots covering 20 acres).
The Councilmember noted, “Los Angeles devotes little taxpayer money to community gardens yet they return abundant neighborhood benefit. The Sepulveda Garden Center here in Encino is a shining example of such a case.”
He praised all the people who garden there as well as those who work there, and applauded the Los Angeles Community Garden Council, a non-profit corporation that connects people and neighborhoods with local community garden space in their neighborhood while helping gardeners to solve common problems. Lastly, he thanked Whole Foods Market, which started back in 1980 with one small store in Austin, Texas and has grown to become the world’s leader in natural and organic foods, with more than 300 stores in North America and the United Kingdom. Councilmember Koretz pointed out that “Whole Foods is world-renowned for generously donating to many wonderful non-profit organizations and for making a special point of promoting each local community by giving to locally based organizations. We are so honored today to accept this donation.”
Police Officers often have to make split-second decisions. That means, very simply, that the less confusing the circumstances in any potentially life-or-death matter, the better.
Last year, two different LAPD officer-involved shootings centered on suspects using a BB device or Airsoft pistol (replica firearms that shoot plastic pellets by way of compressed gas or a spring-driven piston). These imitation firearms had the same appearance and color of actual firearms: as a result, police officers on the scene were less able to differentiate between imitation and actual weapons, which in turn may have influenced the course of events.
Obviously, it would help police to determine what a suspect may be using if all imitation firearms were required to be a particular bright color not associated with actual firearms. That’s why Councilmembers Paul Koretz, Dennis Zine and Eric Garcetti have now co-presented a motion, based on a recommendation from the Police Department, asking the City Attorney to prepare an ordinance that will require all BB devices and imitation firearms sold in the City to be a bright, distinguishable color on their exterior surface. Such an ordinance will allow law enforcement to more easily distinguish imitation firearms from other firearms.
The Koretz-Zine-Garcetti motion regarding BB devices and Airsoft pistols was sent to the City’s Public Safety committee: the City is already on record in support of a proposed state law addressing look-alike toy guns.
Put a cork in it
It's always nice to welcome someone new into the neighborhood, so Councilmember Koretz was pleased last week to stop by and wish the best to Michael K. Bernstein (pictured at the right) and the folks at The Cask, a new Kosher wine and spirits shop on Pico Blvd. This place has a great selection of wines and high end spirits. It also has an attractive and inviting tasting area in the back...its all quite upscale. Replacing what had become a dilapidated storefront, the new ownership not only created a gem inside the store but went far beyond what is required of a business in cleaning up their street frontage, sidewalk and surrounding area, as well as behind the property. This will be a fine addition to the neighborhood -- another small shop contributing to the betterment and beautification of Pico Blvd.
Good fortune at Fairfax
The 5th Council District is full of outstanding schools and students at all levels of education, and one spectacular indication of tremendous success is to recognize and applaud students who have received crucial honors and scholarships.
At Fairfax High School, three students received $1,500 scholarships recently as part of the 15th annual Irene Epstein Memorial Scholarship program, which awards scholarships to deserving seniors from Fairfax who need financial assistance in order to attend college. Honorees are selected on the basis of academic merit, need, an essay about future goals and recommendations from Fairfax teachers and counselors, and must plan on studying science, engineering, mathematics, nursing or medicine. Past recipients have gone on to medical schools and have received advanced engineering and science degrees.
This year’s recipients were exemplary achievers in high school. Pictured above from left to right, they are Da Eun Kim, who is going to major in psychology at UC San Diego; Suzane Kim, who will major in nursing at Mount St. Mary’s College; and Rebeca Rosales, who will attend Azusa Pacific University as a pre-med major. Along with their scholarships, all three received proclamations from the Los Angeles City Council.
This scholarship program is made possible by the Los Angeles Chapter of the International Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering, and celebrates the memory of Irene Epstein, who was a wonderful champion of financially needy and academically accomplished students. We salute her, for her ongoing legacy is one of remarkable benefit to local students and families and society as a whole.
South Carthay summer celebration
Left to right: Chris Mraz, Secretary of the South Carthay Neighborhood Association; Judy Bowen, Vice-President and Government Liaison of the South Carthay Neighborhood Association; Councilmember Paul Koretz; Brad S. Kane, President of the South Carthay Neighborhood Association; LAPD Lieutenant Darius Bones; Lloyd Robinson, Board Member of the Pico Nieghborhood Council and Board Member of the South Carthay Historic Preservation Overlay Zone
Block parties can be a wonderful way to build and celebrate community spirit, and that's exactly what happened on Sunday, June 5, when the South Carthay Neighborhood Association hosted a block party with help from the Pico Neighborhood Council. It was a great day for the neighborhood, with loads of fun, an In-N-Out truck, face painting for kids, ping pong, fire trucks, police cars and a bake-off.
Councilmember Koretz joined dozens of folks from the South Carthay neighborhood on a beautiful summer day. He honored the board members on the South Carthay Neighborhood Association for their service to the community; gave accolades to Lloyd Robinson, who serves as South Carthay’s representative from the Pico Neighborhood Council and also the South Carthay Historic Preservation Overlay Zone Board; and saluted LAPD Wilshire Division for its hard work and Fire Station 58 for providing multiple vehicles that day for the children to explore. (Councilmember Koretz was also humbly grateful for the award he was given by the South Carthay Neighborhood Association for his service.)
This block party was a splendid occasion, proving once again how swell it is to be in a neighborhood that embraces both dedication and delight.
SORO festivities a blast
The South Robertson Festival is a one-time-a-year extravaganza that once again proved to be a phenomenal winner. This street fair is held annually on the first Sunday in June, and a lot of devoted effort goes into making it a huge success. It's fun for all, including Councilmember Koretz -- from shooting hoops with neighborhood kids to hanging out with the crocs, he had a great time, as always, at one of Los Angeles' best events!
Gratitude to SoRo INC and the SoRo Neighborhood Council for putting this top happening together, and congratulations to CD10's own Liz Carlin (winner of the Susan Bursk Community Award -- the first time it has ever gone to a city employee), as well as to the neighbors for showing so much community support.
Make sure you mark that date, the first Sunday in June, on your calendar next year, as it promises to get better and better!
LGBT Heritage Month
This past Friday, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa declared June to be the 1st Annual LGBT Heritage Month in the City of Los Angeles. Councilmember Paul Koretz joined his fellow City leaders in praising the community's numerous contributions to Los Angeles and beyond. A big thank you goes to Councilmember Bill Rosendahl for his hard work in helping make this all possible.
Los Angeles Councilmember Paul Koretz
200 N. Spring Street, Rm. 440
Los Angeles, CA 90012