Paul Koretz's Newsletter: Red Light Cameras, Roz Wyman, Dancing and More

Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz represents the east part of Studio City.

Stopping the red light cameras -- not a snap decision

The use of red light cameras may have begun with the best of intentions.  It makes sense to discourage motorists from hurtling through intersections against the light and placing their lives and the lives of others at risk.

But something was very wrong with the picture.  In many ways, we know this now because of one "ordinary citizen" willing to take his cause to City Hall:  Jay Beeber, a San Fernando Valley resident and TV writer/producer who took on some powerful interests for the sake of better policy (pictured below with Councilmember Koretz). He hadn't gotten a moving ticket in 20 years but was curious about these cameras, so he started using the science methods he had learned in college to examine the matter, and what he learned was eye-opening. 

Most of the tickets resulting from the use of these cameras were for rolling through a right turn on a red light – a $450 violation that almost never leads to an accident.  Tickets resulting from red light camera usage were exorbitant, but it also turned out that there was no functional collections process in place, so people who didn't pay suffered no penalty, and those who did pay could wonder if they had been chumps to do so.  Because of such failings, use of the technology cost the City money, no matter the size of the tickets.  And of course, there's also the question of how people feel, pro or con, about cameras being increasingly a part of our lives, wherever we go.

But the main problem was simple:  these cameras have not proved to be particularly efficient or effective in achieving the most important goal, which is to make our streets safer from the risk of traffic accident.  Since the cameras were first employed in L.A., studies in other cities have come out suggesting that the number of red light violations can be significantly reduced simply by extending, slightly, the length of a yellow light – giving motorists more time to figure out when it is legal and safe to enter an intersection – and this would make our streets safer without the costs, huge fines and bureaucratic booboos associated with the red light cameras.  

Beeber brought the results to the authorities, and while some proved resistant, Councilmember Koretz was among those who helped lead the successful charge to stop our city's further use of these cameras.  Indeed, the Councilmember has introduced a motion that could lead to the modest extension of the length of the yellow, thus achieving the safety goal of the red light cameras without the corresponding failures, abuses and costs.

Congratulations and thanks to Jay Beeber, for taking on the challenge, tackling a tough issue and making a difference. It can be surprising to some, but, sometimes, the "little guy" really does make all the difference when it comes to big issues. 

 Roz Wyman -- Pioneer Woman

Photos in this article credited to Gary Leonard

Each and every year, the Los Angeles City Commission on the Status of Women asks each Councilmember to recognize one “Pioneer Woman” from her/his district -- an honor that is meant to illuminate and celebrate women who have made amazing contributions to their community and city. 

Roz Wyman, this year's 5th Council District Pioneer Woman, could not be more deserving. Roz was born in Los Angeles in October, 1930, and went to college at USC, and, while she was at USC, she announced her candidacy for the Los Angeles City Council, 5th District -- and was elected before she had even graduated!  This made her the youngest person and second woman ever to sit on the City Council, as well as the first Jewish Council member in 53 years.  

During her three terms, she was always much respected as a top-notch and diligent Councilmember, but Roz is best known for her crucial role in bringing the Dodgers here from Brooklyn.  While this year is a tough one for the Dodgers and Dodger fans, there is no doubt that bringing the Dodgers to Los Angeles in 1958 has brought pride and joy to millions of Angelenos while adding immense status and global prestige to the city, placing Los Angeles in the select pantheon of cities with Major League teams.  It is also true, but less well known, that Roz was instrumental in getting the Lakers to move here from Minnesota. 

After leaving office, she has remained immensely active in public, political and humanitarian affairs.  Roz served as chair of the 1984 Democratic National Convention -- the first woman from either major political party to wield a gavel at a presidential nominating convention.  She has served on the UNESCO Commission and National Endowment of the Arts as well as many other local and national boards and charities, and is an active leader of the Los Angeles Jewish community.  Sadly, her beloved husband, Eugene Wyman, passed away unexpectedly in 1973.  

In accepting her honor, Roz Wyman was delighted to sit once more in a Council chair (Paul Koretz's!), and was roundly applauded as many people came to see and hear her on her return to City Hall. She spoke with feisty eloquence about how important it is for women to be welcome participants in government.  Certainly, she was a trailblazer in that regard, and she still is a relentless champion for greater opportunities for women in politics.  Los Angeles is a far better place because of Roz Wyman, and so congratulations to her for being recognized as a 2011 Pioneer Woman!  National Night Out

Councilmember Koretz is joined by two of LA's finest: LAPD Senior Lead Officer Arthur Gallegos (left) and LAPD Captain William Hart.

The 28th Annual National Night Out takes place this Tuesday, August 2, 2011. That means for many Los Angeles residents and businesses, this Tuesday will be a fun time for meeting neighbors, renewing old acquaintances and making new friends, all while supporting the transcendent cause of public safety from crime.

National Night Out was started as a collaborative effort in communities across the U.S., in order to support anti-crime programs and improve relationships between residents and their local police forces. On such occasions, people come together at a variety of different locations for fun activities such as block parties, softball games, movies, music, potlucks and barbeques. Often joining in are local law enforcement and other public safety heroes. Each gathering is a message that the community is united and strong, and that people should always be safe to enjoy their neighborhoods, happy and free from harm and fear.

A list of National Night Out events in Los Angeles in 2011 can be found on the Los Angeles Police Department website (http://www.lapdonline.org), at this address: 


 It's still only the third quarter...

The debate has been going on for years, now, regarding whether or not Los Angeles should be home, once more, to a National Football League team.  Of course, a lot of fans yearn to see a team in person in our city, and that has come fairly close to occurring on more than one occasion -- and right now is one of those times.  A new downtown stadium promoted by AEG seems to be verging on reality, but there's a long way to go --  it's still only the third quarter, so to speak. 

The key questions are about what terms and conditions should apply, so that if a deal is made to bring the NFL back to L.A., it is in the best interests of the City, our communities and the public as a whole.  

On Friday, July 29, the matter was before the City Council. The actual item that was there for discussion was a report from the Ad Hoc Committee on the Stadium, which was recommending the approval of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City and AEG. This MOU outlined the entire stadium deal, but in the end is not binding on the City or on AEG. The purpose of the MOU was to delineate the development for the project AND assure the NFL that the City and AEG are serious about building a stadium/convention center so that AEG can go out and recruit a team.



The basics:

- No public funds - the City issues bonds for the convention center but AEG pays back debt service on the bonds. 

- AEG pays fair market value for the land for 55 years. 

- The City gets a new convention center that makes us more competitive in the convention business. 

- AEG pays for the stadium.

- The project does not go forward unless there is a binding agreement with an NFL team.

Councilmember Koretz stated that he is very supportive of the goal but remains skeptical, and asked questions about the bonds and infrastructure that will be needed to support the new facilities.

This is just the beginning of this process. If you would like to read the report from the Chief Legislative Analyst, clickHERE

 Hearing from the Bel Air Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council

Councilmember Koretz recently visited the Bel Air Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council to hear comments and questions and to provide an update about the latest news from City Hall. 

The Bel Air Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council was certified back in 2002 and represents more than 27,000 stakeholders in the much beloved hillside communities.  The July meeting brought together neighbors to hear the 405 freeway construction updates as well to discuss issues ranging from supporting local schools to the massive Tower Lane mega-mansion proposal.

At the invitation of the Council President, Robert Ringler, Councilmember Koretz spoke about passing a balanced budget at City Hall, thanked the community for staying home during the 405 ‘carmaggeden’ closure, detailed his opposition to homeowners being forced to fix their sidewalks and discussed the controversial Tower Lane proposal. 

The proposed project on Tower Lane originally included over 85,000 square feet of structures across three lots in Benedict Canyon.  Councilmember Koretz applauded that the project size had been decreased somewhat but explained that a lot more community work was needed, and by any measurement the project remains simply too large. The Councilmember outlined his opposition and stated that nothing should be considered until appeals related to illegal construction and retaining walls on the site are resolved.

The community meeting lasted several hours and included a frank discussion among neighbors, property owners and other stakeholders concerned with the future of Benedict Canyon.  The Councilmember is deeply appreciative to all who were able to come to the meeting, because the active participation of local residents makes all the difference in the world when it comes to achieving good government. 

Exciting Citywide Change to Preferential Parking


In a preferential parking district, restrictions apply to all motorists, but area residents and their guests are exempt from the special parking restrictions if they purchase and display Preferential Parking Permits.

If you live in a Preferential Parking District, or you have visited someone who does, you may be aware of the three different types of permits - annual, visitor, and guest.Traditionally, you were only able to purchase a guest permit at a Parking Violations Bureau Public Service Center, or through the mail.Unlike a visitor’s pass or annual pass, guest passes are usually needed on a moment’s notice or used often enough that multiple trips to the service center are necessary and prove quite frustrating. Now, residents are able to purchase guest passes online and print them out at home, instead of visiting one of the service centers.

This is very helpful and will relieve a lot of frustration for residents not only of the Fifth Council District, but also throughout the city.Councilmember Koretz helped fight for this change and will continue to look for more improvements to this program to help the residents of his district and the city.Preferential parking services should be easily available to the customers it serves – the residents of Los Angeles.

 Use It or Lose It

Recently, the Board of Airport Commissioners (BOAC) was presented with a recommendation to cancel the Westwood FlyAway that serves the UCLA and Westwood communities. Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) staff made this recommendation because of the cost of subsidizing the route and less than optimum ridership numbers.




Councilmember Koretz believes that the Westwood FlyAway is a crucial service for the Westwood community and deserves to be continued. That's why he joined with UCLA and local neighborhood activists to lobby BOAC to preserve the service. With UCLA really stepping up to the plate and offering dedicated FlyAway parking spaces, additional financial resources and marketing help, BOAC agreed to extend the service for the next 6 months. BOAC also implemented a fare increase to $10 for a one-way trip to reduce the service's deficit.

Now it's up to us! After the 6-month extension, LAWA and BOAC will re-examine the service to see how well it is performing financially. They will be looking for the service to significantly increase ridership. That means encouraging friends, neighbors, students and out-of-town visitors to use the line as much as possible. It's up to the community to show LAWA that this service is a vital asset and well worth preserving.

Safe at home

Councilmember Koretz thanks Officers Deruise and Utley at Dodger Stadium. 

Councilman Koretz recently took a few moments out to thank the LAPD for its dedicated service in keeping Dodgers fans safe.  

After recent regrettable incidents -- incidents that were blamed by many on Dodger management decisions regarding the size and placement of private security at and outside of Dodger Stadium -- the LAPD has stepped up its presence when home games are held in order to guarantee a safe and enjoyable experience for all fans.  These hardworking officers work with Dodgers security to make sure crowds can move through the stadium and that rules are enforced.

While the future of Dodgers ownership may be uncertain, the City is doing everything it can to improve the fan experience.  Councilmember Koretz recently joined former Councilmember Janice Hahn in her effort to bring the Dodgers under fan ownership.  Under the proposal, the team would be sold into shares, not unlike a stock IPO -- but instead of Wall Street institutional investors, the primary shareholders would be Los Angeles residents and fans.  The effort requires changes in Federal law and the approval of national baseball officials.  In the meantime, while the Dodgers have filed for bankruptcy protection, the team will continue to operate as best it can.  Hopefully, the ownership situation will soon be productively resolved, with the team once more able to display its greatness on the field. 
 A fond farewell and a changing of the guard

Eric Norton, a 5th Council District stalwart, has left his position as part of the Council Office staff for new challenges; he will be much missed. The great news is he will be joining the new Westwood Business Improvement District (BID) in a key leadership role, and in that capacity he will continue to help many of the same CD 5 constituents he served while working for the City.

Eric joined the staff of the then newly-elected Councilmember Paul Koretz in mid-2009, and from the start impressed people with his courteous demeanor, good humor, smart thinking and spirited dedication.  Initially, he sat at the front desk in the City Hall office and was a very pleasant and welcoming presence for any member of the public who came in to see the Councilmember.  Eric also devoted his energy and talent to helping run the website, writing and editing this newsletter, and performing countless other tasks, including serving as a liaison on issues related to the environment, energy, and water practices and policies.  

Eventually, he moved to the Westside field office where he was of great assistance to constituents whether they needed their trees trimmed, potholes filled, street lights repaired or DWP bills corrected. He also was the CD 5 staff point person for Westwood, and played a big role on such matters as the creation of a pocket park, the forging of the new Westwood BID, promoting a quarterly merchants' town hall meeting, and bringing together UCLA, students, businesses and residents for mammoth community cleanup days.  While a staff member, he also married his longtime sweetheart, Elizabeth Sherman Norton.  

It's sad to lose a wonderfully effective and honorable staff member, but the CD 5 office and of course many CD 5 constituents wish Eric and Liz the best, and take comfort knowing that Eric is very much staying put in his community while continuing his professional activism benefitting Westwood, CD 5 and the entire City of L.A.  

Replacing Eric as a CD 5 field deputy serving Westwood will be Sarah Mallory. A recent graduate of UCLA, Sarah worked for Women Against Gun Violence and has already hit the ground running in her new position with CD 5. 

Shortly before Eric's last day as a city employee, the CD 5 City Hall office was visited both by his looming replacement, Sarah Mallory, and his predecessor, Mark Davis, who is now in the private sector.  For a brief splendid moment, the three Koretz deputies who have served Westwood stood together, and are pictured above from left to right, Sarah, Mark and Eric.  In the community

Councilmember Paul Koretz is flanked by Charisse Older (left). Sales & Marketing Manager at The Capital Grille and Gina Doyle, the Managing Partner at The Capital Grille. 

One of the best signs of a thriving community is to see much-appreciated businesses enjoying well-deserved success, thanks to the patronage of those who live and work in the area. That's why Councilmember Koretz is so proud to be able to help acknowledge and support such businesses, especially when they are celebrating important landmark occasions.  Here, he salutes two such places in the 5th Council District.  The Capital Grille recently enjoyed its one year anniversary as a premier dining establishment.  Kings Road Cafe had its 20th anniversary while happily continuing to serve customers with quality food.  Both events were special occasions, not just for the businesses but for what they mean to our community in terms of fine food and fun memories.  


Councilmember Koretz presents a certificate to Lawrence Casperson, Owner and President of Kings Road Cafe, home to some of the best coffee in LA. 

Laurel Elementary School turns 100

Laurel Elementary School is one of the best performing and innovative schools in the Fifth Council District.  It is also one of the most historic schools in our city.  On June 11, 2011, Laurel Elementary celebrated its 100th Anniversary.  The school has gone through a lot of changes over the decades, and it recently expanded to include a Middle School.  The anniversary celebration included carnival games, food, live music, a reunion of Laurel Elementary alumni, and the Centennial Garden Dedication.  Proceeds from the event went to support classroom aides, the school librarian, computers and more.

Congratulations and thanks go to every single person who, over the years, has made Laurel Elementary a beloved institution and place of learning. Whether it's the students and their families, alumni, staff, administration, campus neighbors or anyone else who has participated at or partnered with this school, what matters most is that so many people have gained so much, and lives have been enriched, by being part of the school community.  

National Dance Day


LA City Councilmembers Tom LaBonge and Paul Koretz join Nigel Lythgoe, creator of National Dance Day, in a celebratory leg kick. 

Councilmember Koretz was delighted to bring Nigel Lythgoe to City Council Chambers to be honored.  Nigel is a judge on So You Think You can Dance -- he's also the hit show's creator and executive producer -- but the Councilmember was especially intent on saluting Nigel's role as founder of National Dance Day, a day in which, across the nation and hopefully around the world, people (especially youngsters) get up and dance for the fun and exercise.  It really is important that people of all ages remember not to be couch potatoes, and so National Dance Day was born as a lighthearted way to encourage the mobility, health, self-expression and confidence that can come through dance and other exercise. This year it was celebrated on Saturday, July 30, 2011. The ever gracious Mr. Lythgoe is also a member of the Board of Directors of LA's Best, the much acclaimed City of Los Angeles after school effort that has made a huge difference in the lives of countless students and their families, so for that too, thank you, Nigel! 

Big Changes coming to Poinsettia Recreation Center


Poinsettia Recreation Center is one of the hidden gems in Council District 5.  You may have never heard of it unless you live in the area, but big changes are coming to this park.

Recently, a new children's playground opened at Poinsettia Recreation Center, and the outdoor basketball court is currently under construction.  These two projects are the first in the park’s renovation.  Councilmember Koretz is very grateful for the work the community and the Department of Recreation and Parks has done.  Several more improvements will be completed this year, including a brand new community room, a new indoor basketball court, a jogging path, and much more!

August 2, 2011 is National Night Out and Poinsettia Recreation Center has one of the biggest events in the area. It’s a great time to see the new playground, enjoy free food, listen to great music, and become involved in the community.  Poinsettia Recreation Center is located at 7341 Willoughby Avenue, and the event will be from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.


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