Great News About Los Encinos State Historic Park!
We have a new local hero, although that grand person prefers to remain anonymous!
After reading news coverage of a recent community meeting and press conference held in Los Encinos State Historic Park and featuring State Senator Fran Pavley and City Councilmember Koretz – the sole topic was the importance of keeping the park open, funded and functioning for public use in the midst of a state budget crisis – our unnamed hero decided to take decisive action, by offering to donate $150,000 to help keep the park open.
Our anonymous friend was born and raised in Encino, which is home to the park, and was concerned that this wonderful park might not be accessible for his children and future generations. His donation will make a huge difference, both in meeting a year’s costs but also and perhaps more importantly, in sending the following signal to the budgetary decision-makers – the community cares passionately about this park, which is clearly one of the San Fernando Valley’s greatest historical treasures as well as a beloved place for recreation and relaxation.
It is estimated that the park costs approximately $210,000 a year, but the current success to date in raising funds may well help convince the state to back away from threatened cuts that would lead to the closure of the park. Our hero’s donation is a massive step forward, and the state has taken due notice, but more still needs to be done.
The City Council resolution authored by Councilmembers Koretz, Eric Garcetti, and Paul Krekorian placing the City on record in support of saving the park for public use comes to the City Council for a likely vote this Wednesday, January 25.
Some great possible solutions have been suggested and are being explored, a task force is meeting regularly to discuss various fundraising efforts and ideas, and both State Senator Pavley and Councilmember Koretz are exploring what can be done governmentally. All interested people can visit the Los-Encinos.org website to explore how best to help this cause.
Sadly, the end of 2011 was marred by the terror of an arson spree that afflicted communities throughout Los Angeles, including neighborhoods in the 5th Council District. Cars were set afire next to or under apartment buildings, making them incredibly dangerous because they had the explosive capacity of bombs. Luckily, no lives were lost or grievous injuries suffered, though there was significant property loss.
The great news is that so many people and institutions performed heroically in the face of these despicable deeds. The Los Angeles Police Department and Chief Beck, the Los Angeles County Sheriffs and Sheriff Baca, the District Attorney and various elected officials from several local jurisdictions all came together speedily to create and implement a special task force, coordinating forces impeccably in order to identify, find and apprehend the culprit responsible for these horrid misdeeds. In an era in which it is common practice to criticize the effectiveness and value of government, this task force and all those involved demonstrated how government can work productively, even in the midst of a crisis, to meet and solve a drastic problem. But the media also did invaluable good, through responsible dissemination of information, so that instead of sensationalizing and distorting, the media shared key news, accurately and comprehensively, enabling everyone to work together for the sake of heightened safety.
Most important of all, the public worked smoothly to maximize safety and to help find any perpetrator, whether by following instructions about keeping outside lights lit and by keeping eyes open for anything suspicious, or through the active, grassroots involvement of neighborhood watch groups and other community organizations.
In the end, this extraordinary teamwork led to swift policing breakthroughs, and now it seems the arson attacks are a thing of the past, which is wonderful. In the meantime, Councilmembers Tom LaBonge and Paul Koretz have legislatively called for quick assistance to those who need to rebuild. And while 2012 will hopefully bring us all the maximum safety and tranquility that people deserve, it is the nature of Los Angeles to be at risk, whether because of the inevitability of earthquakes or fire or other hazard, so it is very reassuring to know that – as this recent crisis proved – communities and people around Los Angeles can unite successfully and beneficially to overcome even the most threatening of uncertain circumstances.
The Generosity of Joyce and Stanley Black
Councilmember Koretz and the City of Los Angeles were proud to salute the Joyce and Stanley Black family on January 12, 2012, during ceremonies marking the dedication of the Vista Del Mar campus, located in the neighborhood of Cheviot Hills, as the Joyce and Stanley Black Family campus.
Founded in 1908 as The Jewish Orphan's Home of Southern California and serving people from across the diverse spectrum of this region's populace, Vista Del Mar provides invaluable assistance to children and families that are struggling with social, emotional, behavioral and developmental challenges, providing the highest quality care available so that such challenges are happily overcome and productive futures are achieved. Stanley and Joyce Black have been an essential part of Vista Del Mar's growth, supporting its vital programs and services, organizing fundraisers including the annual Sports Sweepstakes event that has raised millions of dollars for the agency, and spearheading the Joyce and Stanley Black Special Care Facility for the treatment of children with severe emotional and behavioral challenges.
Stanley Black has been a renowned leader of business and industry for more than half a century. After graduating from Los Angeles High School and attending LACC, he served in the United States Navy: he then joined Buckeye Construction Company, eventually co-founded KB Management and later formed Black Equities. He has been been honored by the City of Hope, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Boy Scouts of America and the National Conference of Christians and Jews while being involved with a vast array of charities across Los Angeles and in many business and civic organizations. Stanley has had a treasured partner in such pursuits – his wife, Joyce, who attended Fairfax High School and UCLA and whom he met in 1956. Stanley and Joyce have been joined in philanthropy by their loving and compassionate family: son Jack Black; daughter Jill Black Zalben; daughter Janis Black Warner (who sits on Vista Del Mar's Board of Directors and was president of The President's Club, a Vista Del Mar support group) and her husband, Doug Warner; and grandchildren Brittany, Zachary, Victoria, Jason, Jennifer and Joey.
Stanley Black believes that, "If you have much, give of your wealth; if you have little, give of your heart," and he and his family have given of their wealth and their heart to the people of the City of Los Angeles, helping those in need and changing countless lives for the better.
Talking About BIDs...
With the new Westwood Business Improvement District – BID – already enjoying rip-roaring success, businesses and residents in a certain portion of La Cienega known as the La Cienega Design Quarter must be drooling in anticipation. That's because a proposed new BID to serve that area is already under serious contemplation, with local activists ready to embrace the effort needed to make the dream of a BID a reality.
Fig & Olive at 8490 Melrose Place
The La Cienega Design Quarter is the destination in Los Angeles for high-end home furnishings and interior design. It is also home to great restaurants ranging from Real Food Daily to Fig and Olive. The area includes La Cienega north of Beverly, as well as a small portion of Melrose and all of Melrose Place. A group of local stakeholders led by Phillip Stites has been moving a BID proposal forward.
The BID as proposed has big plans for the area including frequent sidewalk cleaning, tree trimming, a security patrol, special events ranging from fashion parties to rug line launches, and greater marketing and visibility for the district. All of this will improve the customer experience, leading to increased revenues for the City through sales and property taxes and improved rents for the property owners, all of which are particularly crucial in trying economic times.
Real Food Daily at 414 N La Cienega Boulevard
The City Council recently approved a request by Councilmember Koretz to allow matching funds for the La Cienega Design Quarter to establish their BID. Initial requests by the La Cienega stakeholders did not move forward because the City had allocated no funds for BID startup in 2011-2012. Councilmember Koretz and City Clerk June Lagmay worked together to find past BID efforts around the City that had been abandoned or come in under budget – piecing all of this together, sufficient funds were found to allow the La Cienega Design Quarter the opportunity to get started with City matching funds. The Councilmember made clear how proud he is of all the efforts the group has made so far, and that he is confident of the BID's future success and importance to the community.
The 5th Council District has a glorious assortment of fine dining establishments, which is why the annual dineLA Restaurant Week is an especially delectable treat for our experienced foodies and casual food fans alike. This year, dineLA Restaurant Week takes place January 22-27 and January 29-February 3, 2012.
Because top restaurants are vital to the 5th District’s culture and economy and a treasured part of any proud neighborhood, Councilmember Koretz is always delighted to take part in the opening festivities, held by LA Inc., The Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau. LA Inc created dineLA in partnership with American Express and top LA restaurant industry leaders in order to showcase the city as a world-class dining destination and to promote the local culinary
scene. This year’s kickoff event announcing Restaurant Week was held at W Los Angeles-Westwood, in the 5th District, and joining Councilmember Koretz were Mark Liberman (pictured below), President and CEO, LA Inc., Tom Mullen (pictured below), Vice President-Large Market Development, American Express, and W’s Executive Chef, Dakota Weiss.
W Los Angeles-Westwood's Executive Chef Dakota Weiss speaks at Restaurant Week's kickoff event.
During Restaurant Week, L.A. residents and visitors are able to enjoy amazing meals from great local restaurants at very affordable prices. Many of our city’s best-known restaurants participate, making Restaurant Week the perfect time both for revisiting old favorites and exploring other eateries that you’ve always wanted to try.
One of the things that sets Los Angeles apart from other cities is the quality and variety of its restaurants, from the best corner burger joint to world class traditional and contemporary cuisines. The 5th District is the epicenter of good food for the region, and DineLA shines a spotlight on so much wonderful food while also celebrating the hardworking chefs, wait-staff, farmers and countless others who pour their heart and soul into the tremendous food that enriches the
taste palettes and economy of Los Angeles.
Legislation Concerning Adult Films
On January 17, the City Council approved an ordinance requiring condoms to be used in adult films that are filmed in the City of Los Angeles.
This matter arose because AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) had successfully circulated an initiative requiring performers to use condoms in adult films. Once the City Clerk had certified that AHF had acquired enough petition signatures to qualify the initiative and place it on a ballot, the City Council was forced to either approve the ordinance as drafted or spend $4 million administering an election
just for that one matter – while realizing that any such matter on the ballot would probably be approved by the voters.
Consequently, Councilmember Koretz said it was a “no brainer” to save the taxpayers $4 million under those circumstances, and so he took the lead in calling for the Council to adopt the ordinance by a vote of the Council, and without placing it on the ballot: he also pointed out that this ordinance will mandate safer practices among those who are involved in the porn industry, and may also educate or influence others who on occasion watch such films.
Because the AHF initiative forced prompt action – the Council had to act hastily to avoid deadlines associated with placing initiatives on the ballot – some questions remain about implementation and enforcement of this ordinance (which was sent to the mayor for his signature). Consequently, the Council also created a working group to address aspects of the ordinance that may still need additional attention, and that group includes or may include representatives of
various entities including the City Administrative Office, the City Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles Police Department, FilmL.A. (the private, nonprofit organization that coordinates and processes permits for on-location motion picture, television and commercial production), and California OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration).
While many have wondered about enforcement – including regarding those adult film productions which occur without the required permits – many of the most widely distributed videos are made by companies that seek permits and will likely continue to do so. The inclusion of information about the dates of production is required, due to laws prohibiting the use of minors in such productions, and so the films themselves may well provide adequate evidence if and when violations
occur. The working group will likely address such matters.
Westwood's Bid for a Remarkable 2012
Left to right: 800 Degrees creator Adam Fleischman, Councilmeber Paul Koretz, and 800 Degrees Chef Anthony Carron
The New Year started with a victory and positive momentum for Westwood Village. On December 29, 2011 litigation to stop the Westwood Business Improvement District (BID) was dismissed in Los Angeles Superior Court. The very next day, the 800 Degrees pizzeria opened to critical acclaim and fanfare, and as December 31st ended, Westwood Village rang in the New Year with newly trimmed and decorative lit trees, clean sidewalks and ambassador security patrols to protect and assist visitors. With such excitement and success in the air, 2012 is expected to be a banner year for Westwood with new businesses opening, the BID continuing to spruce up the area, and students, visitors and families rediscovering what a great place the village is to shop, work and play.
800 Degrees is an Adam Fleischman (think Umami Burger fame) creation offering fantastic Neapolitan pizza at family-friendly prices right in the heart of Westwood Village. Guests enter the restaurant and order their pizza with a master chef who prepares the pizza in front of you and then bakes it in the ultra-hot oven – all in around a minute! From a Ferrari designed soda dispenser to mouth watering gelato, there is more than just amazing pizza to draw you into this latest Westwood Village eatery. 800 Degrees is located at 10889 Lindbrook and is open daily from 11:00 AM to 2:00 AM.
The Westwood BID was established by area property-owners working with merchants, residents and Council District 5 to improve the physical condition, business friendliness and visitor experience in Westwood Village and the Wilshire Corridor. With the litigation cloud lifted, the BID can continue its work which is already visible in the Village and throughout the boundaries of the BID. Walking from the W Hotel to the village is safer due to the BID’s ambassador security program; trees are trimmed and lit, enhancing an after-dinner stroll through the village; and sidewalks are clean and clear along the Wilshire corridor for countless employees, customers and visitors. In the coming months the BID will continue these important efforts as well as addressing marketing of Westwood and making better use of existing parking resources in the district. Councilmember Koretz and Westwood stakeholders thank Deputy City Attorney Daniel Whitley for his tenacious work defending the City against the unnecessary litigation threatening the BID.
So the page has been turned on some of the issues of the past, and 2012 seems bright with promise for Westwood, which will see the opening of Five Guys hamburgers in Westwood, the continuation of 3rd Thursday celebrations known as Westwood Live, final planning for the future subway stop and an enjoyable and prosperous year for visitors, merchants and other stakeholders alike. Councilmember Koretz salutes the Westwood BID and all involved community leadership, businesses and activists for their momentous efforts to date and those to come.
On December 29, 2011 the California Supreme Court ordered all redevelopment agencies in the state closed effective February 1, 2012. The ruling invalidated a scheme for revised redevelopment revenue sharing (AB1X 27) and upheld the outright elimination of all redevelopment agencies (AB1X 26). While many very legitimate questions exist about the overall effectiveness of redevelopment in California, and while Councilmember Koretz has been a tough critic of the CRA
regarding numerous projects, closing down billions of dollars of assets in a month is proving to be an impossible quagmire at best.
Councilmember Koretz and State Senator Alex Padilla have led an effort to allow cities more time to wind down operations and sell assets in an orderly fashion. One of the largest unresolved issues involves liability to the City for projects and contracts made with entities and funding streams that will no longer exist. For this and a combination of other reasons the Los Angeles City Council voted not to create a so-called “successor agency” to handle the winding down of the CRA. Under the state legislation such an agency would be made up of a board where the City represented a minority of members and all their actions would be subject to veto by the California Office of Finance; however, the liability may have flowed to the City as it was the City’s agency.
The successor agency does not solve all the liability questions nor does it solve the economics of selling all assets (including billions of dollars worth of real estate) at an auction resulting in a fire sale where land values tumble and taxpayers lose millions on these public investments. This is why Senator Padilla has introduced SB 659 to extend the timeline for local government to unwind redevelopment. The bill does not reverse the legislature’s decision to eliminate
redevelopment but allows for a more reasonable wind-down of those operations that better protects the taxpayers' interest in real estate and other assets accumulated by the agencies.
Councilmember Koretz recently explained to the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments, “I have had my strong doubts about redevelopment and been outright critical of individual projects but that is no reason to shut these agencies down in a completely ad hoc fashion that exposes cities to enormous losses on investments as well as unknown and unlimited liability. We all have to work together to protect taxpayers and this City from the potential harm if this is handled in a disorderly manner, and so we need to wind things down thoughtfully and efficiently while preserving the value of City assets.” The Los Angeles City Council, San Fernando Valley Council of Governments and the Westside Council of Governments are all working together to urge the legislature to provide a reasonable solution on redevelopment.
International Dream Games
WNBA Star Lisa Leslie speaks to youth at the Third Annual International Dream Games
Councilmember Koretz and 5th Council District staff were pleased to participate in the 3rd Annual International Dream Games, held at Van Ness and Westwood Recreations Centers this Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. The purpose of these yearly games is to recognize the legacy of Dr. King by celebrating diversity and giving Los Angeles children a treasured experience. Bringing together youth from 12 City Recreation Centers, this year’s International Dream Games were basketball games conducted with the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and involving youth and parents from recreation centers throughout the City. These games are a continuation of an ongoing partnership between the LA Sparks, the Friends of West Los Angeles, and Recreation and Parks.
The kids were amazed by the presence and skills of Los Angeles Sparks star and four time gold medalist, Lisa Leslie. The renowned multi-talented leader in women’s sports wowed her audience, not just by her star power but also by announcing the Lisa Leslie Basketball and Leadership Academy, which in conjunction with LA City Recreation and Parks will be held at the Westwood Recreation Center starting this March. Space for the co-ed academy that will focus on basketball skills, leadership skills, and academic help is limited. Pre-register or find more information for the camp (ages 7 – 18) atwww.lisaleslie9.com.
His Love of Community Continues to Speak Volumes
The late Bill Tippit pictured with Eden Wozniak, one of the many children who have benefitted tremendously from programming now known as the Bill Tippit Reading Fund. Photo Credit: Greg Bartlett
Sadly, many great programs have been eliminated at our nation's schools because of fiscal crisis, but it's wonderful that so many good people continue to step forward to ensure that young people have access to crucial educational tools and experiences.
When the "Wonder of Reading" program was cut at Overland Avenue Elementary School before this school year, the Westside Neighborhood Council and many concerned residents joined together to create the Bill Tippit Reading Fund and raise money to reinstate the program, now called the "Magic of Reading" program.
Bill Tippit was a remarkable community leader and devoted reader who was also a much-revered volunteer in the "Wonder of Reading" program. As BIll's widow, Terri Tippit (pictured above), recalls, he always treasured the many grateful notes and letters of thanks he received from students over the years. For the school and community, it made perfect sense and was a wonderful gesture to name the new program after Bill.
There have been a lot of generous donations so far, including from Fox, JMB Realty, Westside Pavilion Mall (Macerich), Century City Mall (Westfield), and several Homeowner Associations. Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Councilmember Koretz will also be supporting the fund, and both were pleased to attend a recent plaque and dedication ceremony at which benefactors and people from throughout the community joined to dedicate a corner of the school library to Bill Tippit. He has left a magnificent legacy, imbued with the community's spirit of generosity.
New Horrors Associated with Street Drugs Misleadingly Known as "bath salts"
Last year, when Councilmember Koretz initiated a pioneering ban on the synthetic drugs known as "bath salts," he did so because these drugs, though not yet known to be prevalent in California, had been linked to a rising and dangerous tide of usage in other states. In the past couple of years, there have been numerous reports, especially in the South and Midwest United States, of horrific incidents of bizarre and violent behavior by persons profoundly under the influence of substances that were labeled as bath salts and sold legally in stores, even to minors. (These bath salts, which often contain various amphetamine-like chemicals, are NOT the name brand bath salts that have been sold in stores for years and were used by many of our grandparents!) It seemed inevitable that use of the drugs would spread here to California – in fact, one reporter found them being given out as free samples by a store on Hollywood Boulevard – and so Councilmember Koretz decided not to wait for horror stories to happen and instead called for a ban to be enacted.
The good news is that achieving that ban authored by Councilmember Koretz has also raised significant awareness about the dangers of bath salts. Previously, even many local law enforcement and drug treatment experts were largely unaware about these particular synthetic drugs and their potency and availability, even though any person under the influence can become extremely violent, impervious to pain and susceptible to gross hallucinatory states.
Now, though, a new danger of bath salts has been identified: according to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, a study (published in this month's issue of the journal "Orthopedics") has found that intramuscular injection of these drugs can lead to the flesh-eating disease known as necrotizing fasciitis.
The ban that was approved last year will hopefully prevent many tragedies, and while the horrors of this ravaging skin disease were not known at that time to be among the costs of using these powerful synthetic drugs, it's good to know that the City acted proactively to protect people from potent hazards associated with these substances.
NCJW's Annual Clothing Giveaway
Crowds gather together for the National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles's annual free clothing giveaway.
On Sunday, December 4, 2011, the National Council of Jewish Women/Los Angeles held their annual free clothing giveaway at their main office on Fairfax. Employees and volunteers of the NCJW/LA spent months preparing for the event, and it was estimated that at least 5,000 people attended, and over 80,000 articles of clothing were given away.
Agencies distributed information about their programs and services at the Community Resource Fair, also located in the Council House parking lot. Participating organizations included NCJW/LA Women Helping Women Community Counseling & Support Services, Council Thrift Shops, City of Los Angeles, City of West Hollywood, Los Angeles County Public Health, California Lesbian Project, Jewish Vocational Service, LA Gay & Lesbian Center, Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger and Homelessness, Lupus LA, SOVA Community Food and Resource Program, and The Saban Free Clinic.
In addition to providing the clothing and other items for the annual giveaway, Council Thrift Shops fund NCJW/LA’s community programs that assist women, children, and families. These community services include a free Counseling Talkline (877-655- 3807), Women Helping Women Community Counseling & Support Services, and Women Helping Children Art & Literacy Programs for Youth.
Volunteers are needed for next year’s Annual Clothing Giveaway. To volunteer or for more information, call 323-852-8515 or firstname.lastname@example.org. NCJW counts on the generosity of people to donate to their Council Thriftshop. Because of these donations, the NCJW/LA is able to put on this event each year and serve those in need. The event has grown every year, and they expect it to expand next year as well given the current state of the economy.
Thank you NCJW/LA for helping those in need!
Welcoming Leana Scott
Councilmember Paul Koretz and CD5's newest staff member, Leana Scott
Councilmember Koretz and his 5th Council District Office are pleased to announce that Leana Scott is the newest member of the 5th Council District staff. Leana is already off to an impressive start in her post at the front desk at City Hall, and she has quickly earned raves about her tremendous work ethic, knowledge about many key issues, dedication to public service and people skills.
Even though she is a 5th generation Angeleno on her father’s side, Leana was actually born in the Solomon Islands: her family moved back to Los Angeles when she was two. She was raised here, living at different times in the San Fernando Valley and the Westside and attending local public schools before enrolling at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she majored in Legal Studies with a focus on Environmental Policy. After graduation, she learned the ropes of city government interning with the office of then-City Council President Eric Garcetti, and subsequently worked as project coordinator for the non-profit organization, Women Against Gun Violence.
Leana is thrilled to be working on behalf of the people of the 5th Council District. She is also an avid photographer, so "Smile, everyone!"