Friday, October 29, 2010

Remember to Vote on Tuesday, November 2nd!

Tuesday, November 2nd is Election Day. No matter who you support it is imperative you exercise your civic duty by casting your ballot. Democracy only functions when all participate. To find your polling place, click here. Remember, the polls are open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm.

Free Flu Shots Given Out

Yesterday, over 150 children, seniors, adults received free flu shots at our district office in Glassell Park. The event was sponsored by the County Department of Health, the Department of Recreation and Parks, and our own Council District Thirteen staff. To find more flu shot locations near you, please visit

Camino Nuevo High School Opens New Soccer Field and Basketball Courts

Last week we celebrated the official opening of Camino Nuevo High School’s new soccer field and basketball courts. Both were built thanks to the help of a federal Community Development grant. Both facilities will also serve as a joint-use park, meaning they can be enjoyed by both students and community members throughout the year.

Music Box Steps Day Celebrates its Sixteenth Year

On Saturday, October 23rd, I attended the annual Music Box Steps Day in Silver Lake. The steps are a public staircase connecting Vendome Street and Descanso Drive, which were featured prominently in the Academy Award-winning Laurel and Hardy short film, The Music Box. For the past sixteen years, Music Box Steps Day has featured a local family film festival, intended to enhance neighborhood pride and educate our youth about this historic jewel.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Garcetti Addresses LA Chamber at City Hall

Every year the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce organizes an "Access City Hall" event that brings a large contingent of businesspersons to meet with policymakers. Before they fanned out throughout City Hall, I had a chance to address the group and make sure they were aware of my priorities in terms of jobs and economic development. Some of the policy actions that I shared with them were my plan for a jobs tax credit to encourage hiring and help existing businesses grow during these tough times; my reconvening of the Business Tax Advisory Committee to develop comprehensive business tax reform and other ways to cut red tape that could delay or even block new businesses and job growth; and my plan for DWP reform to ensure fair rates for every ratepayer, including businesses, who are large consumers of water and power. I also thanked the Chamber for its work on "Cash for College," an initiative that I have been a proud partner in. Cash for College has helped 100,000 Los Angeles students with college counseling and financial aid guidance. It is refreshing that Los Angeles has a business community that understands that helping our youth is in all of our best interest, as we are only as competitive as our workforce it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Become a Foster Parent for a Pet in Need

Have you been thinking about adding a dog or cat to your family but aren’t ready for the 15-20 year commitment? By fostering a pet, you can provide temporary care for a dog, cat, puppy, or kitten in need. All you need is a room (even a bathroom) and some spare time. The Department of Animal Service will provide fosters with basic training, supplies, any necessary medications, and access to someone to answer any questions. Time commitment can range from one to eight weeks or occasionally longer. To join the Foster Program, please call the West Valley Animal Care Center at 213-485-8405, the Harbor Animal Care Center at 213-485-8755 or email for more information.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Honoring Congresswoman Watson

Today, I had the privilege to honor Congresswoman Diane Watson in Council Chambers. Her notable career started in 1975, when she became the first African-American woman to be elected to the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. In 1978, she was elected to the California State Senate, where she chaired the Senate Health and Human Services Committee from 1981 to 1998. In 1999, President Clinton appointed her to serve as the United States Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia—understanding, as we do, that Congresswoman Watson would represent our country with poise, compassion, and savvy.

In 2001, she was elected to California’s 33rd Congressional District, where she has lived all her life. Watson’s roots are deep in Los Angeles, with her father serving as a LAPD officer, and on the staff of Councilmember Gil Lindsay.

Help End Homelessness in Los Angeles

The United Way of Greater Los Angeles will again be hosting its annual 5k Walk to End Homelessness on Saturday, November 13th. The walk will begin in Exposition Park at 700 Exposition Park Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90037. Check-in time begins at 7:00 a.m. with the walk starting at 9:00 a.m. You can go here to get more information or go here to sign up.

The Redbury Grand Opening

This week I helped open Redbury, the latest entertainment option at Hollywood and Vine, which I know will generate a great deal of excitement for residents and visitors alike-- and a great deal of economic activity for our city. Today, Hollywood is surging from Hollywood and Highland, home to the Academy Awards and soon Cirque Du Soleil, clear down to Hollywood and Vine, where the Redbury is. Tourists, restaurants, nightlife and economic activity are thriving. Today’s flourishing Hollywood is the result of local businesses, entrepreneurs, neighborhood residents and government coming together to support safe and clean streets; to collaborate on improvements; and to say to those who invest here, we will support you.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Check Out the New Neighborhood Stabilization Program Website

Earlier today, the Los Angeles Housing Department launched its new Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) website. This new comprehensive website will assist the public in purchasing rehabilitated/rebuilt homes, locating rental properties in the City of Los Angeles, and much more.

The NSP website resides within LAHD’s website and may be accessed one of two ways at, from the top menu bar (under “Homebuyers”) and from “LAHD Programs” on the side bar.

The website provides a wide-range of information which includes, but is not limited to the following:

• Searchable and Activity Maps for NSP Eligible Areas
• Green Features of NSP homes
• Photo Gallery of completed NSP Properties
• “News Room” for Press Releases and Articles
• “Frequently Asked Questions”

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Taking on Pension Reform

Reducing the cost of pensions to the City is an essential component to achieving true structural reform and long-term budget health. The current system is unsustainable and threatens to overwhelm our City's ability to provide the highest level of police, fire, library, parks, roads and other critical services. This cost-crisis is becoming especially acute as baby boomers retire en masse.

I have crafted and introduced in Council a plan that would fundamentally reform the city's pension system to save millions of dollars. My plan changes the way a pension is calculated to stop pension “spiking” and “double-dipping” while requiring employees, for the first time, to contribute to the cost of their lifetime health care benefits. Enacting these reforms could face an uphill battle, but the bottom line is that the status quo is unacceptable and threatens the core services that City Hall exists to provide. Let me know what you think about pension reform at or go to our Speak Out LA blog to leave a comment.

Third Annual Silver Lake “Howl-o-Ween”

On Sunday, October 31st from 3:00 to 5:00 PM, the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council will once again be hosting its annual “Howl-o-Ween” Doggie Costume Pageant at the Silver Lake Dog Park, in the small dog section of the park. All dogs are welcome and prizes will be given for all entries. Registration is from 3:00 to 4:00 while the pageant lasts from 4:00 to 5:00. For more information, please e-mail Renee at or call 323-662-3123

Council Honors CicLAvia Organizers

Last Friday, the City Council joined me in honoring the organizers of CicLAvia. On October 10th nearly 100,000 Angelenos took back seven and half miles of streets, from Boyle Heights to East Hollywood. Streets were closed to motorized traffic, turning the route into one long linear park. En masse, Angelenos left their cars behind and took to the streets to bike, walk, stroll, skate, and play.

I got a chance to ride the route with a couple of friends and enjoyed an amazing experience. It was a sea of smiles and good will. From across Los Angeles, people came together as one community. I saw people playing dodgeball, doing yoga, picnicking -- you name it. I even heard that a couple got married.

CicLAvia proved what an amazing place Los Angeles can be when we leave our cars behind and reconnect as a community. We all look forward to future events as we move forward towards a more livable Los Angeles.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Next DWP Reform Meeting is October 18th

The sixth of my citywide series of hearings on DWP reform will continue Monday, October 18th at 6 p.m. in North Hollywood at East Valley High School, 5525 Vineland Ave., 91601.

I am leading these hearings to obtain input from Los Angeles residents, business owners, consumer advocates and experts on reforming the DWP to increase transparency and accountability at the agency. This joint hearing of the City Council's Rules and Energy and Environment committees is being held in partnership with Council President Pro Tempore Jan Perry (Chair of the Energy & Environment Committee) and Paul Krekorian, in whose district this hearing is being held. The goal is to ensure the DWP puts its customers – the people of Los Angeles – first.

A key focus of these hearings is my Charter amendment, proposed for the March 2011 ballot, establishing an independent DWP watchdog who would serve as a ratepayer/customer advocate. I have chosen to pursue a Charter amendment because only voters can change the Charter, protecting the independent watchdog from political or DWP interference. I feel very strongly that DWP's customers -- the people of Los Angeles -- deserve independent assurance of fair utility rates, and that real DWP reform starts with an independent watchdog to enforce transparency and accountability.

I have also passed through the Council a proposed Charter amendment to ensure public scrutiny of the DWP budget and minimize the uncertainty the DWP can inject into the overall city budget process. My plan would require the DWP to publicly present its budget well in advance of the budget deadline and would change the current deadline that allows the DWP to pass its budget after the city passes its overall budget, as was the case this year.

DWP is a vital, multi-billion dollar part of our city, so I encourage you to attend, or send me your thoughts at

Gangs and Domestic Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and today I joined the City’s Domestic Violence Task Force, law enforcement officials and experts to highlight the link between gang violence and domestic violence. Gang members often report that they were drawn to gang life because they were looking for a substitute family. For many gang members, it was violence at home that drove them away from their own families. Breaking the cycle of domestic violence, experts say, can be key to breaking the cycle of gang violence.

This year, the City’s Domestic Violence Task Force decided to deeply explore and act on the link between gang and domestic violence, forming a Domestic Violence/Gang Violence Nexus Committee that brings together gang and domestic violence prosecutors, officers, experts, and intervention, prevention and response workers. The Task Force has forged partnerships between the City’s Gang Reduction and Youth Development Project Managers and domestic violence service providers in there areas, and has supported the production of "Violence Connected," a documentary that explores the gang-domestic violence link that is now being used as a training tool in Los Angeles as well as outside agencies. We also proudly honored LAPD officers who have gone above and beyond in their work against gangs and domestic violence.

You can watch "Violence Connected" here.

The New Museum of the Holocaust

Yesterday, I was proud to attend the dedication and opening of the new Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. Two and a half years ago, I attended the groundbreaking, and it was truly inspiring to see how the site has transformed. This memorial and museum are where Los Angeles takes a stand to help ensure that the horrors of the Holocaust are not repeated, where Los Angeles shall always remember those who were murdered and where Angelenos committed to peace will gather for generations to come.

Through this institution, which strives to educate and enlighten, we can instill in our youth the knowledge and wisdom they need to create a better world than the one they shall inherit.

The spark behind this museum came 50 years ago at an adult English class at Hollywood High School. A group of Holocaust survivors, as they worked together to build their futures here in America, shared their survival stories and artifacts from their tragic pasts, and saw the benefit of sharing their stories with the rest of Los Angeles.

For more information please visit

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Summer Night Lights Prove Huge Success

Yesterday, I was proud to announce that the Summer Night Lights program had it most successful season yet, resulting in dramatic reductions in gang-related crime. Over 710,000 youth participated, nearly triple the number from last year. Communities around the participating park and recreation centers saw a 40% drop in gang-related crime, a 57% reduction in gang-related homicides, a 55% reduction in the number of shots fired, and a 45% reduction in the number of victims shot. The program also expanded to eight new sites this year, including the Lake Street Community Center in our district.

I am in awe of how this program has grown. Just four years ago, after a 16-year-old girl in Glassell Park was tragically shot, I worked with the community to come up with a way to head off a long, hot and violent summer. We developed at the Glassell Park Recreation Center what was called “At the Park After Dark.”

Our program went city-wide in 2007 and has been embraced as a national model in combating gang-violence. Though there is still more work to do, I am proud of the enormous strides we have made, resulting in the safest summer in Los Angeles in decades.

Friday, October 08, 2010

CicLAvia is this Sunday!

Los Angeles is hosting its first cicLAvia this Sunday from 10am to 3pm. Over seven and half miles of streets from Boyle Heights to East Hollywood will be car-free, providing free space for people to play, walk, bike, and skate. There will also be numerous activities for attendees and children all along the route. Click here for more information or click on the map for a closer view.

Please be advised that many bus routes will be changed due to Sunday’s activities. Lines 2, 4, 10 (Rte. 48), 14 (Rte. 37), 16, 18, 20, 26 (Rtes. 51 & 52), 28, 30, 33, 40, 42,53, 55, 60, 62, 70, 71, 76, 78 (Rte. 79), 81, 83, 84 (Rte. 68), 90 (Rte. 91), 92, 94, 96, 439, 445, 460, 485, 487, 603, 720, 733, 760, 794, 910 will all see some sort of change. For complete information on all the changes, please go to Metro’s website, here.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Blueprint for Reform of City Collections Unveiled

On Monday, I received a “Blueprint for Reform of City Collections” from the Ad Hoc Commission on Revenue Efficiency (CORE). The detailed, 90 page report offers analysis and recommendations to help ensure money owed to the people of Los Angeles is collected and can be used to support police, fire, library, traffic and other key services.

It is unacceptable for bureaucracy and inefficiency to stand in the way of the people of Los Angeles collecting money that is owed to them. It is time to clear away the red tape.

I created CORE to evaluate and recommend improvements in revenue collections. In the course of four months, the Commission has assessed revenue, billing, and collections practices – with a focus on specific recommendations for reform.

Among the Blueprint’s Recommendations:

• Centralization: Create clearer and stronger authority for the Office of Finance; invest in the technology needed to centralize – not just collection – but billing as well.

• Accountability, Incentives & Budgeting: L.A.’s elected officials must hold departments and managers accountable for compliance with directives, guidelines, and Controller audits. Create incentives for departments to make revenue a priority.

• Inspector General: CORE recommends establishing an Inspector General for Revenue & Collections to independently report on, and aid in compliance and reform.

• Intensify consequences for delinquencies: Standardize and boost interest, penalties and fees; increase use of liens and public reporting.

• Ease of payment and collection: Expand and improve payment options.

Among the Blueprint’s Findings:

• 76.6% of the City’s $541.1 million in non-tax receivables are more than 120 days past due – with 42.5% more than 2 years past due.

• City departments are collecting just over half of what they bill.

• Less than half of City departments apply interest or penalties to past due accounts.

• Computer systems and software for accounts receivable are woefully outdated.

• The City has no real centralized billing and collection process

Echo Park Costal Clean Up Day a Huge Success

A special thank you to everyone who participated in Costal Clean Up Day. Over 300 pitched in to clean up more than 260 pounds of trash in Echo Park. Meanwhile, Los Angeles County set a new record with over 14,000 volunteers picking up more than 100,000 pounds of trash across over 100 miles of beaches, lakes, and riverfronts.

Protecting our Waterways

Last Wednesday I joined Elysian Valley residents, the California Coastal Conservancy, other environmental advocate, and engineering experts for the official ribbon-cutting of the Riverdale Avenue Los Angeles Green Streets Pilot Project.

The project beautifies both sides of Riverdale Ave. in Elysian Valley between Crystal Street and where it dead-ends into the Los Angeles River with native plants, permeable materials, and infiltration units that treat contaminated runoff before it flows into the river.

With funding from the Department of Public Works’ Bureaus of Sanitation, Engineering and Street Services, as well as the California Coastal Conservancy, this project is intended to pilot new standards for residential street design to reduce the pollution flowing into Los Angeles’ waterways.

Friday, October 01, 2010

DWP Reform Updates

If you weren't able to attend this Monday's DWP reform hearing in Eagle Rock, the event in its entirety is available on our SpeakOutLA blog. You'll also have another chance to attend a hearing in person. We will be holding our fifth meeting in San Pedro, at the Harbor Commissioners' Board Room at 425 S. Palos Verdes St., Los Angeles, CA 90731, from 6:00 to 8:00 PM, on Monday October 4th, in partnership with Councilmembers Jan Perry and Janice Hahn.

Next Wednesday is International Walk to School Day

The 14th annual International Walk to School Day will take place next Wednesday, October 6th. This event, put on by the Safe Routes to School Foundation, had over 3,300 participating groups last year and enables community leaders, schools, and parents to improve safety and encourage more children to walk and bicycle to school. To start your own event or join an existing one, click here. To get more involved in this effort consider joining the Facebook group, or e-mailing Jessica Meaney at