The following is a letter sent to Council District 5 stakeholders from Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz following multiple tragedies in the district which includes Century City and Westwood.
In recent weeks the Fifth Council District has seen multiple devastating tragedies, including the terrible death of 32-year-old Monique Munoz who was struck by a vehicle traveling at a very high rate of speed,102-year-old Youssef Mahboubian who perished due to a shockingly vicious attack at his home in Encino, and an equally senseless and horrible murder of 31-year-old Gabriel Donnay at his Beverly Grove residence.
Each one of these individuals was someone’s family member, someone’s child, or someone’s close friend. Our hearts are collectively broken as we mourn these tragic losses within our community.
Over the course of the last couple of weeks, my staff and I have spent quite a bit of time speaking to many of you, whether on the phone or in your neighborhoods and have emphatically expressed that my commitment to public safety has never wavered, and neither has my unequivocal dedication to our residents and community members.
The Fifth District continues to be one of the safest in the City, but in light of recent events, we know we have to continue to do more. For several years, my Director of Public Safety Greg Martayan and I have worked closely with LAPD and relevant agencies to increase patrols and deployments. These have included task forces to tighten the overall security of our neighborhoods. For example, we have implemented special missions to handle party and nuisance houses to protect neighborhood quality of life, improve security, and reduce COVID spread.
The reality is, even before these tragedies, plans were already underway to respond within the Fifth District to a citywide spike in crime addressing trends flagged by the Los Angeles Police Department. Those meetings and that planning are continuing as we work proactively to prevent crime.
To address the speeding and street racing epidemic, I have requested nearly a dozen traffic mitigations that will be implemented expeditiously in the Fifth District – among them are multiple speed feedback signs, “rest-on-red” intersections, and state-of-the-art traffic management analysis equipment for the Los Angeles Police Department Traffic Bureau. I have also directed my legislative staff to draft Resolutions so the City can go on record suggesting or supporting several state measures to help halt these reckless drivers.
The safety and security of our residential neighborhoods continues to be the primary mission of this office. My friend former LAPD Assistant Chief Jon Peters used to say that “your priorities are where your boots are.”
Consequently, our boots are on Overland and Olympic, as we install a protected left-hand turn signal at the location where the 32-year-old young woman, Monique Munoz, was killed in a horrific crash. Our boots are also in Encino and within LAPD’s West Valley Division, as we coordinate with LAPD Command on how we can work to prevent and deter heinous acts as we saw in the murder of a beloved family elder. Our boots are on the ground on Maryland and San Vicente, as we collaborate with all relevant agencies to bring safety and order into a shaken community that has been devastated by the tragic murder of an innocent neighbor.
The Fifth District is also our home. As public servants and as your neighbors, my staff and I commit daily to protect it, help it grow, and preserve it. Our community members are our greatest resource and critical partners to affect positive change. Before the Covid-19 outbreak, many of you would invite me and my staff into your homes to hold neighborhood gatherings to discuss improving local public safety, and other community issues. When we are able to gather safely again we will hold more of these meetings to reestablish that critical collaboration. Working together, we can secure our streets and our neighborhoods.
Our public safety efforts certainly reach well beyond the law enforcement needs of the District. The community should know that in addition to issues of crime, we also work extensively with the Command of the Los Angeles Fire Department to proactively monitor and prepare for any fire threats. This includes our extensive work in helping secure brush patrols in the hillsides, collaboration with our City’s Fire Marshall, and our engagement and coordination with the LAFD Fire Prevention Bureau.
In fact, you may recall that during the Skirball Fire, I was on scene for the first 36 hours of the firefight and collaborated closely with LAFD and LAPD to evacuate over 2,000 homes with no civilian injuries. Shortly thereafter, my office worked closely with the California Highway Patrol, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, CalTrans, LAPD, and LAFD to come up with protocols that would help prevent such a fire from happening again.
I’ve also introduced landmark legislation, which has now become City law, to help curb unexpected fires in the hillsides. These fires were sometimes sparked by ferrous blades from weed whackers ironically being used to clear brush to avoid such fires. My office worked closely with LAFD in writing this legislation to establish protocols and regulations for brush clearance, to ensure such incidents would not occur in the future.
As a son of the Pico/Robertson area, I am proud of the beauty, history, and diversity of the City of Los Angeles. Our City represents a beacon of hope to millions of people both here and around the world, but we must work to remain as such.
Councilmember Paul Koretz, Fifth District