Yaroslavsky on Tipping Point of Homelessness

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke to USA Today about the growing issue of homelessness in Los Angeles and the role that it will play in the city’s upcoming mayoral election. The homelessness crisis has grown and is now visible in parks, on sidewalks and at freeway underpasses. Experts estimate that there are at least 40,000 unhoused people in Los Angeles, and a Los Angeles Times poll found that 94% of respondents considered homelessness a serious or very serious problem. “This problem has been around for a long time, [but] we’re past the tipping point now, the political tipping point,” Yaroslavsky said. “This is as potent a political issue as there is in the election coming forward.” The article cited a report from the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy that estimated that 1,500 people without homes died in Los Angeles between March 2020 and July 2021. 


Yaroslavsky, Newton on the L.A. Riots and Police Chief Gates

Los Angeles Initiative Director Zev Yaroslavsky and Blueprint editor Jim Newton joined the Slate podcast “Slow Burn” to discuss the aftermath of the Rodney King beating in March 1991. A tape of the beating exposed brutality within the Los Angeles Police Department, prompting many to call for Chief Daryl Gates to step down. At the time, the LAPD “saw itself as a paramilitary organization, primarily white and male, and viewed its fundamental charge as maintaining the peace,” Newton said. Yaroslavsky pointed out that the police commission could fire Gates only for a case of moral turpitude. “It was never an issue of whether he would be fired; the issue was whether he could be persuaded to leave,” Yaroslavsky said. The Christopher Commission, launched by former Mayor Tom Bradley and chaired by Warren Christopher, recommended that Gates step down; he did not retire until June 1992.


Yaroslavsky on Risks, Rewards of 2028 Olympics

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke to KPCC’s AirTalk about the risks and rewards Los Angeles faces as it prepares to host the 2028 Olympic Games. Yaroslavsky noted that L.A. already has the infrastructure to support the Games, including sports arenas such as SoFi Stadium, which can host opening and closing ceremonies, and new dorms at USC and UCLA that can serve as an Olympic Village. Commenting on the prospect that Los Angeles might still be battling crisis levels of homelessness, Yaroslavsky said, “We can’t wait until 2028 to solve this problem. We’ve got to solve it now.” The primary challenge for local Olympic organizers is to remained disciplined to avoid running a deficit, he said. “Barring any pandemic kind of event, or a worldwide recession which would influence ticket sales and travel, … these Games should make a profit,” which would be reinvested in youth sports and other initiatives that benefit the community, he said.


 

Garcetti and Yaroslavsky on the Lessons of Leadership

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti shared his reflections on the surprises and challenges of leadership in a special episode of the UCLA podcast “Then & Now.” In conversation with longtime public servant Zev Yaroslavsky, now director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, Garcetti touched on issues including homelessness, the 2028 Olympic Games and the region’s response to COVID-19. He also summed up lessons learned from political leaders of the past: “Don’t worry about the criticism of today or the headlines of tomorrow. Think about yourself looking back 10 years from now, [asking], ‘Did I make the right decision?’ ” Nominated to serve as U.S. ambassador to India, Garcetti said, “The basic work of politics, whether you’re an ambassador or mayor, is trying to reach people’s hearts … and to bring people together to realize it’s better when we find common ground than when we just shout about what separates us.” ” The podcast is produced by UCLA’s Luskin Center for History and Policy.


 

Yaroslavsky on Protecting Civil Liberties and Art

Director of the Los Angeles Initiative Zev Yaroslavsky spoke to the New York Times about the thriving Theatricum Botanicum located in the Santa Monica Mountains. The theater was started by actor Will Geer in the 1950s as a retreat for blacklisted actors who refused to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities about alleged communist activity. Yaroslavsky, who represented Topanga and helped win the theater arts subsidies when he was a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, called the theater a “civil liberties billboard.” Now, the outdoor theater continues to draw crowds in the Topanga area as many seek safe forms of entertainment during the pandemic. “When I think of Topanga Canyon and the Theatricum Botanicum, it’s a constant history lesson of what can happen even in a democracy like ours when people stop being diligent,” Yaroslavsky said. “The whole DNA of that theater is about eternal vigilance.”


Claims of Voter Fraud Are Unfounded, Yaroslavsky Says

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, appeared on Los Angeles news stations covering Californians’ rejection of an effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom. The governor’s opponents suggested that the election results may have been tainted by fraud, an accusation that Yaroslavsky called “pernicious.” “If there’s evidence, bring it on and let’s deal with it. But if you don’t have the evidence, then keep your mouth shut,” he told CBS2. Yaroslavsky also discussed possible reforms to the state’s recall process, such as elevating the elected lieutenant governor or holding a separate runoff election. On KCAL9, he noted that mail-in ballots sent to every eligible voter led to a huge turnout for the off-year election. “People are more engaged in the political process now than they have been in quite some time,” he said. “You have a new generation of people who know what the stakes are and that elections have consequences for them individually and for the society.”


Yaroslavsky on Political Reverberations From Recall Election

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke to USA Today about the potential for nationwide repercussions if California Gov. Gavin Newsom is ousted in Tuesday’s recall election. Newsom’s removal could fuel efforts to dismantle vaccine mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions, and embolden Republicans who will battle to take control of both chambers of Congress in the 2022 midterm elections. It could also undermine California’s reputation as a progressive trendsetter. “When California sneezes, the rest of the country catches a cold,” said Yaroslavsky, a former Los Angeles County supervisor and city councilman. California’s ouster of a Democrat would be a “political earthquake” that could shake the rest of the nation, he added. Yaroslavsky also spoke to the Jewish News Syndicate about the role of the Jewish electorate, noting, “There’s an undemocratic piece to this recall, which I think offends the sensibilities of the Jewish community.” 


Yaroslavsky on Permit Parking Dilemma

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, was featured in a Los Angeles Times article discussing the permit requirements and restrictions that regulate parking across the city. Yaroslavsky came up with the idea of permit parking more than 40 years ago for residents in neighborhoods where street parking is dominated by customers trying to access nearby businesses. “Cities throughout our region have required developers to provide parking for their customers or residents. Eliminating such requirements in order to reduce development costs may be a good idea in theory, but it has consequences,” said the former city councilman and county supervisor. Yaroslavsky said that without parking requirements, car owners will be forced to circle neighborhoods to find curbside parking, and some businesses that rely on curb parking may lose customers. “The government should be careful before eliminating all parking requirements, because if it turns out to be a mistake, it can’t be corrected,” he concluded.


Yaroslavsky on High Stakes of Recall Election

Director of the Los Angeles Initiative Zev Yaroslavsky spoke to the Orange County Register about voter turnout in the upcoming recall election of Gov. Gavin Newsom. Yaroslavsky explained that when Republicans started mobilizing to get enough signatures to put the recall of Newsom on the ballot, most Democrats didn’t think the governor was actually in trouble. “They thought ‘He can’t possibly lose. This is a blue state,’” Yaroslavsky said. Now that ballots are being mailed out and the recall election is drawing near, Democrats have been rolling out anti-recall efforts and encouraging voters to vote “no.” Yaroslavsky predicted that as Newsom’s campaign ramps up, voter engagement will also pick up. “People are starting to focus on the stakes and what it means for Newsom to be out of office,” he said. “The stakes are pretty high, and everybody needs to know it.”


Yaroslavsky on What L.A. Can Learn From the Tokyo Olympics

Los Angeles Initiative Director Zev Yaroslavsky joined a wide-ranging conversation on KCRW’s “Greater LA” focusing on what Los Angeles can learn from the Tokyo Olympics as it prepares to host the Summer Games in 2028. Yaroslavsky was a member of the L.A. City Council when the city hosted the 1984 Olympics. Since then, Los Angeles has seen the construction of new sports venues and transit lines, as well as dormitories at USC and UCLA that can serve as an Olympic Village, he said. “The most significant difference between ’84 and the current state of affairs is that in 1984, the City of Los Angeles refused to sign the guarantee that the International Olympic Committee demands of every host city, and that is the guarantee that [the city] will cover all expenses,” he said. In Tokyo, costs projected at $7.4 billion skyrocketed to $15.4 billion. In 2028, Los Angeles will be on the hook for any final damages if the Games fail to meet projected revenues.