Following the California midterm elections, Los Angeles Initiative Director Zev Yaroslavsky appeared on several media outlets to offer insight into the state’s shifting political landscape. In an interview with TV station KCAL 9, Yaroslavsky said Gov. Gavin Newsom is “probably going to inherit a downturn of the economy” but he expressed support for Newsom’s economic philosophy “[not to] undertake programs in the good years that you can’t sustain in the lean years.” He said the new governor has a “good track record and experience to play the role he needs to play to keep the state in line” in the face of a legislature that wants to spend and a Trump administration that is “trying to undo … virtually everything that California has been a trailblazer in.” Yaroslavsky also spoke with Fox News about the state’s Democratic supermajority. “Republicans are politically less relevant in California than they have been in years, and it is really up to the Democrats to decide what role they play,” he said. “As long as Democrats stay unified, they won’t even need bipartisan support.” In a CNBC story on the legacy of Jerry Brown, Yaroslavsky spoke about the state’s rebound after the four-term governor cut programs and services to restore fiscal stability. “[Brown] made some very tough decisions to bring California from the precipice of fiscal demise,” Yaroslavsky said. “The last four years were maybe a little easier because the economy did finally turn around and he was able to build the state back up.”
Director of the Los Angeles Initiative Zev Yaroslavsky spoke to the Los Angeles Times about Jim McDonnell’s defeat in the Los Angeles County sheriff race. Yaroslavsky supported incumbent McDonnell’s last two campaigns but commented on his lack of political savvy. “He didn’t have a political calculus, like in how to show empathy for constituencies that are being squeezed in our community,” Yaroslavsky said. “The immigrant community was not happy about the way the department was dealing with its relationship with ICE.” The article also cited Matt Barreto, faculty co-director of the UCLA Luskin-based Latino Politics and Policy Initiative, which measured Latino turnout in the November 2018 election.
Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke with CNBC about challenges facing Gavin Newsom, the next governor of California. Newsom inherits a booming economy and looks to steer the state in an increasingly progressive direction, with focuses on gun control, a single-payer healthcare system and affordable housing. His liberal-oriented ideologies put him in opposition to President Trump, who endorsed Newsom’s opponent, John Cox. Yaroslavsky, a former L.A. County supervisor, advised Newsom to focus on policy rather than constantly sparring with the president. “He’s going to have to take care of business in California and pick and choose his fights with Trump,” Yaroslavsky said. “In my opinion, you can’t be, and shouldn’t be, a knee-jerk opponent of Trump on every single issue because people start to treat you as the usual suspect — and they don’t take you seriously anymore. I think he knows it.”
ABC News spoke to Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, for its report on Orange County Republican Dana Rohrabacher’s bid for reelection to the House of Representatives. Rohrabacher, the article noted, is a staunch Reaganite who took an unexpected ideological turn in advocating closer ties with Russia. In the November 2018 midterm elections, he is one of several California Republicans scrambling to defend his seat. Observers noted that Rohrabacher’s longevity and conservative record give him a strong change of reelection. “He’s been around for almost 30 years in Congress,” said Yaroslavsky, who has known Rohrabacher for decades. “Don’t underestimate him because he will fight.”
Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, shared his expertise on housing policy with several media outlets covering the November 2018 ballot measure that would give California cities more power to curb rising rents. “The state doesn’t do anything for renters. It does everything for property owners and developers,” Yaroslavsky told the Christian Science Monitor. “If we keep this up for another generation, we’re going to have far more homelessness than we do now.” The Monitor’s article on the fight over Proposition 10 cited the Los Angeles Initiative’s 2018 Quality of Life Index, which found that more than a quarter of L.A. County’s 10.1 million residents had worried about losing their home in the previous year. “These are the people who are a lost job or eviction notice away from winding up on the streets,” Yaroslavsky said. The Monitor also cited a UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy working paper on the historical roots of the affordable housing crisis in Los Angeles. Yaroslavsky has also been quoted in Proposition 10 coverage from Bloomberg News, the Guardian and Curbed LA.
Public Policy Professor Mark A. Peterson commented about the possible White House aspirations of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in a story that appeared in the British news publication The Telegraph. “In personality, he is also everything President Trump is not,” said Peterson, whose research interests include the presidency and Congress. “He is articulate, gracious, cheerful, self-deprecating, devoid of bombast, and far from prone to insult and impulsive commentary or action,” Peterson added, but noted, “…some of those attributes may be a disadvantage in today’s politics.” Zev Yaroslavsky, former Los Angeles County supervisor and current director of the UCLA Luskin-based Los Angeles Initiative, also commented in the story, which noted that mayors are considered long-shots for the Oval Office. “We never had had a reality TV star as president or an African American as president,” Yaroslavsky said. “Anybody running for president will be hoping that lightning strikes, so he is thinking why not me.”
Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, was named to an L.A. Unified School District team created to provide more resources to local schools and improve student learning. Yaroslavky is one of three civic leaders volunteering their time to the initiative, which seeks to move resources and decision-making from the bureaucracy to schools. “This is about empowering and supporting our school leaders and teachers … and crafting a path to increased parent and community participation in schools,” LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner announced. “We are grateful for the support of the philanthropic community and the civic leaders who are involved in improving public education in Los Angeles.” As a former county supervisor and City Council member, Yaroslavsky has dedicated four decades to public service working on such issues as school-based wellness, the environment, transportation and the arts. “I’m excited about working with the Greater Los Angeles community to ensure that every student receives an education that prepares them for the economy and society of the future,” Yaroslavsky said. “A thriving public education system is vital to the health and success of our communities and our cities.
By George Foulsham
More than half of Los Angeles County residents — especially those under the age of 50 —are worried that they might have to move because of the rising costs of housing in the region. This is one of the key findings in the 2018 Quality of Life Index (QLI), a project of the UCLA Luskin Los Angeles Initiative and The California Endowment.
The QLI is an annual survey that asks Los Angeles County residents to rate their quality of life in nine different categories and to answer specific standalone questions on important issues facing them and the Los Angeles region.
Housing-related concerns are among the major findings in this year’s survey. When respondents were asked whether they, a close friend or family member has considered moving from their neighborhood in the last few years because of rising housing costs, 55 percent answered in the affirmative — a percentage increase of 8 over last year’s survey.
Among younger respondents, that number soars. Sixty-eight percent of 18-29-year-olds, 73 percent of 30-39-year-olds, and 65 percent of 40-49-year-olds say that they or someone close to them has considered moving out of their neighborhoods due to housing costs.
“It is troubling that younger county residents are less hopeful and less positive about their quality of life in Los Angeles,” said Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. “Historically, young people, especially in Los Angeles, could look forward to a great future, but today they have the highest level of negativity and anxiety, especially between the ages of 18-29. This should be a matter of concern to all of us.”
Survey respondents are asked to rate their quality of life on a scale of 10-100 in nine different categories and 40 subcategories. This year, the overall rating among all nine issues was 56, a drop from 59 in the first two years of the survey in 2016 and 2017. All nine categories experienced a more negative rating this year over last year, and most have continuously declined since 2016.
The lowest-ranked categories of cost of living, education, and transportation and traffic lost an average 7 points since 2016, and the highest-ranked categories of ethnic and race relations, your neighborhood and health care lost an average 3 points. In the middle tier, two of the three categories lost ground (public safety and the environment), while the ranking for jobs and the economy improved (see chart).
On the positive side, health care, race/ethnic relations and quality of respondents’ neighborhoods received the highest ranking — in all three cases a 67 on the scale, well above the midpoint. The most pronounced drops since 2016 were in cost of living, where the rating dropped from 50 to 43, education from 54 to 48, and transportation/traffic from 58 to 50.
Other key findings of the QLI include:
Twenty-seven percent of county residents have worried about becoming homeless, an increase of 4 percent over last year. Among residents with an annual household income of less than $30,000 that number jumps to 47 percent; among residents 18-29 years of age that number jumps to 38 percent; and among renters that number jumps to 41 percent.
Seventy-one percent of county residents favor rent stabilization legislation that would cap annual rent increases on all rental housing, including 78 percent of renters and 65 percent of homeowners.
Sixty-eight percent of county residents think new apartment buildings should only be built in neighborhoods already zoned for multi-family housing, and only 30 percent believe they should be built everywhere, including in single-family neighborhoods.
Nearly 60 percent of residents say that local police should refuse to help federal immigration authorities in the deportation of undocumented residents, even if cities could lose federal funds, while 38 percent believe local police should cooperate with federal authorities.
Residents continue to be split on the impacts of new development and growth in their community, with 44 percent saying it has a positive impact on their area and 52 percent saying it has a negative impact. However, the negative responses jump to 59 percent for those with annual household incomes below $30,000, and to 54 percent for those with annual household incomes of $30,000-$60,000, reflecting the challenges of gentrification in many low-income Los Angeles communities.
The number of residents who worry about themselves, a member of their family or a close friend being deported from the United States dropped to 23 percent this year from 37 percent last year. The drop in anxiety over deportation dropped nearly 50 percent among Latinos and Asian/Pacific Islanders. However, among those who are worried about deportation, 71 percent are worried that enrolling in a government program would increase their risk of deportation.
“While there is still a significant anxiety level over deportation in this survey, it is clear that in the last year that level has subsided,” Yaroslavsky said. “Court decisions and legislative efforts aimed at blocking the Trump administration’s immigration policies have clearly been reassuring, especially to our immigrant communities, but there is still an unhealthy level of fear in those same communities.”
The UCLA Luskin Quality of Life Index survey is based on interviews conducted with nearly 1,500 county residents from March 3-20, 2018. Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish.
The QLI was prepared in partnership with the public opinion research firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates.
Download the 2018 QLI (PDF)
Review the data (PDF)
Summary Narrative (PDF)
By Mary Braswell
Two dozen UCLA Luskin Public Policy students spent just one afternoon with former Gov. Gray Davis, but they came away with nearly half a century’s worth of wisdom and insights gained during his service to California.
The wide-ranging conversation touched on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), cannabis, teacher strikes and those decades — long ago — when California was a red state. To students worried about the role of policymakers in an era when facts are disrespected, Davis had words of encouragement:
“Your day is coming,” he said.
“Every presidential election is a referendum on the incumbent,” he said. Richard Nixon led to Jimmy Carter. George W. Bush led to Barack Obama. And in 2020, Davis predicted, Donald Trump would lead to the anti-Trump — “a more cerebral, more humble and more thoughtful candidate,” quite possibly from the public policy ranks.
“Following Trump, I’m convinced, is one of you sitting in a law library; you’re so modest you don’t even use the word ‘I.’ It’s always ‘we,’ and you’re wearing some cardigan sweater or something,” he said.
Davis’ appearance on April 4, 2018, kicked off “Today’s Los Angeles and the Institutions and Leaders that Make It Work,” an advanced seminar taught by UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs lecturer Zev Yaroslavsky — himself a fixture in Southern California politics. The longtime city councilman and county supervisor is now director of UCLA Luskin’s Los Angeles Initiative, which focuses on the intersection of policy, politics and history in the region.
“You have the opportunity to talk to a governor of California, and there have only been 39 of them,” Yaroslavsky told the class. “He’s had the benefit of governing both in good times and bad times.”
The students took full advantage. One of the budding policymakers sought out Davis’ views on how government can be most effective.
“I believe that the government has to discharge the basic responsibilities of the constitution. They have to keep us safe, they have to keep us together in one union, they have to provide the rules,” Davis said. “But, basically, the dynamism, the excitement, the energy and the money comes from people outside of government.
“Everything that’s ever happened in this country that’s exciting, new, had a big private-sector role.”
With the governor’s race in full swing, one student asked about the most pressing issue California’s next leader will face. Davis’ answer had national scope.
“The biggest problem facing America is disparity of wealth and disparity of opportunity,” he said.
The conundrum that California faces is how to remain at the forefront of innovation without worsening unemployment. The downside of artificial intelligence, robots and other advanced technology is that jobs are put in peril, Davis said.
“What are we going to do with these people who used to have jobs? We need people working,” he said.
“I’m a great believer that we’re all God’s children, we’re all made in his image, and we need to help people reach their potential,” he said. “Now, that doesn’t mean that everyone is going to rise to the same level, but everyone is going to do better.”
Davis posed a challenge to higher education, including the UC system: “Why can’t we take courses online? … This would create more opportunity for people who can’t afford to be in a classroom.”
Davis stepped into the political arena nearly 50 years ago, after a tour in Vietnam. On his journey to the governor’s office, he helped Tom Bradley win election as Los Angeles’ first black mayor in 1973, served as Jerry Brown’s chief of staff during his first term as governor, and was elected state assemblyman, controller and lieutenant governor.
He remains active in the public sphere. As one of four California governors to found the Southern California Leadership Council, Davis advocates for policies focusing on economic vitality, job growth and quality of life in the region.
Davis listed several points of friction between the state and President Trump: “He wants offshore drilling off the California coast. He’s fighting the notion that we’re a sanctuary state. He doesn’t seem to be that enthralled with Dreamers — some days he is, some days he’s not. He’s very much against the emissions standards and mileage requirements. He wants to build a wall [along the Mexico border].”
Halting offshore drilling in federal waters will be an uphill fight, he said, but he was confident the state’s gasoline emissions standards are bulletproof.
As for the young immigrants who came out of the shadows and registered with DACA, Davis was confident they would be protected. “America has to keep its promises,” he said.
Davis also told the UCLA Luskin students “how proud I am of you for pursuing a career in public policy,” and he urged them to embrace the California promise.
“I want you to know how fortunate you are to live in this state. This is a state of second chances, this is a state where we don’t care who your parents are, we don’t care if they were billionaires or homeless, we don’t care if you were born in this country or some other country. All we care about is whether you can make a contribution to our society,” he said.
“You live in this state; it’s your state now. We’re counting on you to keep it dynamic, keep it vibrant, keep it innovative, keep it open to new ideas. Keep it at the forefront of change.”