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Yaroslavsky on Concern Over Angelenos’ Mental Health

A Los Angeles Times article on rising concern about Angelenos’ mental health cited the work of Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin. In the last few years, residents have endured skyrocketing inflation, extreme heat and drought, an alarming rise in hate crimes and the lingering effects of a devastating global pandemic. This year’s UCLA Quality of Life Index, which measures Los Angeles County residents’ satisfaction with their lives, found the lowest score since the survey was launched in 2016. “What it said to us is that county residents aren’t happy. There is an anxiety level here that is unprecedented in my lifetime,” said Yaroslavsky, director of the survey and a longtime public servant in Los Angeles. He noted that one-quarter of respondents said they go to bed each night worrying they will end up living on the street — all part of a “perfect storm” of mental health stressors afflicting Angelenos today.


 

Yaroslavsky on Takeaways From Tuesday’s Elections

A New York Times article on key takeaways from this week’s nationwide primary elections turned to Zev Yaroslavsky for his insights on the California races. Yaroslavsky, a longtime public servant who is now on the UCLA Luskin faculty, said voters were more interested in effective government than ideology. “People want solutions,” he said. “They don’t give a damn about left or right. It’s the common-sense problem-solving they seem to be missing. Government is supposed to take care of the basics, and the public believes the government hasn’t been doing that.” Yaroslavsky directs the Luskin School’s Los Angeles Initiative, which produces the annual UCLA Quality of Life Index to measure residents’ satisfaction with life in L.A. County. In its election coverage, the Los Angeles Times cited the index’s findings that Angelenos are deeply disillusioned with the status quo, particularly inflation, public safety and housing.


 

Yaroslavsky on Deep Dissatisfaction Among L.A. Voters

A CNN analysis about the potential for a right-tilting backlash among California voters who are discontented with public disorder cited Zev Yaroslavsky, a longtime public servant who now directs the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin. Yaroslavsky said the level of voter frustration is reminiscent of the late 1970s, an era of high inflation and soaring property tax bills that produced California’s Proposition 13 and helped propel Ronald Reagan to the presidency in 1980. He cited this year’s UCLA Quality of Life Index, a poll of 1,400 residents that showed deep dissatisfaction with life in L.A. County. The region’s struggle to meet the basic housing needs of its people is “a billboard that says failure,” Yaroslavsky said. “I think homelessness is both a real issue but it’s also a metaphor for everything else that’s gone wrong in society and government’s ability to address something that is so visible and so ubiquitous in the county.”


 

Sheriff’s Approval Ratings Point to Risk at the Polls

A Los Angeles Times story on L.A. Democrats’ failure to agree on a consensus candidate to back in the race for county sheriff cited results from this year’s UCLA Quality of Life Index, produced by the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin. The actions, policies and rhetoric of Sheriff Alex Villanueva have alienated local Democratic clubs and progressive advocacy groups, but infighting and indecision kept them from mounting a united campaign against the incumbent, the article said. The Quality of Life Index, directed by Zev Yaroslavsky and published in April, found that 37% of voters had a “very or somewhat favorable” view of Villanueva, 33% have a “very or somewhat unfavorable” view, and 30% have no opinion or are unfamiliar with him. The results suggest that Villanueva could have trouble getting 50% of the vote in the June 7 primary, needed to avoid a runoff. The index, a survey of 1,400 L.A. County residents, includes favorability ratings of local officials.

Yaroslavsky on Inflation’s Fallout on Local Elections

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke to KPCC’s “AirTalk” about the impact of Southern California’s widening economic gap on upcoming elections. Yaroslavsky cited results of the 2022 UCLA Quality of Life Index, which found a steep drop in residents’ satisfaction with life in L.A. County, largely due to concerns over inflation and public safety. “What stands out is that people are unhappy, they’re anxious, they’re angry, they’re concerned,” Yaroslavsky said. Lower-income households, hard hit by lost wages and rising inflation, have been slower to rebound from the financial shock of the COVID-19 era, the survey showed. “We are the ground zero in this country of the economic divide,” Yaroslavsky said. The Quality of Life Index also showed a decline in approval ratings of many local government officials. “Inflation, I think, is the most pernicious thing economically that we have in our society,” Yaroslavsky said. “That will have a political bite like nothing else.”

A Shadow Over Garcetti’s Final Months as L.A.’s Mayor

A New York Times article on Eric Garcetti’s delayed nomination as U.S. ambassador to India cited the Los Angeles mayor’s declining favorability ratings as reported in this year’s UCLA Quality of Life Index. The nomination has been on hold during a Senate inquiry related to accusations of sexual harassment by one of Garcetti’s top aides. The Senate found that “it is more likely than not that Mayor Garcetti either had personal knowledge of the sexual harassment or should have been aware of it.” The mayor denies the claim, which the White House referred to as a “partisan hit job” meant to drag out the confirmation process. The Quality of Life Index, produced by the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin under the direction of Zev Yaroslavsky, found that Garcetti’s favorability ratings have slumped dramatically in the last two years, to 45% from 62%. The index is based on interviews conducted in English and Spanish with 1,400 Los Angeles County residents.

Yaroslavsky on Worrisome Survey of L.A. County Residents

Worrisome findings from this year’s UCLA Quality of Life Index drew coverage from several print, online, television and radio news outlets. The index, a project of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, found that L.A. County residents’ satisfaction with the overall quality of their lives is at its lowest level since the survey was launched in 2016. “What the pandemic couldn’t do over the last two years, inflation and increases in violent and property crime succeeded in doing,” said Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative. Still, nearly 70% of respondents said that COVID-19 has fundamentally changed their lives. “This finding — that life has been permanently altered — may be the most profound,” Yaroslavsky said. News outlets covering the 2022 Quality of Life Index include the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine and La Opinión; television stations ABC7, CBS2, FOX11, KNBC, KTLA and Telemundo 52; and radio stations KFI and KNX1070.


 

Measuring Public Support for District Attorney Gascón

A Los Angeles Times story about a petition to recall Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón cited this year’s UCLA Quality of Life Index, a survey that includes favorability ratings for selected state and local officials. County residents surveyed in March were nearly equally divided in their opinions of the reform-minded D.A., who had a 31% favorability rating compared to 32% unfavorable. However, more respondents had intensely unfavorable opinions (22%) than intensely favorable ones (9%), according to the index produced annually by the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin. To move forward, recall organizers must collect signatures of support from 10% of L.A. County’s registered voters — a little more than 579,000 people — by Oct. 27. Gascón has also faced lawsuits from prosecutors in his own office, interference on cases from other California law enforcement leaders and an outcry from some crime victims who claim his policies have abandoned them.

Yaroslavsky on COVID-19’s Stark Lines of Inequity

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke to Spectrum News’ “Inside the Issues” about this year’s UCLA Quality of Life Index, which offered a deep dive into the impacts of COVID-19 on Los Angeles County’s residents. “There are two Los Angeleses,” Yaroslavsky said. “There are the people who are doing well, who are making it. … And then there are those who are struggling, who are living on the margins of the economy and are always feeling one step away from oblivion.” The index included the surprising finding that Latino residents were more positive about their overall quality of life than white residents. Yaroslavsky said this may be because white people on average had higher incomes and more to lose during this pandemic, despite their greater privilege overall. Latinos faced tough challenges but “they worked their way through it, and they are much more optimistic about getting ahead in Los Angeles,” he said.

Yaroslavsky Urges Action to Uplift the Most Vulnerable

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke to KPCC’s AirTalk about findings from the 2021 UCLA Quality of Life Index. The annual survey of Los Angeles County residents showed that 40% suffered a drop in income over the last year as the region was rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Those are the people who are pessimistic, those are the people who are threatened with losing their apartments because they can’t make their rent payment at the end of the month,” said Yaroslavsky, who called on policymakers to prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable. As one example, he noted that office space vacated as businesses downsize after the pandemic is “going to have huge implications for land use.” He asked, “What do you do with that empty office space? Can you repurpose it for housing, for example?” Several media outlets covered the Quality of Life Index, including the Los Angeles Times, KABC7 News and RealClear Politics.

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