Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke to LAist’s AirTalk about how Los Angeles’ neighborhood councils work and whether they make a difference within their communities. Los Angeles has almost 100 neighborhood councils, which function in an advisory capacity to provide a direct mode of communication between residents and the City Council members who represent them. The system “has brought communities closer to municipal government,” Yaroslavsky said. “How much impact it’s had is not clear.” He said a big strength of the councils is that they bring together a cross-section of community members who are actively involved in local issues. But there is also a risk that the councils be asked to endorse projects from special interests without complete and transparent information, leading to unintended consequences. “That, to me, is a weakness,” he said.