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CD5 Candidates Katy Young Yaroslavsky and Sam Yebri Answer Follow-Up Questions

City Council District 5 candidates Sam Yebri and Katy Young Yaroslavsky, participating in the October 11 candidate forum organized by several westside neighborhood councils.


On October 11, City Council District 5 candidates Katy Young Yaroslavsky and Sam Yebri participated in a candidate forum organized by several westside neighborhood councils, and moderated by Buzz co-publisher Patricia Lombard.  In the discussion, the candidates addressed seven questions posed by Lombard and two selected from stakeholder submissions.  Because the forum was time-limited, however, there were many other questions submitted by stakeholders that didn’t make it into the Zoom-based session. With the candidates’ permission, the event organizers forwarded an additional 13 of these stakeholder questions to the candidates for follow-up responses.  Here are those questions, and the candidates’ answers, which were provided by e-mail to the Buzz.


Talk about your plans to control street takeovers and other traffic control concerns such as speeding and street racing.

Yaroslavsky: We need faster response times and higher penalties. We should install cameras, when appropriate, in places where we know street racing occurs. My office will work closely with LAPD and law enforcement in adjacent cities. We must take a regional approach to tackling this problem. This is a key part of ensuring public safety in the city and district.

Yebri: More Angelenos die in traffic accidents than shootings. Street takeovers and speeding have become more prevalent as the size of LAPD has shrunk and a sense of lawlessness has taken root throughout our city. As a result, neighborhoods throughout CD5 are suffering. I will invest LAPD resources in tracking potential takeovers online so we can try to stop them before they happen, and I will fight to enforce and prosecute our laws more robustly. Public safety, including traffic safety, is my top priority. For me, this is not just a campaign slogan; I actually have a long-standing proven record of service and leadership on these issues, including serving as a City Commissioner for almost 4 years (2010-2013) under Mayor Villaraigosa and helping build our LAPD force up to 10,000 officers; co-chairing my neighborhood’s public safety committee and participating in LAPD’s Citizen Academy; serving on our City Attorney’s Gun Violence Prevention Task Force (2013); and fighting hate crimes as a board member of the Anti-Defamation League. That is why LA’s Police Officers, Fire Fighters, Paramedics, and First Responders have endorsed me in this race.


Are you familiar with LA City Charter Section 245, which allows a city council member to overturn a decision of the Area Planning Commission (even a unanimous decision) and the Zoning Administrator with virtually no opportunity for public comments or participants, and which has been used by council members to benefit their wealthy campaign contributors, friends and cronies, and led to several lawsuits alleging abuse of authority? Would you be in favor of amending or eliminating Section 245, or at least commit to looking into this?

Yebri: Yes. Section 245 invites corruption and usurps too much power in the hands of a single Councilmember.

Yaroslavsky:  Section 245 epitomizes so much of what is wrong with our planning process. Councilmembers have far too much individual discretion, which fosters much of the corruption at City Hall. Not only do I support amending and/or eliminating Section 245, I’m looking forward to the process of updating community plans in partnership with the communities of CD5, and holding developers to those plans.


How do you plan on ridding the city of Los Angeles of the corruption that is running wild and out of control?

Yaroslavsky: There must be a zero-tolerance policy. It starts with electing proven, ethical, and effective people into seats of power and eliminating opportunities for corruption. So much of the corruption stems from the enormous land use discretion councilmembers possess, which is why I support significant planning reform. I am also committed to fully funding the city’s Ethics Department and taking steps to ensure the Ethics Commission is independent and that staff have the resources they need to investigate in a timely and thorough manner.

Yebri: A year ago, I developed and published a Six-Point Plan for Rooting Out Corruption and Reforming LA City Government. It addresses the redistricting corruption that this latest scandal brought to light. In contrast, my opponent has no published platform on corruption.


Who are each of you supporting in the Mayor’s race?

Yebri: My job is not to carry the water of the political establishment; my job as Councilmember is to represent the people of the 5th District. I will work with whoever the next Mayor is. For this reason, I have not taken a public position on the Mayor’s race (unlike my opponent) and am uniquely positioned to best represent the interests of all 5th District residents.

Yaroslavsky: I look forward to working with whoever is our next Mayor. I’ll be casting my vote for Congresswoman Bass.


With major housing development happening within the district, what plans are being made to retain the historical presence?

Yaroslavsky: Los Angeles’ historical architecture is one of the many things that differentiates LA from every other city in the world. It’s part of what makes LA special. I live in an HPOZ, and I will support neighborhoods throughout CD 5 that wish to petition the City for HPOZ status. I will work closely with organizations like the Los Angeles Conservancy to make sure we’re preserving historically and culturally significant buildings, while also making sure we’re thoughtfully building new housing, particularly affordable and workforce housing at transit and jobs centers.

Yebri: No great city would allow its history to be erased. History and culture are a big part of why people come to Los Angeles – to live, to visit, and to launch businesses. Historic preservation is good public policy because it preserves our city’s rich cultural legacy, prevents displacement of long-time tenants and businesses, enhances our quality of life, protects affordable housing, ensures stability of neighborhoods, and enhances diversity. I have lived in CD5 virtually my entire life, and cherish that our district is rich in so much history from the Fox and Bruin Theaters to the Fairfax Theater, from Apple Pan to Canter’s, and 8 HPOZs in CD5. As a Councilmember, I will make sure that, as we build badly needed housing and revitalize neighborhoods, we do so in a way that finds preservation solutions. Preservation and development can and should absolutely co-exist side by side. They are not mutually exclusive. We must do that through adaptive reuse, such as the May Company building, which has been restored magnificently and turned into the Academy Museum, which the Conservancy is honoring this year. As councilmember, creating those win-wins will be a major high priority for me.


What are your thoughts about going electric with EVs with the concern of our shaky grid system, i.e., blackouts, conservation, etc.

Yebri: I support our long term transition to electrification. It is an environmental imperative, but we need to do so in a smart way that builds up our infrastructure. With our incredible sunshine, Los Angeles must become a world leader in solar capture, storage, and distribution. We must update our horribly outdated electrical grid and build more charging stations. I share your concerns that we are not ready for that transition, especially given the recent blackouts in CD5 this summer. Our career politicians set arbitrary deadlines and mandates and are ignoring the reality on the ground and the real-world implications for CD5 residents.

Yaroslavsky: As a climate policymaker who helped create the Clean Power Alliance, the largest community choice energy provider in California, I understand the fragility of our electrical grid, and am prepared to take the necessary steps to make it more resilient and robust. This means pushing LA DWP to accelerate the use of microgrids, expanding the use of varied types of renewable energy, and building more redundancy into the system. It’s unacceptable that the power goes out when there’s a wildfire or a heat wave. We have the tools to fix it and I know how to deploy those tools.


What are your feelings on homeless people obtaining affordable housing when they aren’t showing responsibility in keeping their tented areas organized?

Yaroslavsky: No one should sleep on the sidewalk. It’s unacceptable that Los Angeles has thousands of unhoused neighbors. We need to house everyone and make sure they have the services they need to put their lives back together. This includes job training and expanding access to wrap-around mental health services. You can read my complete plan on homelessness here:

Yebri: The first and most important job is to get people experiencing homelessness indoors. We cannot allow people to continue to suffer, wither away, and die on our streets in record numbers. We do that not by spending $1 million per unit of homeless housing, but by pivoting resources to construct interim housing faster and more cost-effectively.


Are there any plans to get the homeless back on their feet in order to contribute to society?

Yebri: Thank you for this question because we cannot build our way out of our homelessness crisis; nor can we arrest our way out of it (as some heartlessly propose). Like you say, it is about helping people who are down on their luck (either economically or because of trauma or addiction) live to their fullest potential. I have developed a robust homelessness plan that includes pathways not just out of living on the streets but onto affordable housing, job training, and health care.

Yaroslavsky:  Briefly, my plan focuses on four points. First is prevention. It’s a lot less expensive and much more humane to keep someone housed, rather than waiting until a person is homeless and living on the street before we connect them to housing and services. Second, I will prioritize more flexible, cost-effective housing to get people off the streets and connected to services faster. This includes rent vouchers, helping folks access those vouchers, tiny homes and other interim housing and master leasing of new buildings for affordable and homeless housing with services. Third, I will prioritize better collaboration between the County and the City of Los Angeles because the County provides all the mental health, physical health and addiction services and the City mostly does the housing piece, but they’re not coordinated. Fourth, we need mental health and addiction beds. People simply don’t have places to go to heal, and we don’t have the tools we need to help folks into those facilities once they’re created.

None of this will be easy, but it’s not impossible. Other places have successfully implemented some of these strategies, and we can do the same. But we absolutely need people in elected office who (1) understand the nuance around these issues; (2) have experience working on complicated issues and know how to use the tools of government to problem-solve; and (3) are willing to collaborate across levels of government to tackle these challenges together.


How will you ensure the quality of the life for local commuter residents to ensure a situation like what just happened on San Vicente never happens again – where one lane was just permanently closed and we lost 33% of our road capacity – and none of the residents were given a voice nor a choice before this happened?

Yaroslavsky: I have twenty years of experience creating iterative, inclusive stakeholder processes. I understand how important it is for those most directly impacted to have a seat at the table as policies are being made, and I’m committed to continuing to foster inclusive policymaking at the City.

Yebri: Residents of CD5 must always come first. Period. Not ideology, not activists, not City Hall insiders and lobbyists. The actual people who live in CD5 must have a seat at the table and have a voice in setting the policies that will affect their safety and their quality of life. That is why I am running because City Hall is not listening to us.


Have either of you visited St.Joseph’s Center in Venice, which has drop-in services for the homeless? Mental Health Service must be drop-in. Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services had drop-in services, but its facilities are now appointment-only.

Yebri: Yes, I have visited both St. Joseph’s and Didi Hirsch, as well as other local non-profits in and near CD5, like Alexandria House, Salvation Army’s Westwood Transitional Village, People Concern, and PATH. I entirely agree that we must bring mental health care, medication, therapy, and addiction services directly to the people who need it most urgently, where they are, and do it with more urgency. We cannot expect homeless people to make appointments and figure out how to get to the appointments. This is yet another failure of our County Department of Public Health.

Yaroslavsky:  Yes, I have. We must make it easier for folks to access mental health services so they can actually get the help they need. This includes expanding drop in services across service providers. I’ll collaborate with Supervisor Mitchell’s office and the next County Supervisor in District 3 to make sure facilities that serve our unhoused population are easy for folks to access. We also need to increase the number of mental health outreach workers connecting with unhoused people on the street.


What do you have to say about Hackman Capital Partners’ proposal to establish Television City as Regional Commercial Center in defiance of the General Plan?

Yaroslavsky:  Entertainment and production uses are the right use for that space: creative economy jobs are good for LA and good for CD 5. However, I am concerned about the scale of the project and will work with potentially impacted communities to ensure the final project addresses the concerns that many residents have already shared with me, including around traffic and scale/massing. Once elected, I’ll make sure there’s an iterative, inclusive community process where everyone has a chance to weigh in.

Yebri:The Beverly Fairfax neighborhood is in need of more jobs and vibrancy, which can help reverse the rise in crime and business closures that all residents have felt. I am reviewing the extensive draft environmental impact report and look forward to working with local residents and stakeholders and the developer to address legitimate concerns about traffic, parking, and construction impacts.


I have yet to hear of any program to house the homeless while training them to become productive (e.g. a trade school). Does one exist?

Yebri: Unfortunately, our City and County bureaucrats and career politicians are not making enough of these kinds of common-sense investments to help homeless people turn their lives around. Instead, they are spending $2 billion dollars per year on our homelessness crisis (and upwards of $1 million to build a single unit of homeless housing). Meanwhile, during the last 7 years, homelessness in CD5 has increased 175% and 6,000 homeless Angelenos have died county-wide. I will commit to working with non-profits, businesses, and unions to invest in job training and apprenticeship programs like this, because, we know, housing alone will never solve our homelessness crisis.

Yaroslavsky: Expansion of existing and establishment of new workforce training programs will be an essential component of my plan to prevent folks from becoming unhoused in the first place. There are also city and county programs currently in place, including HireUP and LA:RISE that focus on training, as well as those run by local nonprofit organizations like Shakespeare Center LA, which provides job training programs for local vets interested in working in the creative economy.


How will each of you collaborate, engage and stay connected to ALL constituents in CD5 once elected? We have seen councilmembers get elected and then they only stay in communication/collaboration and engagement with their “friends”/supporters. This isn’t right. Share how you will be different and connected with all.

Yaroslavsky: I have a constituent services plan on my website. It doesn’t matter what else I do as your Councilwoman: If I’m not providing excellent constituent services to all of CD 5’s residents and businesses, I’m not doing my job.

Even though the neighborhoods of Council District 5 are somewhat distant from City Hall, it shouldn’t feel like local government is inaccessible. And the way we connect folks to local government is by providing excellent constituent services. When you call my office with a question or a concern, someone from my team will solve the problem. And if the solution is outside the purview of City government, my team will work with the appropriate agency or elected officials to solve the problem. No finger-pointing. No unreturned calls. Only exceptional, responsive service.

I will have enough experienced, knowledgeable staff people to handle the workload. An ethos of service and accountability starts at the top, and this is a priority for me: growing up, my mom ran constituent services for then-State Assemblymember and State Senator Sheila Kuehl. I saw how much folks appreciated her team’s responsiveness and ability to problem solve using the tools of government.

Excellent constituent services are about more than just problem solving, though. It’s also about proactive community building and creating new programs and partnerships with the communities of Council District 5 – becoming part of the fabric of our neighborhoods and earning your trust as allies and partners.

Yebri: My job is not to carry the water of the political establishment. Unlike my opponent, I was not endorsed by Nury Martinez, Kevin DeLeon, and Ron Herrera. Unlike my opponent, I am not a former staffer at the County or a former paid registered lobbyist representing developers. I am a non-profit leader, a worker’s rights lawyer, a small business owner, a former City Commissioner, and a dad of 4 kids who will put all of the residents of 5th District first. When I announced my candidacy on September 8, 2020, the first thing I did was commit to running a people-powered campaign that would not accept money from developers, fossil fuel companies, cannabis companies, billboard companies, and other special interests. I am proud that I lived up to that pledge. I come to this position with nearly 20 decades of work in the community; my only allegiance is to the communities of the 5th District.


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Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

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