PV Democrats March 2024 Meeting Report

By Nancie Silver —

The Palos Verdes Democrats met in person at the Peninsula Center Library and on zoom on Sunday, March 17.  The theme of the meeting was Zev’s Los Angeles and Where We Are Today, featuring guest speaker Zev Yaroslavsky, former Los Angeles City and County Official and Democratic Icon. His political career spanned four decades, and he played a central role in shaping Los Angeles in a variety of ways.  Currently, he is Director of the Los Angeles Initiative at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and the Department of History, focusing on the intersection of policy, politics, and history of the Los Angeles region. 

He wrote this book for his grandchildren, so they would be able to learn about his life and his family history; secondly, as a trained historian, he wanted to share this history and these stories with the people of Los Angeles.  The third reason was that despite the many frustrations and hurdles there were a lot of successes, including workarounds with Proposition 13 and the private funding of the 1984 Olympics.   

Zev was surprised that no one has written a biography about Tom Bradley, the longest serving mayor of LA, or Richard Riordan.  He mentioned the memoir by John Anson Ford, supervisor from 1934-58, and noted that many of the issues Ford faced are the same ones he faced decades later during his time in office.  He also echoed the frustrations of Ford when he wrote about the unwieldy and inefficient governing structure of the county.  Zev said LAs five-member board of supervisors is too small to address the diverse needs of such a large county; it needs to be changed to make it more effective and responsive to its constituents.  His wish is that there would be an elected chief executive and they would expand the number of supervisors to make it a functioning legislative body.

He discussed the UCLA Luskin Quality of Life Index (QLI) survey of LA County residents, noting the cost of living, and specifically the high cost of housing, are the things that most negatively affect respondents’ feelings about living in Los Angeles.  People ages 18-39 are most affected by the high cost of housing, especially those 30-39. About 25% of respondents now worry about losing their housing and becoming homeless as a result. Traffic and transportation concerns have increased as well. Zev will send the link to this year’s QLI survey on April 18 and we will post it on our website.  

One of Zev’s main disappointments during his time as a public official was the board’s unwillingness to support the scaling up of Project 50, a demonstration project that was successful in moving people from Skid Row into housing.  As a result of board inaction, the County lost about fifteen years in addressing the homeless problem. 

Attendees had several questions after his talk:  Did you keep a journal during your political tenure; Have you changed your views on building more housing; What do you think will be the biggest change in LA in the next 25 years; Why did you initially run for office and how did you win; Why are housing costs skyrocketing.  I enjoyed his lively and engaging speaking style and recommend you watch the video to hear his answers. Buy his book; he’s a natural storyteller!

The presentation charts for our March Meeting Club Business are also available by clicking here.

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