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City of Los AngelesCandidate for City Council, District 5

Photo of Sam Yebri

Sam Yebri

Non-Profit Director/Businessowner
16,998 votes (29.7%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Tackling our homelessness crisis with urgency, compassion, and COMMON SENSE. Helping tenants stay in their homes, pivoting resources to temporary housing and mental health/addiction services, and prohibiting encampments in parks and near schools.
  • Rebuilding our depleted police force while also improving how our city is policed through effective, common sense reforms such as more oversight and transitioning sworn officers away from mental health calls – so that every Angeleno feels safe in LA.
  • Rooting out City Hall’s toxic culture of political dynasties and corruption. I don’t take a dime from developers, corporations, PACs, oil/gas, or any special interests so that LA has a government that works for the people, not the political machine.

Experience

Experience

Profession:Non-Profit Director/Businessowner
Partner and Workers' Rights Attorney, Merino Yebri LLP (2010–current)
Principal and Mediator, Yebri Mediation Services (2017–current)
Member, County Assessor's Transition Team — Appointed position (2013–2014)
Member, City Attorney's Gun Violence Prevention Task Force — Appointed position (2013–2014)
Member, City Attorney's Gun Violence Prevention Task Force — Appointed position (2013–2014)
Member, City Attorney's Gun Violence Prevention Task Force — Appointed position (2013–2014)
City Commissioner, Los Angeles Civil Service Commission — Appointed position (2010–2013)
Attorney, Proskauer Rose LLP (2008–2010)
Law Clerk to Honorable Howard A. Matz, US Courts (2007–2008)

Education

USC Gould School of Law JD, Law (2006)
Yale University BA, Political Science (2003)

Community Activities

Board Member, Pro Bono Lawyer, Gala Honoree, Bet Tzedek Legal Services (2006–current)
Board Member, Volunteer, Friends of Westwood Library (2014–current)
Board Member, ETTA (2014–current)
Board Member, Jewish Community Foundation (2017–2020)
President, Co-Founder, Board Member, 30 Years After (2007–2020)

Biography

I am an experienced community and non-profit leader, workers’ rights attorney, small business owner, father of four young children, and nearly lifelong resident of the 5th District. I love Los Angeles, and I have the proven coalition-building leadership and common sense plans needed to bring our community together and get things done for the residents of the 5th District.

 

My journey towards public service began nearly 40 years ago. When I was a year old, Los Angeles opened its arms to refugees from Iran, promising families like mine a brighter and safer future. We were blessed to find an affordable one-bedroom apartment – now an unacceptable rarity – and rebuild our lives in Westwood, a warm community that enabled my family to live the American Dream. Three local public schools provided me with a launching pad to Yale University, USC Law School, and a federal clerkship that solidified my commitment to public service.

 

Since then, I have worked tirelessly to give back to Los Angeles:

 

I built a successful law firm in Century City where I fight daily for exploited workers as a workers’ rights attorney. I have taken on major corporations, advocated for the rights of workers, tenants, and refugees, and advised startups and small businesses.

 

I co-founded the local non-profit 30 Years After, which engages thousands of immigrants and first-generation Americans in civic life. 

 

I have also served Los Angeles as a board member of ten different community non-profits, including Bet Tzedek Legal Services (where I serve on its legislative advocacy committee, have worked as a pro-bono lawyer for low-income tenants facing eviction, and was honored by the organization in 2015 for my leadership); the Anti-Defamation League (where I have fought against bigotry and hate crimes); the Jewish Community Foundation (chairing its COVID Relief Grants Committee which distributed over $8 million to 54 non-profits in Los Angeles); the Friends of Westwood Library (raising vital funds to support library programming and services); and ETTA (which provides services and affordable housing for adults with special needs, including the construction of a transformative housing project within the 5th District). 

 

And I have led civically, serving our City as a Commissioner on the Los Angeles Civil Service Commission, on our City Attorney’s Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, and on Los Angeles County Assessor Jeff Prang’s Transition Team.

 

I’m running for City Council because the dream that Los Angeles once offered to families like mine is slipping away, and Angelenos in the 5th District - and across Los Angeles - are suffering from a lack of leadership. Exploding homelessness and a rising lack of affordable housing have become dire crises, our neighborhoods grow less and less safe each day, our streets and sidewalks are crumbling, city services are being cut amid skyrocketing deficits, small businesses are shuttering, and economic and racial inequality worsen.

 

Meanwhile, City Hall is mired in corruption, scandal, and insider politics. We have leaders more interested in playing political games and enriching themselves and their family members than in ensuring the safety of Angelenos, maintaining our infrastructure, and helping those most in need in our city.

 

In addition, as our small businesses struggle to recover from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, not one of our current City Councilmembers has ever started and run a business. If elected, I would bring the unique combination of business, non-profit, and civic experience that our City Council sorely lacks.

 

This is my home. I have both deep roots in and a deep love for our District. We deserve a leader from the District, for the District. We deserve a leader with common sense plans who will bring people together to get things DONE, someone who understands the struggles that local family businesses face, someone who will fight tirelessly for the residents and neighborhoods of the 5th District. We deserve a leader who cherishes our public parks and wants to see them clean, safe, and accessible for all. We deserve a leader who will address our homelessness crisis with urgency and compassion, someone who will fight for affordable housing on transit and commercial corridors. We deserve someone who has already led for two decades in the very community they hope to represent. 

 

As my wife Leah and I raise our four young children in Westwood just a few blocks from where I was raised, we continue to believe in the promise of Los Angeles. Our city’s best days can still be ahead of us. This is why I am asking you for the privilege of serving the 5th District as your Councilmember – to devote myself to the issues that matter most to you, right now.

 

Throughout this campaign, we have broken fundraising records without accepting a single dime from real estate developers, PACs, corporations or corporate entities, fossil fuel, big pharma, or special interests of any kind.

And we’re the only campaign to do so. We cannot transform our city without transforming our politics, and I am committed to ensuring my constituents know that campaign contributions will have no influence on any decision I make.

 

We have a chance to make history.

If elected, I would be the first Iranian-American, Middle Easterner, and refugee ever elected to office in the history of the City of Los Angeles, and I would be the first person of color ever elected to represent the 5th District.

 

More importantly, we have the chance to show that someone from outside politics – not a member of a political dynasty and not beholden to the political establishment – can earn through decades of hard work and dedication to our community the privilege of being our next City Councilmember.

 

I hope you will join our campaign. Together, our grassroots, broad-based coalition will renew the promise of Los Angeles by providing the next generation of Angelenos the same opportunities with which I was blessed almost 40 years ago.

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • LA County Supervisor Holly Mitchell
  • Former Congressman Henry Waxman
  • Congresswoman Nanette Barragán

Organizations (16)

  • Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region
  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1083
  • International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 94
  • Los Angeles Food and Beverage Political Action Committee (California Restaurant Association)
  • Progressive Zionists of California
  • San Pedro Democratic Club
  • Sprinkler Fitters U.A. Local 709
  • West Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce
  • United Association, Local Union 250
  • Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed)
  • Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce (LA Jobs PAC)
  • Israeli-American Civic Action Network
  • International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, District Council 36
  • Hollywood Chamber of Commerce PAC
  • Central City Association of Los Angeles
  • Southern California Armenian Democrats

Elected Officials (2)

  • Assemblymember Wally Knox (Ret.)
  • Los Angeles City Councilmember Joe Buscaino

Individuals (1)

  • Carolyn Fowler, Chair of the California Democratic Party Women's Caucus

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

My life experience as a refugee who arrived to Los Angeles at the age of 1, and my Jewish faith and commitment to tikkun olam, have forged my political philosophy. Fundamentally, I believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to live the American Dream and that we all have a duty to do our part to help repair our broken city. For this reason, I have committed my life to fighting for those who are most vulnerable in our society: immigrants and refugees, low-income tenants, workers, and individuals with disabilities and special needs. I have done this work in the 5th District for nearly two decades – as an attorney, non-profit founder and board member, community activist, small business owner, and City Commissioner.  As a father of four young kids, I also believe that our planet faces an existential threat that requires real leadership, now. With gun violence exploding, we need far-reaching gun control regulations. Racial and economic disparities are worsening. Neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles are becoming increasingly dangerous. Small businesses are shuttering at staggering rates. City Hall has been overrun with corruption and cronyism. And the humanitarian issue of our time - homelessness - requires new urgent, compassionate, and common sense approaches to help alleviate the suffering on our streets. These are the issues that matter to me, and to the people of the 5th District. These are the issues I am running to tackle by utilizing my nearly two-decades of private, non-profit, and government experience.

Position Papers

Tackling Our Homelessness Crisis With Urgency, Together

Summary

Los Angeles is at a crossroads. Every day, 207 unhoused people find their way into housing while another 227 fall into homelessness. Every day, 5 unhoused Angelenos experiencing homelessness die. Every day. It is neither progressive nor compassionate to allow Angelenos to suffer and perish on the streets. Our City and County annually spend $2 billion of our tax dollars on this humanitarian crisis, and yet homelessness has surged 64% in the last six years.

 

It is time for a course correction, now.

It is time we do more to prevent homelessness, now.

It is time we build more shelters and more housing, now.

It is time we get people experiencing homelessness the help they need, now.

It is time to bring our unhoused neighbors indoors, now.

 

It is imperative that we help people experiencing homelessness move as soon as possible from encampments into safe shelters, transitional housing, and other interim housing options, and on a path towards permanent supportive and affordable housing.

 

Based on data-driven research and extensive conversations with numerous homeless services providers, mental health experts, community volunteers, and non-profit affordable housing developers, this is how we shift course now:

1. Prevention of Homelessness

Studies suggest that three out of four Los Angeles households are rent-burdened, meaning they spend over 30% of household income on rent and utilities – making it extremely likely that they are only one adverse life event or an unexpected bill away from an eviction and potential homelessness. The most effective and cost-efficient approach to mitigating homelessness is to reduce the inflow in the first place. 

As your Councilmember, I will fight to:

  • Invest in increased rental subsidies
  • Improve and expand our rental assistance programs
  • Simplify and scale the Section 8 voucher program for all Angelenos who qualify
  • Protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords
  • Proactively mediate evictions when the eviction moratorium is eventually lifted
  • Provide counsel for low-income tenants in residential eviction proceedings.

For more than a decade, I have fought for these protections as a board member and pro bono attorney with Bet Tzedek Legal Services. And I will continue to do so as your Councilmember.

  • The City must also do more to step in to tackle the many causes of homelessness that are not being adequately addressed by the County, including helping foster and LGTBQ+ youth, delivering better mental health and addiction treatment, and developing more effective and innovative job training and employment assistance programs.
 

2. Triaging Homelessness Through Homeless Shelters

When someone falls into homelessness, the City of Los Angeles has a duty to provide safe shelter immediately and triage any suffering on the streets. Instead, the City of Los Angeles is spending upwards of 6 years and $750,000 to build a single unit of homeless housing. 

It is akin to allowing someone suffering from hypothermia to freeze to death in the cold while we take 6 years to build a brand-new hospital nearby. It is outrageous and unacceptable. We can no longer permit the perfect to be the enemy of the good. It is time to pivot our City and County’s $2 billion in annual spending to save lives NOW.

As your Councilmember, I will fight for:

  • A massive infusion of various short-term shelter and housing options to serve as a bridge for those currently living on our streets. Like other cities, Los Angeles must transform its shelter approach using more cost-effective models, such as tiny homes and pallet shelters on unused government land (but not our public parks) that can be up and running within one week for less than $20,000 per unit. Controller Ron Galperin has identified nearly 8,000 city-owned properties that are under-utilized, unused, or vacant, which can be used for interim shelter, including 27 acres of unused City land adjacent to LAX. With respect to the LAX site, I refuse to simply accept no as the final answer when federal regulations impose roadblocks to utilizing this City-owned land to save lives with urgency.
  • Personalization of our safe shelter approach. Shelter seekers must feel safe in our shelters, be allowed to safely and securely store their possessions, and to bring with them their partners and pets. These barriers often discourage people from accepting shelter. Flexibility and safety in our shelters are imperative to saving lives.
  • Housing our veterans. We can no longer tolerate excuses and delays for our City’s 3,000 unhoused veterans. As your Councilmember, I will work with our federal partners to prioritize the delivery of housing, wraparound services (including addiction counseling and mental health treatment), job training, and employment assistance for every veteran who served our country.
 

3. Prioritizing Affordable and Workforce Housing

In 1982, when I was only one year old, my parents and I arrived in Los Angeles as refugees. As we walked through LAX as new Americans, my father held two suitcases and my mother held me. We were blessed to find an affordable one-bedroom apartment, and there we restarted our lives. That same story would be impossible for many families today because, for decades, Los Angeles has failed to build enough affordable and middle-income housing.

Simply put, the problem with affordable housing is that no one can build affordable housing affordably in Los Angeles. On top of the costs for land, labor, and materials that are skyrocketing daily, the complicated maze of funding sources and governmental agencies for affordable housing projects leads to ballooning legal and consulting fees and carrying costs, which ultimately drown projects.

To address this, the City must make larger investments in preserving, acquiring, and building affordable housing innovatively. As your Councilmember, I will fight to:

  • Protect existing affordable housing units and robustly enforce its affordable housing covenants. Currently, the City is failing to ensure, through public registries, audits and enforcement actions, that affordable units built as part of Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) density incentives program are actually placed on the market and rented to low-income Angelenos. 
  • Prioritize cost-effective acquisition of existing apartment buildings, hotels, and motels. This approach is faster, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly than building brand-new construction. Project Home-Key is one of our better approaches for affordable interim housing.
  • Streamline the process for funding, permitting, and developing new affordable and workforce housing projects to reduce construction timeliness and thereby dramatically reduce costs. We can accomplish this goal by reducing permitting costs, hiring City staff devoted to move these projects expeditiously on strict timelines, zoning changes to commercial and industrial properties, reducing material costs through bulk sourcing, developing low-cost bridge financing programs, and incentivizing innovative and more cost-effective housing options such as hotel and motel conversions, prefabricated and modular housing, shared housing models, the adaptive reuse of commercial buildings for housing, and the master leasing of residential units for use as homeless housing.

As a board member of a non-profit organization building housing for adults with special needs on Pico Blvd., I have witnessed firsthand the delays, red tape, and hurdles for such win-win projects. We need leaders who will disrupt the status quo.

 

4. Investment in Mental Health and Addiction Services, Facilities, and Reforms

A growing population of people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles are suffering from significant issues of untreated mental health, addiction, and diminished capacity. Unless we tackle these mental health and addiction crises head on, the suffering on our streets will worsen.

The City of Los Angeles has no public health or mental health department, so these issues fall squarely within the responsibility of the County of Los Angeles. Despite the hundreds of millions of tax dollars that the City of Los Angeles hands to the County every year, the County has proven incapable of delivering effective, comprehensive, and cost-efficient mental health and addiction services. For example, for over 10 million Angelenos, the County of Los Angeles provided, as of 2020, only 81 crisis residential treatment beds across 6 facilities. That is unconscionable.

Meanwhile, the time for reform of California’s mental health laws is long past-due. Currently, under the 1967 Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, unless an individual is an imminent threat to himself, an imminent threat to someone else, or gravely disabled, he or she cannot be conserved or forced to receive stabilizing care. In effect, the law forces people to suffer until the brink of a tragedy. This approach to mental health is neither progressive nor compassionate. It is cruel and ineffective.

As your Councilmember, I will: 

  • Scrutinize every dollar we spend on the homelessness crisis and prioritize funding to established non-profit organizations. These non-profit organizations can do more with less money and can offer personalized treatment and care for those suffering unique trauma on the streets. 
  • Advocate for common sense reforms to our mental health laws at the state level and local enforcement levels. Trained mental health professionals – not LAPD officers – should be the ones who reach out to individuals suffering from mental health and addiction issues, including making 5150 involuntary hold determinations. 
  • Incentivize and streamline the construction and conversion of mental health care facilities throughout Los Angeles. One such potential facility adjacent to the 5th District is the Olympia Medical Center, which UCLA Health recently acquired and is reportedly considering transitioning to a mental health care facility.
  • Expand the mandate of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) so that it becomes the Los Angeles Homeless Solutions Authority.  Since its founding in 1993, LAHSA has served largely as a pass-through agency through which federal, state, and local government funds are allocated to various private providers of shelter, housing, and services to those experiencing homelessness.  While this is an important function that guards against fraud, waste, and abuse, it is akin to placing a bandage on a gaping wound.  The ten appointed Commissioners (five from the city, and five from the county) should be mandated to work together to develop, advocate, and help implement broad and lasting solutions to our homelessness crisis.
 

5. Ensuring Public Spaces Are Clean, Safe, And Accessible For All Angelenos

While working toward the goal of bringing everyone indoors, we owe it to all housed and unhoused Angelenos to keep our streets clean, safe, and accessible. Ensuring that sidewalks are passable is required under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Nor can we tolerate open-air drug trafficking, fires, or acts of violence that are increasingly occurring in encampments, including in broad daylight in residential communities. Laws must be enforced to protect both the unhoused and the community at large. 

As your Councilmember, I will work to: 

  • Maintain basic public health, safety, and accessibility standards on the sidewalks, public spaces, and sensitive areas of the 5th District – especially near schools, parks, and libraries. However, to accomplish this, the LAPD should be the agency of last resort, not the agency of first response when it comes to our homelessness crisis. We cannot arrest our way out of homelessness.
  • Transition the responsibility for outreach to social workers, mental health professionals, and non-profit organizations. These professionals – and not armed LAPD officers – should be responding to the bulk of the 140,000 calls related to homelessness that Angelenos make to LAPD and the City every year. 
  • Pair the right to shelter with the obligation to use it when available. In order to urgently transition people experiencing homelessness onto the path towards housing, we must use recently enacted Los Angeles City Ordinance 41.18 when necessary and appropriate. I am the only Democrat in this race willing to do so. This approach is used effectively by neighboring cities. This approach will bring unhoused Angelenos into warmth and shelter faster. This approach will return our public spaces for public use. And this approach will save lives.

A Safe Los Angeles - For Everyone

Summary

Every Angeleno deserves to feel safe – at home, at work, on the road, and in parks, libraries, and other public spaces in our great City. But escalating gun violence, follow-home robberies, and unsafe conditions for transit riders have put all Angelenos on edge. Preventing crime and restoring safety to our neighborhoods is the primary responsibility of the City Council. We cannot re-build Los Angeles into a world-class city that is vibrant, healthy, green, and equitable unless Los Angeles is both safe for all and policed properly.

I do not support defunding the police. This is a binary slogan for a non-binary issue. We can both increase the number of officers in Los Angeles in our efforts to lower crime and work to reform and restructure the way our City is policed. I am the only candidate in this race who will advance effective, common sense policies so that every neighborhood and every Angeleno – including those who have historically had reasons to distrust law enforcement  feels safer in Los Angeles.

Here’s how we do it together:

1. Restructuring Responsibilities of the Los Angeles Police Department

While the number of sworn LAPD officers has decreased in recent years, police responsibilities have ballooned. We have tasked armed sworn police officers with being the first responders to virtually every issue in our City – from mental health crises and homelessness calls to noise complaints and crowd control. Every year, the LAPD receives more than 140,000 calls related to homelessness alone. More than 90% of calls to LAPD involve non-violent incidents, which in most cases do not require an armed response.

As Councilmember, I will expand crisis intervention teams (composed of trained social workers and mental health professionals) who will join and assist a smaller cadre of LAPD officers as first responders to non-violent incidents, such as contacts with mentally ill people experiencing homelessness. This will free up LAPD officers to tackle the core police work for which they are trained.

 

2. Rebuilding Our Depleted Police Force and Getting More Police Officers On Patrol

When I served under Mayor Villaraigosa, Los Angeles had 10,000 sworn LAPD officers. While City Hall has authorized a force of 9,700 sworn LAPD officers, we currently have only 9,410, as of 2021, and too many of those LAPD officers are responding to homelessness calls or even behind a desk doing administrative work. According to a 2016 audit by City Controller Ron Galperin, 460 armed sworn LAPD officers are performing desk jobs that could be performed appropriately and less expensively by civilian City employees, such as maintaining records, managing equipment, and responding to subpoenas. 

As Councilmember, I will advance the following priorities:

  • I support rebuilding LAPD to its full authorized force under Mayor Villaraigosa. Additional police resources will help deter and prevent crimes, improve emergency response times, and provide LAPD the added flexibility to address crime hot spots and trends.
  • With only 55% of murders being solved in 2020, funding should also be prioritized towards solving violent crimes. It is imperative that our law enforcement has the resources, personnel, partners, and tools needed to deliver effective law enforcement and comprehensive community safety.
  • I will work with LAPD leadership to immediately transition sworn officers from behind desks to patrolling our neighborhoods, where they can better protect and serve Angelenos. This is the fastest and most cost-effective path to increasing police officer deployment right now to neighborhoods requesting increased police presence.
 

3. Better Policing Through Better Recruiting, Training, Oversight, Accountability, and Community Partnerships

As we rebuild the LAPD force, it is equally imperative that we invest in meaningful police reforms.

This includes:

  • Continuing to recruit a diverse police force that builds on its current diversity (approximately 70% of LAPD officers are women or people of color).
  • Increased training requirements and robust accountability for any police misconduct, which on average costs the City $50 million per year in adverse legal settlements and judgments.
  • Additional training that prioritizes de-escalating confrontations whenever possible. 
  • Robust civilian oversight that earns the trust of every 5th District resident that LAPD serves.
 

4. Tackling Our City’s Mental Health and Addiction Crises with Urgency, Compassion, and Common Sense

We cannot talk about public safety without talking about the mental health and addiction crises currently devastating Los Angeles. A growing population of Angelenos are suffering from significant issues of untreated mental health and addiction. These crises contribute to the increase of homelessness and crime in our City and overburden our already taxed LAPD, LAFD, and hospitals. 

To address these crises, I will:

  • Incentivize and streamline the construction and conversion of mental health care facilities throughout Los Angeles.
  • Allocate more resources to proven non-profit organizations that can offer personalized treatment and care for those suffering from mental health and addiction issues.
  • Advocate for common sense reforms to California’s out-dated mental health and conservatorship laws.
  • Hire more mental health professionals to join crisis intervention teams.

For more on how I will address these crises, please visit https://samforla.com/homelessness.

 

5. Reducing Gun Violence

Shootings and homicides in Los Angeles are now at their highest point in two decades. One of my top priorities will be to prevent anyone who is prohibited from owning a gun from having one.

As Councilmember, I will also:

  • Increase investments in gun buyback and anti-gun trafficking initiatives to get guns off our streets.
  • Fight to ensure our City’s recent laws banning ghost and other illegal untraceable guns are actually enforced, including bringing charges against people who use ghost guns and people who sell or transfer guns used in violent crime and expanding the LAPD’s Gun Unit.
 

6. Investing in Under-Served Communities, Community Policing, and Neighborhood-Based Problem-Solving Strategies

Community safety begins at the neighborhood level. Community investments have proven successful in preventing crime and uplifting communities.

As Councilmember, I will support:

  • Investments in violence prevention, interruption, and intervention programs. These include gang prevention initiatives, after-school programs, job training and assistance, and mental healthcare and addiction resources.
  • Empowering Neighborhood Prosecutors and providing funding to Senior Lead Officers to work with local communities to develop neighborhood-specific crime prevention and community safety programs.
 

7. Prioritizing Hate Crime Enforcement and Prevention

Los Angeles recorded the most hate crimes among major American cities in 2021, posting a 71% jump in incidents – including a steep rise in anti-Asian, anti-Semitic, anti-Black, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and anti-LGBTQ violence. Hate crimes terrorize not just the victim but an entire community.

I will prioritize hate crime enforcement within the LAPD and demand that our District Attorney prosecute perpetrators with hate crimes enhancements when warranted, like I did as part of a coalition who advocated for hate crime enhancements against the perpetrators of anti-Semitic violence in the 5th District in 2021. As an accomplished non-profit leader and former board member of the Anti-Defamation League, I will also work with community partners to encourage hate crime reporting among immigrant and minority communities and to invest in diverse educational programming and deepen interfaith and inter-community partnerships.

 

8. Additional Public Safety Measures:

  • Modernizing and Enhancing LAPD’s Use of Technology. We must invest in updating LAPD’s technological capacities, which are lagging and cause inefficiencies. I support increasing the use of closed-circuit cameras in high-crime locations and in sensitive public spaces, such as the seven Purple Line Subway Stations that are being built in or near the 5th District. Los Angeles lags far behind other major cities (such as Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Denver) in per capita deployment of cameras. Effectively placed cameras can help deter and solve crime.

  • Enhancing Pedestrian, Cyclist, and Traffic Safety. Community safety also means making sure our pedestrians, cyclists, and streets are safe through responsive and effective traffic mitigation efforts, infrastructure repairs and upgrades, and appropriate mobility lanes. I will also confront the dangerous rise in street car racing and “street take-overs” that we have seen throughout the 5th District. I will work with City Departments to reduce speed limits in certain areas and increase enforcement and penalties for these troubling crimes.

  • Supporting the Fire Prevention, Fire Safety, and Emergency Services of the Los Angeles Fire Department. I will ensure the Los Angeles Fire Department has the funds, equipment, and technology that it needs to protect against fire, health, and emergency risks that face the 5th District, including high-risk wildfire areas and the aging wells that pump oil and gas under our homes and schools every single day.

  • Reducing Blight. Finally, our streets, parks, and sidewalks have become increasingly filthy. Studies show that when communities are cleaned up, crime goes down. I will invest my office’s discretionary funds and work with City Departments and local stakeholders to make sure that our streets are clean, neighborhoods are beautified, and blight is mitigated in every neighborhood of the 5th District.

Reforming Los Angeles City Government

Summary

Los Angeles is broken. 

We all know it. We see it every day on our streets and in our neighborhoods. 

City Hall and the County Hall of Administration have been overrun by blatant corruption, cronyism, and nepotism. Three out of fifteen City Councilmembers (and one former County Supervisor) face federal prison for shocking corruption charges. 

Career politicians are busy enriching themselves and their families while homelessness is exploding (spiking 80% in five years), gun violence is raging (up 70% since last year), and our streets, parks, libraries, neighborhoods, and small business districts are deteriorating before our eyes.

It’s long past time for change. Real change. It’s time for Angelenos to elect new leaders who will reform City Hall and restore the public’s trust. 

The status quo is not working for anyone in Los Angeles – except political insiders. We need to elect true reformers who will serve their constituents and fight to bring real change to City Hall, not more insiders who serve only themselves and who perpetuate this corrupt system.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant for political corruption. It is time to bring in the sunlight.

 

Here is my Five-Point Plan to Reform Los Angeles City Government:

1. Ethics Reform. We need an aggressive, independent City Ethics Department. Right now, the fox is guarding the hen house. The Mayor and City Council appoint the very commissioners tasked with holding the Mayor and City Council accountable. In fact, even before they are appointed, Commissioners are required to submit to the Mayor a signed, undated letter of resignation, allowing them to be removed immediately if they ever cast a vote that displeases the Mayor. 

I will fight to empower the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission and Los Angeles City Controller’s Office with true independent oversight authority, including strengthening the subpoena powers for both offices, providing robust funding streams for both offices that would not require City Council approval, and requiring the appointment of truly independent and highly qualified Ethics Commissioners such as former prosecutors and retired judges.

The size of the budget and staff of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission pales in comparison to that of other major cities. Once elected, I will introduce legislation to increase the size, budget, and scope of the Ethics Commission so it has the tools to do its job.

2. Campaign Finance Reform. Money in politics is corrosive, and as we have seen, oftentimes corrupting. It’s time for real campaign finance reform, not political theater masquerading as such. Los Angeles should follow other California cities in banning all contributions from non-individuals, real estate developers, and other special interests with business before the city. We must stop donors from buying political influence through murky LLCs and other business entities that conceal the identities of donors and make it difficult to determine who is actually donating and whether contribution limits have been violated. 

We must also expand our public financing of campaigns so the insider class cannot continue to use their nepotism, cronyism, and significant resources to endlessly elect, re-elect, and swap seats with each other. We must also do more to regulate the “bundling” of contributions by lobbyists, “behested” donations made at the request of an elected official, and hidden discretionary spending by Councilmembers. 

This is why, at the outset of my campaign, I rejected all contributions from real estate developers, oil and gas companies, billboard companies, cannabis companies, corporate entities, PACs, and special interests of any kind that have business before the city. I am proudly leading by example.

3. Planning and Land Use Reform. Our city’s plodding system of planning and approval of development projects is broken, inefficient, and invites corruption. Land use policy should be set at the Community Plan update level, empowering stakeholders in local neighborhoods, not lobbyists in backrooms. Career politicians on the Los Angeles City Council have far too much unchecked discretion to reward their political donors and punish their perceived opponents. Meanwhile, the timeframe for City agencies to approve much needed affordable and workforce housing projects in Los Angeles is far too long and uncertain. In the coming weeks, I will share my plans for widespread housing reform to make it easier, faster, and more cost-efficient to build desperately needed affordable and workforce housing in Los Angeles.

4. Redistricting Reform. I join Common Cause and the 2021 Los Angeles City Redistricting Commission in calling for major structural changes to how Los Angeles is governed. The City of Los Angeles must have a truly independent Redistricting Commission, like virtually every other major California city from San Diego to Oakland.  Our current advisory-only Redistricting Commission system – which allows politicians to appoint commissioners, replace commissioners at will, communicate with commissioners behind closed doors on an ex parte basis, and ultimately disregard the Commission’s work – is hopelessly flawed. Councilmembers should not have the power to redraw their own district lines in a back room. Voters should choose their politicians; politicians should not choose their voters.

5. City Council Reform. With the population of each Los Angeles Council District the size of cities like St. Louis and Orlando, Councilmembers are increasingly disconnected from the neighborhoods they represent. Los Angeles lags significantly behind every other major American city in the ratio of representatives to constituents. Over the last century, the population of our city has grown from 600,000 to 4 million. Yet the number of Council Districts has remained the same. It is no wonder that Council Members spend their time currying favor with lobbyists and political insiders rather than being responsive to the communities they serve. If we want to hold City Hall accountable, then Council Members must come from and know the communities they represent. To ensure this, Los Angeles should expand its number of City Council Districts. This long overdue reform will increase accountability, provide neighborhoods with a stronger voice in City Hall, and elect a more representative and responsive City Council. 

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Where necessary, I will fight to bring these critical reforms directly to the voters in the form of ballot amendments to our City Charter. We cannot rely on the City Council to reform itself. Nothing less than the future of Los Angeles is at stake. It’s time to bring sunlight to our city government. Let’s get to work.

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