Council District 5 Choices: Katy Yaroslavsky or Sam Yebri

| September 29, 2022 | 0 Comments

Two candidates, both of them lawyers, are running against each other in the race for the City Council District 5 seat. The majority of this newspaper’s coverage area, formerly all within Council District Four (for more than 70 years), now is in CD 5 due to the 2021 redistricting. This Westside CD5 district includes Bel Air and Westwood but now also extends east along the north side of Olympic Boulevard to Western Avenue, then north to Wilshire Boulevard, then back west to Arden Boulevard and up the rear property lines between Arden and Rossmore to Melrose Avenue and then back west abutting West Hollywood.

Katy Yaroslavsky

Environmental attorney Katy Young Yaroslavsky has worked as the senior policy director for the environment and the arts in the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. In the primary election in June, Yaroslavsky received just shy of the 50 percent (plus one) of votes needed to win the seat without a runoff.

Sam Yebri, an attorney often representing employees, has held appointments as a commissioner on the Los Angeles Civil Service Commission and on the city attorney’s Gun Prevention Task Force.

Both candidates see homelessness as a major issue in our area.

Yaroslavsky is a proponent of creating a regional homelessness authority. “One of the biggest problems with LAHSA [Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority] is that there is a layer of immunity for what LAHSA is screwing up. The principals need to be held accountable at the table. They need to use the structure they are sitting on and solve [the problem],” she says.

Yaroslavsky believes a big part of solving the problem will be more street engagement around mental health — even for people who are housed. Says the mother of three, we “need to make it easier for people to access mental health care, addiction services — help before they lose their housing. When we check in about food stamps or when someone stops paying DWP bills, we have to have someone check [in] to see if they’re close to losing their house… we [have to] connect them to services to help them fill the gaps.”

Sam Yebri

Yebri also believes in shifting resources to mental health services. He says the “mental illness on our streets that’s untreated is devastating communities… We need more mental health hospitals. We need more funding of addiction centers, and we have to clear encampments in sensitive areas — next to schools, next to parks and next to libraries. That’s not a place for our neighbors to live, and it’s not compassionate or humane to let that continue.” Yebri supports the use of Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) Sec. 41.18 and says he would work to insure temporary housing is available.

Says Yebri on housing, “I want to be an idea guy.” Yebri believes rent needs to be brought down for mid-range earners, especially on our commercial corridors, and he thinks the city council needs to work to make it easier and faster for people to build in Los Angeles. The father of four, who says he has a special passion for disability rights, says he helped spearhead a transformative housing project in District 5 for adults with special needs.

He believes more housing needs to be built near the seven D (formerly Purple) Line subway stations coming to the Fifth District.

Such transit-adjacent housing would also be part of his plan to create climate solutions. We “have to be a world leader on electrification,” he says.

In the environmental sphere, Yaroslavsky took the lead in developing Measure W, which was adopted in 2018 and is a safe water program that creates a funding stream for green infrastructure — storm water capture, new parks, open space, multi-benefit green infrastructure.

“It’s deeply satisfying to see a problem and use the tools of government to solve it,” she told us. “That was the primary driver of my running for office and thinking about what I was good at — what my skill set was.”

Experience and temperament are defining differences between the two candidates. One has primarily private sector lawyer experience and is passionate to put that knowledge to work to improve CD5. The other also was a private-practice environmental lawyer for five years but recently has worked in county government and thinks that that is key to being able to step into the job on the first day in office.

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