Katy Yaroslavsky speaks of her first year in her new office

| February 29, 2024 | 0 Comments

KATY YAROSLAVSKY speaks at the Miracle Mile Residential Association’s annual meeting on January 27.

Councilwoman Katy Yaroslavsky of the vast City of Los Angeles Fifth Council District — that extends from Brentwood to Palms and all the way to Western Avenue — will soon open her new district office in the Miracle Mile. We spoke with the councilwoman about why this new office is important to her, what her first year on the City Council has been like and what her top priorities are for the years to come.

Yaroslavsky expressed excitement that her new district office will be located on the southwest corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Cochran Avenue, just a block away from the new La Brea Avenue “D” Line Metro subway station.

She likes that people will be able to get to her office by way of public transit and told us that the design of the new space will allow her office to host community meetings and gatherings. “I think it’s important that people feel connected to their government — particularly local government,” said the councilwoman. CD5 represents a part of a city that’s not adjacent to where City Hall is. “In a way,” she told us, “we are now bringing City Hall to the district… It’s going to be a hub of community engagement.”

Yaroslavsky told us that the learning curve was steep this first year. She went from being a staff member (for a county supervisor) to being an elected official and from working with the county to working with the city. But she feels things are now “really humming, in a way that feels good.” With a full, strong staff, the CD5 team is working on four main things: housing and homelessness, investing in making communities more livable, climate and sustainability and accountability and transparency at City Hall.

Yaroslavsky hopes to at least double the amount of interim homeless housing beds in the council district — going from 99 to 200 — by the end of 2024, with the goal of doubling that again within a couple of years.

But a focus is also being put on the permanent side of housing. Work is being done to ensure the affordable units inside the city’s otherwise market rate projects can be accessed for people coming out of interim housing, and the City Council is also working to accelerate the construction of affordable and middle-income housing. This is what Yaroslavsky called, “the missing middle.”

As a member of the City Council Transportation Committee — which happens to be the first all-woman committee in City of Los Angeles history — Yaroslavsky is working with her colleagues to take concrete actions to improve the safety of our streets. Her office also created the CD5 Clean Team, a group of people who are out five days a week picking up trash, clearing weeds, trimming trees and clearing storm drains. So far, the team has removed 60,000 pounds of trash and 600 bulky items.

Working to push Los Angeles in a greener direction, Yaroslavsky told us that a partnership between the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP), LA Sanitation and the Metropolitan Water District was recently secured. “This will help meet our goal of sourcing 70 percent of our water locally by 2035,” she told us.

The councilwoman is also working to accelerate the phase-out of oil extraction in Los Angeles. Oil is a “formidable industry,” she said. “But I think the days of oil drilling in neighborhoods have to be over — and we can’t wait 20 years.”

To improve the accountability and transparency at City Hall, Yaroslavsky brought a motion that would require disclosures when an elected official’s spouse, relative or staff member is a registered lobbyist. The councilwoman is also working to establish an office of compliance which would help councilmembers avoid potential conflicts of interest.

Miracle Mile
As to the goings-on in the Miracle Mile, Yaroslavsky thinks the fact that Metro’s new D Line (Purple Line) — which will enable people to get from Mid City to Downtown in 10 to 12 minutes — is going to change the way residents experience living in Mid City Los Angeles.

The councilwoman cited other big projects beyond the subway construction underway in the Miracle Mile area, such as the LACMA expansion. “Miracle Mile is one of my favorite places in the city because there’s a lot of history and a lot of great architecture, and it’s exciting to be a part of it,” she said.

When asked what she has learned about herself in the past year, the mother of three told us that, though she learned patience from having children, the level of patience required to do the job of a councilperson well is a lot.

“When you get screamed at during meetings for doing what you think is the right thing, it’s hard to take. But I think a lot of people’s frustration and anger comes from a sense of feeling powerless.” Yaroslavsky told us her patience muscle has become further developed, but her experiences have also reminded her of solutions. “When we empower people and treat people with respect,” she said, “it changes how people see the work that we do.”

Copper wire thefts
A few days after this interview, Councilwoman Yaroslavsky was one of 13 (of 15) members of the City Council voting in favor of proposals to address the growing crisis of thefts of copper wire from streetlights and elsewhere, as well as thefts of metal markers on gravestones and civic monuments.

Soto-Martinez votes “no”

COUNCIL MEMBER Hugo Soto-Martinez at a Windsor Square community meeting.

By contrast, local 13th Council District Councilmember Soto-Martinez voted against the proposals, as reported on Feb. 14 in the Los Angeles Daily News (tinyurl.com/k92zuv9y):
“Soto-Martinez spoke in defense of the criminals, saying some might be people who are financially struggling and committing acts of desperation. He also acknowledged that those committing copper theft range from struggling individuals to members of organized crime. ‘I implore you that it’s probably cheaper to invest into young people’s future than having to deal with a system of criminalization that really just gets us nowhere,’ he said.”

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Category: People

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