April 24, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

ZEV

Zev Yaroslavsky

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky has a few chapters still left to write.

The current chapter he’s working on is Measure R – raising the sales tax in Los Angeles County by half a cent to pay for transportation needs.

The measure would raise $30 to $40 billion over the next 30 years. Several major projects would get funded, including the “Subway to the Sea,†from downtown to Santa Monica.

 â€œThis is a once in a lifetime opportunity to do something significant about traffic,†according to Yaroslavsky. “If we don’t do it now, it could take another generation†to tackle everyone’s number one complaint.

Yaroslavsky said it will cost every person in Los Angeles County an estimated $25 a year for something that will pay “huge†dividends for years to come – and starting right away.

Other projects of interest to Westsiders include a 405 north-south light rail system; completing the Exposition Light Rail from Culver City to Santa Monica; and connecting the Green Line, which runs from Norwalk to Redondo Beach, to LAX.

Even though all the other elected officials on the Westside are backing Measure R, some elected officials from other parts of the county do not, because they think the Westside is getting too big a slice of the pie.

And the challenge is that Measure R requires a two-thirds vote for passage.

But, according to Yaroslavsky, this is not insurmountable; back in 2002, voters approved by a 73 percent vote a measure promoted by Yaroslavsky that kept L.A. County’s healthcare system afloat.

The key drivers at this point, said Yaroslavsky, are the current price of gasoline and the massive frustration Angelenos experience as they sit in their cars, stuck in traffic. People are more ready than ever for a change, he argued.

When asked about critics who say the locals will never get out of their cars, Yaroslavsky said this is actually not true. He noted that ridership on public transportation is actually up across L.A. The Orange Line has seen an increase in ridership from 16,000 to 27,000 daily since it opened in 2005, he pointed out.  

L.A.’s bus system is “one of the best in the world,†he said. “If people will just try it, they’ll get hooked on it,†Yaroslavsky added. He takes the bus at least twice a week and said it’s “standing room only.â€

His son, a lawyer, doesn’t even own a car.

Benefits of riding the bus, he said, include having time to read, make phone calls and an overall reduction in stress.

He also talks to people on the bus who come up to him to discuss their various issues – or just to say hello.

It’s important to recognize, said Yaroslavsky, that these locally-generated transportation funds can help draw in additional state and federal monies, so the total money raised might be far more than $40 billion.

Yaroslavsky was first elected to the Los Angeles City Council, representing the 5th District, in 1975.

He was only 26 at the time, already known for his student activism at UCLA, where he led a movement to raise awareness for the “Refuseniks,†or Soviet Jews who were refused basic rights and who wanted to emigrate – many to Israel.

Yaroslavsky served as a city councilman for 19 years, gaining a reputation as someone intent on providing basic services while living within the city’s means.

The biggest difference between being a city councilman and a county supervisor is that, as a councilman, constituents call all the time with any manner of problems, issues, ideas and requests.  

“If you don’t like solving people’s problems, this is the wrong field for you,†he observed.

As a county supervisor, he doesn’t get as many calls. Instead of assisting an individual with an issue, he now helps oversee gigantic systems that administer healthcare, oversee prisons, provide transportation, enhance cultural opportunities and supply permanent supportive housing for the homeless – among many other things.

Yaroslavsky said he has learned over the years that it’s important to think things through and get them right the first time, so as to avoid wasted time and money.

That said, he thinks public policymakers need to take more risks. It’s too easy to see good ideas get lost in the bureaucratic shuffle, he believes.

He is particularly frustrated that his proposal to make Pico and Olympic essentially one-way streets during peak hours was stalled by the bureaucracy in the City of Los Angeles, which would have to implement any such traffic scheme.

He said he understands the concept has its skeptics, but said any problems could have been solved.

“Supporters outnumber critics by a wide margin,†he continued. “This should have happened within a year.â€

The political process is frustrating, he noted, but then harkened back to Winston Churchill who said democracy is the worst form of government until one considers all the alternatives.

In the time he has remaining in the public arena – he is termed out of office in 2014 and has no specific plans beyond that – Yaroslavsky said he’d like to make continued progress in the areas of transportation, arts and culture, health insurance and reducing homelessness.

He’d especially like to see L.A. implement a program whereby kids in junior high school would learn to play musical instruments. Back in junior high, Yaroslavsky learned how to play the oboe and he thinks making music is a great way to keep today’s kids out of trouble, teaching them character – and teamwork.

Music appreciation is a big part of his life; getting Disney Hall built and the Hollywood Bowl rebuilt are among his proudest achievements.

If and when he truly does retire from life as an elected official, he hopes to write some additional chapters – in the form of books.

In particular, he’d like to write one book on observations made during his life and times, and another on the impact of the year 1968, “when the whole world was in rebellion.â€

His student activist days are long behind him, but one senses the passions of the late sixties and early seventies still drive this warhorse as he continues to pull the wagon forward.

Some Projects That Will Get Funded if Measure R Passes (from the website, www.metro.net/measurer/).

1-A  Exposition Boulevard Light Rail Transit: Culver City to Santa Monica*  
Extends the Exposition Rail Line, currently under construction to Culver City, to Santa Monica.

1-B  Crenshaw Transit Corridor (project acceleration)*
Accelerates construction of a line along the Crenshaw Blvd. Corridor and connects Los Angeles, Inglewood, Hawthorne and El Segundo, plus unincorporated L.A. County.

1-C  Regional Connector: Links Local Rail Lines*
Links four light rail lines that terminate at the edges of Central L.A. Expected to provide seamless connections between Long Beach/Pasadena, and Culver City/East L.A., minimizing the need for rail transfers.

1-D  Westside Subway Extension (to be opened in segments)*
Extends Metro Rail to the Westside. The project is expected to serve Century City and Westwood/UCLA.

1-G  Green Line Extension: Redondo Beach Station to South Bay Corridor*  
Continues the Metro Green Line from its current terminus in Redondo Beach to the South Bay Galleria.

1-H  Green Line Extension to Los Angeles International Airport*
Links the Metro Green Line to LAX at the Aviation Station.

1-I  San Fernando Valley North-South Rapidways: Canoga Corridor (project acceleration)
Extends the Metro Orange Line north from Canoga Park Station to Chatsworth with a projected completion three years early.

1-J  San Fernando Valley East North-South Rapidways (project acceleration)
Accelerates bus service improvements, including possible dedicated bus lanes, on four potential East San Fernando Valley corridors, including Van Nuys, Sepulveda, Reseda and Lankershim.

1-K  West Santa Ana Branch Corridor
Provides for the development of a grade-separated transit corridor. Phase I is designed to go from the L.A. County line toward downtown L.A.

1-L  San Fernando Valley I-405 Corridor Connection*
Provides a rapid transit option through the Sepulveda Pass between the Westside and the San Fernando Valley.

*Specific mode and routing will be subject to approved plans developed in cooperation with local jurisdictions and affected communities.

Two measures that could have implications for Westside travel will be on the ballot.

In Santa Monica, Measure T restricts the square footage of new businesses in the City. Commercial development would be capped at 75,000 square feet through 2023 unless subject to planning and city council approval. Smaller businesses generate less traffic.

Resolution H in Beverly Hills also addresses density issues. This measure seeks to amend the General Plan to enable the revitalization of the Beverly Hilton Hotel site with a luxury hotel, condominiums and Open Space.

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