Thursday, April 11, 2019
Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the Los Angeles Initiative at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and the department of history, has been at the forefront of Los Angeles County’s biggest issues, including transportation, the environment, health care, and cultural arts for almost 40 years. He will reflect on his life in public life serving the county of Los Angeles. He will be honored as the recipient of Rose Award for Excellence in Public Service
Zev Yaroslavsky was first elected to office in 1975, stunning the political establishment by winning the Los Angeles City Council’s coveted 5th District seat at the age of 26. He was chairman of the Council’s Finance Committee and earned a reputation for being unafraid to tackle controversial issues, including the Los Angeles Police Department’s use of excessive force and its improper spying on law-abiding residents. Yaroslavsky is also credited with playing a leading role in the sweeping reforms of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Yaroslavsky was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. He served five terms as the Board’s Third District representative. He retired from office on December 1, 2014. Yaroslavsky was the driving force behind several major transit projects, including the Orange Line busway across the San Fernando Valley, the Exposition Light Rail line from downtown to Santa Monica which was completed at the end of 2015, and the subway— Purple Line—extension from Western Ave. to West Los Angeles which broke ground in 2014. After the closure of Martin Luther King, Jr. hospital in south Los Angeles, Yaroslavsky proposed a partnership between the University of California and Los Angeles County upon which the recently re-opened hospital was modeled.
During his public service career, Yaroslavsky was the county’s leader in the cultural arts. The Los Angeles Times said of him before he retired, “It would be hard to find another major politician anywhere in the entire country with Yaroslavsky’s record for outright arts support and achievement.” He championed efforts to rebuild and modernize the world-famous Hollywood Bowl amphitheater and was instrumental in the development of architect Frank Gehry’s iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall, home of the L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra.
Apart from his responsibilities as an elected official, Yaroslavsky has long been associated with the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a non-governmental organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., that promotes the development of democratic institutions in burgeoning democracies.
Yaroslavsky is currently the director of the Los Angeles Initiative at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and the department of history, focusing on the inter-section of policy, politics and history of the Los Angeles region. Yaroslavsky was born and raised in Los Angeles and earned an M.A. in British Imperial History and a B.A. in Economics and History, both from UCLA. He is a graduate of Fairfax High School in Los Angeles.
Mr. Yaroslavsky’s Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Rose Rose Institute of State and Local Government at CMC.