Former L.A. County Supervisor and City Councilmember Zev Yaroslavsky will share stories and sign his new book Zev’s Los Angeles at 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 22. The event will be held at a private home in the Palisades Alphabet Streets and an address will be provided when one RSVPs to www.palidems.org.
Zev’s Los Angeles: From Boyle Heights to the Halls of Power. A Political Memoir was released on May 30 and Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass called the book “A compelling history of our city’s last half century, as conveyed through the life of one of our most impactful leaders.”
Yaroslavsky, the child of Jewish immigrants from Russia, attended Melrose Avenue Elementary, Bancroft Junior High School and Fairfax High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history and economics from UCLA in 1971 and a year later his master’s degree in history. He then taught Hebrew in Pasadena and Bel Air temples.
He was elected to the City Council’s 5th District in 1975 when he was 26, and then Mayor Bradley said, “Congratulations. Now you’re part of the establishment.”
“Yes,” Yaroslavsky said, “but the establishment is not part of me.”
In 1986, he and Councilman Marvin Braude authored Proposition U, a ballot initiative that would cut in half the size of new buildings allowed on more than 70 percent of the city’s commercial and industrial property. The measure passed by a margin of more than 2-to-1 and was hailed by supporters as representing the “dawn of a new era” in managing Los Angeles’ growth.
The following year, Yaroslavsky and Braude teamed up again to gather signatures for a ballot initiative that would block Occidental Petroleum Corporation’s effort to drill for oil in the shoreline off Pacific Palisades.
Opponents called the effort “an elitist cause” that would deprive the city of between $100 million and $200 million in taxes, royalties and license fees. Mayor Tom Bradley said the measure was unnecessary given safety precautions Occidental had proposed to prevent an accident.
In November 1988, voters narrowly approved Proposition O, which stopped oil rigs off the shores of the Palisades.
Zev was a councilmember until 1994, when he ran and was elected L.A. County Supervisor. He was elected to five terms, and left the board when he was termed out in December 2014.
While on the Board of Supervisors he obtained ordinances that reduced neighborhood building heights and imposed severe restrictions on hillside development.
Yaroslavsky was credited with orchestrating negotiations concerning the use of potential traffic congestion measurements in determining the scope of a project.
In 2018, Yaroslavsky expressed opposition to SB 827, which allowed dense housing construction near major public transit stations, saying this “will destroy neighborhoods, destroy the sense of place that many of our neighborhoods and our villages represent.”
A year later, he expressed opposition to SB 50, which permitted the construction of duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes on much of the residential land that had previously been zoned exclusively for single-family homes.
“When people around the world think of L.A., one of the things they think of is a home with a backyard. I think much of it should be preserved,” Yaroslavsky said.
He and late wife Barbara (Edelston) Yaroslavsky had two children, David and Mina. David, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge is married to Katy Young Yaroslasky, who was elected to the Los Angeles City Council in 2022.