Sam Yebri is running for the Los Angeles City Council and plans to fight for the residents of the 5th district. Sam and his parents were refugees from Iran who settled in Westwood when he was only a year old. Sam attended local public elementary schools. Sam attended local public elementary schools. Sam graduated from Yale University and USC Law School. He then clerked for a federal judge and worked for two major law firms, before launching his own litigation firm, Merino Yebri LLP, in Century City in 2010. Sam continues to live in Westwood, but he sends his four kids, under the age of 9, to attend school in the Pico Robertson area.
What do you love about Los Angeles and why do you continue to live here now?
There is so much to love about Los Angeles – and not just weather and beaches. First, the people – honest, hard-worked, innovative, compassionate, creative, and hailing from all over the world. Second, the disparate idyllic neighborhoods, ranging from our gorgeous hillsides of [Bel-Air] and Benedict Canyon to the historic neighborhoods in Hancock Park, Fairfax, and Carthay, to the vibrant urban neighborhoods like Westwood and Pico Robertson. Finally, LA is [the] land of opportunity – anything is possible, including my refugee family’s immigrant story. Together, we can solve all of the many challenges our city is facing right now.
Why do you want to work for the City Council? What are your plans for Los Angeles if you win the election?
Los Angeles is in crisis – with an explosion of homelessness, poverty, crime, and corruption. The people we elected to run our city are running it into the ground, and it will take new leadership with fresh perspectives and broader perspectives to turn things around. I love this city – it enabled my refugee family to live the American Dream and I want my four young kids and everyone’s families to live in a safe, vibrant Los Angeles. That’s why I am running – to fight to restore the Los Angeles that we all deserve.
How will you deal with the homeless and the tent cities in Los Angeles and the impact on our community?
The City and the County are failing us on every aspect of homelessness. We have to build more shelters, tiny homes, and supportive housing faster and cheaper with urgency and common sense. We have to do everything we can to help Angelenos experiencing homelessness move out of encampments and into these interim housing options. This is not happening enough; despite the $2 billion that we spend each year, five people living on the streets of Los Angeles die every night. Meanwhile, we need to enhance our investments in our responses to mental health and addiction issues, which are exploding on our streets. This includes creating more facilities, empowering non-profits, transitioning this work out of the hands of LAPD into the hands of mental health professionals, and updating our state’s mental health and conservatorship laws. Finally, we have to do more to build more affordable and workforce housing units in Los Angeles, and to invest in preventing vulnerable Angelenos from falling into homelessness in the first place.
What do you think the impact would be of reclassifying R1 (single-family residences) to R2 (duplexes) allowing people to put more units on their property and build bigger houses to create more housing?
I do not support eliminating single-family zoning. State laws like SB9 and 10 do not mandate the construction of affordable units, will accelerate gentrification, and enhance burdens on our infrastructure and emergency services. These decisions are best made at the local level. I do support our city’s ADU laws and will work hard to improve them, to make it easier and faster for residents to obtain the necessary permits.
How do you feel about low-income housing so young people have the option to live here? How can we make this area more affordable?
Building affordable housing throughout the 5th District, including in the Pico Robertson area, is a massive priority for me. Housing costs are crushing families with more and more families no longer able to afford to live in our neighborhoods. Over the years, I have worked hard to build housing for adults with special needs with ETTA, such as the Village, which will be a 64-unit project across from Pat’s on Pico. I will work hard to build more affordable and workforce housing on our transit-rich and job-rich commercial corridors such as Pico Blvd. This will bring housing, jobs, infrastructure upgrades, vibrancy, more trees, better roads and sidewalks, and a better future for the entire Pico Robertson community.
Long-term: Do you see Los Angeles transitioning to building-up instead of spreading out like a metropolitan city?
I do think there is [a] tremendous opportunity and potential on our major commercial corridors to add more affordable and workforce mixed-use housing, bring our infrastructure into the 21st century, enhance our public safety, and make them beautiful vibrant pedestrian-friendly business districts.
What do you think of making the Beverly Dr to Doheny area a walking area like in Beverly Hills and Culver City? It would cause more traffic on Olympic but possibly make the area more attractive and create more pedestrian traffic.
I love the idea of more pedestrian-friendly commercial streets throughout the 5th District. Beverly Drive is an ideal candid