Yebri hopes to bring ‘bold leadership’ to 5th District. Beverly Press.

Attorney and community activist Sam Yebri has never held elected office, but the Westwood resident is hopeful that will benefit him in his bid for Los Angeles City Council, which he believes could use a fresh perspective to tackle the city’s biggest problems.

Yebri is among nine candidates vying for the council’s 5th District seat, which will be vacant after Councilman Paul Koretz terms out this year.

“I’m running for City Council because the city that I love – the city that enabled my immigrant family to live the American dream, the city where my wife and I are raising four young kids and where I started a business – is in decline,” said Yebri, who moved to L.A. from Iran with his family when he was a year old. “And I just don’t think the same career politicians and their staffers and their family members are capable of turning Los Angeles around.”

He said the two biggest crises currently facing the city are homelessness and crime, and it will take “bold leadership” to alleviate the issues.

“I’m ready to step up and do that,” Yebri added. “I think these are the two issues on the minds of every resident of the 5th District and, frankly, everyone in Los Angeles. These are the two issues that our career politicians in office are refusing to tackle with urgency and common sense.”

The Westwood resident said he’s rolled out a five-point plan to address homelessness that focuses on investments to prevent people from becoming unhoused. Yebri referenced the city’s Prop. HHH funding and said it should be used to build interim housing, as opposed to “very expensive” housing projects.

“Affordability of housing is part of the homelessness issue, which is imperative now in a unique opportunity – with seven subway stations coming in and around the 5th District – to create more housing near transit that’s affordable,” Yebri added.

Further, L.A. officials should lobby the state to have mental health laws altered, facilitate the construction of more mental hospitals and enforce the city’s anti-camping laws, he said. That would allow individuals to transition from encampments to interim housing and then, eventually, permanent housing, while keeping public spaces clean and accessible, Yebri said.

Additionally, he said he wants to build more parks, enhance the city’s libraries and address quality of life issues – “basic things” that a person would expect a city like L.A. to provide, “which we’re not doing a good job of at all right now.”

Yebri said the city’s infrastructure is “crumbling” and its streets are “filthy.”

“We deserve more from city government than we’re getting right now,” he said, adding that he also wants to support individuals and small businesses suffering from the pandemic.

Yebri said City Hall needs elected officials who are dedicated to residents in the district long-term. He said he is invested in the district, having raised a family, attended schools and started a business in the area. The attorney said he’s also served on 10 nonprofit organization boards over the last 15 years.

“We need people who own a business like I do and understand what it means to do payroll and have to balance a checkbook,” said Yebri, a partner at Merino Yebri LLP in Century City. “I don’t think we’ve had enough of those perspectives in City Hall, and it shows.”

He said the district is going through an exciting time, with subway construction underway and a lot of projects ongoing on Wilshire Boulevard.

“It’s going to be incredible,” Yebri said. “That council member is going to be the person who’s going to make sure that people are able to navigate the first and last mile to and from that transit station – to make sure that we have trees and parks nearby and our roads are paved and people feel safe using the train station. I’m really excited about that opportunity.”

He previously served on the Los Angeles Civil Service Commission, having been appointed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in 2010. Yebri has also served as a board member of the Friends of the Westwood Library. In 2007, he co-founded 30 Years After, a nonprofit organization that supports Iranian-American Jews.

Please note: this article was originally published in Beverly Press.