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Former Malibu Mayor Wants to Bring Creativity to County Government

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By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

January 7, 2014 -- Creativity is the cure for what ails Los Angeles County’s 3rd District.

So says Malibu resident and former mayor Pamela Ulich. That’s why the former labor lawyer and mother of two is one of a handful of candidates running to replace 3rd District County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky when he terms out this year after two decades in the position.

“There is a lack of creativity and entrepreneurial spirit in the (County) bureaucracies,” Ulich told The Lookout Monday from her Malibu home.

Her campaign, known as Team Love LA, promises “a revolutionary campaign to bring honesty, sanity and democracy to LA County’s 3rd District,” according to Ulich’s website.

The issues she is interested in revolve around what she calls "the four Es": Economy, emergency preparedness, education and the environment, all of which fall under the vast umbrella of the County’s responsibilities.

But what’s wrong with the way the County works now? Part of the problem is the sheer size of the County districts, Ulich said.

There are roughly 10 million people in Los Angeles County and there are five seats on the County Board of Supervisors.

The 3rd District alone encompasses Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Malibu, the Santa Monica Mountains, Augora Hills, San Fernando, West Hollywood and Miracle Mile.

“You have almost 2 million people being served by one person,” Ulich said.

“It is immense,” she said, referring both the County’s size and the scope of the government’s responsibilities.

The Supervisors ultimately decide how to allocate the County’s $20 billion annual budget to pay for a vast network of social services and public safety agencies.

The County Supervisors oversee, among other things, hospitals, the Sheriff’s Department, jails, child foster care services, public transit, libraries and the condition of the County’s beaches.

Ulich said that she knows first-hand just how frustrating County bureaucracy can be.

She first ran for the Malibu City Council in 2004 because she wanted to see improvements to Malibu’s County-run local library.

"It took me eight years working with L.A. County to redo and revamp our library," she said.

And, she said, when she and fellow community activists brought plans to the County to put a swing set and other amenities at nearby Zuma Beach -- a popular regional destination -- they were met with a “No, no, no.

“We had the budget, we had the designs and we were told that L.A. County would do nothing at Zuma Beach,” she said. “It was a lack of vision.”

Among other things, she would like to see the County get proactive about preparing citizens for potential disasters.

Ulich was acting mayor in 2008 during a devastating fire in Malibu and the surrounding areas.

People, she said, should have a better knowledge of how to act in a disaster situation.

“More community preparedness training,” she said. “Get out to engage the people who live in L.A. County to be in control of their own destiny, whether it’s by learning CPR or joining Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs).”

Most importantly, though, she said she wants people to aware of what the County does.

This year, Yaroslavsky and 1st District Supervisor Gloria Molina, will be the first two supervisors to term out after a ballot initiative limiting supervisors to 12 years in the powerful offices passed in 2002.

With Yaroslavsky forced out, his open seat has drawn a crowded -- and high-profile -- field of candidates.

Former State Senator Sheila Kuehl started her run for the 3rd District seat in March last year. ("Santa Monica’s Sheila Kuehl Racks Up Cash, Endorsements in County Race," January 6)

The race picked up steam late last year when West Hollywood City Councilmember John Duran announced that he would also make a bid for Yaroslavsky’s seat. ("West Hollywood Councilmember Wants to Bring Grassroots Government to L.A. County," January 8)

Former Santa Monica Mayor -- and member of the Kennedy clan -- has all but officially announced that he will seek the seat and former Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel may also join the race after losing her bid last year to be L.A.’s first female mayor.

Ulich welcomes the competition.

“We all have different focus and different life experience that we draw upon,” she said. “I think the more people that get in and participate, the better.”

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