A new political advocacy group polled L.A. voters. Here’s what it found

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, accompanied by her team, at a news conference in April.
Mayor Karen Bass, now in her second year in office, has strong support from voters, according to a poll commissioned by a new group looking to make its mark in L.A. politics.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning and welcome to L.A. on the Record — our City Hall newsletter. It’s Dakota Smith, informing you on the events of the past week, with help from my colleagues David Zahniser, Rachel Uranga and Rebecca Ellis.

Los Angeles is going off the rails. The City Council is unpopular. The mayor’s doing a pretty good job. And most Angelenos aren’t too clear on what City Atty. Hydee Feldstein Soto is doing.

Those were some of the results of a citywide poll commissioned by a new advocacy group looking to get much more involved in local politics.

Thrive LA, which is backed by business and community leaders, plans to support candidates in the March primary, said its board president, Sam Yebri. The group has yet to formally announce any endorsements.

Yebri told The Times that Thrive leaders are concerned about the “huge discrepancies between what Angelenos want to see happen and what’s actually happening in city and county leadership.”

Put another way: “Thrive is basically a group of Angelenos who feel like our city’s heading in the wrong direction and want to work to turn things around,” said Yebri, an attorney who waged an unsuccessful bid for City Council in 2022.


Other Thrive leaders include Brad Conroy, founder and president of Conroy Commercial, who serves as chief financial officer and a board member, and board secretary Noel Hyun Minor, who runs a real estate investment and advisory services firm and worked as a planning deputy for Eric Garcetti when he was on the City Council.

The group’s major donors include Conroy and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce PAC, according to Yebri. The nonprofit Thrive is a 501(c)(4), which means it doesn’t have to report its donations. However, it will have to publicly report any political spending, according to the group.

The poll is intended to give Thrive a little buzz. The group also had an event last year with developer Rick Caruso.

In the survey, Bass received high marks, with 59% of respondents saying they approve of her performance, versus 35% who do not.

Respondents were less satisfied with Dist. Atty. George Gascón. A total of 54% said they disapprove of the job he’s doing, compared with 26% who hold a favorable view.

Meanwhile, just 29% hold a favorable view of the Los Angeles City Council. More than half disapprove.

The poll of 771 likely voters in the March 5 primary was conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates. More than 55% of the respondents took the survey online; the remainder gave their answers via a phone call.

The poll found that 95% of respondents view homelessness as a serious problem, and 89% view the cost of housing as a serious problem.


In keeping with findings from other polls, 55% said Los Angeles is on the wrong track, while 28% reported that it’s headed in the right direction.

It might seem strange that voters are frustrated with the state of the city while being supportive of Bass and her performance. Pollster Rick Sklarz, who worked on the Thrive survey, gave his take on the disconnect.

“They don’t view her as the person who put the city into the situation that it is in today,” he said.

Respondents were also asked about ballot measure Healthy Streets LA, which would require city agencies to carry out improvements, such as installing protected bicycle lanes, on certain streets and boulevards when those corridors receive major repairs.

When read the measure’s official title and summary, 66% of respondents approved, and 23% disapproved. Support softened, however, after pollsters posed follow-up questions about the measure.

Asked about Feldstein Soto, the city attorney, 60% said they did not know enough to say whether they approve or disapprove of her performance, 18% approve, and 23% disapprove.

With a heavy focus on homelessness, policing and quality-of-life issues, Thrive appears to be modeled on political groups that have emerged in the Bay Area. In some cases, those groups are pushing for more housing or more enforcement by police on city streets.


Yebri said he and others are in fact studying San Francisco groups. However, he rejected the suggestion that Thrive is made up of “centrist Democrats.”

State of play

— UNLUCKY 13: Former Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar was sentenced to 13 years in prison for leading a sprawling pay-to-play scheme involving downtown developers. The judge’s decision came nearly nine years after FBI agents opened their investigation into Huizar’s activities at a high-end casino in Las Vegas.

— NO VACANCIES: L.A. has had a serious labor shortage for more than a year, with at least 1 in 6 city positions unfilled. The City Council may solve that problem in a counterintuitive way: by zapping many of those vacant positions. Why? A looming budget shortfall — fueled in large part by new raises for LAPD officers and other public employees — is forcing the city to rein in spending.

— POLICING POLICE RAISES: Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martínez is pinning the blame for the budget woes on the LAPD raises, calling them financially reckless. He says the city needs to seriously consider eliminating hundreds of vacant officer positions at the LAPD. On Friday, in a move he spearheaded, the council asked for a report next week on the number of police officers the LAPD “realistically” expects to hire by June 30.

— CUTTING CRIME: Speaking of the LAPD, Bass and Chief Michel Moore announced this week that homicides and shootings declined in 2023 by 17% and 10%, respectively, from the prior year. Moore noted that those two crime categories are still up compared with 2019, the last full year before the outbreak of COVID-19.

— AND NOW THE BAD NEWS: Traffic deaths reached a record high last year, with more fatal crashes than homicides, Moore said. In all, 336 people died in crashes in 2023, more than half of them pedestrians. That’s the most since the city started keeping statistics more than two decades ago.


— GOING, GOING, GONDOLA?: Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez this week took a step toward halting the controversial proposed Dodger gondola, introducing a motion instructing city officials to suspend all work on the project until traffic studies on Dodger Stadium are completed. Hernandez, whose district includes the ballpark, is a foe of the project, which is being assessed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

— PROTECTING PETS: The City Council voted Tuesday to prevent landlords from evicting tenants who took in a dog, cat or other animal at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, even if that move violated the terms of their lease. The 13-0 vote will make permanent a tenant protection enacted during the lockdowns that was slated to expire.

SAFETY FIRST: Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn is facing a reelection challenge from former County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. So it’s not surprising that her first campaign ad places a heavy emphasis on first responders: firefighters, paramedics, nurses and related themes. Villanueva, who has been painting Hahn as soft on crime, says he plans to start running his own ads next month.

— THOMPSON LANDS A GIG: Bass’ former chief of staff Chris Thompson is joining the lobbying firm Arnie Berghoff & Associates. Thompson, who ran the mayor’s office during her first 11 months at City Hall, “will expand the client services that the firm can offer,” according to his hiring announcement. The Berghoff firm represents such City Hall clients as waste hauler Athens Services and the Hotel Assn. of Los Angeles. Ethics rules prohibit Thompson from lobbying until 12 months after his departure from City Hall.

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Quick hits

  • Where is Inside Safe? The mayor’s program to combat homelessness did not launch any operations this week. Instead, Bass focused on the latest homelessness count, which began Tuesday and lasted three days.
  • On the docket for next week: The City Council meets Tuesday to move ahead with strategies for addressing issues with the city’s new problem-plagued payroll system.

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