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California Assemblyman Rick Chavez Zbur (D-West Hollywood) addressed members of the West Hollywood community on July 18 during a gathering in the West Hollywood City Council Chambers.
The discussion, which was broadcast via the city’s WeHoTV, was part of series of visits Zbur is making in cities and with organizations in the 51st Assembly District to outline his legislative priorities. The assemblyman was elected in November 2022, succeeding former Assemblyman Richard Bloom. He formerly served as executive director of Equality California, the largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization in the United States. Zbur said West Hollywood is at the heart of his district.
“I remember West Hollywood before it was a city. For many years, I lived just around the corner from the 24 Hour Fitness and Starbucks off of Santa Monica Boulevard on Westbourrne. I later lived for about eight years on Ashcroft right off of Robertson, and I today only live a few blocks outside of West Hollywood near La Brea and Melrose. So I consider West Hollywood my home,” Zbur said. “It’s clear it’s the place where my heart is, and I think it is a city that is providing such important leadership not only for the L.A. area, but for the entire state of California.”
Zbur started the meeting by presenting $650,000 to the city of West Hollywood for upgrades at the Log Cabin, a building that houses meetings for people undergoing addiction recovery. He also outlined his top priorities, stating he authored 11 bills during his first year in office, a majority of them to address homelessness, climate change and civil rights injustices.
Zbur called homelessness and a lack of affordable housing the most challenging and difficult issues facing California. He said he is encouraged by progress on housing people being made by Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and has been working with her and county officials to support their efforts to end homelessness. He is also trying to address homelessness at the statewide level with a legislative package of bills including Assembly Bill 1431, the California Housing and Affordability Act, which would provide short-term rent subsidies for people on the verge of losing housing such as seniors, people with disabilities, those experiencing unemployment, former foster youth and people who were formerly incarcerated.
Zbur also authored Assembly Bill 1620, a bill sponsored by the city of West Hollywood, which will empower local jurisdictions to pass laws to protect renters with disabilities. He said people with physical disabilities living in rent-controlled apartments risk becoming homeless if they cannot access a unit on an upper floor and cannot find an alternative ground-floor unit at a similar rate. Specifically, AB 1620 would allow cities to require that landlords in rent-controlled buildings allow people with permanent disabilities to move into a ground-floor unit if one is available at the same rate they have been paying.
“I view this as one of a series of bills that I have introduced that are aimed at preventing homelessness,” Zbur said. “We know that there are real life people here in West Hollywood that are waiting for this bill to be passed. I’m very optimistic about that bill getting through the Senate and hopefully hitting the governor’s desk.”
To address climate change, Zbur said he is working to create more opportunities for generating electricity from off-shore wind turbines, which he called a burgeoning industry. Zbur wants to ensure the parts and technology used to create off-shore turbines over the ocean’s surface are manufactured in the state, and that Californians are trained to install, operate and repair the systems.
“They are high-skilled, high-wage jobs, and this could be … potentially hundreds of thousands of jobs a year for California,” Zbur said. “I’ve got another bill that requires local cities and towns to plan for the electrification that we need … as well as making sure that we actually have electric charging stations planned in all parts of the city and for all communities.”
Zbur, a longtime participant in the fight for LGBTQ rights as director of Equality California, said addressing civil rights issues is a major focus. He cited Assembly Bill 5, which will require every teacher for grades seven through 12, and certificated school staff, to undergo one hour of LGBTQ cultural competency training per year.
“It basically will cover best practices on how to identify kids that are at risk. The ways of respecting LGBTQ kids, how you handle cases where you have conflict among parents or with other kids, how you handle bullying, how you provide resources to these kids that may be facing lack of acceptance at home,” Zbur said. “A lot of folks think of this as being an anti-bullying bill, and it is that, but I believe it’s so much more. I’ve always said this bill is about trying to break a cycle, which we anecdotally all know is happening.”
Zbur said the bills are working their way through the Legislature and he promised to continue fighting to end homelessness and address injustice.
“I’ve got some other bills and you can read about them, but it gives you a little bit of a sense of what I’m working on,” Zbur said. “I view myself as a strong progressive, and I’m someone who really believes that we have to have a pro-business and a pro-jobs environment and Democrats need to stand up for that.”