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A Man of Many Hats

Published by USC Bedrosian Center on

Soboroff, Steve 203xby Jeremy Loudenback

Over the past 20 years, there are few people who have played a more active role in the public life of Los Angeles than Steve Soboroff.

In the words of former Mayor Richard Riordan, Soboroff is among rare company when it comes to making a difference in the City of Angels.

“Steve Soboroff challenges Eli Broad for the title of greatest Angeleno,” Riordan said, comparing Soboroff to the philanthropist. “Both of them have done fantastic things for our city.”

On October 6, as part of its Lunch with a Leader series, the Bedrosian Center will host a visit from Soboroff, whose influence has resonated from City Hall and the Parker Center to Playa Vista.

Soboroff currently serves as president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, the civilian board that provides oversight of the city’s police department. Appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti in August 2013, Soboroff has lead the commission through several high-profile challenges, from the Los Angeles Police Department’s (L.A.P.D.) use of drones to approving another term for Police Chief Charlie Beck.

In his role as head of the Los Angeles Police Commission, Soboroff has been a leading proponent of attaching cameras to police officers. From his first remarks as a police commissioner to his efforts to arrange private financing for cameras for the LAPD, Soboroff has made the issue one of his chief priorities, a decision that remains prescient in wake of recent discussions after protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

Soboroff has also made his mark on Los Angeles in other ways over the course of his career as a businessman and civic leader. In 2001, he ran for mayor of the city, narrowly losing out to Antonio Villaraigosa and eventual winner Jim Hahn in the primary. Prior to that, he worked as an advisor to Riordan and served as head of the city’s Recreation and Parks Commission from 1995 to 2001. As chairman and co-founder of local nonprofit Parks Save, Soboroff continues to stump for increased funding for Los Angeles parks, including seeking creative sources of funding like corporate sponsorships and installing solar panels in parks.

Soboroff has also enjoyed a celebrated business career across the city. He played an instrumental, behind-the-scenes role in a pair of signature Los Angeles projects, the Staples Center development and the Alameda Corridor, and spearheaded a multi-billion dollar development in Playa Vista that balanced new mixed-use housing with the preservation of nearby endangered wetlands. Soboroff was also instrumental in bringing the Space Shuttle Endeavour to Los Angeles, and is one of the world’s foremost typewriter aficionados.

Seats for the Bedrosian Center’s Lunch with a Leader event are extremely limited. For more information, email Donnajean Ward or call (213) 740-0155.

Bedrosian Center