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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Joel Wachs Biography
  • Collection Description
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Joel Wachs papers
    Dates: 1951-2002
    Bulk Dates: 1969-2002
    Collection number: CSLA-29
    Creator: Wachs, Joel
    Collection Size: 116 archival document boxes, 1 records storage box, 4 oversize boxes, 4 flat files
    Repository: Loyola Marymount University. Library. Department of Archives and Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90045-2659
    Abstract: This collection contains constituent correspondence, mayoral and city council campaign records, and some personal papers of Joel Wachs, Los Angeles city councilman from 1971 until 2001. The holdings are especially valuable for understanding the critical mayoral campaigns in Los Angeles in 1993 and 2001, as well as issues of concern to the constituents of his city council district. These materials are not official city records; the official records of his city council tenure are located in the Los Angeles City Archives (213-473-8449). To learn more about the contents of this collection and their organization, consult the following sections of this on-line guide.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    Collection is open to research under the terms of use of the Department of Archives and Special Collections, Loyola Marymount University.

    Publication Rights

    Materials in the Department of Archives and Special Collections may be subject to copyright. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, Loyola Marymount University does not claim ownership of the copyright of any materials in its collections. The user or publisher must secure permission to publish from the copyright owner. Loyola Marymount University does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or of publication rights held by the original author or artists or his/her heirs, assigns, or executors.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Series number, Box and Folder number, Joel Wachs Papers, CSLA-29, Department of Archives and Special Collections, William H. Hannon Library, Loyola Marymount University.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Joel Wachs, 2005. Accession number: 2005.66.

    Processing Information

    Some photographs and campaign contribution information have not been processed.

    Joel Wachs Biography

    Joel Wachs was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1939, but grew up in Los Angeles, graduating from Washington High School in 1957. He continued his education in Los Angeles, at UCLA, where he received the B.A. in Political Science, with honors, in 1961. Wachs then enrolled in Harvard Law School, receiving his law degree in 1964. He then continued his post-graduate work in law by earning a Master's degree in tax law from New York University in 1965.
    Joel Wachs returned to his hometown of Los Angeles to practice corporate tax law. In 1971, his skillfully managed campaign for the office of Los Angeles City Councilmember for District 2--the San Fernando Valley area of Encino, North Hollywood, Sherman Oaks, and Studio City--forced incumbent James Potter into a run-off election, which Wachs handily won. This began thirty years of service for Wachs in the city council that has left a strong mark on the history of the city. Wachs (himself homosexual) was responsible for the passage of the city's landmark anti-AIDS discrimination law in 1985, one of the first, if not the first, such statutes in the nation. A vigorous supporter of the arts and a keen collector of modern art, Wachs realized a dream when, through his leadership, the Los Angeles City Council passed legislation in 1988 establishing the Los Angeles Endowment for the Arts, a trust fund for cultural events and projects. Other issues that Wachs strongly supported included rent control and assistance for the city's elderly. The proverbial fiscal watchdog, he initially opposed the building of the Staples Center, an arena for the professional hockey and basketball teams of Los Angeles, over city financing of the developers. Wachs stood firm for open negotiations between the developers of the Staples Center and the city and for guarantees on the repayment of city money by developers through revenues collected from the venue's use above and beyond normal city tax revenues generated there. The City Council approved, in 1997, a plan for the Staples Center that provided for the developers to make up any shortfall in revenues necessary to cover the city's financial commitment.
    Wachs assumed the presidency of the Los Angeles City Council in 1981, in a controversial election that saw outgoing City Council President John Ferraro maneuver Wachs into the presidency rather than Pat Russell, an ally of Ferraro's opponent, City Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky. In 1986, the 2nd Council District was redrawn, leaving Wachs with only 10% of his former district; Sunland and Tujunga were communities now in his district and more rural than his previous constituencies. Displaying his trademark ingenuity, Wachs adapted himself to the new district, even to the extent of throwing a country western music festival for his new constituents. He easily won re-election in 1987.
    Wachs ran, unsuccessfully, three times for mayor. After his last loss (2001) he resigned from his city council position to assume the presidency of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, a position that he still holds.

    Collection Description

    Joel Wachs himself donated the Joel Wachs Papers to the CSLA Research Collection in June 2005. They consist of correspondence, city campaign forms, newspaper articles, some photographs, audiocassettes and videocassettes, ephemera, and campaign materials such as schedules, briefing papers, speeches, appointment books, fact sheets, polls, and campaign consultants' bids and agreements. Because of Wachs's long-tenure in the city council, the collection is a source for understanding important issues in the history of Los Angeles in the last twenty-five years of the twentieth century: rent control, development, AIDS, the Rodney King incident and subsequent riot, economic development, Jews in Los Angeles, the arts, and public education in Los Angeles. Some financial records from Wachs's city council and mayoral races have not yet been processed because of privacy concerns but will become available for research use in the collection as staff makes copies with private information deleted.
    The dates of the materials run from 1951 to 2001; the bulk are 1969-2002.


    The Joel Wachs Papers have been divided into eleven series (some with subseries, and one with a sub-subseries) based on subject or type of materials:
    • Series 1: Constituent Correspondence. Subseries A: Main Constituent Correspondence
    • Series 1: Constituent Correspondence. Subseries B: Issues
    • Series 1: Constituent Correspondence. Subseries C: Wachs Personal
    • Series 2: City Council Races. Subseries A: 1971
    • Series 2: City Council Races. Subseries B: 1975
    • Series 2: City Council Races. Subseries C: 1979
    • Series 2: City Council Races. Subseries D: 1983
    • Series 2: City Council Races. Subseries E: 1987
    • Series 2: City Council Races. Subseries F: 1991
    • Series 2: City Council Races. Subseries G: 1995
    • Series 2: City Council Races. Subseries H: 1999
    • Series 3: Mayoral Races. Subseries A: 1973
    • Series 3: Mayoral Races. Subseries B: 1983
    • Series 3: Mayoral Races. Subseries C: 1993
    • Series 3: Mayoral Races. Subseries C: 1993. Sub-Subseries 1: Issues
    • Series 3: Mayoral Races. Subseries D: 2001
    • Series 3: Mayoral Races. Subseries D: 2001. Sub-Subseries 1: Issues
    • Series 4: City Council Presidency
    • Series 5: Speeches
    • Series 6: Campaign Supporters Lists
    • Series 7: Personal Papers
    • Series 8: Audiocassettes and Videocassettes
    • Series 9: Ephemera and Photographs
    • Series 10: Appointment Books
    • Series 11: Scrapbooks

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Wachs, Joel. 1939-
    Wachs, Joel -- Archives
    Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Politics and government -- 1951- -- Sources
    City council members--California--Los Angeles
    Los Angeles. City Council
    Elections--California--Los Angeles