Share Your Insights: What Issues In Los Angeles Feel Most Urgent To You?
Historic changes in political leadership are underway in Los Angeles. Following the November elections, Karen Bass became the first woman and second Black mayor to take office. And nearly half the city council is new in 2023, one of the biggest turnovers in decades.
During the elections, we promised that we would not stop paying attention to your concerns once the ballots were counted. To help us understand community priorities, we launched a 5-minute survey.
Have you ever struggled with an issue that doesn't seem to be on the radar for local politicians? Do you have advice for our city’s leaders? If so, this is your moment. Your responses to the survey will help us set the agenda for our reporting in 2023, and help us hold the new mayor and city council accountable to your top concerns.
If you live in the city of L.A. or work here, this is a great opportunity to share your input. The survey is open to anyone who is at least thirteen years old.
As of Tuesday morning, we’ve received more than 1,700 responses, including longtime residents and folks who are new to the area.
Top issues cited so far
When asked, “Which of the following issues causes you the most stress personally?” about one-third of respondents cited homelessness. Housing affordability, climate change, public safety, and inflation and the economy ranked among the top five issues, so far. (Respondents can only select one issue, but they can also select “other” if their top issue isn’t one of the answer options.)
We also ask open-ended questions such as: “What issues in L.A. most urgently need Mayor Karen Bass’s attention?”
We need more time to analyze those responses, but homelessness, and a need for real solutions to the crisis, is the most frequent response to date by a wide margin.
What we know about respondents living situations
Among the respondents:
- 44% identify as homeowners,
- 39% identify as renters,
- 25% identify as “worried about being able to afford staying in my home,” and
- 63% voted in the Nov. 8, 2022 midterm election.
What they're telling us
In interviews with LAist, survey respondents described their personal challenges and worries for Los Angeles.
Lachele Taylor, for instance, is currently unhoused and hopes Bass will help those struggling to afford housing and meet landlord demands, including high credit scores and earning three times the rent. Some of Taylor’s friends have moved away to Arizona and Texas, and she often wonders if it would be prudent to leave the city. Family is what keeps her in Los Angeles — she grew up here.
“I have three daughters and three granddaughters,” she said. “I'm not leaving them.”
Mikayla Townsend is a renter in Sherman Oaks who highlighted the connection between intimate partner violence and women experiencing homelessness. She wants to know how the city plans to improve support for unhoused women.
“When we go out during the day, it's hard to find a restroom — and I have a home to go to. I can't imagine what it's like to be out there during that time of the month or while pregnant, on top of the stress of being unhoused,” she said.
I'm somewhere between concerned and frightened.
Nick Sundback, a renter in Koreatown, worries about housing affordability, both for renters and first-time buyers. Working- and middle-class workers just can’t compete with giant housing conglomerates, he said. When it comes to the housing market, he added, “I'm somewhere between concerned and frightened.”
Other issues raised
The Angelenos who’ve responded to the survey also raised other issues. Some have had the opportunity to travel, and they say they want an L.A. transit system that’s more like San Francisco, Paris, or Seoul.
David Heflin, a renter in the Arts District, said he’s “really excited about the future of the city,” but he thinks it has a lot of room for improvement.
“So many people struggle when they don't need to,” he added. “We're investing so much money in public transit in L.A., and that's so great. But it's got to be safe, it's got to be clean. It shouldn’t be a place where people seek shelter. It should be a place where people are moving and getting to work, across all economic backgrounds.”
Aylan Mello, a renter in Chinatown, worries about being able to afford to stay in his home like many Angelenos. However, he’s also concerned about having law enforcement respond to people who are experiencing mental health crises. He said he’s grown weary of hearing about fatal police shootings.
Pointing to the killing of Anthony Lowe in January, he added: “This Huntington Park thing that happened just a couple of weeks ago, it's outrageous. You hardly have time to be angry and then it's like, oh, here we go again.”
In 2022, Mello voted for Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez, helping oust incumbent Gil Cedillo. He also voted for Councilmember Nithya Raman in 2020, back when he lived in District 4, which includes Sherman Oaks and Los Feliz. Mello said he’s glad the L.A. City Council is “slowly becoming more progressive” and has no plans to leave his hometown.
I see myself here, just trying to fight for the city.
“I see myself here, just trying to fight for the city,” he said.
Who took the survey?
We’ve heard from 1,777 people so far — but not everyone shared information about their age, race/ethnicity or other identifying information.
About 1,300 respondents did tell something about their identity.
Fifty-eight percent of those respondents identify as white, 9% identify as Black, and 6% identify as Asian. Less than 3% identify as Native American/Indigenous. Less than 2% identify as Middle East/African or Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander. Nine percent identify as biracial or multiracial. Fourteen percent declined to identify their race or ethnicity.
Twenty-two percent of respondents identify as Latino or Latina (we ask this as a separate question). We are actively working to increase the diversity of responses to more accurately reflect the L.A. population, where nearly 50% of people identify as Latino or Latina.
Among the respondents:
- 5% are 25 and younger
- 14% are between ages 25 and 34
- 22% are between ages 35 and 44
- 19% are between 45 and 54
- 19% are between 55 and 64
- 22% are 65 and older
We have rounded all of the percentages above to the nearest whole number, so some categories might add up to slightly more than 100%.
How we've reached out
We’ve distributed the survey on LAist 89.3 and LAist.com, through our newsletters and social media accounts, and through our L.A. Report podcast. Outreach partners such as community groups and nonprofits have shared the survey, and we've partnered with Black Voice News, Caló News, and Univision as well (we invite you to take the survey in Spanish).
You might spot the survey on posters on Foothill Transit buses, postcards in your mailbox, or Facebook and Instagram ads. You might see a member of our community engagement team passing out a paper version of the survey at community college libraries, at food distribution sites for people experiencing homelessness, or at our upcoming events.
Want to help us distribute the survey more widely? Email the engagement team at email@example.com.
What happens next?
The survey will be open to responses through March 12. [Note: Bass's official 100th day in office is March 22.] We’ll share the survey results by mid-April, and our reporters and editors will use your answers and insights to help guide our reporting on the Bass administration and city council going forward.
If you haven’t taken the survey yet, now’s the time to do it! And if you have, you can help us get to 3,000 respondents by:
- Posting it on your social media accounts
- Sharing it in Facebook groups, Nextdoor forums, L.A. subreddits, and any other social platforms where you talk about local issues
- Posting it in your company Slack
- Sending it over a listserv
If you take the survey, you’ll get an email when we publish the results in April and if you agree to be contacted in the future, you might hear from one of our reporters wanting to learn more about your responses.
Ryanne Mena, Adriana Pera and Ariel Zirulnick contributed to this story.
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