Amid ongoing gentrification, crime is rising dramatically in downtown Los Angeles, it was reported recently. The forces of rapid gentrification are crashing up against the chronic poverty, homelessness and crime that have long been a part of life in the city center, the Los Angeles Times reported. Police and residents say the influx of new lofts, luxury high-rise apartments, bars and eateries have made new downtown dwellers easy targets for street crime.
Violent crime in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Central Division, which covers parts of downtown, skid row and Chinatown, was up more than 57 percent through the end of August compared with the same period last year, and property offenses increased nearly 25 percent, according to police data cited by The Times. Police say they are working to reverse the trend downtown.
More cops are walking beats through some of the worst-hit areas, such as skid row and the financial district, where officers from the department’s elite Metropolitan Division have recently been deployed, the newspaper reported. Commanders are tracking data down to the block level to know where and when to send more officers. But some in downtown question whether these actions are enough to stem the rising tide.
The Rev. Andy Bales, chief executive of the Union Rescue Mission, told The Times he has been disappointed with the LAPD’s response so far. Officers, he said, appear to have largely taken “a hands-off approach” to policing skid row while the homeless population has ballooned and conditions have grown more dire.