University Times

Los Angeles Community Profiles

EL MONTE

By Ronald Cruz

Known for: Having a good quality of life and a “business friendly attitude” that attracts development to the city. The city of El Monte elected an all-female city council in November, though the council voted to fill an empty seat with an Army veteran who is a man.

Population: 115,477

Crime rate: 304 reporter, 85 cleared

Demographics: 60% Latinx, 32% Asian

El Monte is a very Hispanic- and Asian-populated city, has recently started to get gentrified, which means rent prices are inclining. Something that would help the community…would be more open, free resources for rent control, immigration centers, after-school programs.” 

-Jesus Castañon, El Monte resident

“Overall, living in El Monte is good. It has its bad and good areas…Gangs, street activities are more active or more seen in its bad areas than good areas. So, as far as what can improve, is the regulating of street activities (robbing, stealing, gang activity). However, on the good side, more businesses are [surfacing] in the city, mainly by the younger adults.”

-Jesse Casas, owner of a small barbershop in El Monte

A white court building with a beige and glass entrance
Los Angeles Superior Court in El Monte, a city in the Eastside of Los Angeles County. (Cornell Chuaseco UT)
A headshot of a man wearing a black shirt and gold cross.
Headshot of Jesus Castanñon. Courtesy of Jesus Castañon.
Man with black shirt sitting on black chair.
Headshot of Jesse Casas. Courtesy of Jesse Casas.
An aerial shot of a theater building with sunlight on part of it.
Warner Huntington Park Theatre in Huntington Park, a city in Southeastern Los Angeles County. (Cornell Chuaseco UT)
Woman with gray shirt and brown hair
Elizabeth Meléndrez, courtesy of Elizabeth Meléndrez
Photo of woman with long dark hair and big smile
Cristal Gonzalez, courtesy of Cristal Gonzalez
A woman with a white suit and an American flag in the background
Headshot of Karina Macias, courtesy of the city of Huntington Park’s website.

HUNTINGTON PARK

By Erick Cabrera

Known for: Many local restaurants and businesses, parks, playgrounds, picnic areas, and other amenities

Main issues: Crime surging, COVID pandemic heavily affecting the city, and housing issues

Population: 58,353

Demographics: 56,676 Latinx

Poverty: 23.6%

Education: 4.7% who are 25 years and older have a bachelor’s degree

Crime: 458 reported and 157 cleared

“The only good thing about the city may be the diversity. However, in just six years, our city has gotten more crime, less police activity and businesses no longer thrive.”

Elizabeth Meléndrez, a Huntington Park resident 

“The city of is full of great, hard-working middle class residents and immigrants, as well as low-income families: All hard working people, a mostly Latino city…I wish it was safer, you see more homeless people coming into the neighborhood, probably being pushed this way out of [the] South L.A. area. Most of them have mental illnesses and make residents feel unsafe.”

Cristal Gonzalez, an assistant manager of event services in Huntington Park

“It’s a close knit community, which I love…A lot of community members look out for each other…Our biggest effort, as a council as a whole, has been to increase community policing, where we have more officers on patrol…We have a chief of police that supports it and we definitely want to push more for that.”

– Karina Macias, Huntington Park city council member

EAGLE ROCK

By Stephanie Presz

Known for: Being family friendly; offers a small town environment; many bars, businesses, and vintage shops; a local hub for artists and creative types; home to Occidental College 

Public issues include: Rising rates of homelessness, COVID outbreaks hitting local businesses. Residents will be voting for 18 positions on the neighborhood council in April.

Population: 28,554

Median household income: $76.8

Education: 30% have a bachelor’s degree or higher

Crime per 10,000 people: 72 for the six months ending June 28, 2020

“I love the small town feeling in Eagle Rock. I love the diversity. But overall, I love that people are pleasant and cordial to each other. We take care of each other. It’s a great place to raise a family. We don’t have to leave the state to get that small town vibe. We have it all in 90041.”

-Anabel Ramirez-Perez, resident of Eagle Rock

“Some of the best things about our neighborhood includes [the] diversity of folks living and working here, neighbors helping neighbors, especially since the COVID-19 outbreak last year.  We continue to witness the compassion among our community members, helping some of our most vulnerable neighbors. As a dad of toddlers, I also appreciate Eagle Rock being a family-friendly neighborhood.  As for improvements within the neighborhood, I think Eagle Rock would benefit from having a direct service provider to assist our unhoused neighbors. Additionally, our local small business community has been among the hardest hit during the pandemic. I feel that establishing a Business Improvement District (BID) program could help provide local businesses with some much needed resources and guidance to survive in these challenging times.”

-Jesse Saucedo, president of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council and resident of Eagle Rock

A large rock that looks like a hill nestled in trails and trees.
Eagle Rock Historical Landmark in Eagle Rock by the Ventura Freeway. (Cornell Chuaseco UT)
headshot of a woman smiling, with hoop earrings and hair pulled back.
Headshot of Anabel Ramirez-Perez, courtesy of Anabel Ramirez-Perez
Young man with glasses, dark suit and orange tie
Headshot of Jesse Saucedo, courtesy of Jesse Saucedo
A white church with a red roof and beige tower
Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Maywood, a small city in Southestern Los Angeles County. (Cornell Chuaseco UT)
A young looking man in a light suit with red tie
Headshot of Heber A Marquez, Maywood Mayor Pro Tem. Courtesy of city of Maywood.
headshot of a woman with brown eyes and dark hair
Headshot of Di Sagredo Maria, courtesy of Di Sagredo Maria.

MAYWOOD

By Genesis Gonzalez

Known for: Maywood is a city known for having many immigrants and many residents who work in factories in nearby Vernon and Commerce. It is also know for a probe that resulted in 11 former leaders recently charged in a corruption scandal.

Population: 27,332

Demographics: 98% Latinx

Poverty rate: 26%

“Growing up, I always remember thinking about East/South LA cities as forgotten cities because people misrepresented us and did not advocate for the residents…Although Maywood can’t do this alone, it’s been hard because our cities have had reputations. But Maywood has been in a better place where we have built stronger bridges together. We just have to keep fighting for equity and justice for the services we deserve.”

-Heber A Marquez, city of Maywood Mayor Pro Tem

“As part of that densely-living region of the county, it really has found itself trapped under this virus, which for me is the most pressing issue of our time.”

-Di Sagredo Maria, an area resident

PICO RIVERA

By Stephanie Medina

Known for: Community that offers opportunities to those who live, work and relax in the city. 

Public issues include: Lack of diversity relating to stores and restaurants. Sidewalks, the environment, and rental and water-related prices could be improved.

Population: 63,432 

People in poverty: 9.96%

Education: 33% of people 25 years and older had at least graduated from high school and 10% had a bachelor’s degree or higher

Crime Rate: 358.48 per 100,000 population 

“Pico Rivera is a great city but it doesn’t appeal to the eye. There are many buildings that are worn down: Buildings that are empty and left to break down. The streets are covered in trash and graffiti, broken sidewalks and dirty benches. It seems like an eyesore as you pass through.” 

-Jakob Raya, resident of Pico Rivera for 21 years

“ The one thing that is really nice about Pico Rivera is the community itself. It’s a very engaged community. And the other one is that they are very religious and cherish they’re values. It’s nice for the community. I didn’t realize that really mattered until I ran for school board.” 

-Carolyn Castillo, vice president of El Rancho Unified School District

An aerial shot of a school complex
El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera, a city in Southeastern Los Angeles County (Cornell Chuaseco UT)
A woman with curly blonde hair
Headshot of Carolyn Castillo, courtesy of Carolyn Castillo.
a woman with white hair and a black blazer
Headshot of Carolyn Castillo, courtesy of Carolyn Castillo.
A theater sign that says "Highland" in cursive red letters
Highland Theatre in Highland Park on Figueroa Street. (Cornell Chuaseco UT)
Woman with white shirt and brown hair
Headshot of Estrella Sainburg, courtesy of Estrella Sainburg
Man smiling with thick brows, brown hair
Headshot of Nicholas Pisca, courtesy of Nicholas Pisca.

HIGHLAND PARK

By Mia Alva

Known for: Beautiful architecture, vibrant small businesses, rising housing costs and homelessness.

Population: 63,193

Renters: 55%

Average household income: $87,216

Bachelor’s degrees: 20%

“Historic Highland Park with its rolling hills, historic buildings, rich history, and innovative spirit is both aesthetically beautiful and culturally invigorating. Walking up and down the boulevards, York and Figueroa, you can find diverse stores and businesses to enjoy. At the same time, both businesses and green space are threatened by development and evolving trends, demands, and economic forces. To improve our area, we need our council members to focus on creating affordable housing in our neighborhood and ensuring transparent [permit] processes.”

-Estrella Sainburg, president of the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council 

I feel that one of the best things about Highland Park is the community. I can’t speak to all the other neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles, but I can say that many of the small business owners, neighbors, and other Highland Park stakeholders deeply care about their community and are always passionate about improving it while preserving the artistic and inclusive character. Over the last few years, homelessness in Highland Park has been increasing. We should all be working together to provide homeless individuals with a safe space to live, with access to food, and showers.”

-Nicholas Pisca, a vice president of the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council

Bell

By Sam Garcia

City of Bell

Known for: Rich diversity of people and cultures and a corruption scandal revealed in investigative stories by the Los Angeles Times in 2010. In 2005, the city held a special municipal election to establish charter rule, which allows the city to set up its own governing system.

Upcoming events: The city hosts an annual Bell 5k Run/Walk. The seventh one, in 2021, will be virtual.

Population: 35, 682

Poverty rate: 24%

Education: 7.5% with a bachelor’s degree or higher

Demographics: 89.4% of the households in Bell speak a language other than English, and 86% of the households speak Spanish

“In Bell, it doesn’t matter if your roots are from Tennessee, Lebanon, or Mexico. It doesn’t matter if you’re Christian or Muslim…Bell is a place where hardworking people of all walks of life live together. Where our differences give us sabor, but our similarities give us strength. These are the types of values I grew up around and want my children to grow up around, which is why I am proud to continue to make Bell my home.”

-Mayor of Bell, Ali Saleh (from the city’s website)

A light blue Victorian-style house
Historic James George Bell House in Bell, a city in Los Angeles County. (Cornell Chuaseco UT)
A man in light gray suit and blue tie
Headshot of Mayor Ali Saleh. Courtesy of the city of Bell's website.
a beige building with a ramp and red roof
Community Building of the El Sereno Recreation Center in El Sereno, a neighborhood on the East side of the Los Angeles County (Cornell Chuaseco UT)
Man with blue collared shirt and glasses
Headshot of Carlos Morales, courtesy of Carlos Morales.
Man with glasses and dark blue v-neck shirt
Headshot of Christian Aeschliman, courtesy of Christian Aeschliman.

EL SERENO

By Brian Lai

Known for: Considered the oldest community in Los Angeles, according to El Sereno Historical Society, the neighborhood is on what used to be an Native American village named Ostunga. It is home to the beautiful landscape of Elephant Hills, Cal State LA, and a diverse community.

Public issues: El Sereno’s public issues include the homeless crisis,, gangs, poverty and gentrification.

Population: 48,031

Average household income: $74,960

El Sereno Population & Demographics, Median Income – Point2 (point2homes.com)

Education: 23% age 25 and older have a higher education degree

“It was a fun time growing up in El Sereno…In the summer, the hills around us would be just open land and the shrubs and weeds would dry up, making it a perfect slide.  All we needed was large pieces of cardboard and we had hours of fun sliding down the hills — just like the little rascals.”

-Carlos Morales, El Sereno resident and publisher/editor of The Voice Community News

People are really proud of being from here. I just wish that people would back that side up by helping keep it a little more clean…A lot of people in L.A….come from other parts of the country and then moved there, and then they adopt the place. In El Sereno, a lot of people are from here, they grew up here, they’re really attached to this place. So it’s a pretty cool spot. It’s hilly and beautiful. I like it here.”

-Christian Aescliman, founder of Heroes of Elephant Hill

LINCOLN HEIGHTS

By Braylin Collins

Known for: Being a neighborhood that was the “oldest suburb” in Los Angeles, having a variety of architectural styles and being home to the popular Avenue 26 Night Market. 

Public issues include: Some residents say there are issues with homelessness and crime, poor sanitation and trash control, and poor law enforcement efficiency. Lincoln Heights currently has five openings for neighborhood council members.

Population: 32,950 in 2019

People in poverty: 22.7%

Education: 15% have bachelors degree or higher.

Crime per 10,000 people: 124.8 for the six months ending June 28, 2020.

“The people of Lincoln Heights are the best thing about our neighborhood: the close knit community. The hills in Lincoln Heights give views of L.A. that you can only find here. The history of being one of the oldest neighborhoods in L.A. is something our community takes a lot of pride in. The threat of gentrification plans by city hall and L.A. city planning is something our community deals with on a daily basis. However, our residents are resilient, hard working people that love their community for what it is.”

-Sara Clendening, president of Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council

“Lincoln Heights has a lot of stores that are easily available and accessible that sell reasonable items for the people of our community. I like that we have a hospital in our area and other buildings and businesses that support the people in need in our community like the homeless. I wish that the police in our community took our calls and requests for help more seriously. There have been multiple times where I have felt threatened and feared for my life and when I called the police for help, they would respond with little urgency. Having that feeling of distrust with them causes me to not feel safe in the area at times, especially at night.” 

-Maria Alvarez, a Lincoln Heights resident and Tejuino Raspados Nayarit worker

“I really enjoy the cultural diversity in Lincoln Heights. One of my favorite things about living in Lincoln Heights is watching the Friday Night fireworks from Dodger Stadium. Something I find useful is that we have grocery stores, and essential businesses very close by. I dislike the traffic and parking situation on my street. Unfortunately, some people do not seem to care and throw trash on the sidewalk. There is constantly old furniture and trash sitting outside on the sidewalk.” 

-Angie Novoa, Lincoln Heights resident

Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles, United States. Photo by @Sterlingdavisphotola (source:unsplash.com)
Headshot of Sara Clendening Courtesy of Sara Clendening
Headshot of Sara Clendening Courtesy of Sara Clendening
Headshot of Maria Alvarez by Braylin Collins_UT
Headshot of Maria Alvarez by Braylin Collins_UT
Headshot of Angie Novoa Courtesy of Angie Novoa
Headshot of Angie Novoa Courtesy of Angie Novoa
several small attached colorful shops in a row: blue, yellow, white and green with signs such as "mini-market" on them
Image courtesy of the Jon B. Lovelace Collection of California Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith's America Project, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
Amanda Orellana, Courtesy of Amanda Orellana
Amanda Orellana, Courtesy of Amanda Orellana
Daniel Hernandez, Courtesy of Daniel Hernandez
Daniel Hernandez, Courtesy of Daniel Hernandez

CENTRAL ALAMEDA

By Brian Perez

Known for: Minutes from downtown Los Angeles, the Central Alameda neighborhood is known for the diversity of its residents and local restaurants and a vibrant arts and activism scene.

Population: Central-Alameda is a neighborhood in Los Angeles, California with a population of 46,768

Crime: 3.7 per 10,000

Education: 2.8% of residents 25 and older have a four-year degree

Housing: Average household size of 4.3 people, high for the city of Los Angeles and high for the county

Age: The median age is 22, young for the city of Los Angeles and young for the county

“It’s pretty chill here. Sometimes at night, it can be crazy with police pursuits or shootings occurring but that’s just how it is out here and the food nearby is pretty local on Central and Slauson, and good for the price.”

-Amanda Orellana, resident of Central Alameda

“I’ve been living here for a few years now and this area is pretty nice compared to what it has been in the past but one thing is there aren’t many places to shop nearby, only the Alameda Swap Meet. But if we’re talking like a Westfield Mall, there isn’t any close by.”

-Daniel Hernandez, resident of Central Alameda

BOYLE HEIGHTS

By Jordan O’Kelley

Known for: This neighborhood is close to the urban core and grit of the city but some would say it’s as trusting, accepting and proud as a small town in the countryside. Many long-time residents of Boyle Heights are close to each other. The neighborhood is also known for its colorful houses, businesses as old as the state they reside in, and homeless people throughout the area.

Population: 192,919

Air Quality: 12.26 micrograms of carcinogenic material/cubic meter.

Average income: $46,691

Education: 69% of residents are high school educated, 27% have bachelor’s degrees

Crime: In 2010, 6% of murders in L.A. Country took place in Boyle Heights

“Everybody is nice, and if you live around the area — if they know you, they know you. It’s pretty cool…very friendly. A lot of people say a lot of bad things about Boyle Heights, saying that it’s crazy. It’s not really.”

-Oscar Flores, Boyle Heights resident

“My favorite thing about Boyle Heights is that everything is so close together, like the park, the restaurants, the stores, everything’s close by. Everyone’s so friendly, we all know each other. It’s pretty nice.”

-Jacqueline, Boyle Heights Resident

A building with a red, lit up Sears sign in cursive
The neon signs of the Boyle Heights Sears store, which closed recently after 90 years. Photo courtesy of Bryan Montero.
Oscar Flores is a customer at Villa Dry Cleaners in Boyle Heights
Oscar Flores is a customer at Villa Dry Cleaners in Boyle Heights
Jacqueline works the window at Al & Bea's, a sixty-five year old restaurant in Boyle Heights
Jacqueline works the window at Al & Bea's, a sixty-five year old restaurant in Boyle Heights
The corner of a white and beige building with a small crooked tree in front
The sharp angles of La Puente Library contrast with the organic bending of trees around it. Photo Courtesy of LA County Library.
Headshot of Eileen Dalrymple, courtesy of Eileen Dalrymple
Headshot of Eileen Dalrymple, courtesy of Eileen Dalrymple
Headshot of Brandon Vicuna, Courtesy of Brandon Vicuna
Headshot of Brandon Vicuna, Courtesy of Brandon Vicuna

LA PUENTE

By Nicholas Juarez

Known for: Being a tight-knit community with a strong Hispanic heritage.

Public issues include: An increase in crime due to gangs, recent thefts of catalytic converters and increases in homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Population: 39,614 in July 2019 

Poverty: 13.7%

Median Household Income: 64,592

Education: 10.9% have a bachelor’s degree or higher

Crime: 14.6 crimes per 10,000 people

“Long time La Puente residents have an enormous sense of pride in keeping the neighborhood going — supporting local businesses, youth sports. On Fridays, year-round, we have something called ‘La Puente Live.’ It’s like part farmers’ market, part local food stands, and small businesses come out in the evening to sell their goods and we always have live music. One thing our city is struggling with is gangs fighting over territory. Also, crime in general, stealing catalytic converters, is a huge problem in our area.” 

Eileen Dalrymple, La Puente resident

“The Historic Donut Hole has to be one of the best things in La Puente and will continue to be around for many years to come. I have seen my city struggle with many things over the years but recently due to COVID-19, I have seen the homeless community increase. I think one thing that the city could do is help the homeless community. Giving them a place to shower and clean up would be nice. Since we are our own city, maybe we could have our own team of social workers reach out to them to help them, if they’ve willing to accept.”

 –Brandon Vicuna, La Puente resident

SOUTH GATE

By Oscar Torres 

Known for: It’s known for great parks and recreation facilities, and a family-friendly environment. 

Public issues include: Reports of crime and drugs being in the street, narrow streets that can be hard to traverse and in some cases, deteriorating infrastructure. 

Population: 98,633 

People in Poverty: 17.2% 

Education: 9.4% of people ages 25+ graduated with a bachelor’s degree or higher 

Crime: With a crime rate of 36 per 1,000 residents, South Gate has had activity ranging from violent crimes to property-related incidents.

Well, the best thing I think is its people, I moved into South Gate in 1994 and I could’ve picked just about anywhere to go but my wife and I came and visited a lot of the places, the restaurants and we actually fell in love with the town and the people that were in it. I don’t know if there’s really a bad part because it’s not just with South Gate only. One of the things I’d really like to see, and this is at a national level, but would impact us in a positive way, is [improvements to] crumbling infrastructure.”

– Gil Hurtado, current city council member in the city of South Gate and a coach for South Gate High School Softball.

“ One of the best things about South Gate is the people…Their friendliness, their hospitality with you and everybody…I don’t think there’s anything bad about South Gate. For me, it’s perfect. I love living here.” 

-Jacqueline Valenzuela, resident of South Gate and currently working for Eisner Health as a receptionist

“The best thing about South Gate, I have to say, is the families because I’ve been working here [and] a lot of kids from this town go to college. Family is really important here. The biggest thing bad here is homelessness and drug addiction. That’s a big problem right now.” 

– Steve Wright, a reference librarian and volunteer coordinator for Leland R. Weaver Library in South Gate

A white car approaching and gray car leaving, driving past single-story beige shops.
Cars whiz by shops in South Gate. Photo courtesy of the city of South Gate
Headshot of Gil Hurtado.(Oscar Torres_UT)
Headshot of Gil Hurtado.(Oscar Torres_UT)
Headshot of Jacqueline Valenzuela.(Oscar Torres_UT)
Headshot of Jacqueline Valenzuela.(Oscar Torres_UT)
Headshot of Steve Wright.(Oscar Torres_UT)
Headshot of Steve Wright.(Oscar Torres_UT)
Entrance to The Alhambra Photo Credit: Ken Lund
Headshot of Katherine Lee, courtesy of Katherine Lee.
Headshot of Katherine Lee, courtesy of Katherine Lee.
Headshot of Chris Rodriguez. (Priscilla Caballero UT).
Headshot of Chris Rodriguez. (Priscilla Caballero UT).

ALHAMBRA

By Priscilla Caballero

Known for: Its cultural diversity and historical character, a variety of restaurants, great food and family-friendly events. 

Public issues include: Rising housing prices, which is causing problems for some residents. Others are concerned about traffic and also pedestrian and bicycle safety. 

Population: 83,750 in 2019. 

Population whose poverty status is determined: 8.3% in 2019. 

Education: 35.5% have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Crime per 1,000 residents: 23 per 1,000 residents.

 

 “The cultural diversity is reflected in the businesses as well as the various events in the city. Many homes and commercial buildings around the city have maintained their traditional character throughout the years. There are retail stores that offer products to our residents at different price levels; we also have plenty of choices of restaurants for our residents and visitors…I would like to continue to work with the other city council members on traffic issues, encourage more residents to take public transit, and set up public events that promote unity and allow residents to get to know each other. Our rentals and homes for sale need to be more affordable…Our Inclusionary Housing Ordinance requires developers to set aside 15% of the units built to be affordable…if the development meets the criteria.”

Katherine Lee, mayor of the city of Alhambra

It’s “very expensive. You’re looking at at least 1,000 bucks just for a small studio and around $2,300 just for a one bedroom apartment. It really just depends on what you’re looking for, especially if it’s near a school or anything you want it to be, it’s going to be even more.”

-Chris Rodriguez, a resident of Alhambra

EAST LOS ANGELES

By Stephanie Sical

Known for: Its growing business community, family-oriented values and Chicano cultural background and history.

Public issues include: Crime, gangs and housing.

Population: 286,222 population in 2000, according to the U.S. Census.

People in poverty: 19.2%

Education: 8.7% have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Crime per 100,000 people: 480

“This city allows vendors like myself the liberty to become financially independent and build our own small business…I think each [neighborhood] should have a place for the homeless to spend the night just like in downtown” so they have somewhere to go and so their presence doesn’t affect business for vendors like herself.

-Rosa Estella Valdez, an independent street vendor in the neighborhood

¨Many [residents here] are so hardworking, motivated and willing to help you out in any situation..I don’t see many police officers around my block. I only see three police cars around at night…and I don’t think that’s enough.¨

-Ana Aguilar, an employee of a taco truck in East Los Angeles

The East Los Angeles Library draws some visitors who want to use computers and other technology.
The East Los Angeles Library draws some visitors who want to use computers and other technology.
Profile picture of Rosa Estella Valdez
Headshot of Rosa Estella Valdez. (Stephanie Sical/UT)
Mia Alva
Ana Aguilar of Rosa Estella Valdez. (Stephanie Sical/UT)

Additional profiles of East Los Angeles, El Sereno, Alhambra, Eagle Rock, Lincoln Heights, La Puente, South Gate, Central Alameda and Inglewood are available here.

The city and neighborhood profiles were produced by UT Community News reporters. The Community News section has been producing stories about under-covered areas on the Eastside and South Los Angeles since late 2018.

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