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

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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