CCA Reflects: A Data-Driven DTLA

CCA Reflects: A Data-Driven DTLA

Published Wednesday, April 10, 2019 10:00 am

Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) has made tremendous progress over the past several decades. This is evident by the construction cranes dotting its skyline and by the vibrant streets crowded with new shops and restaurants. These are clear indicators that DTLA has rapidly become an attractive place to live and invest. DTLA is now home to nearly 70,000 residents and expected to reach 200,000 by 2040. It is significant that a public opinion survey conducted by Loyola Marymount University (LMU) found that an overwhelming majority of Downtown's 70,000 residents are optimistic about the direction of their neighborhood and enjoy living in Downtown. This shows CCA's advocacy efforts -- which are focused on making DTLA a vibrant and welcoming place to live, work and visit -- have been effective.

After our strategic planning process, we decided to take a more data-driven approach to track progress in Downtown and also assess how Downtown residents are feeling. In addition to playing a critical role in establishing a common set of facts that provide a basis for policies and investments, data is critical for civic engagement and elections. That's why we're rolling out two new initiatives which will help us more acutely identify DTLA's challenges and opportunities and strategically guide our advocacy efforts.

  1. DTLA Insights: an interactive data portal focused on DTLA, which is sponsored by the restaurant Mrs. Fish located at 5th and Hill Streets, that provides concrete numbers and statistics to measure progress
  2. DTLA Community Study: a public opinion survey of DTLA residents conducted by StudyLA at LMU

We can now establish that the investments made to make DTLA an attractive place to live continue to pay off. Nearly 70% of residents think Downtown is going in the right direction, 86% like living here and 61% are likely to stay in Downtown for the next five years. They like Downtown because they enjoy their high quality of life, including food and beverage options, shopping and entertainment, access to public transportation and walkability.

This elevated quality of life and the presence of more than 300,000 jobs make DTLA the ideal place to live close to where you work. As such, DTLA's population has drawn a large share of younger people living alone and they tend to earn higher incomes compared to income levels in the city as a whole. We also have a higher share of elderly residents who benefit from a walkable and accessible DTLA. However, the data tell us that we're missing an important demographic: families with children.

Families make up only a quarter of DTLA households, but they make up nearly two-thirds of households in the city. This is an issue area where Downtown residents feel less optimistic. Less than a quarter of DTLA residents would recommend DTLA as a place to raise children despite that nearly three-quarters would recommend it as a place to live overall. We strongly believe DTLA should welcome everyone, and attracting and keeping families in our neighborhood is important to our economy and to build a more dynamic community. Accomplishing this goal means we need to fill the current gaps in our educational options, support the development of parks and recreation facilities, and provide a wide variety of housing options and community-serving retail.

Finally, the survey shows that Downtown residents' positivity declines when assessing our region's homelessness crisis. Nearly two-thirds of DTLA residents believe that the homeless situation in Downtown will worsen over the coming year, and a majority thinks the efforts to address homelessness are poor. We must find comprehensive solutions for our nearly 6,000 homeless residents in our neighborhood. Downtown has a higher concentration of homeless service providers, missions, shelters and supportive housing units than elsewhere in the city, but we know that we can and should do more.

We redefined our advocacy priorities two years ago to include homelessness and livability, and this data shows that these are indeed important areas that need our advocacy. This portrait of DTLA is just a glimpse of the information we've learned through DTLA Insights and the DTLA Community Survey. Most importantly, it shows that Downtown is a voting bloc with 70,000 optimistic residents. They are positive about the future but know there are issues we must address. As we prepare for the Council District 14 race in 2020, we want to make sure these residents are civically engaged and that candidates know what their concerns are. We will continue to lead data-driven efforts for our advocacy and for Downtown's future.

Explore DTLA Insights here: ccala.org/dtlainsights
Read the press release here: ccala.org/0410release