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Ask Downtown: How Safe Do You Feel?

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, September 11, 2009, at 03:06PM
Downtown at Night Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Every so often an email comes in to blogdowntown from someone who is considering moving here. Many times, questions have to do with specific buildings or what is available in a certain price range.

One of the most important things that people want to know when considering moving Downtown, though, is whether it's safe. Who better to answer that than all of you?

Lisa sent me this email earlier in the week. I asked her if I could pass it on to blogdowntown readers, and she agreed.

My husband and I are moving to LA from the Bay Area. I should say back to LA, since both of us spent our childhoods there, but we've been gone a long time. We highly value walkability and since he'll be working downtown (I'm still working on my dissertation--in communication, incidentally, so location is less important for me), we're thinking about moving there. I'm nervous about safety, though. Do you have any thoughts on that issue, or can you point me to any good resources? I love to feel free to walk around, including after dark--not necessarily at 3 in the morning, but in the winter, after dark starts at 5.

When I first replied to Lisa and said that Downtown was really a safe place statistically, she expressed surprise. She pointed me to LA, a website that purports to score neighborhoods around L.A. by stats for safety and schools.

If you pull up the Central City on LA, it has a score of 0 for safety. The overall crime index for Central Division is listed at 478% higher than the county average.

Look a little closer and you'll find some problems with the site's data (see note below), but numbers like that are scary for potential residents.

So let's give some anecdotes. What's been your experience with safety living Downtown? If you're a women, what's your strategy when it comes to walking the streets?

About those numbers... There are two major issues. First, the scores are computed based on residents, so in the case of Central Division that doesn't account for the 400,000 people who work Downtown or those who come here for concerts, games or other events.

More importantly, though, the stats are either old or wrong. For instance, it lists 857 yearly aggravated assaults for Central. Yet accordin to LAPD data through August, there have only been 313 agg assaults thus far in 2009. That's a pace for just over 400, less than half the listed number.


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