The suddenly rising crime rate threatens to undo or slow a lot of good trends in Los Angeles, from increasing optional ridership on transit lines to more public engagement in emerging neighborhoods that used to be thought if as dicey. Arguably, it's the revival of Downtown as a residential and 24-hour center of the city that is most at risk. From an LA Times story on the subject posted this morning:
Crime has jumped across the city this year, but nowhere has the increase been as large as in L.A.'s hippest new domain: downtown.
Here, 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. Police and residents say the influx of new lofts, luxury high-rise apartments, bars and eateries have made these new downtown dwellers easy targets for street crime….
Overall, violent crime in the LAPD's Central Division — which covers parts of downtown, skid row and Chinatown — was up more than 57% through the end of August compared with the same period last year, and property offenses increased nearly 25%, according to police data.
Certain crimes have captured extra police attention. "Creeper" burglars look for unlocked apartments or cars. Organized crews lift unattended purses or smart phones from tables at cafes. Others prowl around apartments, checking for open windows or doors to sneak inside.
The LAPD says it is responding with more beat cops, data tracking and deployment of the roaming Metropolitan Division. Another couple of quarters of rising crime and this could easily become an issue — perhaps the issue? — in the 2017 mayoral race.
Chief Charlie Beck told the police commission today that the number of murders in Los Angeles surged in August to 39, the month's highest total since 2007. Nearly half of the August murders occurred in South Los Angeles and Beck said gang members were largely to blame. Overall the city's homicide rate is up about seven percent so far this year, per the LA Times.