An Excavation of East Hollywood: Part One

Following the completion of Who Is Your Neighborhood’s first ever tutoring program this fall, a new project for J.T. The L.A. Storyteller begins. First, a small photo series for readers.

All photos are courtesy of publicly available collections at the University of Southern California Libraries and California Historical Society, as well as at Los Angeles Public Library, with the exception of two: The first, taken at LACC by L.A. Times photographer B.I. Oliver on March 13, 1969, and the second, taken by J. Benton Adams at Vermont & Santa Monica, circa 1998.

J.T.

Meet The Anti Eviction Mapping Project in Los Angeles

Originally founded in San Francisco in 2013, the Anti Eviction Mapping Project (AEMP) was a response to the city’s hostile developments against working class families to make room for the tech and AirBnB booms there over the last decade that have kept San Francisco, along with much of the Bay Area, within the top five most unaffordable cities in the country for nearly a decade. Since then, a mix of scholars, activists, artists and working-class voices have regularly updated and expanded the reach of the AEMP to create visibility for the role of Ellis Act evictions in the manufacturing of unaffordability in the state of California.

The Ellis Act, a state law passed in 1985 that was originally intended–at least on paper–to give “mom and pop” landlords the opportunity to leave the rental business when they wanted to opt out, has since provided more and more corporate landlords the ability to evict tenants, including tenants living in rent-controlled units, substantially reducing the availability of such units from the rental market for working class families. As a result, since 2001, the city of L.A. alone has lost at least 27,067 rent-controlled units to Ellis Act Evictions.

Since 2017, the AEMP has documented this process in Los Angeles, tracing available public data on the date of evictions, as well as on how many units were taken off the rental market by their displacement. In the words of scholar-activists Terra Graziani, who co-founded the AEMP in L.A., and Mary Shi, a UC Berkeley based scholar, regarding the role of documenting such processes:

“AEMP’s Ellis Act Eviction Map visualized the city’s erased history of “no-fault,” Ellis Act evictions as a series of time-lapsed, exploding, black and red circles. By culminating in the image of a city pockmarked by eviction, this visualization served to re-signify San Francisco as a site of mass displacement and thereby counter growth machine imaginaries of the city as an unblemished terrain ripe for capital accumulation.”

– Data for Justice: Tensions and Lessons from the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project’s Work between Academia and Activism

If you live in the city of Los Angeles, or any of the other AEMP-documented counties, there’s no reason why you should not know how many Ellis Act evictions, for starters, have taken place in your community over the last 20 years. After a brief survey of the interactive map, in the vicinity of the Virgil Village area, which spans the length of only a single mile radius, I counted up to 84 ‘no-fault’ Ellis Act evictions of residents here. I will update the count for the East Hollywood area before too long. Check back for that update.

Meanwhile, to learn more about the AEMP, click the flyer below to check out the latest free talk held by the Anti Eviction Mapping Project in conjunction with the Los Angeles Tenants Union on how to organize for tenant protections in Los Angeles. Tune in with yours truly to learn how you can start a Tenants Union or Association within your community, if not join one nearby. And remember: at the time of this writing, in the city of L.A., more than 2.4 million people of the city’s estimated 4 million residents rent rather than own the homes they live in.

Additionally, from now on, readers can view a histogram charting the number of rent-controlled units lost in L.A. over the past two decades due to the Ellis Act at the footer of this website.

J.T.

A police cruiser is stopped at a light on Sunset boulevard and Vermont avenue.

Know your Neighborhood: Being Policed in Los Feliz vs Silver Lake vs East Hollywood

Over a five year period, from 2012 – 2017, the Million Dollar Hoods (MDH) project compiled data for estimated costs of arrests by both the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department (LASD) across neighborhoods, community college areas, Metro subways and bus lines in L.A., and more.

Data taken from LAPD show areas where people were arrested from 2012 – 2017, how many days those people were detained, and “price tags” for booking and detainment, which is to say the costs for time that people spent under arrest at LAPD stations before arraignment or release.

Data taken from LASD took into account home addresses–when available–of all people booked into jail by the sheriffs from 2012 – 2017, which are not shown in the data set for obvious reasons, as well as the total number of days those people spent incarcerated, and the average daily cost of their time within the L.A. County Jail system, which is the largest jail system in the whole United States. Additionally, the data set for LASD’s arrests shows the level of alleged offenses by detainees, or whether detainees were held for misdemeanor or felony charges.

The following are a set of statistics taken from the MDH project for the Los Feliz, Silver Lake and East Hollywood areas in Central L.A., which show major disparities between which racial groups are policed in any given area, as well as between expenses accrued for people arrested in different areas even while those areas just walking distances from one another.

Beginning with Los Feliz, over a five year period, the LAPD spent at least $607,237 to cover costs for 1,333 people arrested there, whose time in detention amounted to 2,642 days. During that same time, the LASD spent at least $272,892 for 133 people arrested in Los Feliz, and whose collective time detained amounted to at least 1,737 days. Together, the LAPD and LASD’s costs for arresting and jailing people in Los Feliz amounted to at least $880,129 for 4,379 days of jail time from 2012 – 2017.

Also keep in mind that in Los Feliz, as recently as 2008, the median household income was $50,793, about the same as the amount for L.A. County at the time. Not surprisingly, while Blacks made up just 2.2% of the population of Los Feliz, they showed up as 13% of those arrested there, or nearly six times their demographic share. Latinos, who made up for 14.2% of the population, appeared as 25% of those arrested by LAPD in the area. By contrast, whites, who made up 67% of the population in Los Feliz, accounted for about 40% of arrests by LAPD there.

In the Silver Lake area, over a five year period, the LAPD spent at least $641,943 to cover costs for 1,313 people arrested there, whose time in detention amounted to 2,793 days. During that same time, the LASD spent at least $331,673 for 149 people arrested in Silver Lake whose time detained totaled over 2,142 days. Together, the LAPD and LASD’s costs for arresting and jailing people in Silver Lake amounted to at least $973,616 for 4,935 days of jail time from 2012 – 2017.

As recently as 2008, the median household income in Silver Lake was $54,339, also about the same as the amount for L.A. County at the time. Similarly to Los Feliz, while Black people made up just 3.4% of the population, they accounted for over 14% of those arrested by LAPD there, or over four times their demographic share. Latinos, who comprised just over 35% of the population, accounted for 52% of those arrested by LAPD in the area. Whites made up 43% of the population in Silver Lake, but accounted for only 25% of arrests by LAPD there.

Less than a few square miles from Los Feliz or Silver Lake, the most vulnerable geographic area in the vicinity proves to be the most policed. Over a five year period, East Hollywood saw more expenditures for policing and jail time than Los Feliz and Silver Lake combined and multiplied twice over. The LAPD spent at least $3,454,495 to cover costs for 6,852 people arrested in the area, whose time in detention amounted to a jaw-dropping 15,030 days, or three times the rate of time in jail for those arrested in either Los Feliz or Silver Lake. At the same time, the LASD spent at least $1,487,910 for 516 people arrested, whose time detained totaled over 9,981 days. Together, the LAPD and LASD’s costs for arresting and jailing people in this area amounted to at least $4,942,405 for 25,011 days of jail time from 2012 – 2017.

By 2008, the median household income for East Hollywood was $29,927, or nearly half of that of L.A. county at the time. Blacks made up just 2.4% of the population, but still accounted for 13% of those arrested by LAPD, once again nearly six times their demographic share. Latinos made up for just over 55% of the population, but accounted for 65% of those arrested by LAPD. Whites, who made up 24% of the population of East Hollywood, accounted for 13% of those arrested by LAPD there.

Additionally, in all three neighborhoods, males made up more than 3/4ths of those arrested by LAPD, while females accounted for 1/4th of those arrested. What’s also true is that at least half of the charges filed against people by the LASD were misdemeanors, though it should be noted that even misdemeanors on people of colors’ records can prove fatal for their chances at employment. Furthermore, as noted by the folks at MDH regarding their research methodology for these data:

“While the County Auditor-Controller calculations include variable costs (like staffing costs, travel and supplies), overhead costs, utilities costs, and accounting adjustments, our calculations only include variable costs. As a result, our estimates may be interpreted as conservative (emphasis mine): they do not include costs associated with building facilities and keeping the lights on, administrating the jail system as a sub-unit of county government, providing health care, or interfacing with the law enforcement and court systems.”

Even statisticians will admit that no data set tells the whole story, but the MDH project’s data allow communities to consider just how many taxpayer dollars go yearly towards disproportionately jailing not only people of color, particularly Black and Latino people in Los Angeles, but those within just a handful of areas inside of L.A. County.

In particular, communities within the areas of this comparison can now consider the disproportionate level of jail time and detention costs for arrests in East Hollywood, where more than 52% of the Asian and Latino communities who make up almost 3/4ths of the area are “foreign-born,” compared to the amount of costs and jail time for arrests in neighboring Los Feliz and Silver Lake, which are substantially whiter neighborhoods. Clearly, the state has a concerted interest in continuing to target Blacks, Latinos and working class immigrants wherever they may be clustered in Los Angeles, which also happen to be the groups which have seen the least amount of support for housing, education, and fair employment in Los Angeles over the 172 years since the state of California was forcibly taken by the U.S. from Mexico.

As if to add insult to injury, in a sheriff’s document online listed by the MDH study, the front page informs readers that their department’s motto is “a tradition of service since 1850.” Clearly, such “service” refers to a very different entity than the one so many tend to imagine when they think of this “Golden State.”

J.T.