397 Days till L.A. Votes Again. For now, Use these Maps To Show Your Neighbors the Rate of Homelessness in Your District Since 2011

In 2011, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) published a map and sheet showing homelessness rates per district in Los Angeles.

On LAHSA’s 2011 map, districts with the highest numbers of unhoused people were shaded dark-blue and included:

I. CD-9, where the historic Skid Row area was based before a change to the district map, or redistricting, in 2012. The district was overseen by Jan Perry when an estimated 5,800 people in the community were reported without shelter.

II. CD-14, where Boyle Heights was based. The district was overseen by Jose Huizar–who vacated his seat recently after being arrested on charges of bribery–when an estimated 2,200 people in the community were reported without shelter.

III. CD-13, where East Hollywood was based. The district was overseen by Eric Garcetti when an estimated 1,900 people in the community were reported without shelter.

IV. CD-8, where Leimert Park was based. The district was overseen by Bernard C. Parks when an estimated 1,600 people in the community were reported without shelter.

A list of homelessness in Los Angeles per district as of LAHSA’s count in 2011.

Nine years later, for the 2020 count, LAHSA did not publish a map showing district per homelessness, but that didn’t stop a band of looky-loos from publishing another one for the city on their behalf. The choropleth map below notes percent changes in homelessness per district in a bivariate color scheme from green to red to show proportion. Listed further below is a sheet ranking homelessness in order of highest to lowest per district based on LAHSA’s most recent count.

By 2020, a year after L.A. County reported $727 billion dollars in gross domestic product, fourteen of L.A.’s fifteen council districts, or 93% of the city, saw an increase of homelessness since 2011. As well, the districts with the highest numbers of unhoused residents actually included the same four districts from ten years earlier, though in a slightly rearranged order. These districts were:

I. CD-14, where Skid Row, along with much of downtown, was moved to after city redistricting in 2012. The district is now overseen by Kevin De Leon, and an estimated 7,600 people were reported without shelter as of last year, an increase of more than 245% since 2011.

II. CD-9, where historic South Central is still based. The district is now overseen by Curren D. Price, in which an estimated 4,900 people were reported without shelter as of last year, a decrease of 15.5% since 2011.

III. CD-8, where Leimert Park is still based along with the Crenshaw Corridor. The district is now overseen by Marqueece Harris-Dawson, in which an estimated 4,400 people were reported without shelter as of last year, an increase of 175% since 2011.

IV. CD-13, where East Hollywood is still based. The district is now overseen by Mitch O’Farrell, in which an estimated 3,900 people were reported without shelter as of last year, an increase of 105% since 2011.

A list of homelessness in Los Angeles per district as of LAHSA’s count in 2020.

Also note that while our choropleth map shows that District 9 was the only district that didn’t see an increase of homelessness since 2011, the lack of an increase did not change the district’s status as the second of the four areas with the most pronounced homelessness in Los Angeles over the last ten years.

Sick of it? You’re not alone. As of today, voters in Los Angeles have less than 397 days to pick eight new City Council Members, a new Mayor, City Attorney, and City Controller. But with over thirteen months to go, these races have already seen up to $2.5 million in campaign donations, more than a few of which ring peculiar.

Special thanks to Mehmet Berker, L.A.’s local cartographer, for this report’s map.

J.T

Who is Reelecting Mitch O’Farrell? New GIS Map Shows Contributions by Zip to Reelection Campaign for 2022

An analysis of data from the L.A. Ethics Commission shows that at least 75% of funds for Mitch O’Farrell’s reelection campaign for Council District 13 (CD-13) in 2022 are from outside of District 13. At the end of 2020, O’Farrell’s office reported a total of just under $110,000 in funds for his reelection campaign. CD-13, made up of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Echo Park, Elysian Valley, Glassell Park, Historic Filipinotown, Hollywood, Little Armenia, parts of Koreatown, Thai Town and Silver Lake, is up for an election on June 7, 2022.

The choropleth map below, shaded from light to dark-red to highlight least to largest quantities, shows which zip codes have contributed the most dollar sums to Mitch O’Farrell’s reelection campaign in 2022 as of December 31st, 2020.

Zip codes on the choropleth map represent donations in aggregated sums, meaning that zip codes do not represent individual households, but the total sum of donations from different households within the given zip code.

Council District 13 is roughly contained on the map by the red 90068 and medium red 90028 segments to the west, the dark-red 90026 segment to the south-east, the red 90065 segment to the north-east, and the medium red 90039 and 90027 segments in the center. All other segments highlighted on the map around these “flank” segments are not a part of CD-13 but are segments containing donors to the 2022 campaign.

Donors within Council District 13 and donors not within the district marked and separated by a yellow line.

Zip codes for Council District 13 are: 90004, ranging from Rampart Village to Hancock Park; 90026, where Silver Lake and Elysian Valley are based; 90027, including Little Armenia and parts of Los Feliz; 90028, or the Hollywood area; 90029, where East Hollywood and Thai Town are located; 90038, representing Melrose Hill through Hollywood up to La Brea; 90039, spanning from north of Elysian Heights through Atwater Village; 90057, including Historic Filipinotown; 90065, for Glassell Park; and 90068, for the Hollywood Hills.

While households in zip codes for Echo Park, Glassell Park, and Hollywood form the top three areas for donations to Mitch O’Farrell’s reelection campaign with nearly $17,000 between them, fourth in contributions are households from 90210 ($4,200), where Beverly Hills is based. The only zip code in the 13th district not listed for donations to the reelection campaign was 90029 (let’s keep it this way, East Hollywood).

Households in area 90210, or Beverly Hills, donated at least $4,200 to Mitch O’Farrell’s reelection campaign for CD-13 in 2022.

To the west of Hollywood, only ten zip codes, not including 90210, contributed nearly $15,000 to O’Farrell’s reelection campaign in the roughly two months since the Council Member announced his intention to run for his third term as CD-13’s representative. O’Farrell publicized his intention to run for a third term at the helm of the 13th district in an email to constituents as early as November 2020.

Only 10 of roughly 20 zip codes west of Hollywood donated $15,000 for Mitch O’Farrell’s 2022 reelection campaign for the office of CD-13.

A total of 83 zip codes reflecting just under 200 donations for O’Farrell’s reelection were included in the analysis, including zip codes from as far out as Westport, Connecticut ($250), West Bradford Township, Pennsylvania ($1,600), and even Washington D.C. ($500). Find the Excel sheet for donors listed from highest to lowest here.

O’Farrell’s pool of “outsider” funds for reelection in 2022 virtually mirrors the rate of “outside” donors for his campaign when he ran for his second term for the office from 2016 – 2017. The Los Feliz Ledger reported in 2016 that nearly 75% of donations in support of O’Farrell’s second bid for office came from outside of the district.

Challengers to O’Farrell’s incumbency in 2017
also called attention to the Council Member’s fealty for outside money. Local housing activist and Neighborhood Council aficionado, Doug Haines, was quoted as saying:

“It’s not just development or planning. Mitch has isolated himself from the people he is sworn to serve.”

Doug Haines, East Hollywood Neighborhood Council

A month after O’Farrell won his second term for CD-13 in 2017, an investigation of donations to O’Farrell’s first campaign for the 13th district in 2013 led to real estate investor Leeor Maciborski being fined $17,000 for a number of discreet donations to O’Farrell from limited liability companies (LLCs).

Maciborski exceeded the $700 limit at the time–now $800–for individual donors by at least $3,000. According to the L.A. Times, who originally uncovered the discreet donations, Maciborski was tied to several apartment buildings in both the East Hollywood and Los Feliz areas. He was not listed among O’Farrell’s donors list as of the end of 2020.

But accounting for just under $15,000 for O’Farrell’s 2022 campaign are at least 24 other donors identifying themselves as real estate developers or investors. Zip codes listed for these donors were as far north as Santa Clarita, and as close to the coast as Manhattan Beach.

Households in area 90266, or Manhattan Beach, donated at least $2050 to Mitch O’Farrell’s reelection campaign for CD-13 in 2022.

In 2019, after FBI agents raided former Council Member Jose Huizar’s home in a bribery scheme between him and a downtown real estate mogul, L.A. City Council voted to ban real estate developers from donating to candidates for political office while their projects are pending approval from the council. However, the ordinance was called a “skeleton” of what was originally proposed by groups focused on getting money out of politics, and does not actually go into effect until after the 2022 elections.

This “late start” for the light restrictions on donations from realtors is a major part of why virtually all of the incumbents at L.A. City Hall for elections in 2022 are enjoying major head starts in finance against their challengers, ranging from tens of thousands more to hundreds of thousands of more dollars to spend on ads, mailing campaigns, and staff. At the end of 2020, the only other candidate in the race for CD-13 who reported raising funds, Albert Corado, listed just slightly over $11,000 for his upstart campaign against O’Farrell. As Rob Quan, of the Unrig L.A. organization once put it:

“Developer money tends to follow the people holding power, not the people challenging power.”

Rob Quan, Unrig L.A.

It’s for this reason that conspicuously absent from the O’Farrell reelection campaign’s donation list are people who actually live in the 13th district but are exceedingly priced out of its boundaries and Los Angeles altogether, including bus-drivers, cooks, nannies, hotel maintenance workers, people representing street-vendors, tenants unions, teachers, food and retail workers, immigrant rights coalitions, advocacy groups for the unhoused, and more; or the kinds of people police officers didn’t hesitate to forcibly remove from Echo Park at Mitch O’Farrell’s direction this past March 25th.

Mitch O’Farrell has held the office for CD-13 since 2013, and is now seeking his third and final term as the district’s representative for L.A. City Hall. The previous Council Member for the seat, Eric Garcetti, held the office from 2001 – 2013. Support for our map was provided by friends at the Institute of Digital Education and Research at UCLA.

J.T.

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

Know your Neighborhood: Policing 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 analyzed home addresses–when available–of people booked into jail by the sheriffs from 2012 – 2017, which are not shown in the data set for obvious reasons. Data analyzed also looked at 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 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 Million Dollar Hoods database 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 each of these neighborhoods, as well as between expenses accrued for people arrested depending on which neighborhood they were arrested in.

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. The LASD over this period spent at least $272,892 for 133 people arrested in Los Feliz, 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.

As recently as 2008, the median household income in Los Feliz was $50,793, about the same as the amount for L.A. County then. But 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. While Black people made up just 3.4% of the population in Los Feliz, they accounted for over 14% of those arrested by LAPD in the area, 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 is East Hollywood, the lowest median income area of the three neighborhoods, and the most policed.


Over a five year period, from 2012-2017, East Hollywood saw more expenditures for policing and jail time than Los Feliz and Silver Lake combined. The LAPD spent at least $3,454,495 to cover costs for 6,852 people arrested in the area, whose time incarcerated totaled more than 15,000 days, three times the rate of jail time for those arrested in either Los Feliz or Silver Lake.

Over the same period, the LASD spent at least $1,487,910 for 516 people arrested, whose time incarcerated totaled nearly 10,000 days. Together, the LAPD and LASD’s costs for arresting and jailing people in East Hollywood amounted to at least $4,942,405. These expenditures were made for at least 25,011 days of jail time for those arrested in East Hollywood 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, not to mention nearly half of the median household income in the Los Feliz and Silver Lake areas at the time. Blacks made up just 2.4% of the neighborhood, but accounted for 13% of those arrested by LAPD, 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.

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. And at least half of the charges filed by the LASD against arrestees were misdemeanors, though it should be noted that even misdemeanors for non-whites 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 data above allow communities to consider just how many taxpayer dollars go yearly towards disproportionately jailing Black and Latino bodies in Los Angeles, particularly within a handful of areas in L.A. County, and how gross these disparities are when compared to neighborhoods within walking distance from particularly policed areas such as East Hollywood.

Readers can also consider the disproportionate level of jail time and detention costs for arrests in East Hollywood, where more than half of the Asian and Latino residents in the community are “foreign-born,” compared to the amount of costs and jail time for arrests in the neighboring Los Feliz and Silver Lake areas, which are substantially whiter neighborhoods. Clearly, the city of Los Angeles has a consistent track record arresting Blacks, Latinos and working class immigrants wherever they may be in Los Angeles, even while these groups are precisely those which have seen the least amount of support for housing, education, and fair employment in Los Angeles over the 172 years since California’s been in business.

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 kind of service than the one many people of color have experienced with such departments in their neighborhoods.

J.T.

Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 20

Rainy days at school were my favorite because of the way they swept over the whole environment. It would seem like every feeling became more urgent as an audience of raindrops fell to stir them from within.

Today, I just hoped the rain was enough to keep more people home. It’s as if the weather was trying to smile upon Los Angeles, urging it to rest and be dormant during this time. But I also know that not far away at all, conditions were not as sparing. I thought of those people still resting their backs underneath the 101 freeway, and how the winds surely pelted them with droplets showing no relent.

I also learned today of the Chicago Tribune report showing that Black patients for COVID-19 in Chicago are dying at nearly six times the rate of white patients.

Indeed, some of the hardest hit communities on the South and West sides have struggled with unemployment and health care access for generations. As a result, residents have higher baseline rates of diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and high blood pressure — the chronic conditions that make the coronavirus even more deadly.

In Los Angeles, metrics for the 173 deaths from coronavirus reported so far are still preliminary, but so far do appear to show consistency with what’s been seen in Chigago, Milwaukee, Detroit and Washington D.C.: that Black Americans are disproportionately dying from COVID-19 compared with other groups.

I know that this brings great sadness, as well as great anger to Black people across the nation. I also know that if this is to change for future generations, it is imperative for the immigrant community in cities like Los Angeles to learn about how we are inextricably connected with the African-American community in almost every walk of life.

I think of the Metro Blue Line, which was the first modern rail line in L.A., running from Long Beach through South Central and onto downtown L.A. at Figueroa and 7th street. L.A. Metro now has seven such railways spanning towards every main thoroughfare in the city, and its services are lifelines for my mother and millions of other humble travelers like herself. Black people in South Los Angeles played no small part in making these services accessible, just as Rosa Parks in Montgomery not only freed bus seats all over the south but also cleared the way for the civil rights movement.

Across America, hundreds of years before the word “immigrant” was used to describe people from other lands here, there were Black people lifting, nursing, farming and raising America to be carried into the arms of the next generation.

Today, as the coronavirus exposes further a racial wealth gap that our public discourse nearly forgot about between Obama’s final days in office and Trump’s first, it’s clear we’re only a few passages removed from these pages of history.

In the coming days, as conversations continue over how to respond to these reports, immigrant communities, along with every ally in America, need to voice unequivocal support for the Black community in outrage at this discrimination in our health-care system and everywhere else where segregation and complacency still undercut America in half: one where its children deserve a future, and another where children are left to die under the overpass.

Immigration rights advocates cannot expect an end to attacks from ICE or a closing of all immigrant detention facilities based on merit and hard work alone; success in these movements requires recognizing the interests our communities share with prison abolitionists and other current civil rights leaders in the African-American community, particularly at this moment looming over all of us.

I do believe that 52 years ago, it’s what the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and his contemporaries sought to teach all of our communities before yet more innocent lives were unnecessarily lost. Now, when is it time, Los Angeles?

J.T.

Education in Los Angeles: A Look at the Numbers

LAUSD chart graduates_

In 2008 the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) was reported to have graduated only 48% of its class for the 2007-2008 school year. In 2017, a study tracking the college enrollment rate of that same 2008 class found that within twelve months of their graduation, 58% of LAUSD’s high school graduates enrolled in a two-year community college or four-year university. The study goes on to show that by six years later, however, only 25% of those graduates would have their four-year college degree.

Public data also shows that in the 2007 – 2008 school year, the total number of students enrolled at LAUSD was estimated to be just over 694,288 students. Accounting for a graduation rate of 48% then, we can estimate that at the end of that school year, only 333,258 of those enrolled left the schools with their diplomas.

Applying the data from UCLA’s study showing the 25% college success rate for those students by six years later, we can also determine that of the 2008 high school class, of nearly 700,000 students, only 83,314.5, or 8.3% of them would successfully complete a college or a university education six years after their graduation from high school.

Today in Los Angeles, the graduation rate for this same public school district is cited as being at 77% as recently as the 2015 – 2016 school year. But the improved rate is not indicative of the district’s struggle to improve educational and college readiness at the schools.

For example, UCLA’s report also shows that in the 2013 – 2014 school year, less than a third of the class of 2014 graduated from the district with an A or B grade point average, implying that over two thirds of the class left the district with C or D grade point averages.

UCLA’s study goes on to show that while the difference between a C and a D grade point average might not seem like much, students with only a D grade point average are five times LESS LIKELY to enroll in a two or four-year college.

In Los Angeles today then, for a new generation of high school students, a district with an underwhelming track record in qualitative education and college preparation is only one of their challenges. Lest we forget: these students are attending L.A.’s public schools at the same time that a real estate boom in Los Angeles continues unabated, driving up the cost of living, evicting working class families en masse, and leading many either to seek shelter somewhere along L.A.’s Skid Row district, or straight out of town.

In March 2017, the Sacramento Bee reported that similarly to the way Latin American countries ‘export’ their human labor to the U.S., the Golden State is also a human transporter, that is, of its working class, to states like Texas and Oklahoma.

According to the report, “California exports more than commodities such as movies, new technologies and produce. It also exports truck drivers, cooks and cashiers. Every year from 2000 through 2015, more people left California than moved in from other states.”

In Los Angeles, with a school district where less than 9% of students obtained a college degree six years after their high school education, the work options are limited. And with the cost of living rising, Los Angeles and California as places for such people to live are also limited.

In the same report, the Bee notes that out of the state’s 58 counties, it’s been in the wealthiest two where there’s been the greatest number of expulsions: “the state’s exodus of poor people is notable in Los Angeles and San Francisco counties, which combined experienced a net loss of 250,000 such residents from 2005 through 2015.”

I wonder of those 250,000, just how many were students at LAUSD at some point.

This is Los Angeles. And it is ongoing. That is, until we place our foot on the dial.

J.T.

California Primary Elections: June 2018 Recap

According to the Washington Post, just over 6.9 million people in California cast a vote for the state’s June 2018 Primaries–the largest recorded in the state’s history for a primary election–out of a total of over 19 million registered voters, to make for a 36% ‘return’ rate.

However, when considering the total number of all potential voters in the State’s Registrar, listed by Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s records as being at 25 million eligible voters, the turnout rate becomes 27%, or just over a fourth of the possible turnout.

To make things more interesting, when considering the total population of California, the most recent census records show that the Golden State is comprised of over 39.5 million people. To be sure, the census also counts people who are imprisoned, undocumented immigrants, and other non-voting citizens such as youth under eighteen years old. Nevertheless, if the total population is considered, it makes the Primary’s ‘turnout’ rate even smaller, at 17% of all the citizenry in the state, or less than a fifth of the ‘democratic’ or participating possibilities.

In contest for June 2018’s primary elections was the state’s Governorship, a seat for one U.S. Senator’s position, various seats for the U.S. House of Representatives, local courtroom positions, measures or ordinances varying from county to county, and more, like the recall of Judge Aaron Persky in Santa Clara County, for one.

Now, a quick glance at which groups comprise the California population:

From the U.S. Census Bureau’s ‘Quick Facts’ online:

At 15.4 million, Latinos account for 39% of California’s population.

At 14.6 million, Whites hold 38.8% of California’s population.

At 5.9 million, Asians maintain 15% of California’s population.

And at 2.5 million, Blacks constitute 6.5% of California’s population.

At 633,000, Native Americans compose 1.6% of California’s population. And at 198,000, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders form 0.5% of California’s population.

My favorite data for this election, however, is Political Data, Inc’s Absentee Vote Tracker (AVT), which tracked the early return of ballots on both the day before the Primary election as well as the day of, tracking up to 2.8 million returns of the 6.9 returns overall.

We’ll take a look at some of the numbers, particularly the following about which groups were mailed a ballot for the primaries, and which groups actually submitted those ballots.

According to the AVT, the day before and the day of the election, the percentage of ballots held by the states voter’s along ethnic lines were:

Latinos: 2.2 million (25% of the total)
Asians: 1.05 million (12% of the total)
Blacks: 312 thousand (4% of the total)
Whites: 5.2 million (59% of the total)

What the numbers suggest is reason for pause: similarly to L.A. County’s Special and Municipal Elections, voting at the State level is still the matter of a huge disparity between the White and Non-White populations who make up California.

Remember our Census data: at 15.4 million of the overall population in California, Latinos outnumber Whites, even if by only less than a percentage point. When it comes to ballots held between Latinos and Whites before election day, however, there are more than two White voters for every Latino voter, and nearly five times as many White voters for every Asian voter. This is what inequality in the democracy of the Golden State looks like.

On the day of the Primary election, the numbers are more startling.

Latino returns: 367,000 (13% of the total)
Asian returns: 295,000 (11% of the total)
Black returns: 75,000 (3% of the total)
White returns: 2.04 million (76% of the total)

Of course, one should also note that these numbers are from just the day before as well as the day of the vote, which obviously makes them incomplete. But in midterm elections like these, which are usually less popular and thus more predictable, the probability that early returns are indicators of a normal distribution is usually higher than not. In other words, after counting the total overall, the 76% rate of Whites who voted in this last election is probably off by only a few percentage points in one direction or the other.

The implications are that the current disparities throughout California between white voter rates and those of people of color when considering the larger voter eligibility pool of the latter is not just unfortunate, it’s something of a public safety concern. if recent trends in U.S. politics show us anything, it’s that very few groups feel adequately represented by the country’s current institutional makeup. Just as relevant: although the state and its officials certainly like to claim they welcome immigration and the diversity of the land, when it comes to the distribution of power between its various groups, California’s white population is as much in control of the state as whites are in places like Tennessee or Arkansas, where they voted overwhelmingly for the current administration.

It was in 2014 that the PEW Research center identified Latinos as the largest ethnic group in California, which is considered a preview for the overall direction of the U.S.’s ‘majority-minority‘ poised to arrive in the next twenty-five years or so. But if the current trends in California’s voting disparity between whites and non-whites here continues, one can only reasonably calculate for an even more radical disparity at the national level in terms of power and policy between the groups than what we’re seeing today.

J.T.

i voted sticker spool on white surface

Voting in Los Angeles: Municipal and Special Elections 2017

Out of nearly 5.2 Million registered voters in L.A. County for the 2017 year, less than 900,000 of them, or 17% cast ballots for the Municipal and Special Elections on Tuesday, March 07, 2017. In the election postmortem, when the L.A. County Voting Registrar, Dean Logan, was asked by a KPCC reporter one reason why so few registered voters turned out, Logan said:

“I do think we have to make the voting process more adaptive and responsive to the way people live their lives day to day. Our current model of voting is– arguably –outdated.”

While it’s true that the current model of voting is “outdated,” it’s also true that we cannot have an honest conversation on voting without talking about racial inequality’s impact on turnout. Yet conspicuously absent from the KPCC discussion is any mention of the demographics of Los Angeles and how disaffected non-white communities in L.A. turn out to vote at much lower rates than white communities.

Logan’s discussion of “the voters” in purely abstract terms is therefore not helpful. We have information at our fingertips, and it’s meant to be used; below, for example, is a telling info-graphic on registered voters and mail-in-voters identified by race or ethnic group, as well as in terms of age groups, leading up to the election. The information is provided by Tableau Public, an open-source data website, which counted 454,971 returned ballots out of 2.2 million ballots held by registered voters across Los Angeles by election day on March 07, 2017.

L.A. County Voter Registration, according to Tableau Public

While the histogram does not account for people who identify as mixed, Native American, or Pacific Islander such as the 2013 Census does, it still proves extremely helpful in identifying “the voters.” Based on the data, we can see that in terms of registered voters in L.A., whites outnumber their non-white counterparts by considerable margins at 47%, or nearly half of all registrations. Asian-Americans took up 10.5% of voter registrations, while Blacks accounted for 8.4%. Meanwhile, Latinos accounted for 33.6% of voter registrations. Together, the combined population of Asian, Latino, and Black registered voters accounted for 52% of all voter registration before election day.

We can also see that in terms of age, the age group with the lowest voter registration rate is the 18 – 24 year olds in Los Angeles. At the same time, 35 – 44 year olds, 45 – 54 year olds, and 55 – 64 year olds have more or less similar registration rates at 16.6%, 16.4%, and 16.3% respectively.

The group with the second highest registration rate before the election was the 65+ category at 20.4%; while the group with the highest number of registrations was the 25 – 34 year olds in Los Angeles, at 20.7%.

Assuming that each of these groups receive ballots by mail not long after they register–which is standard procedure– the potential for at least half of registrations to turn into 2.6 million votes cast is definitely there. But when we take a look at data for the number of returned ballots, we start to see catastrophic level “drop-off” or “disappearance” rates across racial and age lines, for starters.

L.A. County Voter Turnout, according to Tableau Public

First, let’s consider the age demographics for returned ballots from voters by election day. Based on the data, we can see that the number of returned ballots from 18 – 24 year olds is exceptionally low at 3.4%, while the number of returned ballots from 25 – 34, 35 – 44, and 45 – 54 year olds is more or less the same across the board at 10%, 10.4%, and 12.9%, respectively. A significantly higher number of returned ballots comes from 55 – 64 year olds at 19.3% of returned ballots counted.

But by far, the highest number of returned ballots, a whopping 44%, come from voters 65+ and older.

Inversely, the age group with the greatest drop-off or “disappearance” after registration was the 25 – 34 year old category, with less than half of folks registered in this age range returning ballots by election day. Now, let’s consider the racial differences for returned ballots.

When it comes to the racial makeup of ballots returned after election day, white voters made up for a super-majority of all returned ballots at 64.1%. The Asian, Latino, and Black populations, on the other hand, made up for a combined total of less than 36% of returns.

Remember that combined non-white registration of 52%? It falls apart by the time of election day. While Asian voter turnout for returned ballots actually increased by 1.6% points come election day relative to their registration, for Black voters the rate of returned ballots fell slightly by 1.3% with respect to their share of registration.

However, the group which saw the greatest “disappearance”of voters was Latinos, with a 16.9% “loss” of ballots, or more than half of ballots with Latino voters going “unsent” after registration. Whites, by contrast, increased their share returned ballots from their share of voter registration by about 17% come the day of the election.

Is there a way to be more specific, however, or to see more about L.A. voters besides their age and racial category? Below, the numbers in each column show: age group, the “living situation” of voters in terms of whether they own homes or rent apartments, and some additional data.

L.A. County Voter Turnout in more detail, according to Tableau Public

This latter graphic shows that homeowners accounted for 61% of the 454,971 ballots turned in by election day, while apartment renters accounted for less than 28% of those same ballots. Additionally, we can also see that a sizable portion of vote-by-mailers were registered for November’s general election in 2016, while in 2017 less than 5,000 newly registered voters of a total of 24,519 actually cast their votes by election day.

With all of this data combined, we can say with confidence that 6 out of every 10 vote-by-mail voters for this last election were white, and that about the same share owned a home in L.A. County. At the same time, one voter was Latino, one was Black, and one was Asian, with apartment sharing or renting likely concentrated among these non-white groups.

In effect, what’s clear about politics in Los Angeles is that while most of its constituents are probably stuck in traffic somewhere, that is, in terms of that 52% non-white registration rate, it is mostly Senior, white, and home-owning L.A. County voters who are electing the city’s officials and policy-making decisions.

At a time when the 2011 Texas legislative session has just been indicted for drawing district lines discriminating against Black and Latino voters in favor of Republican Anglos, we might say that L.A. is a 2011 Texan Republican’s perfect empty canvas, a dreamland of political opportunity for white identity politics given the disaffection of so many non-white voters.

Isn’t that something?! But of course there’s more the story; until the next time.

J.T.