I was in town on business and I only stayed two days. I need to come back to spend more time. I liked LA. I enjoyed my short stay. Here are some observations.
Ask locals what is the population of LA and you will get different answers. There’s the official count which is 4 million people, according to the Census Bureau. And then there are the off the book numbers that range from 12 to 17 million. The answer varies on who you ask and what you consider to be Los Angeles. If you include the greater LA area, the number jumps to 10-12 million. If you add illegal aliens, we could be taking about 17 million. Nobody really knows because how do you know how many illegals are there? It happens to be thaT Los Angeles is a sanctuary city. While there’s no clear definition of what a sanctuary city is, it understood that it limits local law enforcements cooperation with federal authorities. In other words, city employees are not assisting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in enforcing federal immigration laws. Sanctuary cities are controversial and Trump has promised to crack down on them. It’s estimated that there are between 5 to 7 million illegal immigrants in LA. It’s near Mexico, the weather is nice, and it seems like everybody speaks Spanish, so why not immigrate there. LA is a majority-minority city. Latinos and Asians make a large percentage of the population. LA also has a huge homeless population problem. The official count underestimates L.A.’s homeless population according to a study. So who knows how many people are in the city of Angels.
What is Los Angeles?
If you tell somebody that you are going to New York, you are probably referring to Manhattan. Or else you would say I’m going to Brooklyn or Long Island. If you are going to LA, it’s not exactly clear where you are going. Los Angeles is a collection of neighborhoods. There’s Hollywood, Malibu, Beverly Hills, Inglewood, Anaheim, Compton, Santa Monica, Pasadena, Long Beach and many others. Logistically speaking, these neighborhoods don’t connect well. People in Pasadena don’t hang out in Inglewood and so forth.
There’s a downtown. Sort of. LA has been investing a lot in the last couple years to create regenerate downtown. The reason why LA is structured the way it is today is due to the way it was grown. LA’s growth exploded in the post-World War II suburbanization, thanks in part to defense spending. So its growth was sprawled out resulting in all these different neighborhoods. As the move to more suburban neighborhoods continued, the city’s population surged. Signs of decline in the central city, however, were becoming apparent. Downtown LA has declined in metropolitan importance for decades.
But in the last couple year gentrification began to take hold in downtown. I was only in LA for two days and I spent 90% of my time downtown. It was nice and clean but unfortunately it has a major homeless problem. I found that even though it was nice, it lacked “life”. I don’t have the exact words I’m looking for. They have this new art district. It’s beautiful. But it doesn’t feel organic. An art district has to look like it has grown on its own. You can’t put a painting up and call it the art district. Just like when there’s a Chinese restaurant that opens on your block, you can’t just call it Chinatown. A local told me that you only go downtown if you need to, which is like never.
When I visit a major city, I like to get a vibe of the sports scene. In LA, the Lakers are #1 by far. It’s a Lakers’ city. The Dodgers come in 2nd. After that it’s college sports and the Clippers. When I asked somebody about the LA Kings (NHL), he thought I was talking about the Sacramento Kings (NBA). Nothing on soccer and zero mention of two NFL teams they have. After twenty years without a team, they now have two. You probably heard about the indifference toward the Rams and the Chargers in LA. The moves looks like a failure at the moment, but let’s give it some time. They will have a new stadium in 2020. My guess for the failure is that LA is a neighborhood city, so they probably don’t have the sentiment that its “their” team.
I consider both current mayor Eric Garcetti and former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa great presidential candidates, in 2020 or later. They have done a good job with LA. Their diverse background could provide them with a broad appeal. Also California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom could be an interesting candidate. You can’t count out California Senator Kamela Harris which is increasingly positing herself for a White House run. It could be a crowded race.