LMU Survey Finds Angelenos Still Optimistic, But Growing Less So

Residents of Los Angeles County continue to be optimistic about their cities, neighborhoods, and the economy, but the good vibes are slowly dwindling, according to a survey conducted by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University.

The survey was part of Forecast LA, a conference held Wednesday at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, which combines a public opinion poll and a review of traditional economic indicators to provide a snapshot of the region and explore possible future trends.

When asked how things are going in their neighborhood, city, or the greater L.A. region, positive responses this year equaled or approached their lowest levels since the survey began in 2014. Just 59 percent said things are headed in the “right direction” in the Los Angeles region; 67 percent said the same for their city, and 74 percent for their neighborhood.

Los Angeles also notched its lowest marks in the survey’s history on whether it’s a good place to live, raise children, or retire; and on questions about safety and quality of life. Still, most of those questions scored better than 70 percent positive.

“While we have seen a decline in enthusiasm, Angelenos remain largely positive about life in L.A.,” said Fernando Guerra, professor of political science and Chicana/o studies at LMU and director of the center. “It’s not especially surprising, after two years of reactionary policies coming out of the Trump White House, to see this dip in how mostly liberal Los Angeles views life.”

There were fewer clear answers on the region’s sticky housing woes. While the vast majority (82 percent) of respondents said homes are unaffordable for the majority of their neighbors, and identified homelessness as a burgeoning challenge across the region. But Angelenos split on questions about increased development, local control over housing approvals and homeless shelters, and the effects of gentrification.

“Los Angeles’s complicated relationship with housing and development is long-running, and it’s not going away any time soon,” said Brianne Gilbert, associate director of the Center. “Class and income are tied closely to how one feels about gentrification, NIMBYism, and affordable housing solutions. It’s a rare topic that’s divided so closely down the middle, and one that requires real leadership to help resolve.”

Other data from the survey:

  • One-quarter of respondents said someone in their household used marijuana in 2018, with that number spiking to 40 percent for the 18-29 age bracket. 61 percent said they support the state law legalizing recreational use of the substance.
  • Gun owners make up 19 percent of the Los Angeles County population, and they support tighter gun control laws. Among owners, 57 percent back more gun control, and 79 percent of those who don’t own guns want more regulation.
  • Even in our online era, television news dominates how most people in Los Angeles get their information. 53 percent said they most often get news from local or cable TV news broadcasts; 29 percent said social media and other online outlets, while 10 percent read newspapers (in print or online) and 9 percent chose radio.
  • When it comes to pets, Angelenos prefer dogs. The survey found 34 percent of respondents have dogs in their homes, 9 percent have cats, and 7 percent have cats and dogs together. Another 3 percent kept another animal as a pet.

The survey was conducted by telephone and online in January and February, among 1,000 Los Angeles city residents and 1,000 residents in the rest of Los Angeles County. The survey was translated and administered in Spanish, Mandarin and Korean, in addition to English. The margin of error is +/- 3.0 percent.

The survey results were released at a morning event at LMU today, when researchers from the Center for the Study of Los Angeles discussed their findings. The full report is available here.

Other speakers at the event included Most Rev. Jose H. Gomez, archbishop of Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva; Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas; and Maria Salinas, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.