Los Angeles and Safety

My son is moving to Los Angeles (for movie industry) and currently looking in the Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw area (in the general vicinity of Rodeo Rd and La Brea Ave).

I’ve looked at the crime stats and it looks like it’s not the worst choice for LA, but I can’t really tell if it’s an ok spot or not.

I would appreciate any thoughts/opinions on which areas are better than others, whether this one is ok (given that he and his friends can’t afford much, just getting started etc.). and pretty much anything else to help him not make a mistake when choosing where to live down there.


I think of Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw area as a solidly middle class bedroom community that is predominately African American. It’s close to Culver City, which is one of the entertainment business hubs. But it’s really not central to the action. I would head toward Santa Monica/Venice - lot’s of apartment living, might as well be near the beach! Hollywood proper has lot’s of apartment living also, and is close to studios.

I concur.

Santa Monica and Venice might be a bit pricy. Beach communities, you know. I lived on the corner of Clarington and Palms. This is the City of Los Angeles, but is virtually a part of Culver City. It’s far enough west that it doesn’t get too hot (well, yes it does; but I’m a cool weather person so I’m biased) like communities farther east. Rent was more than a lot of areas, but cheaper than the beach. It seemed to take 20 minutes to go anywhere – LA, Hollywood, Santa Monica… Of course you can get around quicker on a motorcycle. :wink:

Do you think the Santa Monica area is safer than Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw? About the same?

Is Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw safe enough that it shouldn’t be crossed off the list due to safety?

That is an extremely difficult question to answer. In general, I would rank the areas equal. However, any given couple of blocks could be better or worse than others. You really have to go to the specific areas and look around.

His friend is down there now scoping out areas but he’s never been to L.A. before - would it be obvious to the untrained eye what to look for when determining safety of an area?

Well, obviously anything bad can happen anywhere.
However, a friend of mine lived in that area for many years - she is black and had no problems whatsoever.

It certainly wouldn’t be an area where I would be interested in living - I would suggest West Hollywood - but it isn’t easy to find “cheap” rent in WeHo unless maybe getting a roommate. Note that I said WEST Hollywood, and not “Hollywood”, which is nice in a few parts but also pretty odd and not so great in most other parts.

My guess is that after he lives wherever for a short time, he will get the lay of the land and probably move again. My two cents: have him look around a bit more and check out some other areas of LA.

The key factor is budget. If you ain’t got the bucks, you are up a creek as far as finding something nice, safe and close to the action. Otherwise, you are sort of stuck going where the cheap apartments are located, which usually is a crappy part of town - pretty much the same story as any large urban area.

Can you cough up some extra funds for perhaps the first six months, allowing a better choice, at least until he has time to meet others and maybe get a lead on a better, inexpensive apartment once he has time to discover the area?

As Icarus said, Baldwin Hills and Crenshaw are predominantly African-American communities. I heard that Baldwin Hills was ‘The Black Beverly Hills’ in the days of segregation. During my time in L.A., I never had cause to go there; so I can’t say what it’s really like. My impression is that at least parts of it are very nice. I don’t remember hearing of many or any crimes happening there, but I may not have been paying attention. The best thing to do would be for your son to check it out, and see if he likes it.

Venice can be a bit dicey in some parts, but it’s a great area for weirdness. :slight_smile: Santa Monica is more upscale. A g/f lived in Santa Monica on 14th St. and Santa Monica Blvd. Lower-rent area, and the bar across the parking lot often kept her up at night. But I don’t know anyone who has felt unsafe there or Baldwin Hills.

Generally speaking, west of the 405 north of LAX are the better areas. East of the 405, north of Jefferson, and west of La Cienega are good too. (Beverly Hills is in that area.) El Segundo (south of LAX) and Westchester (north of LAX) are bedroom communities that seem pretty nice. (The g/f’s sister and her family lived in Westchester.) Hollywood and West Hollywood have good places and less-good places. A friend lives in West Hollywood and likes it there. Neither he nor his wife are ones who would live in an unsafe area.

I moved away at the end of 2003, so someone with more recent experience will have better information.

Santa Monica is somewhat safer than Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw, but I wouldn’t cross the latter off the list.

But, as people have said, Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw is kind of out of the flow of things. It’s not too far away from Sony Studios in Culver City, but other than than it’s not a great location for working in the industry. There’s also not a lot there for a group of young single guys to DO. The action is up in Hollywood or out in Venice/Santa Monica. BH/C is a bedroom community.

They might be thinking: “We’ll live someplace cheap and then hang out in the cooler parts of town!” But what they may not realize is that getting around in L.A. is hard! Traffic is so bad that neighborhoods wind up being more insular and self-contained than they are in a lot of cities. If you live in Baldwin Hills you won’t spend a lot of time hanging out up on Sunset, simply because it’s such a pain in the ass to get there.

Anyone living in the greater LA area should be concerned about security no matter where they live. You don’t leave your house, apartment, car or bicycle unlocked, and every stranger you meet may not be your friend. Forget public transportation, a car is a must. Other than that, it can be a great place to live!

Baldwin Hill is eminently safe. There are many upper class and wealthy people who live in the are and it’s heavily patrolled by the police (I know a person who lives there) so it’s actually safer than many areas of Metro LA.

With deference to people who claim that Santa Monica is “safer”: I’d disagree. Santa Monica has large homeless population which can make walking along the boardwalk and the beach an exercise in tolerance. It also has a large population of drug users/sellers and a lot of burglaries as a result.

My advice: If someone is moving to LA, unless they know someone out there and can live with them until they learn the area, it might be better if they travel out there for a few months get to know the area first and THEN move to a place which they find is best suited to their needs.

Thanks for the replies, this is all very helpful.

Something I noticed when looking at the LA Times crime map is that all the crime in Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw seems to be between La Brea and MLK jr which is where they would be.

I’ve lived and worked in the Santa Monica area, and I’ve driven around in Baldwin Hills. My non-scientific assessment is that Baldwin Hills seemed “safer” in the same sense that nevadaexile mentions: there are a lot of randoms and homeless people in Santa Monica. I never felt unsafe there at all, but Baldwin Hills is a nice, very quiet, suburban-type neighborhood, whereas Santa Monica is more “city-like.”

That said, if I were a single person, I’d go with Santa Monica or Venice any day, for proximity to things to do. While it’s not as safe/quiet as Baldwin Hills, I don’t think it’s objectively very dangerous, and it’s a lot of fun.

I would not overlook the south bay area starting about 15 miles south of Los Angeles along the coast. Nice wether reasonable rents and very safe.

The parts of the South Bay that you choose will wildly vary in rent prices. Manhattan Beach is really expensive. Parts of Redondo Beach can be iffy, and the coastal parts can be expensive. Torrance is further south but very nice. I lived in Torrance and Lomita for over 20 years, it’s safe and comfortable.

I lived in the Little Armenia section of town for a summer and felt safe there in the daytime. It was a little iffy at night. (FWIW, I was a single woman living alone and stayed in after dark.) I was on North Ardmore, a few blocks south of Santa Monica Blvd. Unfortunately, I was in a sublet so I had to move when the actual renter’s lease ended. This was 2006 and I was paying $700+ for a place with a bed/living room, kitchen, bath, and off-street, gated parking.

I later moved to a house on Meadowbrook Ave, just above Pico Blvd. I was coming and going at all hours of the day and night and never felt scared. Either I was safe or I was incredibly naive. Either way, I was happy.

I have to say that in my 30 years of living in LA (Hollywood, North Hollywood, Los Feliz, Santa Monica) I never was mugged, personally assaulted, or carjacked. However, I was burglarized (car and home) numerous times, and had vagrants (most likely wetbacks) camping in my garage without my knowledge. This stopped only when I hired a security service for 24 hour patrol and installed a fancy alarm system. I would never live there again without it.



I certainly understand your ire at finding that unauthorized persons had used your garage as a temporary living space. But wetback is a slur, an offensive term. Perhaps there’s a better way of expressing your ire?

Yes, “wetbacks” has been offensive for at least the last 40 years. Since you qualified it with “most likely” (meaning I’m guessing that you aren’t certain) isn’t it just as likely that the homeless could have been White, Black or any other race?

Most of the homeless people who I have seen in the LA Basin have been White.

Highly unlikely that homeless squatters in any of these areas speak any other language than Spanish, and since the underground alien pipeline seemed to run through my back yard, my guess is no.

And not everyone finds “wetback” offensive. I most heard it used by a Mexican acquaintance of mine who liked to come in to the bar, out of the rain, wearing a traditional serape. “See?” he would say, encouraging everyone to slap him on the back, “I’m a wetback!”