NOTE: This article was originally published by our media partner LAist on May 30.

At LAist, we want our journalism to help you both navigate complex processes and give you a path to effect change on the issues that matter to you most.

Our coverage of the new mayoral administration is no exception.

But first, we needed to hear from you. That’s why we launched a 12-question survey during L.A. Mayor Karen Bass’ first three months in office to understand what you think her administration should tackle first.

About the survey

We heard from 4,339 individuals from across the city; San Pedro to Santa Clarita, South Los Angeles to the San Gabriel Valley and more. The survey was open from Dec. 12 to March 12.

We have a complete demographic breakdown of survey respondents below. As you read the responses, keep in mind that LAist asks how people describe their race and ethnicity and whether they identify as Latino/a as separate questions, mirroring the way the U.S. Census collects this data.

A couple of caveats: This is not a scientific survey, nor is it a comprehensive picture of how all Angelenos are feeling about the state of L.A. We did work hard to make sure we heard from people across the city’s diverse communities and geography, but we want to be transparent that this is not a fully representative sample.

We asked these questions to equip our reporters and editors with insights as they cover the Bass administration, from the voices they should keep in mind as they report stories, as well as which topics and concerns are pressing for the people living here.

You can find our full list of questions at the bottom of this page.

What we learned overall

From the results, it was clear that respondents were able to differentiate between what caused them stress in their own lives and which issues they believe need Mayor Bass’ immediate attention:

  • 63% of respondents cited homelessness as the top issue for Bass to prioritize, even though only 33% cited homelessness as their biggest personal stressor.

Throughout the entire survey, concern about finding a solution to the homelessness crisis was clear. For Angelenos, the credibility of the mayor and her administration rests on making progress on this humanitarian crisis — which respondents made clear is both urgent and top of mind.

Addressing homelessness is the top priority

Two-thirds of respondents say Bass needs to prioritize addressing homelessness

The first question we asked was, “Which issues in L.A. most urgently need Mayor Bass’ attention?”

As we noted, 63% of respondents cited homelessness as the top issue for Bass to prioritize — more than double the percentage of Angelenos (25%) urging her to prioritize housing affordability. Public safety was not far behind, at 19%. Even when we broke down the responses by race and ethnicity and age, there was little variation in the top issue.

This was an open-ended question in which respondents could cite more than one issue.

A Flourish data visualization

What’s causing the most personal stress

Homelessness causes the most stress on a personal level — but housing affordability and public safety aren’t far behind.

When asked what issue causes them the most stress personally, 33% cited homelessness. This was a multiple-choice question in which respondents could select just one of the following options: climate change, commuting, education and public schools, homelessness, housing affordability, inflation and the economy, public health, or public safety (participants could also specify other personal stressors via an “other” option).

While homelessness remained the top issue among respondents of most races, those who identified as Black or Native American/Indigenous said housing affordability was the top issue.

You can also see differences when you break down the answers to this question by whether someone identified as a renter or homeowner. For example, homeowners were much more concerned with homelessness and public safety than renters, but renters were much more concerned with housing affordability.

A Flourish data visualization

In a follow-up question, we asked respondents why they selected that issue as their top personal stressor.

Among those who selected homelessness, we heard …

  • They felt less safe in L.A. because of homelessness.  
  • Seeing so many unhoused Angelenos was stressful to them. 
  • Homelessness was a public health issue that affected them.  

Among those who selected housing affordability, we heard …

  • People’s lives feel precarious because of how much of their income goes to rent. Many said they felt like they could easily end up experiencing homelessness.   
  • That they were frustrated that even if they did things “right” (got a college degree, had a good job, lived in a dual-income home), they still couldn’t afford to buy a home or rent a home that met their needs. 
  • They were upset that they might have to leave the neighborhood or city they grew up in to realize goals such as owning a home or raising a family. 

Among those who selected public safety, we heard …

  • Many respondents simply stated that they don’t feel safe in L.A. and that they fear for the safety of their families.  
  • They are uneasy because they believe that crime rates are rising. Some say they feel L.A. is too easy on crime.  
  • Some feel unsafe on public transit, and unsafe on roads, citing hit-and-runs and reckless driving.  

From the beginning of 2023 through mid-May, L.A. Police Department statistics show that violent crime is down 23% and homicide is down 27% compared with the same period in 2021. Property crime is up 16% year-to-date compared with two years ago, although it’s down 2% compared with the same time period last year.

Note: Historically, crime remains significantly lower than its all-time high in the early ’90s when more than 1,000 homicides were reported at the peak in 1992 — compared to 382 homicides in 2022. Here’s a look at crime trends over time:

Angelenos want Bass to listen and be available

Fewer people answered the open-ended question of what advice they have for Mayor Bass, but of the nearly 4,000 people who provided an answer, 570 urged her to listen to community members. Only variations on “address homelessness” received more responses.

More than 100 individuals urged her to keep her campaign promises. LAist is committed to helping Angelenos follow Bass’ progress on her campaign promises to address the homelessness crisis.

Promise Tracker

Mayor Bass promised to house 17,000 Angelenos during her first year in office. How’s she doing so far? Our Promise Tracker is keeping tabs on Bass’ progress tackling homelessness in L.A.

Check on her progress.

That’s why we launched our promise tracker, which will track the Bass administration’s progress on their campaign promises to address the homelessness crisis.

More than half would consider leaving L.A.

There was a general pessimism among respondents about where L.A. is headed. When asked, “What is L.A. getting right?” the most frequent answer was some variation of “Nothing” at 27% — more than 1,000 respondents.

18% of respondents left this question blank. 9% cited transportation in some way. 7% cited L.A.’s diversity and culture. 5% of Angelenos think the city is getting its approach to homelessness right, rounding out the top five responses.

When asked, “How often do you consider moving away from L.A.?” 8% said they are planning to move away, 31% selected “often,” and 32% selected “sometimes.” Among those who said they were planning to move away or often or sometimes considered it, the most common reasons were:

  • Public safety  
  • Homelessness
  • Housing affordability and overall cost of living

A Flourish data visualization

Who responded

We heard from 4,339 respondents. Below, you can see who we heard from. At LAist, we ask people about their race and ethnicity separately from asking whether they identify as Latino/Latina. This is the same way the U.S. census asks these questions. In addition to asking these typical demographic questions, we also asked respondents whether a series of descriptors — such as renter, homeowner, and educator — described them.

A Flourish data visualization

The questions we asked

  1. What issues in L.A. most urgently need Mayor Karen Bass’ attention? (Open-ended question)
  2. Which of the following causes you the most stress personally? (Single-select, multiple-choice question)
    1. Climate Change  
    2. Commuting
    3. Education and public schools 
    4. Homelessness 
    5. Housing affordability  
    6. Inflation and the economy  
    7. Public health 
    8. Public safety  
    9. Other  
  3. Why does this cause you the most stress? (Open-ended question)
  4. Do any of the following describe you? (Multi-select, multiple-choice question)
    1. Worried about being able to afford staying in my home  
    2. Experiencing homelessness 
    3. Renter  
    4. Homeowner  
    5. K-12 student  
    6. College/university student  
    7. Parent of a child under 18  
    8. Activist or organizer  
    9. Local government employee  
    10. Educator  
    11. Work in the entertainment industry  
    12. Voted in the Nov. 8 election  
  5. What advice do you have for Mayor Karen Bass?(Open-ended question)
  6. What questions do you have for Mayor Karen Bass? (Open-ended question)
  7. What is L.A. getting right? (Open-ended question)
  8. Do you live or work in Los Angeles? (Single-select, multiple-choice question)
    1. I live in the city of L.A. 
    2. I work in the city of L.A. 
    3. I live and work in the city of L.A.  
    4. I don’t live or work in the city of L.A. 
  9. How long have you lived in L.A. County? (Single-select, multiple-choice question)
    1. Less than two years  
    2. 2 to 5 years 
    3. 5 to 15 years 
    4. 15 to 30 years 
    5. 30+ years 
  10. How often did you seriously consider moving away from L.A. in the last year? (Single-select, multiple-choice question)
    1. Never 
    2. Sometimes 
    3. Often  
    4. I’m planning to move away  
  11. What questions do you have about how the city of L.A. works? (Open-ended question)
  12. What is your ZIP code? (Open-ended question)
  13. What is your birth year? (Open-ended question)
  14. Do you identify as Latino/a? (Single-select, multiple-choice question)
    1. Yes  
    2. No 
    3. Decline to answer  
  15. How do you describe your race or ethnicity? (Single-select, multiple-choice question)
    1. Asian  
    2. Black  
    3. Hawaiian/Pacific Islander  
    4. Middle Eastern/North African  
    5. Native American/Indigenous  
    6. White  
    7. Biracial or Multiracial  
    8. Decline to answer  
  16. How do you describe your gender? (Multi-select, multiple-choice question)
    1. Female  
    2. Male  
    3. Nonbinary  
    4. Transgender  
    5. Cisgender  
    6. Decline to answer 

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