Sidewalk Heart

I find new ways to break down complex topics so they’re easy to understand, often through diverse forms of storytelling. 

Packed In: Overcrowding in Los Angeles Has Brought Death by Design

Los Angeles Times, October 19, 2022

It’s the cruel paradox at the center of housing in Los Angeles. L.A. is known worldwide as the capital of single-family-home sprawl. Yet for three decades, it has had the most overcrowded housing among large counties in the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the fatal consequences, with death rates in L.A.’s most overcrowded neighborhoods at least twice as high as in those with ample housing.

It didn’t have to be this way.

The crowded conditions have been a century in the making, with local leaders designing Los Angeles so that these circumstances became inevitable.

My colleagues and I spent more than a year for this series delving into the history of Los Angeles to understand how the region’s repeated disregarding of poor Latino immigrant workers and their families led to widespread overcrowding.

Series landing page: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-10-19/packed-in-overcrowded-housing-los-angeles

The main story: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-10-19/los-angeles-history-overcrowding-united-states

One family’s desperate act to escape overcrowded housing in L.A.: https://www.latimes.com/homeless-housing/story/2022-10-19/los-angeles-overcrowding-housing-one-family

Why it’s so hard to fix housing overcrowding in Los Angeles: https://www.latimes.com/homeless-housing/story/2022-10-19/overcrowding-los-angeles-housing-fix

A century of overcrowded homes: How we reported the story: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-10-19/overcrowded-los-angeles-homes-reporting

Podcast: https://www.latimes.com/podcasts/story/2022-10-19/the-times-podcast-los-angeles-overcrowding

To fix overcrowding in L.A., build more housing, mayoral candidates say: https://www.latimes.com/homeless-housing/story/2022-11-01/overcrowding-housing-la-bass-caruso

Affordable housing can cost $1 million per apartment to build in California

Los Angeles Times, April 9, 2020

California has a deep shortage of available housing, particularly for low-income families. One major challenge to fixing the problem is that it’s more expensive to build affordable housing than anywhere else in the country.

We found one project that cost more than $1 million per apartment to build and showed that decisions made by the state government and cities were the key drivers of why it’s more costly in California than elsewhere.

The story: https://www.latimes.com/homeless-housing/story/2020-04-09/california-low-income-housing-expensive-apartment-coronavirus

Here’s how California became the most secretive state on police misconduct

Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2018

California’s laws restricting public access to police misconduct information are the nation’s strictest. This story detailed how they became that way, starting with the shocking story of the Los Angeles Police Department shredding four tons of internal records in the 1970s, and why police union power at the state Capitol ensures they persist. Weeks after the story published, state lawmakers passed legislation to begin to unwind the secrecy rules for the first time and the governor signed it into law.

The story: https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-me-california-police-discipline-secret-20180815-story.html

The follow ups: https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-police-transparency-bill-passes-20180831-story.html & https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-police-misconduct-rules-changed-20180930-story.html

California won’t meet its climate change goals without a lot more housing density in its cities

Los Angeles Times, March 6, 2017

California’s ambitious climate change goals often are described in terms of the need for huge numbers of electric cars and solar panels. But this story for the first time described in a comprehensive way how Californians will need to change how and where they live, packing into higher-density cities at a rate not seen since World War II to meet the environmental goals.

The story: https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-housing-climate-change-goals-20170306-story.html