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South LA's Island of Home Ownership, Neighborhood Pride

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The Los Angeles Times looks at all the reasons why a mile-wide section of South LA--from Hoover Street to Halldale Avenue and 73rd to 85th Street has a murder rate that's significantly lower (in this case, zero murders in the last three years) than neighboring areas. Describing the area as "an island encircled by the harsh realities of life in the urban core," the Times points to factors including private investment, the presence of a community-oriented church, and--heya!--home ownership. Via the paper: "Most streets are lined with modest but appealing single-family houses. Frontyards often have no fences, the lawns are green and well-maintained. The predominance of single-family homes instead of apartments means a less densely packed population and less turnover. And many in the neighborhood own their homes and have had roots in the area for generations. The result is a place where people know each other, have an emotional and financial investment and don't take kindly to anything that might disturb the peace. 'We gently urge people to get the outside of their homes together. And if they don't keep them nice we'll send them a little note,' said Lawrence Koonce Sr., who has lived on 81st Street for 43 years and is president of the local neighborhood watch group."
· Within South L.A.'s killing zone, a haven from violence [LA Times]