Los Angeles is a city divided up unequally among the rich and the not-rich, just like every other city, but the pattern of those divisions is the reverse of the pattern in most US cities: in traditional industrial metros like New York and Boston, the well-off live in city centers and near transit. In Los Angeles, they live in the mountains and along the beaches, nearly forming a ring around the less well-off. You can see this pattern in the latest report from creative class whisperer (™ Curbed SF) Richard Florida and the Martin Prosperity Institute, released this week at LA's CityLab conference, which shows that where the rich choose to live determines where everyone else lives too.
Florida is known for his work regarding the "creative class," or people in jobs that tend to pay well and generally require college educations (i.e., the wealthy); in this report, he also looks at the poor service class and the middle-ish blue-collar working class. The working class, it finds, is disappearing in Los Angeles: working class workers account for a below-average 19.5 percent of LA's workforce (making an average $37,066) and are the majority in only 2.1 percent of LA's census tracts ("the smatterings of blue that can be seen around downtown, in the northeast near Burbank, and south in the Compton and Long Beach areas").
Meanwhile, 22 percent of census tracts are dominated by creative class workers. They make up 34.1 percent of LA's workforce, slightly above the national average, and they're earning an average of $80,859 per year, which is well above the national average. More than half of the creative class live in neighborhoods that are predominated by the creative class (compare to 13.3 percent of working class workers living in predominantly working class neighborhoods). As you can see from the maps: "A major creative class cluster stretches from Hollywood, Bel Air, and Westwood, where UCLA is located, to the beach community of Venice. There is a small cluster near downtown, especially around USC."
Then there's the enormous, poorly paid service class, with 46.3 percent of all LA workers (earning an average $32,367 per year, or 40 percent of what the LA creative class is making). Unlike the working class, they have their own enclaves—68 percent of service class workers in LA live in areas that are predominantly service class, mostly "on the periphery of the major creative class clusters in North Hollywood, further out in Reseda, and in the neighborhoods between Hollywood and downtown."
The pattern is a little different than it is back East, but, as Florida writes on CityLab, the distribution of class around LA and everywhere else is "driven by the location choices and imperatives of the advantaged creative class, which occupies the most economically functional and desirable areas."
· The Divided City [Curbed LA]