All this is remarkable because until recently, nobody lived downtown except on Skid Row, where about 13,000 drug-addicted, mentally ill or poor people crash in flophouses, homeless shelters and on the streets. Skid Row remains the supreme challenge for revitalization -- and the source of guilt and rancor as the two downtowns alternatively coexist or collide.And how's that working out? The LA Daily News has some additional info. For the past year, the LAPD has flooded Skid Row with dozens of additional officers. According to a recent UCLA study, crime in the area has dropped 40 percent, but it has also increased in the surrounding areas, as the police sweeps push both the homeless and other folks elsewhere. What's more, of the 1000 citations now given out each month, most are for minor infractions like loitering or jaywalking. "Good, good," one might say, "'broken windows' policing in action." Except that many Skid Row denizens can't pay the fine, and then get sent to jail, which in turn makes them ineligible for housing. Not so good.
The friction has increased as police have stepped up arrests for drug use and petty crime in an attempt to bring order to the wild open-air dope bazaars and homeless camps.