CURes Blog

Social Science at CURes

The CURes team has been very active in social science research over the last months, working on multiple projects across a diverse range of topics.

Community Organization Studies with StudyLA

Southeast Cities of LA outline

Dr. Michele Romolini (CURes Director of Research) recently partnered with the LMU Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles (StudyLA) on two community studies. The first was in the Southeast Cities of Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Lynwood, Maywood, South Gate, and Vernon. The second was for the neighborhood of Pico-Union in East LA.

StudyLA is a public research organization recognized as a LA authority in public opinion surveys, exit polls, and leadership and community studies. StudyLA annually conducts work on LA voting patterns and the LA riots, typically working with undergraduate students to collect and analyze data. StudyLA identifies with LMU’s Jesuit mission and strives to provide meticulous data that can serve as a catalyst for positive social change.

StudyLA’s overall goal for the two projects was to provide a systematic and action-oriented assessment of leadership, research, collective action, and outcomes in two regions of Los Angeles County. The role of CURes was to conduct an inventory, survey, and analysis of the non-profit organizations and community groups operating in these areas. The survey questions were on organizational focus, age, location, and relationships to other groups, allowing preliminary network maps to be created.

The recently completed project provides a tool to assess each community’s resources. Given LA’s dynamic and ever-shifting social nature, understanding community-based organizations provides a framework for greater awareness of social issues and a neighborhood’s ability to respond to changes.

Silver Lake Reservoir Survey

CURes was recently awarded a contract by the Silver Lake Neighborhood Counsel to conduct a survey of resident opinions on the local reservoir. This will assist with neighborhood planning as community groups question the possible reservoir uses and development.

Located in East LA, Silver Lake has a population of approximately 33,000 people. According to the US Census, the neighborhood is 85.4% White, 6.9% Black or African American, and 3.3% Asian; 19.9% identify as Latinx. Beginning in the 1990s and continuing through today, Silver Lake has seen waves of gentrification that are altering the neighborhood’s composition.

Aerial shot of the Silver Lake reservoir

The Silver Lake Reservoir was created in the early 1990s and is operated by the LA Department of Water and Power. The reservoir has not supplied drinking water to the region since 2008. While there are several public areas surrounding the site, including a walking path and recreation center, some areas are closed due to possible safety concerns. Residents at community meetings expressed the desire to have more of the area open to the public; CURes’ social survey will help determine the understanding residents have for the reservoir including its current uses, possible safety issues, and future potential uses.

Arturo Jacobo (LMU ’20) is currently working on background research and framing for the survey through the Summer Undergraduate Research Program. In-person survey distribution will likely begin mid-summer.

Upcoming Research

Dr. Romolini and the rest of the CURes team have a few other social science projects coming up. First, Dr. Romolini is poised to receive a grant to create a STEW-MAP for the LA river to better understand the environmental groups working in the region. This is particularly relevant given the proposed development in that area. Next, Dr. Romolini will work with CURes students over the 2019 academic year to develop and implement a social survey as part of CURes’ ongoing coyote management project in Long Beach. This is intended to provide a sense of resident perceptions and understanding of urban predator behaviors, which will allow for informed community outreach and interventions. Finally, Dr. Romolini may conduct a survey in the Ballona Freshwater Marsh to enhance CURes’ monitoring efforts in that ecosystem, to better understand how visitors and residents view and interact with the marsh ecosystem.