Selected 1990 Census data on comparable demographics for the City of Compton and unincorporated East Compton—now called East Rancho Dominguez

The present post serves as a hyperlinked footnote (“comparable demographics”) from this paragraph in my article titled, “My Afternoon Doing Urban Planning on the Ground in South Central Los Angeles,” to be published shortly in UrbDeZine:

Yet despite familiar appearances, ERD’s renaming was less a matter of “Compton stigma” and more about autonomy. Unlike the five cities who’d whitewashed Compton Boulevard from their maps, ERD reflected comparable demographics for African-American and Latino residents as the City of Compton. ERD wasn’t dissociating from the local populations; rather, it embraced them under a new, shared ethos within its borders. And while some stakeholders saw better economic development potential with the new name, backers argued that the rebrand would establish the autonomous identity rightly owed to this community. “I think we deserve it,” declared ERD leader Margaret Comer. These days, any definitive motivation for the name change remains up for debate – but what’s irrefutable is that this episode in local politics rendered publicly the fiercely independent spirit that defines East Rancho Dominguez.

The below chart includes selected 1990 Census data on those comparable demographics for the City of Compton and unincorporated East Compton—now called East Rancho Dominguez. The data are drawn from social, economic, population, and housing characteristics with the base geographic area of Place and County subdivision, 2,500 person or more.

Comparable 1990 Census Data for City of Compton and unincorporated East Compton


U.S. Census Bureau. 1990 Census of Housing. Detailed Housing Characteristics. California. Retrieved from:

U.S. Census Bureau. 1990 Census of Population. Social and Economic Characteristics. California. Retrieved from:




Mutual Aid at Lunchtime

Read my latest piece, “Mutual Aid at Lunchtime,” published Dec. 6, 2017 in Cultural Weekly.

It’s a concise but expository look at my unorthodox urban planning outreach tactics. I cover planning in plain language, burritos, and the anarchist philosopher Peter Kropotkin in less than 1000 words!

A Street-Level View of Informal Housing in the Context of California’s Housing Crisis: Considerations for Policy & Planning

A Street-Level View of Informal Housing in the Context of California's Housing Crisis: Considerations for Policy & Planning, Cal Poly Pomona, Jonathan P. Bell, Nov 14, 2017
A Street-Level View of Informal Housing in the Context of California’s Housing Crisis: Considerations for Policy & Planning, Cal Poly Pomona, Jonathan P. Bell, Nov 14, 2017

I’m delivering the talk “A Street-Level View of Informal Housing in the Context of California’s Housing Crisis: Considerations for Policy & Planning” in Dr. Alvaro Huerta’s class Nov. 14 at .

Alvaro and I were MAUP classmates at


Placemaking through Partnerships in Florence-Fireston (for social media)

I am delivering the talk “Placemaking Through Partnerships in Florence-Firestone” at the California Library Association 2017 Conference *New Worlds Emerge*, Nov. 3, 2017 at 3:30 p.m. We will celebrate the history, meaning and future of the unincorporated community of Florence-Firestone in South Central Los Angeles! The talk is sponsored by our friends at the CLA Special Libraries Interest Group. Much love.

South Central Los Angeles evokes many images, associations, and assumptions. For too long, negative portrayals in the media have influenced these notions. The presenter will tell the story of a unique partnership that challenged these stereotypes in the unincorporated community of Florence-Firestone in South Central. Through a creative placemaking project called the Some Place Chronicles, community leaders, artists, and employees from the County of Los Angeles Public Library, Department of Regional Planning, and Arts Commission collaborated to write A Paseo Through Time in Florence-Firestone, the first-ever published history book on this rich and diverse neighborhood. Attendees will learn how the partnership tapped into archival materials, community memory, and lived experience to produce an uplifting representation of Florence-Firestone and South Central L.A. The session will be instructive to librarians, archivists, and other information professionals engaged in local history and neighborhood empowerment initiatives, especially in underserved communities of color.


Pasadena’s ADU Ordinance Remains Broken. Here’s How to Fix it.

Pasadena ADU Ordinance Update Community Meeting

I was unable to attend tonight’s ADU ordinance community meeting hosted by Pasadena Planning Department. In lieu of in-person commentary, I emailed this public comment letter to staff.

My position hasn’t changed from June 19, 2017, when Pasadena City Council voted against a comprehensive ADU ordinance update advanced by our housing coalition. 

As it stands today, Pasadena’s ADU ordinance remains broken. But we can fix it. The Pasadena City Council must drop its excessively-cautious, comfy-centrist, shortsighted, nostalgic, legally dubious, “I only wanna maintain votes in my SFR zones” mentality, and instead adopt a comprehensive ADU ordinance update that provides a safe and legal pathway for ADUs for working folks. 

We Cannot Plan From Our Desks!

I still have that tagger instinct to leave a mark in conspicuous & faraway places.




Designing Housing Solutions workshop @ #APACA2017

California’s housing crisis is at a breaking point. We need new ideas and strategies — now! Planners, urbanists, policymakers, designers, students: you’re invited to this innovative workshop where we’ll tap into your memories and experiences to design new housing solutions.

Designing Housing Solutions

2017 APA CA Conference Sacramento

Tuesday, Sept 26, 2017

8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.


OVERVIEW: The workshop will tap into the diverse experience and expertise of attending planners to collaborate and design comprehensive housing solutions. The facilitated exercise will bring together a diversity of perspectives to explore new housing typologies that expand choice, encourage affordability, and specifically address the risk of informal dwelling units.

ABSTRACT: The lack of affordable housing in California has reached crisis levels. Among the many consequences is the rash of hazardous incidents happening in unpermitted dwellings. As the tragic warehouse fire in Oakland recently illustrated, unpermitted housing happens across the State at various scales. With no sign of housing demand softening, there is an urgent need to investigate housing supply. While Los Angeles’ recent Proposition JJJ creates a de facto inclusionary zoning policy, no blanket approach exists to address the regulatory, cultural, design, and financing issues associated with housing policy.

The Designing Housing Solutions workshop will facilitate two interactive engagement activities where professionals design and prototype new and diverse housing typologies (co-housing, farm worker housing, artist housing, garage conversions, senior housing, ADUs, etc). The workshop creates a safe space for attending planners to nurture ideas, communicate through storytelling and collaborate. Participants will engage through memory, art and play to better understand themselves and the State’s housing assets, needs and challenges.
This input will launch a conversation that will inform future research, as well as generate ideas that address spatial values impacting housing’s urban design, zoning and planning. The workshop will consider how shared ideas can help create more inclusive spaces.

◦ Gunnar Hand, Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill, LLP

◦ Jonathan P. Bell, County of Los Angeles, Dept. of Regional Planning

◦ James Rojas, Place It! & Latino Urban Forum

◦ Fay Darmawi, Affordable Housing Finance and Consulting

◦ Connie Chung, County of Los Angeles, Dept. of Regional Planning

◦ Cathy E. Creswell, Creswell Consulting