Is Downtown LA Safe?

Downtown LA has always been at the center of the Los Angeles homeless crisis and the pandemic has only exacerbated the issue. Skid Row, the epicenter of homelessness in Los Angeles, has swelled outwards and views of the city had been replaced by sidewalks overflowing with tents, trash, drug use, crime, human waste and disorder.

If you are thinking about visiting DTLA and have some concerns about your safety, we got you covered. We are going to layout the good and bad parts of Downtown and talk to residents of the neighborhood to give you a better understanding of how safe Downtown really is.

Is Downtown LA safe to visit now?

is downtown la safe

Downtown LA is safe to visit now as long as you are stay out of the dangerous neighborhoods and are vigilant of your surroundings.

While most of Downtown LA is safe to visit during the daytime, certain neighborhoods become desolate at night and can feel sketchy and can be dangerous.

(Related: The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In California)

What are the safest areas of Downtown LA?

The safest areas in Downtown LA are the Arts District, Bunker Hill, the Financial District, Little Tokyo, Chinatown and South Park.

The Fashion district, Industrial District and the Historic Core are generally safe areas during the daytime, however it can get sketchy at night as everything closes and the area becomes desolate. Similarly, the area south of the Staples Center is sketchy at night too.

downtown la neighborhoods

(photo: Craig Thomas Realtor)

What is the most dangerous areas of Downtown LA?

skid row los angeles

Skid Row is the most dangerous area of Downtown LA and is figuratively hell on Earth.

It is a 54 block area that is bounded by 3rd street, 7th street, Alameda and Main st and has often been named the “seediest place in America”

Skid Row is a lawless sea of homeless people, drug addicts, drug dealers, and people suffering from various mental illness. Crime is rampant, drug use is freely used in the open and their is human waste strewn through throughout the whole area.

It is unthinkable that something like Skid Row could exist in a first world country and there is absolutely no reason you should visit Skid Row. There is nothing to see except for suffering.

skid row - downtown la

What do residents of Downtown LA say about it’s safety?

  1. Most of Downtown is fine. The one area I’d be worried about is Skid Row.
  2. I live in downtown and it is very sketchy. There are crazy people on every corner on drugs. Homeless people often block the street, harassing you and throw things. My car got broken into in my own garage.
  3. The people that talk about Downtown with rose colored glasses are people who only come down here once a month and for a couple of hours to have dinner. They don’t actually live and see the day to day craziness that go on here.
  4. The pandemic really fucked up DTLA. It has gotten significantly worse with crime and homeless people.
  5. Skid Row is the most dangerous part of Downtown. People freely buying and using drugs in the open. Stabbing, shootings and murder is not uncommon. And there is human waste strewn about everywhere. There is also an outbreaks of drug resistant staph infections in the area.
  6. Downtown LA varies from block to block – one street can be perfectly fine and the next one can be sketchy. You have to pay attention to your surroundings. When you start to see tents everywhere, you are going in the WRONG direction. Turn back.
  7. Downtown L.A. right now is beginning to get that 80s NYC vibe.
  8. The biggest problem in Downtown LA is the homeless population. Most of them are on drugs, mentally ill or most likely both. It’s hard to decipher when one might slide from nonsensical jabbering into something more erratic and dangerous.
  9. Downtown can vary block-by-block. Just be vigilant of your surroundings and stay out of Skid Row and you should be good.
  10. The homelessness situation in DTLA is dire. I’ve grown up in run-down parts of NYC, I have lived in the Tenderloin. I’m used to seeing urban suffering. But the homelessness situation down here is so widespread, there’s just no escaping it or ignoring it.

Is Downtown LA safe at night?

Downtown LA is generally safe at night as long as you avoid the problem areas and stay in well lit and well populated areas.

You are inviting trouble if you step into the Skid Row vicinity. Make sure you know the boundaries of Skid Row and stay out there.

LA isn’t a great city to not have a car, especially at night. Drive, take an Uber or get a taxi to get to your destination. Do not walk long distances in Downtown at night!

Is Downtown LA safe for a woman?

Downtown LA is generally a safe for a woman traveling alone as long as you stay out of the problem areas and avoid walking far distances at night by yourself.

You should also know how to handle people that sometimes approach you. Don’t engage with people who try to stop you on the street. Just keep walking, say nothing or say "no, thank you."

Is parking in Downtown LA safe?

You are at risk for a break-in almost anywhere you park in downtown. You can minimize the risk by having nothing visible in your car, parking in designated parking garages or lots, or not driving at all and opting for a ride sharing service instead.

Is Downtown LA worth visiting?

Downtown LA is absolutely worth visiting. It is rich with history, architecture, sights, sounds, food and entertainment. And you can definitely have a safe visit as long as you utilize street smarts and stay out of certain areas.

Tips to stay safe while visiting Downtown LA

  • Familiarize yourself with the layout of Downtown LA and avoid going to the sketchy areas at night.
  • Project confidence, stand up straight, walk decisively, keep your eyes up and constantly scanning.
  • Always pay attention to your surroundings. Don’t wear headphones or mindlessly scroll Instagram. Be alert.
  • Don’t leave your drink unattended at any time.
  • Trust your gut. If a situation feels off, turn around and leave. Remove yourself from that situation.
  • There’s no need to be polite if someone is making you feel uncomfortable. Get up and move or walk to the other side of the street.
  • Don’t engage with the homeless or mentally ill people. Avoid eye contact and just keep walking.
  • Don’t leave your car overnight downtown no matter what.
  • Busy areas with people are safer than streets with no people.
  • Plan out your routes and know where you are going beforehand.
  • Save the sightseeing for the daytime. Downtown LA is not a place you want to wander around aimlessly at night.
  • Do not advertise your wealth. Leave the flashy watches, chains and purses at home.
  • Do not stare at homeless people and don’t take pictures and videos. Be respectful around them and you should be able to mitigate your chances of an unfortunate encounter.

Mariska Lee

Mariska is a recovering attorney who gave up her professional job to discover new perspectives of life while traveling in a 2009 Ford Transit. She has been living the van life for 3 years and has not looked back since.

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