L.A. Times Launches ‘Shape Your L.A.’ Civic Engagement Tool

Illustration of City Hall
A new tool by the Los Angeles Times helps Angelenos get involved in their communities.
(L.A. Times)

The Los Angeles Times has launched a new civic engagement tool that shows Angelenos how to get involved in their communities.

Dubbed “the people’s guide to power,” Shape Your L.A. allows users to type in their address and get maps and relevant information about their local government and institutions, and how to contact their representatives in the state capitol and Washington, D.C.

“We’re trying to demystify everything that is confusing and intimidating about L.A.,” said Times Utility Journalism Editor Matt Ballinger, who edited the project, which was spearheaded by the data and graphics and design teams.


The tool is launching with a focus on three topics of high interest to Times readers: voting, police and crime, and housing and homelessness. In addition, slideshow explainers take readers through user-friendly summaries of complex civic engagement issues, including the differences between elected officials in city and county government.

“One thing readers tell us over and over again is that they want to know how to get involved in their communities and government at the smallest possible level,” Ballinger noted. “While they get information every day on topics like the status of the classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, they don’t know how to go about getting a speed bump put on their street or helping someone who’s struggling with homelessness. That’s what this app is all about.”

Ballinger said the team wanted to debut the tool before the Nov. 8 general election and believes it will be even more useful afterwards. “People are going to have new council members and newly-drawn districts, so the app will tell them how to jump in and get involved.”

Deputy Design Director for Digital Projects Alex Tatusian said the tool will continually evolve as the team receives input from readers. “We have a robust feedback form that will allow for readers to guide the product with the issues and features they’re most interested in seeing in future iterations,” he said.

Learn more and explore the new tool at