Los Angeles Transportation Facts and Fiction: Smog

INSERT DESCRIPTIONJamie Rector for The New York Times Los Angeles

As part of an ongoing quiz about transportation in Los Angeles, in the last post I challenged the notion that the city is sprawling. But sprawl or no, Los Angeles’s air is choked with its world-famous smog. Isn’t it?

Answer: A half-truth.

Facts and Fiction

Eric Morris discusses stereotypes about Los Angeles transportation in this six-part series.

Thanks to clear and sunny skies, warm temperatures, stable air, and an onshore sea-breeze, the Los Angeles area is an outstanding natural smog cooker.

Indeed, air pollution in the region long predates the arrival of the automobile. In 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the first European to lay eyes on Santa Monica Bay, saw the area shrouded in smog from native campfires and named it the Bay of Smoke.

Now, 450 years later, no one is rushing to rechristen it the Bay of Healthfulness. Each year, Los Angeles violates the national air-quality standards for ozone by a factor of more than two. Moreover, Los Angeles has serious problems with fine particles (PM2.5). This is especially true near the city’s ports, where thousands of trucks spew diesel exhaust that we Angelenos breathe so that those of you in the rest of the nation can enjoy the imports from Asia that underpin your standard of living.

But while the situation is far from ideal, the numbers from the California Air Resources Board make it clear that Los Angeles has come a remarkably long way toward cleaning up the air.

In 1979, the South Coast Air Basin (of which Los Angeles is a part) experienced 228 days above the state one-hour ozone standard; in 2007, the number of days in violation was down to 96. The change is even more dramatic when looking at individual communities. From 1979 to 2007, Pasadena dropped from 191 days over the limit to 13, Reseda from 138 to 22, Anaheim from 61 to 2, Pomona from 167 to 19, and West Los Angeles from 76 to 2. This story is replicated across the region. It is also broadly true for the other pollutants that comprise smog.

The cleanup has not come due to reduced population or driving (both of these have risen rapidly in past decades), but to technological solutions: catalytic converters, unleaded gasoline, smog checks, etc.

According to the American Lung Association, Los Angeles doesn’t even have the worst air quality in the nation any more — sorry, Pittsburgh. Second place is hardly a badge of honor for Los Angeles, but things have definitely been moving in the right direction.

So the air is not great, but it is vastly better — hence the designation of this stereotype as a half-truth.

Four cliches to go:

  • Los Angeles’s mass transit system is underdeveloped and inadequate.
  • Thanks to the great distances between far-flung destinations, and perhaps to Angelenos’ famed “love affair” with the car, Angelenos drive considerably more miles than most Americans.
  • Los Angeles is dominated by an overbuilt freeway system that promotes autodependence.
  • Angelenos spend more time stuck in traffic than any other drivers in the nation.

Your pick?

Leave A Comment

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

 

COMMENTS: 56


  1. Jeffrey says:

    Tell us about freeways. One of my favorite past times is throwing up a little in my mouth when I see video of LA’s 7-lanes-in-each-direction behemoths.

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  2. Eric M. Jones says:

    In the mid 1960′s the smog was truly devastating. Lucky for me, I smoked Marlboros heavily in the years of the worst smog. When the smog got better I quit smoking. Just a coincidence though.

    Normally the sea-breeze is onshore during the day, at night the breeze reverses. This causes some very weird problems in times of high smog and near-zero-humidity Santa Ana winds.

    I could hear machine-gun fire out my bedroom window, the hills were on fire, the smog was almost lethal, the earthquakes, mudslides, searing heat and traffic. Ahhh, I loved it.

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  3. Michael says:

    I’m from LA, and the cliche about LA having underdeveloped mass transit is completely true. It’s getting better, but when the Subway to the Sea seems like it’ll finally get built around the time my grandkids are adults, the stereotype is still true.

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  4. carlivar says:

    I’d like to hear about mass transit. I don’t know how any light rail that doesn’t make it to the massive airport can be considered “adequate”. Or the ridiculous “Orange Line” Bus where they should have built a train (Valley always loses). Or the various single-track portions of Metrolink routes that make trains have to stop on siding (or crash into other trains).

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  5. cirby says:

    In the early 1980s, I lived in Victorville, east of LA in the Mojave Desert.

    On clear days, you could see the smog spilling over the mountains. Horrible, brownish-red clouds of crap.

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  6. Noah says:

    I think the big takeaway here is that through technological innovation and policy control you CAN have an enormous impact on the environment in relatively short periods of time. Tell this to everyone who says that eco-friendly government policies are pointless.

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  7. AH says:

    And what large city in America doesn’t have similar freeways? It certainly wouldn’t be San Diego, San Francisco, or Las Vegas, all within 300 miles of Los Angeles. Seattle? Denver? Chicago? Washington D.C.? New York? New Jersey? You must be throwing up an awful lot, I guess you don’t travel much. I suppose in the sticks there are no freeways, but once you get a million people, you’re stuck with them. “The Little House” makes me sad too, but I’m not sure what you can do about it.

    So, Los Angeles has a lot of traffic but I know the answer to the “time spent in a car” question. There are plenty of places with bad traffic, plenty of places with nice mass transit, and plenty of places with bad traffic and world-class mass transit. Los Angeles gets kicked while it is down for no reason other than cliche.

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  8. Ian says:

    A quick check of their website tells me that the transit system is better than that of many American cities.

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  9. chuck says:

    It seems #2 worst air quality in the US should qualify LA as “choked”, shouldn’t it?

    Isn’t Pittsburgh getting better now that there are no more heavy industries over there?

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  10. Zejn says:

    Have you checked, did the standard change in the mean time?

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  11. Steven says:

    The reason Pittsburgh is #1 on the unhealthy air list is due to all the fireworks and bus parades from winning the most Super Bowls; LA has not had that experience.

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  12. Cory says:

    Try driving out to Pomona or Upland one summer afternoon. There will be more world-famous smog than you’d ever want to see.

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  13. MikeM says:

    Second-highest pollution in the country, more than double the national standard for ozone, and you call “choked with pollution” a “half-truth.”

    Sorry, man, it’s true. Maybe not as bad as the stereotypes make it sound, but it’s still true.

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  14. boomka says:

    # Los Angeles’s mass transit system is underdeveloped and inadequate.
    # Thanks to the great distances between far-flung destinations, and perhaps to Angelenos’ famed “love affair” with the car, Angelenos drive considerably more miles than most Americans.
    # Los Angeles is dominated by an overbuilt freeway system that promotes autodependence.

    All of these are completely subjective. Everyone has their own definition of what is “inadequate” and “dominated” and “overbuild”. As far as I care, mass transit system is inadequate in most American cities.

    And even if it is not true that “Angelenos drive considerably more miles than most Americans” it has nothing to do with how easy it is to get around LA. If you forced everyone to live near work then nobody would have to drive a lot, but would it make easier to get to, say, a museum? Or visit a friend on the other side of the city?

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  15. KB says:

    I know #4 is not true and #2 is too verbose to even consider unless LA is also not very dense. So, it must be #1 or #3 that is true.

    I’ve only spent about one week in LA, but during that week I found it much much easier to use the freeway to get around than attempt the bus or rail, and I hate driving. I found the freeways to be very efficient and easy to navigate compared to other cities like Washington DC, New York, and Chicago. So, my bet is on #3. If the freeways hadn’t been so great I would have used mass transit.

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  16. Dave of Maryland says:

    First & last cliches, in one:

    I was once stuck in traffic leaving Burbank airport. Four lanes motionless on my side, four lanes motionless on the other side.

    The thought occurred to me that one No. 6 train could have accommodated every single driver & passenger in every car in sight, taken but one single lane to do so, and have been followed sixty seconds later by another No. 6, equally laden.

    When I lived in New York I took subways everywhere. And at rush hour – and too many other hours, come to think of it – they were crammed. Awful.

    On the other hand, about 6 pm one Friday evening, I once had the chance to drive from Manhattan to Brooklyn via the Brooklyn Bridge. To my amazement, it was empty of traffic.

    Any New Yorkers care to comment?

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  17. Johnny E says:

    Actually one of the biggest problems is the pollution from all those big diesel-powered container ships in Los Angeles Harbor. There are basically no pollution control devices on them. Los Angeles has little regulatory authority over foreign-flagged ships. There has been talk of requiring them to shut-down while in port and plug into shore power but it probably hasn’t happened yet. Satellite photos over the oceans show huge plumes of pollution following these ships which is having an effect on our climate and solar energy reaching the earth’s surface.

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  18. Joel says:

    Let’s hear about the mass transit issue! I have a friend who lives and dies by LA’s mass transit, but I’d be curious to see what the actual numbers are comparing it to NYC, Chicago, or Houston.

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  19. Johnny E says:

    I was stuck in rush-hour traffic in Houston about 25 years ago. From the NW there was this huge scary dark cloud approaching. It was reminiscent of Dust Bowl photos of sandstorms starting at ground level. It couldn’t be from a refinery fire, they were in the opposite direction. It turned out just to be a smog cloud caused by vehicles. People that were under it probably needed to use their headlights.

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  20. Chethan says:

    “This is especially true near the city’s ports, where thousands of trucks spew diesel exhaust that we Angelenos breathe so that those of you in the rest of the nation can enjoy the imports from Asia that underpin your standard of living.”

    It’s hard to read this column as factual when it’s written in such a defensive, retaliatory tone. I don’t doubt the ideas being presented, but in the same token, I’ve lived in several cities, including Los Angeles, and it has been (by far) the one I most hated trying to get around in. I wish this column was written less from a whiny, “you guys should stop bashing LA” standpoint, and just presented the facts. LA faces criticism of its transportation from without and from within.

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  21. Bill says:

    I don’t think you busted a myth nor are you on your way to setting aside others. Maybe you can add to your list:

    -All Angelenos are flakes
    -All Angelenos are shallow and obsessed with looking good

    Best of luck.

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  22. PETE DIXON says:

    Yet another smog apologist.. I did not read about the heavy metals in smog such a mercury. A mature society, one not dominate by business bias would have solved the problem 50 years ago.

    Pete

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  23. John, Boston says:

    I miss California. The parks are great. Even deserts need parks…

    The sun out there feels like it has gone through a factory of some sort. Almost like a magnifying glass. Florida’s sun feels hotter, but the feeling is more direct and vicious than in LA.

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  24. Mark says:

    Too many people, period. This is not natural but a plague caused by ignorance and greed. We know how it always ends — one or all four horsemen of the apocalypse. Look around, it’s already happening.

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  25. Miller says:

    The most glaring and common myth is “You need a car to live in Los Angeles”. As a bicycle-riding Angeleno who has never owned a car, I know this to be false.
    Since that’s not on the list, I will choose “L.A.’s mass transit system is underdeveloped and inadequate”. I think there’s some truth in that statement.

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  26. young says:

    Isn’t it a little late to be writing these pro-auto articles? The American auto industry is dead. Unless you’re sponsored by Toyota or something you can give it a rest man. It’s over.

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  27. Charles says:

    You know, I have to agree with those above and say that this should have been “True, but getting better.” #2 worst air in the country does not disprove the stereotype about bad air quality – it confirms it. Maybe fewer days have horrible air quality, but there’s still like 1/4 of the year that you should probably not be inhaling. Credit should be given for the improvement (and for the natural circumstances which make the problem worse than, say, Chicago), but there is still a lot of work to do.

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  28. DrS says:

    Pittsburgh air is not filled with diesel exhaust or industrial output.
    It’s natural smog factor is also very bad, in the river valleys, and it’s overcast (and relatively humid) about 200 days a year.
    It seems as if it has more of the natural smog excuse than LA.
    I know a lot of people who live in the Pittsburgh and none of them would consider the air quality to be choking them with unnatural smoke. I don’t know if the people in LA do either of course, as I know only a couple, and they don’t think it’s too bad.

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  29. Jenny says:

    Let’s go with the mass transit system. I get around just fine in LA without a car.

    The heart of any mass transit system is the BUS. LA has an impressive amount of nice, clean CNG-powered buses. Fares are low–$1.35 for metro and 75 cents for Santa Monica/Culver City (but it’s been a fight to keep them that way). Schedules are good, although I’d always be happy to welcome more frequent service and far-reaching lines. The only missing piece is bus-only lanes, which are coming soon.

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  30. Julia says:

    How about the traffic issue? I think Los Angeles traffic really is worse than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. I live in San Diego now, which is also highway-heavy. It would be neat to compare my perception with your findings.

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  31. Craig says:

    EPA’s standard for ozone, the central component of smog, tightened earlier in this decade. That makes the drop in days of violation even more significant. At the same time, as we learn more and more about ozone, we find out that even low levels of smog are dangerous. There even seems to be evidence that ozone exposure shortens human life. So concern about smog is very appropriate. The fact that L.A. has improved says it’s come a long way — but it’s still got a long way to go.

    Incidentally, I’m surprised at the statement or at least the inference that Pittsburgh is now the worst. I don’t think that’s true, especially as heavy industry has left the area.

    I’ll be interested to see what this column says about mass transit. The problem here is that one needs centrality of residences and of jobs to generate the levels of ridership needed to sustain mass transit. Los Angeles is a tough place to find that. So too are all cities; job growth is not in the central city, but rather in the suburbs at the fringe. It is hard to support a mass transit line between suburbs.

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  32. MSS Rao says:

    I’ve lived in the Los Angeles area for almost 35 years. I love California, but in L.A., we have a place of spectacular natural beauty reduced to a barren wasteland of cars, concrete, and crud. The place should be leveled. Open up some dams and let the L.A. River flood the whole basin. Just start over.

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  33. Peter says:

    “According to the American Lung Association, Los Angeles doesn’t even have the worst air quality in the nation any more – sorry, Pittsburgh.”

    To be fair to Pittsburgh, the report by the ALA doesn’t account for a rather large outlier.

    From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

    ‘Guillermo Cole, an Allegheny County Health Department spokesman, said Pittsburgh doesn’t deserve the ranking, which hangs on high soot readings in the Monongahela River Valley caused by emissions from U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works.

    “Where the soot levels are high in the Clairton area, we’re concerned. But it’s a localized issue and the problem area is very small,” said Mr. Cole, noting that 25,000 people live in the Liberty-Clairton area, which includes Glassport, Port Vue and Lincoln, while 1.2 million reside in Allegheny County and 2.5 million live in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area.

    “The fact of the matter is that the ranking only applies accurately to the Liberty-Clairton area, and Pittsburgh, the rest of the county and the surrounding counties have much better air,” Mr. Cole said. “Liberty-Clairton is a unique situation. We have a large source, the coke works, sitting in a river valley, so it’s a real challenge. There’s no other area of the U.S. like that.”‘

    (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08122/878162-85.stm)

    I live in Pittsburgh, and while I cannot compare it to Los Angeles, I can confidently state that Pittsburgh has for many years now not deserved the epithet of ‘The Smoky City.’

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  34. Jonathan says:

    Sadly, the Pittsburgh pollution comes not from Pittsburgh, but from lingering Rust Belt industry and coal power plants to the west and into Ohio and Michigan. The Lake Effect air sweeps right on down across Pittsburgh, which has no heavy industry left to speak of — it’s all robotics and biotech these days.

    Sad. (The pollution, not the robots).

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  35. Michael Ducey says:

    The fact that smog has declined due to technological fixes doesn’t contradict any of the four cliches. They may be wrong, I don’t know. These are not things that can’t be known you just don’t give any info on them. It is likely that if any of the four were different there would also probably be less smog.

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  36. mhead, St. Paul says:

    Take the total motor vehicles in LA, multiply by $6000, and you have a very conservative estimate of the money thrown into mostly private-sector rolling stock each year by Angelinos. With that kind of wealth available for cars, the overriding question is, why hasn’t LA constructed a massive mass transit system using tolls to fund it? Actually, every major city in the U.S. has obscene levels of wealth tied up in motor vehicles. Time to unlock that wealth, and put it to work building mass transit!

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  37. William says:

    I currently live in LA (6 years) and I’ve also lived in NYC (Manhattan) 8 years ago and interestingly enough, New York was noticeably worse in air quality both visually and physiologically. The smog in Los Angeles is only truly an issue in the “Valley” (San Fernando) and Inland Empire (east of downtown well into the San Bernadino Valley) chiefly because of the geography of these areas but the LA basin itself, which is where over 60% of the actual “city” of LA resides maintains good to excellent levels of air quality year round. While statistics, as in the author’s other categories, are misleading because cities are rightly or wrongly grouped within various conflicting definitions of metropolitan areas, I would contend that within the actual city limits themselves, NYC has poorer air quality than LA (personal empirical experience only as evidence). I think what always disturbs me (and I think this may be the overarching point of the author) is not that all of these cliches/stereotypes about Los Angeles are either no longer true or were never true (*some are indeed true) but that other non-Angelenos look with disdain while their cities are as bad or worse in respects to quality of life and seek to tweak the stats to make them feel less responsible or incorrectly more secure about their own civic hypocrisy. LA (metro area of roughly 12-16 million) is less dirty than Pittsburgh per capita (with a metro area of only about 2.5 million), Toronto has the largest freeway in North America (10 lanes each way so dude- throw up to your heart’s content), it sprawls densely like Tokyo but unlike Phoenix or Jacksonville, FL (but it does sprawl), it has an extensive mass transit system (mainly buses) but is unfortunately not commensurate with its scale, has the worst traffic in the US (but not much worse than Houston, San Francisco, or Boston- metro areas half the population size), and it does in fact have the largest freeway network of any city in the world and a deeply rooted car culture which has reached critical mass- yet, still has incredibly pedestrian friendly pockets such as Santa Monica, Venice, and West Hollywood. Maybe the bigger question is not “does LA actually have these things?” but “are these things actually bad and why?”.

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  38. Sheel says:

    I can speak for Pittsburgh… The way this report works is that it takes the worst reading of air quality in the area. For Pittsburgh, the worst air report was based only on data from one of the county’s 20 air-quality monitors — the one downwind of the Clairton Works coke-production plant, where very few people actually live! The coke works is located in a river valley, where weather changes can trap pollution in the low-lying areas. The whole region and city gets a black eye that it really doesn’t deserve. Having lived there and spent time in LA, you can notice a significant difference – Pittsburgh is MUCH MUCH cleaner.

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  39. Chris Fuhrman says:

    When I played college football in Inland Southern California in the 1980s, we had to run before 7 a.m. and at night to avoid the worst of the late-summer smog. The AQMD led the charge for change, and technology has played a part as well. Sure, there are poor air days inland, but the destructive smog of a generation ago has largely gone from the Los Angeles area.

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  40. john says:

    Saying that “`it’s better’ and `Pittsburgh is worse’ makes `LA is choked with smog’ a half-truth” is like saying that “`Yao Ming is taller’ makes `Dirk_Nowitzki is tall’ a half-truth.”

    Along that same line, the comment that
    “…the transit system is better than that of many American cities.” isn’t evidence for an adequate mass-transit system.
    I’d have to agree with boomka that “… mass transit system is inadequate in most American cities.”

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  41. Alec says:

    Wow, this is absurd. Second most polluted city in the country, 96 days out of the year seeing the basin over the ozone limit, and it’s a “half-truth” that the city is choked with smog? Even setting aside the fact that you seem to be conflating ozone with smog by bringing up the 96 day figure (how many days was LA over the PM2.5 or PM10 limits, for instance? What are the NOx levels?), it’s pretty evident that LA is choked with smog. Mr. Morris, I’m not sure what your agenda is but you need to know about which you speak before you make such ludicrous statements. You’re embarrassing yourself.

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  42. hello there says:

    Shouldn’t it be natural that the second largest city be in the running for second smoggiest? What’s surprising about it exactly? And why would comparing say Anchorage(or any city of dissimilar size) to LA for smog be a reasonable thing to do?

    The entire concept of comparison is flawed.

    That said, LA is tons better now than in the past. When I was in middle school in the mid/late 70′s, there were “smog alert” days when kids were warned not to run during recess, and occasionally were made to stay inside instead.

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  43. Willie Cavecche says:

    The fact that LA is #2 on the list doesn’t confirm the myth that it is “choked down with smog,” just as it doesn’t confirm it for Pittsburgh. I’ve lived in Orange County (suburb to LA) my whole life, and the smog has never effected me, even when in the city of LA itself, or near the port. In fact, I recently moved to Seattle (a city which I think we can agree has better air quality) for school and I can’t really feel that big of a difference.

    As far as the other myths, I’d say the time we spend in traffic is true, and the “overbuilt” freeway system is half-true. Angelenos (and Southern Californians, for that matter) do spend more time then everyone else in traffic, not so much because of the quality of traffic, but the quantity of it. And yes, we do have a very complex freeway system, but it’s not necessarily “overbuilt”, and I wouldn’t say it creates autodependence. Oh, and Jeffery, I love our 7 lane in each direction behemoths, so keep your puke to yourself. The LA mass transit system probably could use some work, granted, but it’s not underdeveloped. A bus system, decent Amtrak and Metrolink systems, and multiple light rail lines is fairly extensive. More than I can say for Seattle. And while we may drive more miles than most, I doubt it’s more than everyone, and there aren’t any far flung locations. Unless you’re roadtripping, everything is pretty close to Los Angeles.

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  44. Matt M. says:

    This is definately a half truth. If you ask Americans across the country about smog they naturally think Los Angeles and everyone is “choking”, but having traveled the world they would be surprised that many cities of the world have much worse air quality due to lack of pollution controls that Los Angeles has instituted over the last 30 years such as Paris.

    As people describing Pittsburgh noted that the worst readings are from localized areas and not indicative of the total area the same is true in Los Angeles where only the communities deep inland from the actual city of Los Angeles up against the San Gabriel mountains register unhealthy air. The air in Downtown Los Angeles registers better than many cities in the US in the summer (look at the back of a USA Today to compare if you don’t believe me). The brown haze of the 60′s and 70′s has been replaced with the natural white sea haze that the local indians named for the area, which is often referred to now as smog.

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  45. Lawrence says:

    I definitely want to know about the time stuck in traffic. Sometimes it takes me an hour just to get through the LA area…

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  46. Eddie G says:

    I have to agree with some of the people before me. If LA is #2 in the nation when it comes to bad air. How the f can it be a half-truth? It is this kind of thinking that will ruin mankind. “Oh, we’re just #2, not #1, then we can keep on polluting.” I hear you on the fact that it has improved but since you started the first post in this series by saying that you were often contacted by reporters wanting to confirm their thoughts… If LA is #2 on the list, isn’t it 100% confirmed then?

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  47. Kyle says:

    AH, I lived in Oakland and commuted to San Francisco for a long time. I’ve been all over the country. I’ve been to LA many times, and I’ve never seen traffic like that. To say it’s just a bad stereotype is ignoring the fact that traffic is a serious problem that people deal with in LA. I know people learn to live with it, but driving on overcrowded, huge roads is not my idea of fun.

    LA has a lot going for it; unfortunately, pollution and transportation aren’t some of those things.

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  48. Lannas says:

    So, if I’m getting an F in an economics course, and I improve my standing to a D, then it’s only a “half-truth” that I’m a poor student because I’ve shown improvement? Come on.

    Cherry-picking statistics, poorly defined questions and your subjective take on what is true or false. What is the point of these posts?

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  49. its just math says:

    I believe the reason for Angelenos having such a dependency on driving/why the public transit system is horrible – is because the vast size of the “city” of Los Angeles (as opposed to “condensed” cities like: NYC, SF, Seattle) makes it very difficult/inconvenient for some to travel…

    I want to see more done in terms making the biker and carpool friendly…

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  50. Chris says:

    Willie Cavecche,

    Metrolink is a joke comparatively speaking. It serves 47,600 passengers a day. The three agencies that serve NYC (LIRR, Metro North and NJ Transit Rail Operations) has a daily ridership of roughly 918,000 or about 19.5 times that of Metrolink.

    As far as city transit is concerned, MTA (LA) serves a total of 1.6 million riders a day. New York City Transit serves about 7 million.

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  51. Willie Cavecche says:

    Never said it was better than NYC’s public transit. You’re right, NYC probably woops NYC’s butt when it comes to mass transit. But that doesn’t mean that the LA system is bad, it just means that NYC’s is better and/or more people use it.

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  52. Ash says:

    Just wanted to register my objection to declaring this a “half-truth” when Los Angeles has the nation’s second-worst smog. Do we diagnose hypertension only in the patient with the highest blood pressure in the country?

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  53. david says:

    The smog cliches are boring. Has anyone seen LA in the 70s? Nowadays, it’s still noticeable but hardly “choking” the city. If you want to see real smog, go to Shanghai.

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  54. LisaNewton says:

    I recently did a post myself with two dramatic photo illustrating the difference between a smoggy day and an unsmoggy day, http://www.travelinlocal.com

    It has improved so much over the years.

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  55. bryan says:

    I recently moved to LA from New England…I hated NYC terribly and especially how everyone talked NYC up all the time like it was a godsend city; I did expect to see LA in this smoggy freeway clogged mess but it was so much better than anyone made it out to be. There are definitely smoggy days where coming from the 105 to the 110 you can barely see downtown (if at all)…but i never feel like i’m choked out of clean air. In NYC i feel like vomiting because everywhere you go it smells like garbage…ugh

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  56. Peter A. Lake says:

    After living 27 years in L.A. from 1968-1995 I believe I can say with some authority that Los Angeles is doomed.

    There’s a number of reasons but they all boil down to two main ones:
    1. Too many people.
    2. Too little water.

    Everything else such as high cost of living, gangs, fires, public service costs, intractable politics — they all can be traced to the two main reasons above, and those are not about to change for the better — just for the worse.

    The middle-class dream of a comfortable life in the sun has slowly been dying for decades.
    When all the orange trees were cut down in Orange County it was time to leave.

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