Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Why is Los Angeles So Ugly?

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(photo by Supermod)

A few years ago, Sophia and I were driving through Northern California and ended up in a cafe in Carmel. We talked with a local resident, this gray-haired man, who complained about how stringent the community was in their building code. You couldn’t change the color of your roof without going through five committee meetings. I remember thinking this was so fascist, but I’m changing my mind today.

Why?

Because of all the beautiful photos you send me of the Fall leaves and trees that you found in your neighborhoods.

Most of you look like you live in pretty nice places. The question on my mind: Why is Los Angeles so ugly?

The answer: Los Angeles is just a chaotic mess, built together with no rhyme or reason. The city of Los Angeles could learn from Carmel. It needs stricter building and aesthetic regulations, and I nominate myself to be the Design Czar.

Here are the first three intitiatives as Los Angeles’ new Design Czar:

1) As Los Angeles Design Czar, I will take down 75% of all billboards.

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I have a TV guide at home. I know what is on TV on Thursday night. I don’t need to have you remind me in my face with a billboard every five miles as I drive. I get enough advertising on TV and on the sidebars of YOUR BLOGS! What right do you have — ABC, or Cingular, or Bank of America — to stick messages in my face everywhere I go? Can a company legally own this air space? Can I put a billboard on my own house advertising “Citizen of the Month?”

Some billboards are fun, but they should be restricted to high traffic zones like the Sunset Strip or Hollywood Boulevard. But one day, I honestly hope that some pervert gets into an accident while looking at a slutty model in an American Apparel billboard — and then SUES both the city and American Apparel for causing the accident.

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When Sophia and I were driving on the highway in the Berkshires, the first thing we noticed was — “No Billboards!”

Ugly, annoying, brain-numbing billboards — I am taking you down.

2) As Los Angeles Design Czar, I will require every mini-mall developer and landlord to submit every single design decision to ME because I don’t trust anything you do. Who builds these ugly pieces of crap?

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I’m not one of those frou-frou people who can only bear to look at beauty, but these structures literally hurt my soul. It’s obvious that you need someone with a little creativity to monitor your work. From now on, everything will be ORGANIZED, color-coordinated, and easy to read — like a blog header. I know many of you landlords will plead poverty. You don’t have money to do anything pretty. I should just be happy that you are building something in the inner city. I say bulls**t! Being creative and aesthetically pleasing doesn’t require money.

Look at this —

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(stock photo via Cruisin’ Mom)

Randy’s Donuts looks like it was made for twenty bucks worth of cement and Play-doh, but it says LA to me more than the twenty billion dollar Getty Center. It is funny, fake, but innocent in a loving way — now that is the Los Angeles we love! How about doing something fun?

Sorry, enough is enough. All mini-mall decisions now go through me.

3) As Los Angeles Design Czar, I will REQUIRE every business and every homeowner to have a REAL tree in front of their establishment or home — and no more palm trees.

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(photo from Peggy Archer)

Homeowners will have to pay for the upkeep of the tree, or be fined. There will be a surcharge every time you register your car, in order for the county to plant a tree on the side of the freeway. I know there are all these “treehugger” types who like to voluntarily plant trees here and there and teach their kids about the environment. There’s no time for this feel-good liberalism. Take your kids to Whole Foods and show them the goat cheese. It’s time to get serious.

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(Al Gore in an Inconvenient Truth)

There’s global warming. There’s the awful air quality of the Los Angeles basin.

I believe scientific fact:

Research has shown that trees can act as biological filters, removing large quantities of particles from the urban atmosphere (Broadmeadow et al., 1998, and Freer-Smith et al., 1997). As much as 234 tons per year in the Chicago, USA, area, a recent study showed (McPherson, et al., 1994). This is predominately due to their large leaf areas relative to the ground on which they stand, and the physiological properties of their surfaces – e.g. the presence of trichomes or waxy cuticles on the leaves of some species. Interception of particles by vegetation has been shown to be much greater for street trees due to their proximity to high intensities of road traffic (Impens and Delcarte, 1979).

Did you that 16% of HC emissions evaporative emissions that occur during daytime heating of fuel delivery systems of parked vehicles?

Evaporative emissions, as well as exhaust emissions during the first few minutes of engine operation are sensitive to local microclimate.

A simple solution: tree shade in parking lots. The California Air Resources Board came to conclusion after doing this experiment:

Two automated weather stations and instrumented passenger cars were located in unshaded and shaded portions of a parking lot in Davis, CA for a week in August 1997. Air temperature, solar and net radiation, wind speed and direction, and vehicle cabin and fuel tank temperatures were measured. Shaded surface area was approximately 30%, and canopy density was sparse and variable due to leaf drop. Peak daytime air temperatures at the shaded parking lot averaged 1 to 2°C cooler than the unshaded site. Temperature differences here are considered conservative due to the relatively sparse tree cover. Fuel tank temperatures of the shaded car were 2 to 4°C cooler than fuel tank temperatures of the unshaded car.

Larger temperature differences between fuel tanks of shaded and unshaded cars, compared to air temperature differences between shaded and unshaded lots, indicate that direct shading of the vehicle influenced fuel tank temperature (hence HC evaporation rates) as much as, or more than, the aggregate effect of trees on air temperature. Average vehicle cabin temperature was 26C cooler in the shaded vehicle for the period 1300 to 1600 PST.

Trees remove pollutants from the air. The leaves absorb gaseous pollutants—ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide. Not all trees are made equal for this job. There are some trees that emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can ADD to a city’s pollution, including eucalyptus, liquidambar, sycamore, poplar, oak, black locust, and willow trees.

The following trees are the best in lowering ozone:

hackberry; white and green ash; Canary Island and Italian stone pines; shoestring acacia; maple; palo verde; camphor tree; Australian willow (Geijara parviflora); Chinese pistache; thornless mesquite; flowering pear; frontier, prospector, Chinese, and lacebark elms; and zelkova.

Despite the iconic symbolism of the palm tree, most of the tall Mexican Fan Palms are not native to the area.

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They were planted for promotional reasons or for the first LA Olympics in the 1930s. After that, they became symbolic of LA.

“They have no ecological or environmental value whatsoever,” says Carmen Wolf, program director for the Theodore Payne Foundation, which operates a native California plant nursery. Organizations like Wolf’s and the California Native Plant Society say that because palm trees are not native to the region in most cases (with the exception of the California Fan Palm or the Desert Fan Palm), they are not only more susceptible to disease and rot, but also damaging to the native ecology.

Sure, palm trees are cool-looking, but THEY GIVE NO SHADE. There is a reason no one walks in LA. You can get heat stroke walking the streets. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some REAL TREES — even if the leaves don’t change as dramatically as in Vermont?

I’m a realistic person. Los Angeles is never going to become as historic as Paris. Los Angeles is never going to become as green as Yellowstone National Park. But it doesn’t have to be SO UGLY!

And that’s going to change RIGHT NOW — with me as the new Design Czar.

Of course, I haven’t been elected yet as Design Czar, but Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been voted in a mayor — and he seems to be interested in trees. He has started a program called “Million Trees LA.” Here’s what he says on the website:

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“I have launched the Million Trees LA initiative; the plan is to plant one million trees over the next several years. This is a partnership between the City of Los Angeles, community groups, businesses and individuals like you, working together to plant and provide long-term stewardship of one million trees, planted all over the city with a focus on areas that need it most.

The trees will provide shade and save on energy costs, clean the air and help reduce the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, capture polluted urban runoff and improve water quality, and add to the values of our lives.”

I’m not sure how serious this is being taken. Frankly, I read the LA Times every day and I never even heard of this inititative until today. But until I’m elected, it’s a start…

Thank YOU for inspiring me with all the beautiful photos of trees and fall leaves that you sent to me through email. I’m still waiting for a few more Fall photos from some bloggers, so I’ll post them all next week.

California owes you one for giving us a little bit of Fall. I’ll send word to Arnold.

86 Comments

  1. enlightening stuff!

  2. I dig, brother. More and more of Florida is looking like that, sadly.

    LOVE the Berkshires! I am near that neck of the woods originally.

  3. Whew, for a minute there I thought you were going to bash the donut–it’s a classic landmark. Glad you said something about the palm trees. Another of their hazards is that they frequently harbor big RATS! The rats then can climb down onto residential roofs, and get into the attic/crawlspace! That happened to my parents’ house in OC. Scary, nasty Rodents of Unusual Size with their glowing eyes staring back at you out of the dark . . . ugh!

  4. Huh, I like tha palm trees. Damn, so sad that they’re not native. And, there’s no advertising on my blog. Wonder if I could cash in on that?
    So check out my buddy Matthew at Rebar:
    http://www.rebargroup.org/projects/parkingday/index.html
    although he’s in San Fran and not LA. But still, his idea has merit, no? I think it would fit in nicely with your plans.

  5. Go to Pasadena…lots of pretty. Oak Knoll down by the Ritz Carlton is one of my Fav streets ever. Technically, its San Marino…but..that’s splitting hairs…Grew up there. Very pretty. VERY WEALTHY. Pretty goes wher the money is baby…It is SO CAL after all. You PAY to PLAY..even your eyes…PS Go to the Huntington Library…for strools when Sophia gets home…I bet there’s all kinds of orange and red and yeelow there… There’s More to Callie than the beaches DUDE!!He he he..

  6. Neil, If you take over as Design Czar with all those plans you won’t have time to blog: eliminating beauty from the lives of people all over the world. Please withdraw your resignation.

  7. Don’t hold your breath on my promise of fall foliage, I suck.
    Growing up I hated the palm trees in our front yard, they were a haven for birds and then each spring, the ground underneath would be littered with baby bird bodies that had fallen from the nest. Very traumatic when your a kid.
    Spencer Tunick (the nude photographer) has a beautiful shot of a woman standing naked inside that Randy’s Donut ~ art indeed!

  8. Wow Neil, I’m so impressed with your assessment of L.A. (especially the part about mini-malls)
    Thanks for showing my donut.

  9. You would so have my vote for design czar!

  10. When I lived in SF, I was surprised to receive a notice in the mail. Apparently folks in a neighborhood can make a request for trees and then they are planted along the sidewalk. Of course the place I lived in had all kinds of wonderful stuff in the yard — a magnolia, a walnut, a plum.

  11. You have my vote. Shame I don’t live in Los Angeles. Or California for that matter.

  12. I am sorry that I was such an asshole in my entry devoted to fall and Californians.

  13. Neil:
    As you and I discussed off-line once, my profession is to adivise elected officials. As part of this job, I have sat through literally hundreds of hours of design planning, zoning code review, etc etc. I think you would be an excellent County or City planning commissioner. Just march right down to the local city hall and sign up. You, too, can feel the indignity I experience weekly as the local citizenry wants to hang their leaders fro the nearest tree. But it’s worth it. We’re creating beauty, ending the strip mall culture. Hats off to you, and tell me how it goes!!!

  14. Hi.
    I think your first and best idea; was changing the name of the occupation to design czar.

    much more catchy and fun!

  15. Schmutzie — I love your post. Half of the actors in LA are from Canada, so we are very familiar with that famous Canadian “aggressiveness.” It is why you are so good in hockey. (except in Vancouver, which is like your mellow and dumb Los Angeles)

    And thank you, Cynical Girl, too!

  16. Neil, are you going to wait for the southern foliage to change colors before posting the pics? Or will I qualify for a “late” entry?

    BTW – love the pinked out look for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Thanks.

  17. Jody, I’m expecting a REAL leaf from you.

  18. Antonio Villaraigosa is cute. I want him to be my grandpa.

  19. No! Wait! The actor in the campaign pictures is cute. That’s the grandpa. Not Mr. Villaraigosa! NOOOOO!

  20. Thank you, M.A. I was just about to change the photo. Yes, that is not the mayor. That is the cliched “nice Mexican grandpa” photo, as if that actor has ever touched a tree in his life.

  21. I agree that billboards should go, cool doughnuts should stay. Thanks for the lessons on palm trees. I love them, but I never thought about that fact that they provide no shade. Now, don’t feel envious of me when I take off tomorrow for an afternoon among sugar maples blazing red, and the picturesque barns, silos, and ponds of New England.

  22. Haha, this post is so true. I’ve been living in L.A all of my life and it’s horribily ugly. I don’t really want to live here anymore. The problem is that there is such a big “hollywood” marketing scheme here that you get pounded with non sense billboards and random flow of money to create something that has no relation to the design of the buildings around it.

    Crazy ass L.A people :-\

  23. What’s most disturbing about the strip mall photo is the fact that Chinese Food is being offered for $1. I can’t even begin to imagine how detrimental that food would be to your digestive system.

    I think you should consider being the assistant to the design czar. In this scenario, the design czar would actually be a fictitious person who you could tell everyone is an easily angered shut-in. Then when somebody gets mad at you for making an unpopular decision, you could say, “Sorry. It’s not up to me it’s Bob (the fictitious design czar)that wants this, and he’s not willing to budge on this one.”

  24. Awesome! More trees and leaves in the fall would definitely give LA more character. Plus it’d hide those ugly billboards. Are you on the ballot for Design Czar this upcoming election?

  25. Of course, what else to expect from you, Neil.

    More socialist-Democrat-dictatorial crap I haven’t read in a while.

    I wish you to become wealthy, buy a house, try to make it beautiful for yourself and your family, and then deal with stupid “unifying” directives from your local “for the good of the Peeeeople!’ council. And on top, to pay their salaries, for further humiliation.

    Regulation my ass.

  26. I like palm trees! If I wanted normal trees, I would have stayed in Illinois.

    I also like the donut, which apparently appears on the cover of one edition of the Lonely Planet guide to the USA. We had some visitors from the UK that immediately made a pilgrimage to photograph this local landmark.

  27. Tatyana — You are absolutely correct. More taxes and more liberal public policy. Exactly what made New York into your beloved city.

  28. The city just suffers from some serious font abuse. I love to photograph font abuse in action… the Valley has a lot of it, mostly at mini-malls.

    But anyway, ugly is the new pretty. So Los Angeles is pretty … in its own unique way.

  29. Ok, I was readiing along and “hmmm”ing until I got to that horrendous strip mall sign with all the colors and letters etc. and then I couldn’t go on any longer because WTF?? Who thinks to do that??

  30. More trees is always good by me. Los Feliz has a pretty good smattering of non-palm trees.

  31. Sorry, Neil, what made NY in my beloved city is capitalism. Socialist rent-control, adherence to Soviet-style nomenclature benefits and redistribution is what makes this city so hard to live in.

  32. Tatyana — Capitalism would have eaten up Central Park a long time ago.

    From the Central Park website:

    It is hard to imagine that Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the designers of Central Park, could have foreseen the impact the Park has had on so many people. They certainly knew their 1858 “Greensward Plan,” the design for Central Park, was in the American grain: a master plan for the first major park intended entirely for public use. And they knew the Park would be a healthy refuge from the over-crowded living sections in southern Manhattan.

  33. Heather B– that kind of sign is the norm here. Rampant font abuse! It’s kind of magical in its own way. You should come to Reseda sometime. Or Van Nuys… imagine that big sign, but in all different languages, too!

  34. Paris – the city of Lights

    Los Angeles – the city of Bad Fonts

  35. I love the idea of you giving LA a “style makeover “. Just one little problem with the post… calling the A.A model slutty… that seems a bit harsh for someone you don’t know, and certainly very judgemental on her supposed sex life based on one photo, n’est-ce pas?

  36. Neil, thank you for this example. I was just watching wonderful documentary about the Park yesterday, on Public Television.

    Let me ask you some questions. Were there mandatory taxes imposed on all homeowners at the time the Park was designed? Were all landlords made to plant a tree or face a fine? What’s more – did zoning regulations existed in NY in 1857?
    I’ll tell you what existed in 1857: forced evictions of poor and minorities’ NewYorkers from neighborhoods where the great Park was planned to appear. See here. Aren’t your liberal heart bleeds for poor underpriviledged workers now, Neil?
    Or, like all socialists’ who “know better what Public Good requires”, you’d take upon yourself the right to bring harm to your beloved poor?

    This all is sadly familiar, dear Neil, I wonder how such a smart cookie like you can buy into this socialist garbage.

  37. I am still stuck on Cruisin’ Mom’s comment.

    “Thanks for showing my donut.”

  38. Tatyana — I’m actually for forced evictions – with adequate compensation. One of the reasons that LA’s “subway” system was a waste of money is that they never extended it far enough because of all the NIMBY (not in my backyard people). The train never even made it to LAX. I think sometimes the public good takes first priority.

    New York is home to capitalism, but it is “public good” policies that really gave the town it’s “soul.” If anything, NY has become more LA-like in the last few years, with all the chain stores. And with rent control quickly disappearing, Manhattan just becomes a place for the rich and tourists, a cross between Beverly Hills and Universal Studios. Brooklyn and Queens suddenly seem more interesting.

  39. My poor, poor Neil. Everything is upside down in your head.

    Such pity.

  40. I meant to say Neilochka, not Neil.
    [just noticed the Algore’s apologia]

    really, Neil, you sadden me.

  41. But I’m still cute, right?

  42. Regretably – yes.
    I know, I’m a pervert.

  43. Um…am I mis-reading or does that mini-mall atrocity have a section that reads “Restaurante Hercules PUPUBERIA?”

    AND one that claims, “We KUT” ?!

    And you’re griping about the COLORS?!

  44. I love you man – I’ll wear your palm tree tearin’ out brownshirt any day.

    FYI – the mayor’s office takes the million trees thing seriously, and because the City of LA’s employees are fanatically obsessed with currying favour with whomever is the politician of the moment, the city forestry guys view this as their great opportunity to get a pat on the head.

  45. Right on, Neil! Mini-malls have been destroying Los Angeles for years. I’ve done tons of research on my historic neighborhood and when you see what used to stand where the hideous mini-malls now stand, you want to cry.

    I like some palm trees and certainly those streets that have rows of tall healthy palms are iconic sights for L.A. at this point. As is the giant donut architecture which I love. But how about a ban not only on billboards but on Lifetime movies starring Lynn Redgrave about mentally disabled teens? Instead of “Different,” that film should have been called “Desperately Trying to Win an Emmy.”

    Oh, and the Million Trees Initiative is real–we got two free trees last weekend from our councilman’s office (they were giving out hundreds of all varieties).

  46. Danny — You can’t fight changing times, and I’m sure mini-malls are here for an economic, practical reason. I hate them also, but we are stuck with them. They are as iconic now as the Brown Derby was years ago. At least make them ATTRACTIVE. I’ve noticed that on Wilshire Blvd. there are some new establishments trying to get into the Art Deco spirit of the past.

    Here are some LA buildings of the past for inspiration: http://www.you-are-here.com/

  47. lizardek … that’s a pupusaria 🙂 Pupusas are these little guatemalan filled tortilla things, so so good. They have them at salvadoran restaurants too, but I like the guamatalan ones best. YUM.

    But what an icky name, eh? PUPUSA. feh.

  48. Mini malls are wretched, I refuse to shop at them.

  49. Yes, Laurie, I love them, too. Another good reason to visit LA.

    Plain Jane – How do you avoid it? You never go to the cleaners, have ice cream, eat sushi, or go to a 7-Eleven?

  50. And thanks, Communicatrix, for the vote of confidence!

  51. Well, I do confess that I live in a small town and we don’t have a strip mall (a big selling point). But come on, there have to be dry cleaners and ice cream shops that aren’t in strip malls. And sushi? Not my cup of tea.

    But then, I’m not much of a consumer. If I can’t buy it at the hardware or grocery store, do I really need it?

    Gotta run. The new fall line of rain gear has just arrived at the hardware store.

  52. Neil, I need a real address to send the real leaf to you. 🙂

  53. Oooo. Pupusas. Now I’m hungry again. Thank goodness I’m heading into SF tomorrow. I know just the place to get them in the Mission.

  54. i like it when you mention trees. trees everywhere.

  55. Terrific post, Neil! I often wonder that about Los Angeles, too. The people there are so concerned about their own appearance, so why don´t they care about the city in which they live? You wouldn´t find those strip mall places or silly billboards in Europe (well I´m just saying).

  56. Isabel Orendáin

    October 7, 2006 at 7:23 pm

    I live in Guadalajara, Mexico. It used to be so pretty when I was young, but now it is a completly mess: lots of billboards, lack of trees and lots of cars (in 2000 there were 700 000 cars, and now in 2006 we have 1,400,000) and the city has no planning. I do not know what to do to stop this, but the authorities here seem not to care and the community just sits watching in horror how the city deteriorates in our face.

  57. Omigosh — I was in LA in July and saw that donut place!

  58. There is plenty of beauty in the city. Tune out the signs and look to the hills. Ever go hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains. There are deer, there are waterfalls and there are hot chicks.

    What could be better.

  59. Jack, always the LA promoter! Of course there are beautiful natural places in LA. The mountains, the beaches,etc. It’s just all the man-made stuff that is mostly ugly. Architecture and urban design should inspire, too.

  60. Neil,

    I can show you all sorts of man made items throughout LA that will inspire you as well.

    The city and opportunities are vast. It is not a simple concrete jungle.

  61. You just made me feel like going out and planting a tree. Thanks!

  62. About a year after we moved to L.A., my wife says to me, “Damn, why is L.A. so ugly?”

    Hi from Chicago, Neil.

  63. but neil, the subway does go to LAX!

  64. you are so bad, palm trees are synonamous to LA. if you dont, uh, like it, i believe the go to acronym is: gtfo.

  65. Palm trees are synonymous with Los Angeles? I thought it was racial riots.

  66. Susan Warshauer Kahn

    November 30, 2006 at 10:08 pm

    Thanks for the article and ideas, Design Czar. To one of the respondents, Isabel Orendain, who I knew years ago in N. Carolina, if you ever read this again, hope you’ll get in touch: scw8@georgetown.edu Cheers to all. Susan Warshauer Kahn

  67. I visited LA once in the early 1950s and my memories of it were telephone poles and lines above ground, and living a block from the beach in Corona del Mar, actually. LA was not prohibitively expensive nor was is overcrowded. Now I am back here and saddened to find that relatively little planning was done in the ensuing half-century so that LA’s problems are immense and vitually unsolvable. (I am a trained city planner and have lived here for three years–only temporarily, however!) By the way, one of the ugliest strips is Ventura Boulevard. Boulevard? That’s a tragic joke.

  68. you suck. you talk like you’re god or something, thinking you’re right and everyone is wrong

  69. Good assessment! I wish you were not correct in grading the ugliness of LA. But are your initiatives enough? How bout flower boxes on all windows, and clothing covering all 300 plus people on the beach !! Why can’t LA look more like Chicago ? Or Fresno, for that matter ? Good luck with your crusade, my friend, but hands off my donut !

  70. Hi,
    I’m writing this from Sweden. I moved to Los Angeles in 1995 and being a young 22 year old young man, I was at first completely fascinated by Los Angeles, its vastness, diversity, and variety. However, more and more often, I feel a sense of isolation and even depression living in Los Angeles. Isolation, because you sit in your car so much, you don’t actually connect with people as in other cities, especially European cities and I can compare to European cities since I am European. Depression, because the fascination has turned into disillusionment and frustration of the extremely bad planning of Los Angeles, its traffic, which gets worse every year, its pollution, its violence, and its high cost of living. I walked through the streets of Berlin last weekend and I felt for the first time in a long time that I could breathe, connect with people on the streets, look at old beautiful buildings, sit in cafes and most of all, I could easily and quickly take public transportation everywhere. Los Angeles must be one of the worst planned cities in the world and in some parts, it’s so ugly it makes you sad. Luckily, Downtown is experiencing a renaissance and that is a good start. Also, Hollywood has been revised and it looks so much better now than 12 years ago. I would leave Los Angeles and move to a more aestically pleasing city but being married, that is not so easy to do. My brother from Germany just visited me in Los Angeles and he pointed something out that I did not truly notice before. He pointed out the ugliness of all the power lines running across Los Angeles and the ugliness of those hideous brown power line poles. In Germany, the power lines run underground. Just another good example of horrible city planning in Los Angeles.

  71. Los Angeles is definitely the ugliest city I have lived in! I have lived in other cities and countries. Violent crime everywhere, graffiti, rude people and youth everywhere, horrible traffic, illegal immigrants by the millions, high cost of living, and snobby women. Anyone who has lived in L.A. in the last 10-15 years will agree with all of this. It is this bad all around the city. So bad that it is the only city where white families have completely abandoned the city. Even Miami is much more diverse and livable.

  72. For some reason, the last commenter actually made Los Angeles sound more attractive to me again. Gracias!

  73. Hey yea LA is ugly but why don’t you move down the coast SAN DIEGO, CA is fare prettier than CHICAGO the weather is fabulous. If any city is close to perfect just go down south baby AMERICA’S FINEST CITY

  74. As a life long Angelonian, I find myself in almost complete agreement with you about how damn ugly this place is. Yes,what is up with the palm tree thing? But them being placed here has much more to do with Hollywood than the Olympics. For some reason people want to pretend this is some tropical place even though it is technically a desert. There is nothing wrong with California’s natural chaparral and other flora. It did not need to be “improved” upon with something so completely out of place. Don’t know when the last time you were here was, but the latest bit of ugliness is these damn trailer advertising vehicles that are now everywhere. City does not plan to do a damn thing about them except enforce the 72 hour law. I could really ramble about what a complete and total dump this place has been allowed to become. Some say this will be the next Detroit as the city government has successfully chased worthwhile businesses out – including most Hollywood movie production. The jerks that sit on the City Council are banking on the pot industry to save the day. If I had to use just one word to sum up L.A. after having been born and raised here and seeing the ever accelerating decline it would have to be – VANITY.

  75. If you don’t like it then get out. What do you expect from an old heavy populated city? It seems as though the city only maintains the rich white places (for example Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, or any place in the Greater Los Angeles area). Most of what you wrote about is only found in the poor area of Los Angeles. It is ignored and oppressed by the city.

  76. wyatt_earp_fan

    May 8, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    LA is ugly becuase of Antonio Villaraigosa, better known as Tony Vilar.. That joke of a mayor wants to pander to the illegal Mexican population, which are turning LA into another city of Mexico. Notice how Mexicans treat their own land, I have been to some parts of Mexico and boy I tell ya, I am glad America owns the lower portion of Texas, New Mex, Arizona and California, although Southern California is starting to look a lot like Mexico. Call me a biggot but I am half Mexican. Not all Mexicans are total lluevons. But where I live it seems the Mexican families, which in each 2 to 3 bedroom house hold inhabits about 5 to 6 families in them, they tend to either let their lawns run rampant, cut the trees down or let them die on their own, and leave furniture or garbage laying around. BUT, I know a lot of white trash do that also, but unfortunately I have seen more Mexican involved in doing that. Also and not all the time, because of these gangs that keep spraying graffiti all over, the city officials do nothing and don’t care.

  77. Several years ago, I was in L.A. to discuss the ongoing billboard assault. As I was standing outside my hotel, several blocks away from the government offices, I noticed that graffiti had been carved into the street trees. What a place!

    L.A. had become a disconnected wasteland where elected officials do not know how to reclaim their community for the citizens who live and work there, assuming that they are not paid off by those that seek to suck the life out of the community.

    And the billboard cartels are no more than corporate gangs driven only by greed, some directed by hedge fund owners or corporate raiders in tall buildings in far away places.

    Do they care one whit about the soul of L.A. or any other place they defecate upon? I bet they have no plans to retire in the City of Angels.

    Every billboard planted in the ground in L.A. is like a stake in the ground that identifies where a neighborhood improvement project is needed.

    Perhaps a Momkeywrench Gang will happen by one day and go to work.

  78. I’m a bit late to this discussion but the main reason for aesthetic flaws of the city that you point out above is the car culture. When you are driving, things that are large and imposing such as billboards and those monstrosities in front of strip malls must be made so that people driving by at 40mph can read them. When you go to a pedestrian zone such as 3rd street promenade or the historic sector of downtown, you don’t see such things. Signs are at the pedestrian level. There is no need to make everything larger than life so you can read it while whizzing buy in your vehicle. If you want to make L.A. more aesthetically pleasing, which is a monumental endeavor I admit, you have to get people out of their cars. You need a more walk-friendly city that resembles what downtown Santa Monica already looks like.

    I also agree that we need more regulations as to how things should look. But that will never happen. It’s probably just not feasible in a city this large to regulate what every roof should look like and what style architecture and paint color every building is limited to. That may work in smaller towns like Carmel and and Santa Barbara, but I doubt it is possible here. But I hear what you’re saying 100%. Back during the war-era, we had much higher aesthetic standards. It’s just a shame that the Spaniard didn’t arrive here 100 years earlier than they did or much more of the city would have a historic feel. The pre-war architecture of downtown is beautiful. There are so many gems down there you could take a weekend walking around and enjoying, such as the Biltmore Hotel. We also had a architectural motif that became iconic of this region, Colonial Revival and Art Deco. Sometimes they were beautifully combined like the Casino building on Catalina Island. Gems like this will never be built again as we don’t have the budgets, craftsman or patience to build such buildings from pure masonry anymore. Like I said, it’s just ashamed the Spaniards hadn’t founded Los Angeles maybe 100-200 years earlier than they did and the city would’ve had the chance to grow for a hundred years during and era where we had much better design aesthetics. Of course we’ll never be Paris, but that’s because most of Paris was build centuries ago. The new stuff being build in Paris looks no different than what’s being build here.

  79. I was born and raised in South Los Angeles, which is one the most ugliest cities in Los Angeles, atleast I think so. I agree with you 100%, besides the billboards, signs, and palm trees, the city is UGLY point blank. I have love for South L.A. and will do anything to change the way it looks. When I had my children I moved to the city of Montebello, lived there for three years, it was not the best looking city, but moving out of the “GHETTO” felt good. I recently came back from Georgia and I had to come live in South L.A. again, after being in GA, this city is more ugly to me than it was before. Now am willing to start some type of organization and gather people from the community to change it. WE CAN DO IT! We need get rid of liquor stores, clean the streets, plant TREES, and most important the PEOPLE in the community need to HELP!

  80. estube 3 meses en esa ciudad, los angeles, soy uruguayo y vivo en uruguay en la naturaleza verde y alucinante a pesar del calor que estamos soportando. nunca vi tanta miseria y mugre desgarradoras imagenes. dicen que es el primer mundo,, camine por gardena en la normandie y casi me matan, en venice me pedian hasta el fodo de la lata de cerveza, para tomar el metro en la central station me hizo acordar a moscu rusia a donde nunca fui , solo pude respirar un poco cuando fui por un fin de semana a monterrey. es fea esa ciudad por el egocentrismo de algunos que no se dieron cuenta del gran basurero que estaban creando. vivo en el campo en uruguay a 20 kms de la frontera con brasil,, demasiado lindo todo esto que me esta tocando vivir en esta parte del mundo

  81. I lived in L.A. for 31 years. I recently returned for a visit and found it so sad how ugly it is. Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley can be described in one word….cement.
    Where is the landscaping? If there is a vacant lot with something green, it will soon become cement. Where was the city planning committee? Everyone is so tolerant that there are no standards, no restrictions. “Anything is ok” leads to disaster. Not being so tolerant is often good.

  82. I am a Georgian who has had to live here part time for the past 9 years.
    The ugliness is so heavy that it lead me to Google “Why is LA so Ugly?,” and come to this site.
    I never realized how much esthetics affect mood until my second year in this ridiculously expensive ghettoish apartment building in Palms. Developers are buying up all the cottages in the neighborhood to put up horrendous modern boxes, totally incongruent with what is around them.
    I am so grateful that my beautiful neighborhood in Georgia has covenants, as well as gorgeous trees.
    A million dollars there buys a mansion; in this part of LA, it buys a tear-down 2-bedroom.

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