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California Nightmares: Why I Hate L.A.

Updated on January 30, 2012
Smog. | Source

© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.

I've lived in the Los Angeles area for most of my adult life. I’ve also traveled around the world enough to know that things can be far better than they are here. The obvious question is why don’t I move to a better place. Because my relationship with my city is complex. To see the flip side of my association, check out California Dreams: Why I Love L.A. Otherwise, join me to diss the City of No Angels.


We have the most extensive freeway system in the world. It also becomes the largest parking lot during rush hour. For 2010, the Chicago Tribune dubbed Los Angeles as having the worst traffic in America. We suffer 85 hours of congestion per week with an average speed of 14 miles per hour. Our widely spread commercial and residential centers make our attempts at a public transit system bizzare, which exacerbates the traffic. For example, our airport Metro Green Line, which was supposed to be a shining example of high-tech light rail, stops about a mile from any terminal, requiring a transfer to a shuttle bus for use.

Dumpster banquet.
Dumpster banquet. | Source


It’s perhaps unfair to single out one city in a nation obsessed with conspicuous consumption. Or maybe the constant sunshine illuminates the issue even more. But we throw away uneaten food in garbage cans while the homeless beg for scraps at freeway entrances. We fill our pools and water our lawns while our rivers remain dry. And we destroy perfectly sturdy homes and historic buildings to erect McMansions and other architectural behemoths that are out of scale with the neighborhood. I wonder how much of the California deficit we could erase by avoiding the spendthrift treadmill and turning the savings over to the government.


The American Lung Association ranked Los Angeles in 2012 as the most polluted city in the nation for ozone. We’re also in the top five for particle pollution. Our brown haze is immediately obvious to anyone looking up into an otherwise featureless sky or flying into LAX. And forget about seeing the stars at night. With light pollution also obscuring the view, you’re lucky to spot the full moon among all the particulate matter. I wonder how healthy it is to be jogging for fitness at Santa Monica beach with the gunk from car exhaust spotting your lungs.


Forget about our earthquakes, which are much ballyhooed around the world. They’re so common and so minor that the average Angeleno is more likely to think about the distance to Mars than the next temblor. Our biggest worries are the forest fires that blaze across the city when it’s hot and dry, a condition that exists almost year round. It doesn’t help that we lavish water on our well-tended English-style gardens, while ignoring the surrounding native brush that morphs into kindling. One lightning strike or worse yet, an arsonist’s lit match, can consume acres in minutes, burning up homes, businesses, animals and people.


We’re beautiful and healthy. We’re also well-spoken as long as the subjects stick to Oscar gowns, Justin Bieber’s new doo and what sports star is dating which starlet. But you’ll get a blank stare if you bring up more prosaic subjects like world events, literature, science, education, economics, art or social responsibility.

We’re more concerned about the tan of our skin than the cancer it can cause, and hock our souls into debt as we keep up with the latest fashions and technologies. It’s small consolation that if nothing substantial ever comes out of our mouths, our carefully crafted faces, bodies and outfits are at least pretty to look at.

Be sure and check out the companion article California Dreams: Why I Love L.A.

Why do you hate L.A?

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    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 5 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      I have been to L.A. twice in my life. Both times it was just a short stop over to somplace else. I was shocked at the smog, you really don't realize how bad it is until you are there, and the freeway traffic terrified me. I loved the palm trees and the beautiful landscaping though. It does make me appreciate living in the country. I guess it is all a matter of what you are used to. Voted up and interesting. Have a great day! :)

    • BizVT34 profile image

      BizVT34 5 years ago from USA

      Reminds me of the great Guy Clark song L.A. Freeway "If I can just get off of this LA freeway without getting killed or caught"

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Well, I also wrote a hub entitled "Why I Love L.A.," billybuc, so my feelings are quite mixed.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      If you love California, vespawoolf, be sure and read the companion article to this on "Why I Love L.A."

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Good and bad, yes, HawaiiHeart. I did write a companion hub to this called "Why I Love L.A."

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Probably far worse now moonlake.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      It's all a balance, iamaudraleigh. Be sure to read my second part of this hub, Why I Love L.A.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Actually, this is only part two, RealHouseWife. I have a hub on why I love L.A. as well.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I was in LA a couple of years ago and I loved it! I can see why you don't like some of those things - but St. Louis is no better in any area:) worse in crime here - I don't move for the same reasons you don't. I have a love hate relationship and I love it way more than I hate it. I understand the streets's just home:)

      Up and awesome!

    • profile image

      iamaudraleigh 5 years ago

      Aurelio, home is not always where the heart is...that I know! Reguardless, it is our comfort zone, a place we have spent most of our lives. It is ok to diss our hometown (LA was never my favorite place). When we are happy, we allow ourselves to point out the good points and make the best of it.

      Voted up!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 5 years ago from America

      We lived in Orange Co. and left because we were sick of traffic, Pollution, and earthquakes. We decided we didn't want our kids to grow up there. This was in 1966 and it was bad than. I can't image what it's like now.

      Voted Up

    • HawaiiHeart profile image

      HawaiiHeart 5 years ago from Hawaii

      I lived in LA while going to school. There were the downsides - like those that you mentioned, but there were a lot of positives too. I guess everywhere you go there are the good and the bad...

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      I love California but have spent little time in LA. I was there long enough to notice the traffic and pollution, though. It's quite ironic alongside stereotypical California: conservationism and healthy eating. This is a great article and, of course, well-written!

    • Jenna Pope profile image

      Jenna Pope 5 years ago from Southern California

      Wow, is this ever true! Voted up.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I have relatives in L.A. so I've probably visited the area five or six times and I have yet to find something I truly liked about the city. I have to temper that statement by saying I'm a country boy at heart so I would naturally have an aversion to all of those people and all of that traffic.

      You have my admiration for being able to live there as long as you have. Interesting hub for sure!

    • molometer profile image

      molometer 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      A funny and interesting twist on the L.A. story.

      I visited California and stayed near Malibu. I loved it.

      The video shows the problem with traffic.

      In London the average car speed is just 9 mph!

      So what to do? That's city living. Ups and downs.

      Great insiders guide to L.A. sharing.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I guess that there are pros and cons to almost anywhere a person lives. Those forest fires are really scary when the Santa Anna winds pick up. You have certainly pointed out some crazy contrasts in this hub. Voted up and interesting and funny for parts of it.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 5 years ago from Western NC

      I actually find this kind of funny...I don't know why. Maybe because I've visited Los Angeles, too, and your description is right on. It also makes me wonder: if California is supposed to be the emerging leader of green technology and standards for the rest of the country, what happened to LA? Well, another great hub. :)

    • formosangirl profile image

      formosangirl 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      Alocsin, this interesting hub gives good reasons for those who already dislike Los Angeles to leave so that those who love Los Angeles can have more space.