We are All At Risk In LA’s Slow, Aging Infrastructure Death

DATELINE ENCINO--The photo above are prima facie evidence that the infrastructure in and around Encino and LA is taxed and at the breaking point. While I was taking these pictures the DWP crew was insistent that I leave the area because it was just not a water main break. The force of the water from the broken main corrupted a natural-gas line which was leaking creating an explosive situation!

Therefore, if Sacramento and Los Angeles insistonbuilding bigger buildings and higher density along Ventura Blvd. we can all look forward to disruptions in essential utilities (blackouts and brownouts) and more traffic nightmares. 

As Los Angeles tries tobuild more high-rise structures we must first repair our Zimbabwean infrastructure, to support such efforts. Sempra Energy’s Southern California Gas Company pipes are old. More than 38% of the pipes in Southern California Gas Company's territory are more than 50 years old.About 16% of their pipes are made from corrosive and leak-prone materials, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. 

The Department of Water and Powers pipes are also on terminal life support.The LA Times has reported that 20% of the city's water pipes were installed before 1931. These pipes were supposed to last 100 years. Meaning all will reach the end of their useful lives in the next 15 years. These aged pipes are responsible for 50% of all water main leaks, and replacing them is a looming, multi-billion-dollar problem for the City of Angels. 

This problem is exacerbated by the ongoing drought. Experts estimated 8billion gallons of precious water are wasted by these breaks, enough to supply 50,000 houses with water for a year.The scary thing is no one knows how many leaks are happening at any given time. In the only survey, I could find covering 35 months of data 541 leaks were counted. Not only will we pay for pipes we pay for the wasted water flowing into the sewers. 

Our roads which used to be first class when I arrived here in the Seventies are steadily advancing to third world quality.In 2013 according to an LA Times article, the City Council was advancing a bill to spend $3 Billion dollars to fix thousands of miles of the city's most deteriorated streets. It is estimated that our potholed roads of the Los Angeles metropolitan area are costing local drivers nearly $3,000 a year, according to a new report from the national transportation research group known as TRIP, KPCC recently reported. 

Between 2005 and 2013, the estimated cost to repair the worst roads doubled from $1.5 billion to $3 billion. Officials say that if they do not act now, the cost will double again in the next decade. So, based on these estimates we probably need $5Billion to fix our roads. It is estimated we need $4 Billion to fix our sidewalks. 

The undeclared tax of trying to keep our cars road worthy on unworthy roads is but one insult. The real insult is that Los Angeles’ $9.2 Billion City Budget is not enough to keep our roads fit to travel on.  Let us not forget that in 2017 Senate Bill SB1 the Transportation Funding Bill raised gasoline excise taxes 12 cents a 4% increase at $3.00 a gallon to improve our roads. I defy any of us sheeple, I mean Taxpayers to find a road that has been improved by way of this tax. However, I am sure the bureaucracy has gotten fatter and larger administering this largess. The way out, as it always is according to the Political Geniuses in our own Tammany Hall is to tax us more. The lure of other people’s money for a politician has an irresistible appeal. 

The Department of Water and Power the home of the corroded pipe and the endless rate increase, which it always receives is not even close to catching up on the differed maintenance of its ancient water and power systems.

Estimates from the DWP in 2017 estimate that fixing the water system at $1.3 billion, and planned electrical fixes will cost $4.5 billion, according to the agency. The same report states that eight of the utility's 70 high-voltage transformers were past their 50-year lifespans. Each high voltage transformer complex cost at least $5 Million to replace.

Southern California Edison’s is expected to spend $4.5 Billion making repairs and upgrading their system. During the Fire Season, Fall-2017 Southern California Edison’s High-Power Transmission Lines were suspected of causing some of the worst fires in the History of Southern California.The utility said state investigators are now looking at places where Edison’s equipment could have played a role. It is believed by safety and civil defense officials that if the power went out for a little over a day, approximately four meals, we would be looking at Los Angeles and all major cities reverting to anarchy, the stone age or something worse.

These figures do not include hardening our electrical grid against a giant electromagnetic pulse from the Sun or elsewhere. We really are on the wires edge and we are playing with fire.

What is the City Councils answer to these problems? To paraphrase L.A. Raiders great Coach Al Davis, they just want to build, baby build. Or maybe Mayor Eric got his inspiration from Sarah Palin: and turned her most famous phrase into “just build, baby build”. In any event this giant experiment in what me worry construction practices, Angelinos will have a diminishing lifestyle, replete with higher taxes, more traffic and a more crowded and angry City.

 

(Eliot Cohen is currently a member of a Neighborhood Council where he is a Chair-Person of a Planning and Land Use Committee. He works as a Financial Advisor. In Newman we Trust. Photos by Eliot Cohen.)