top of page

1948: The Mexican pueblo of Los Ángeles becomes part of the United States trough the Treaty of Cahenga Jan. 13th, 1847, ending the California phase of the Mexican-American War. 


1849: E.O.C. Ord Survey, Los Angeles' first American legislative cartography, produces real estate boom through documentary absolution of land divisions and ownership.    


1892: Edward L. Doheny discovers oil at the intersection of 2nd & Glendale.  Within the year 120 derricks go up in the surrounding landscape of homes and businesses.


1900: Los Angeles becomes the oil center of the west with 1,150 wells producing 1.8 million gallons of oil, equivalent in global market share to current day Saudi Arabia.  Population 100,000.


1904: City adopts ordinance establishing the nation's first land use designations explicitly excluding primarily Chinese-American owned wash houses from residential zones. 


1910: City Council establishes a 15-member Planning Committee to develop a comprehensive plan of the city.


1913: William Mulholland designs a system for transporting water from the Owens Valley along a 250 mile long aqueduct.  This hydrod- ynamic forces becomes the basis of the cities first municipally owned electricity and the foundation of what would become the LADWP.  


1915: The San Fernando Valley is annexed, nearly doubling the size of the city.  Much of the land was acquired pre-annexation by a group of insiders, including Mulholland, who were privy to the forthcoming civic hydration and annexation.


1917: The City’s first power plant, San Francisquito Power Plant No. 1, becomes operational.  Employing a hydroelectric system developed by E.F. Scattergood to harness the energetic potential o f the Owens River aqueduct.


1920: Powerhouse No. 2 added; Planning Committee replaced by 52-member City Planning Commission; City’s first comprehensive Street Plan and zoning Ordinance.    


1925: The Planning Commission is reduced to five members and creates a professional planning department with George Whitnall as head.


1928: St. Francis Dam Fails killing as many as 425 people and destroying Power House No. 2 in what it widely considered one of the worst American civil engineering disasters of the 20th century. 


1928: Powerhouse No. 2 rebuilt


1930: Height, area, density, and parking regulations are prepared and standard zone categories are developed.


1933: Homeowners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC), formed by President Roosevelt produces “safety maps” redlining “hazards” and “amenities” block-by-block. Non-white or racially mixed neighborhood were classified as “in decline” and denied federal funding with far reaching consequences still felt and seen today.   


1946: A consolidated zoning ordinance is adopted and the entire City is remapped.

1947: The California Department of Public Works (now Caltrans) comprehensive freeway plan is adopted, taking advantage of "redlined" distinctions to level neighborhoods described as "blight" and locate freeways in low-income non-white neighborhoods. 

1950: Construction has begun on most of the regions 527 mile long freeway system, displacing a quarter-million people, and fracturing communities such as Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, and East LA. 

1974: The Council adopts the Centers Concept​ under the direction of planning g Director Calvin Hamilton.  The plan sought to concentrate development in a number of high density hub connected by rapid transit corridors. 

1994: Northridge Quake causes DWPs only total system wide failure


1996: As required by the state, the LA Council adopts a new guiding document for long-range planning, the General Plan Framework, produced of millions of dollar of research and hundreds of public meetings

2003: AB 1866 is adopted, liberalizing requirements for secondary residential units and requiring local planning agencies to comply with state standards for secondary units. 

2004: LA City Council directs LADPW to source 20% of energy (excluding Hoover Dam) from clean energy sources by 2010.


2006:  AB 32, The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 passes, requiring sharp reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through comprehensive long-range planning.  

2007: LADPW Begins long term initiative to upgrade power lines and move them underground.

2008: SB 375: Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008 passes, supporting "the State's climate action goals to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through coordinated transportation and land use planning with the goal of more sustainable


2011: LADWP & Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Cleantech Alliance found the LA Cleantech Incubator

2013: re:code LA approved by the City Council starting a 5-year comprehensive Zoning Code rewrite. Explicating current code processes and transposing the code into an active, searchable web-format are among the projects primary aims. 

The objective of the timeline is to provide a brief historical overview, highlighting certain key events which have influenced the concurrent development of land use policy and urban energy systems in Los Angeles under the Department of Water and Power (LADWP), the Department of City Planning (LADCP), and their institutional predecessors.  Such events take a variety of form and are not limited to actions neatly within the domain of either planning or energy development.  One may consider the timeline a work in progress and feel welcome to pose additions through the contact forum.  

bottom of page