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20 Los Angeles headlines from the future

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You might read these news stories in the next decade

In the next 10 years, can Los Angeles build an extensive bike network, clean up its air and river, and boost Metro ridership?
Getty Images/Cavan Images RF

At the beginning of each year, it’s better to look forward instead of backward. But there was something about staring down the 2020s, this promise of a new decade, that begged for a gaze into the future that was a bit more aspirational. The next 10 years might bring some of the most radical change that LA has ever experienced. Are these headlines—inspired by current events and actual goals set by the city—real? Only if you want them to be.

CicLAvia routes will become permanent ‘people-first’ streets

Momentum for the effort began in 2020, just after the 10th anniversary of the open streets event, when a map of all 10 years of routes throughout the Los Angeles area over the years was published by CicLAvia organizers. Safe streets advocates began to circulate the map online with a petition asking all participating business owners along the routes to commit to supporting a car-free route for an entire year. The lone holdout, Toyota of Hollywood, closed down a few weeks after the petition circulated due to flagging sales.

Will the ADU boom end LA’s housing shortage this year?

Figures aren’t finalized yet, but the city planning department reports that enough ADUs will likely be built by the end of this year to end the region’s housing shortage. The biggest bump for backyard homes came after the state loosened up legislation in January 2020 to help streamline permits and allow for up to two ADUs on most California properties. The following year, one of the most successful pilot programs, named AlleyDU, converted entire blocks of alley-facing garages into new housing units at once, adding up to 30 families per block.

South LA neighborhood declared displacement-free

“What we’ve achieved here is quite remarkable,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Herb Wesson, standing in the plaza of the new housing complex at Nipsey Hussle Square, named for the rapper and activist who was killed there in 2019. Wesson had authored the original motion as councilmember that created anti-displacement zones around new developments, which were later expanded to encompass entire neighborhoods, he said. “We’ve improved the neighborhood by nearly every metric, added tens of thousands of new residents, seen rents go down—and no one was forced out.”

Mayor Garcetti cuts ribbon on U.S.’s most extensive bike lane network

As he does most mornings, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti boarded an electric Metro bike around 7 a.m. for his daily commute from Getty House to City Hall. But today, instead of riding east, he took the Wilshire Greenway west—to the ribbon-cutting of what’s been dubbed the fastest installation of major protected bike lane network in U.S. city history. The network became reality shortly after Garcetti was seen cycling around Paris with Mayor Anne Hidalgo, where the city had seen a 54 percent increase in cyclists during a one-year period from 2018 to 2019. From the time Garcetti returned to LA, the network was installed in about 18 months. Today’s opening comes just days before he leaves office.

Elon Musk wins city contract to dig utility tunnels

During the 2010s, Musk’s Boring Company proposed several transportation tunnels throughout the LA area, but the company was forced into bankruptcy after a series of lawsuits questioning the definition of the tunnels as transit systems. Musk quickly pivoted to digging tunnels for utility companies, winning business throughout California. After upgrading LA’s sewer network within six months, Musk began helping the region bury its electrical lines in order to reduce wildfire risk. “It’s the least I can do after all those Teslas that caught fire,” Musk told reporters.

LA goes entire summer without “dirty air day”

Although the region had made major improvements to its air quality since the 1990s, those gains began to slip during the 2010s, and the city experienced up to 80 dirty air days as recently as the summer of 2019. Officials credit the swift turnaround to the end of oil extraction and refinement, the electrification of the Port of LA, and a network of zero-emission routes put into place over the last few years, including former mayor Eric Garcetti’s bike network. “This is a true victory—not just for LA, but for all of California,” said Environmental Protection Agency Director Mary Nichols, former chair of the state’s air resources board.

Officers will do all beats on foot, says LAPD

To foster stronger relationships with community members and better serve neighborhoods, Los Angeles police officers now will rely on foot, horseback, scooter, and the country’s largest electric bike fleet to patrol streets. The police department will also stop using helicopters to apprehend suspects or conduct surveillance. This is the first major policy change for LAPD since officers stopped carrying firearms two years ago, a spokesperson said.

LACMA reopens after earthquake severs new building

The museum’s new building—nicknamed the “Toll Plaza” for the way it spanned Wilshire Boulevard—had been completed in 2026 after years of delays, but was badly damaged just days after its opening by a microquake on an undiscovered fault near the La Brea tar pits. (No art was damaged.) Using revolutionary 3D-printing technology, engineers were able to reproduce the museum’s original 1960s buildings, which had been torn down to build the addition, in a matter of months. “A building that crosses Wilshire was a huge mistake, aesthetically but also structurally,” said architect Peter Zumthor, who had designed the controversial building. “I realize that now.”

Historic win for LA’s all-women and nonbinary council

As recently as 2020, there were only two women members of the Los Angeles City Council, Mayor Nury Martinez reminded reporters. “When I became City Council president in 2020, I never would have dreamed that within a decade there would not be a single person who identifies as a man on this council,” said Martinez. This week’s historic election is made even more impressive as the city has since expanded the number of council districts from 15 to 21.

Helicopters to be banned from LA’s airspace

On December 31, most helicopters will be banned from flying over the city of LA, officials announced this week, following LAPD’s decision to no longer use the airborne vehicles. “With car congestion virtually eliminated, there’s no need for traffic reports, and car chases thankfully don’t merit breaking news coverage anymore due to speed governors in vehicles,” said an LADOT spokesperson. But the policy was also put in place to stop the proliferation of Uber Air’s autonomous passenger drones, which the flailing company began launching illegally after car-based ride-hailing was banned on the ground.

Olympics will become citywide festival celebrating end of homelessness

The troubles at the International Organizing Committee began just before Paris was set to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. Once the United Nations published its groundbreaking climate reparations recommendations, countries began to withdraw from competition after learning the true environmental and social cost of participating in the games. Then, due to stricter emission-reduction sanctions imposed at that year’s C40 climate summit, LA leaders realized the city could not accommodate hosting the Olympics in its annual carbon budget. (The games would have derailed the city’s plan to become carbon neutral by 2030.) Local officials quickly retooled the event, which will now become two weeks of neighborhood block parties celebrating the city’s epic housing achievements.

Leonardo DiCaprio carves Beverly Hills mansion into fourplex

DiCaprio tells Curbed he first got the idea during the 2020 awards season, as cataclysmic fires raging in Australia spurred many celebrities to make public pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. When the statewide transit density bill SB 50 passed, virtually eliminating single-family zoning, DiCaprio sold off his real estate portfolio and bought a home within walking distance to the Purple Line, which he soon divided up into four separate apartments. “Here I was making movies about climate change and donating millions of dollars to Australia fire relief, but I honestly didn’t realize how much I could help reduce emissions and fix the housing crisis by turning my home into transit-accessible multi-family housing,” says DiCaprio.

‘Never thought I’d see this happen’: 10 freeway completely removed

It’s the first of several freeway removals planned for the city as part of a major legal settlement. Two years ago, a statewide coalition of environmental justice groups sued Caltrans for building freeways that displaced tens of thousands of Californians, demolished historically black and Latino neighborhoods, and forced remaining mostly low-income residents to endure toxic living conditions for decades. The ruling ordered the removal of one freeway per major metropolitan area per year, which transformed the 10 freeway from an urban scar that sliced horizontally through the city into a thriving new neighborhood served by several rapid bus lines. Crews are already at work dismantling the adjacent 110 freeway, where the four-level intersection of the 110 and 105 will become a new state park.

LA River declared swimmable by EPA

This weekend, events will be held up and down the 52-mile river commemorating the important environmental milestone, including a tubing race from Balboa Park to the Pacific Ocean. On Saturday and Sunday, a free concert being billed as “Coachella but with water” organized by the Swim the LA River nonprofit will be held at the massive aquatic facility originally built for the 2028 Summer Olympics, which were later cancelled.

Regional Connector opening boosts Metro ridership beyond record levels

Faster commute times and one-seat trips across the region have lured riders back to public transit in a big way. Not only has ridership across Metro’s rail and bus lines surged over the last several months after the opening of the Regional Connector, the system is set to get an even bigger boost when universal free transit goes into effect later this year, paid for by the popular congestion pricing fees that have dramatically decreased the number of vehicles in Downtown.

First 100-percent city-funded housing opens in former Dodger Stadium parking lot

Chavez Ravine, as the development is named, references the community of Mexican-American homeowners who were forcibly removed from the site during the 1950s to make way for a public housing project designed by modernist architect Richard Neutra. However, when the project fell through, the property was sold to the Dodgers, with much of it paved over to park 16,000 cars. As part of LA’s new social housing mandate to return stolen land, city officials tracked down the grandchildren, and in some cases, great-grandchildren, of the families displaced from the original neighborhood, who were given first pick of the neighborhood’s 10,134 homes—about three times the number of housing units originally proposed for the hillside.

Traffic deaths eliminated one year before goal

As recently as the beginning of the decade, traffic deaths were the No. 1 cause of death for children aged 5 to 19 in LA County. But major policy shifts throughout 2022 brought dramatic declines in traffic deaths thanks to congestion pricing, the completion of the citywide bike network, skyrocketing transit ridership, new SAFE zones which closed streets around schools to cut-through traffic, and a statewide ban on new SUVs. The following year, no children under the age of 19 were killed in car crashes in LA County for the first time since the the invention of the automobile. The year after that, not a single traffic death was recorded in the city of LA.

Gondola to Hollywood Sign’s ‘selfie station’ begins operation

A group of longtime Beachwood Canyon residents were the first to board the solar-powered gondola, along with former LA councilmember-turned-Instagram influencer Tom LaBonge, for whom the gondola is named. LaBonge narrated a brief live video of himself with a sign behind him, tossed loaves of pumpkin bread made by nuns at nearby Monastery of the Angels into the crowd, then climbed into the car as the group took in the first sweeping views of Mt. Lee.

The search for LA’s last palm tree

A fungus, which scientists had first identified in the early 2000s, wreaked havoc on both Washingtonia filifera and Washingtonia robusta during the drought of the early 2020s. By the middle of the decade, the gently swaying giants began to pose a serious danger to residents when the quickly progressing fungus caused the palms to suddenly lose their crowns, sending fronds crashing down onto sidewalks and streets. Thanks to a tree census conducted in 2020, the city’s urban forestry department knew exactly where the remaining palms were located, and acted swiftly to replace them with safer species that would consume less water while producing more shade.

East Hollywood Target opens

The Target—known affectionately to locals as “Target Husk” because it sat vacant for so long—will officially be called the Doug Haines and Robert Silverstein East Hollywood Target, named for the local resident and lawyer who sued the city over the building’s 74-foot height, successfully halting construction of the project for five years. “Let us never forget these two men who showed us that progress will always prevail,” reads a plaque emblazoned with the Target logo that is situated in a landscaped plaza out front.