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Los Angeles County Department of Public Works

Los Angeles County Department of Public Works
Department overview
Formed 1985 (1985) (Merger)
Preceding agencies
  • County Engineer
  • Flood Control District
  • Road Commissioner
Jurisdiction Los Angeles County, California
Headquarters Alhambra, California
Employees 4,269 (2015)[1]
Annual budget $1,932,033,000 (2010)[1]
Department executive
  • Gail Farber, Director
Website .gov.lacounty.dpwwww
LADPW's headquarters in Alhambra

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works (LACDPW) is responsible for the construction and operation of Los Angeles County's roads, building safety, sewerage, and flood control. DPW also operates traffic signals and intelligent transportation systems, drinking water systems in certain communities, operates five airports, paratransit and fixed route public transport, administers various environment programs, issues various permits for activities in the public roadway, and has a Department Emergency Operations Center that works in conjunction with the County Emergency Operations Center operated by the Sheriff's Department. The department is headquartered in Alhambra, California.[2]

Services are provided primarily to the unincorporated county with some services provided to contract cities. Flood control and watershed management services are provided to all of the county except the Antelope Valley. The Department of Public Works is the largest municipal public works agency in the country, employs over 3,500 people, and has a budget in excess of one billion dollars.

As part of its flood control and water supply responsibilities, the Department of Public Works has 15 major dams and 27 spreading grounds in the county. Pacoima Dam is one of the largest owned by Public Works and survived the Northridge earthquake in 1994 intact.

Water from the dams is released into flood-control channels and some is diverted into spreading basins where it percolates into the ground and recharges the groundwater. The surface water is not used directly as it requires more cleaning than groundwater. Near the coast, the department has constructed sea water barriers that use injection wells to create a fresh water barrier to prevent salt water intrusion from the ocean into the groundwater.[3]

The DPW is a leader in watershed management. It provides storm drain education programs, publishes and enforces best management practices for activities that may affect the watershed, and manages watersheds to provide a balance between flood control, recreation, and protecting the natural environment.

The first director was Thomas A. Tidemanson, P.E. After his retirement, the Alhambra, California headquarters building was named for him.[4]

Gail Farber became the Director of Public Works on December 1, 2008 at an annual salary of $230,000. Farber was previously the Director of Public Works for the City of Orange.[5]


  • Recent Public Works accomplishments 1
  • History 2
  • Major Divisions 3
  • Transportation 4
    • Routes 4.1
  • Controversies 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Recent Public Works accomplishments

Opening of the East Los Angeles County Hall Building - On January 31, 2007, Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina (1st District) dedicated East L.A.’s own “City Hall.” As a thriving unincorporated community, East Los Angeles has long awaited for its own full service civic facility. The new County Hall will serve as East L.A.’s “City Hall”— bringing County services closer to the community. The County Hall is a significant milestone of the ELA Civic Center project, initiated in 1999, to establish a central location where the local community can easily access County services. County Hall services include the First District Community Office, the Public Works Building and Safety Counter, the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Regional Planning, and other permitting agencies such as the Health Department and the Fire Department.

Los Angeles County Flood Control District Opens Historic LA River Wetlands Project – On May 8, 2008, County of Los Angeles Supervisor Don Knabe (4th District) was joined by City of Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster to open the Dominguez Gap Wetlands in Long Beach. The $7 million treatment wetlands and spreading grounds project is the latest in a series of regional, multi-benefit projects implemented by the Los Angeles County Flood Control District, including the Sun Valley Park and Tuxford Green projects in the Sun Valley Watershed and the Tujunga Wash Greenway and River Restoration project in the San Fernando Valley’s Valley Glen community.[6]

The wetlands project is one of the top five demonstration projects of the Los Angeles River Master Plan.

The wetlands project is the first of its kind in the Los Angeles County region. It maintains the integrity of flood protection along the urban lower reaches of the river, while introducing new water quality elements, groundwater recharge, restoration of native habitat, pedestrian and equestrian trails, environmental education, and river bike trail enhancements.

The project encompasses extensive renovation of two preexisting Flood Control District spreading grounds, located along both sides of the Los Angeles River between Del Amo Blvd. and the 405 Freeway.

State Official Award $25 Million to Southland Water Projects – On July 25, 2008, Lester Snow, director of the State Department of Water Resources, presented a $25 million mock-check to County of Los Angeles Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke and local officials from water supply and water treatment agencies, municipalities, and non-governmental organizations throughout the greater Los Angeles county region. The $25 million will help fund 14 water-related projects dispersed throughout Los Angeles County. State and local


The department was formed in 1985 in a consolidation of the county Road Department, the Flood Control District (in charge of dams, spreading grounds, and channels), and the County Engineer (in charge of building safety, land survey, waterworks).

For 25 years, the County Engineer Department was housed in the historic Higgins Building, a 10-story Beaux-Arts style commercial building that was designed and built by noted architect Arthur L. Haley and engineer Albert Carey Martin in 1910, at the corner of Second and Main Streets in Downtown Los Angeles. After "overseeing construction projects large and small from one of the city's strongest buildings, the county determined that the department needed more modern quarters and pulled up stakes in 1977," according to the Los Angeles City Planning Department, which designated the building as the Historic-Cultural Monument #873.

In 1977, the County Engineer Department moved to the corner of 5th Street and Vermont Ave., Los Angeles until the merge of the three departments. At that time the department was called the Department of County Engineer-Facilities.

For years, the Flood Control District and the County Road Department were headquartered in buildings at Alcazar Street in East Los Angeles by the Los Angeles County General Hospital.

Major divisions of the Public Works Department were located at various locations in Los Angeles city for a number of years, until the 12-story glass building in Alhambra, California was purchased and refurbished. This tallest structure in Alhambra was formerly the western headquarters of Sears, Roebuck and Company, where some fixture units still bear the label "Sears". The steel frames were strengthened in 2006 after it was learned from the Northridge earthquake that the welded joints were not adequate to withstand a major earthquake.[7]

Major Divisions

  • Architectural and Engineering Division – designs various buildings and facilities for other county departments
  • Aviation Division – operates the five general aviation airports: Fox Field (Lancaster), Brackett Field (La Verne), Whiteman Airport (Pacoima), Compton/Woodley Airport (Compton), and El Monte Airport (El Monte)
  • Administrative Services Division - provides contract support, fleet, procurement and warehousing services for the Department
  • Building and Safety Division – regulates construction on private properties
  • Construction Division – advertises and awards public contracts and performs inspection, construction management, and environmental compliance during construction of public works projects
  • Design Division - designs departmental facilities
  • Environmental Programs Division - promotes recycling, and regulates underground storage tanks and industrial waste disposal
  • Flood Maintenance Division – operates and maintains dams, open channels, storm drains, debris basins, check dams and pumping plants
  • Geotechnical and Materials Engineering Division - Ensures proper land development from geology and soils engineering to subdivision mapping standards
  • Land Development Division - regulates the developments in private lands
  • Project Management Division – manages capital project constructions for the County
  • Programs Development Division - manages funding programs and operates transit services in the unincorporated County
  • Road Maintenance Division – maintains the various streets and roads in the unincorporated portions of the County
  • Sewer Maintenance Division – operates and maintains sewers, pumping stations and sewage treatment plants
  • Survey Division – provides survey services, maintains public land/survey records
  • Traffic and Lighting Division – handles the traffic controls and lights on the streets of the unincorporated portions of the County
  • Water Resources Division - handles water conservation, and operates and maintains three seawater barriers
  • Watershed Management Division - handles multipurpose watershed projects and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit Program
  • Waterworks Division – provides water services



LACDPW operates shuttles in unincorporated areas of the county, and funds other agencies that provide service.[9]


DPW offers funding support for City of Santa Clarita Transit, Antelope Valley Transit Authority's TRANSporter, and for LADOT's DASH Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles route. Los Angeles County is part of the Antelope Valley Transit Authority and the Palos Verdes Peninsula Transit Authority.


In 1988, the Department issued a demolition permit for tear down the historic Golden Gate Theater in East Los Angeles. Demolition commenced before officials led by then County Supervisor Ed Edelman halted the work with a stop-work order.[10] Demolition crews had already begun to dismantle the walls when Edelman, then Los Angeles City Councilwoman Gloria Molina, sheriff's deputies and more than 50 concerned community members showed up at the site to ensure the demolition work was halted. Edelman blamed a "foul-up" in the Public Works Department for issuing the demolition permit and assured the gathered crowd that heads were going to roll and that he would "try and stop this damn demolition before it happens."[10][11]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Recommended Budgeted Positions 2014-2015" (PDF). County of Los Angeles. Chief Executive Office. p. 2. Retrieved 30 April 2015. 
  2. ^ "Contact Public Works." Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. Retrieved on September 27, 2009.
  3. ^ Amy Pyle and Leslie Berger, Boy's Death Prompts Calls for Changes, Los Angeles Times, February 15, 1992
  4. ^ Los Angeles County Public Works Director Will Retire After 38 Years, Los Angeles Times, January 06, 1994
  5. ^ Public Works Director Named, Dept. of Public Works Press Releases, November 12, 2008
  6. ^ Wetlands renovation aims to reduce pollution from stormwater in the Los Angeles River American City & County, April 1, 2009
  7. ^ Lynn O'Shaughnessy and Tracy Wood, County Skirts the Rules; Campaign Donor Profits Big, Los Angeles Times, November 7, 1988
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b Penelope McMillan (1988-03-17). "Curtain Call for a Landmark Theater". Los Angeles Times.  "Demolition crews had swept onto the site at the corner of Whittier and Atlantic boulevards Tuesday and Wednesday, and began to dismantle some walls. But they were halted by a stop-work order obtained from the county Public Works Department through the efforts of Supervisor Ed Edelman."
  11. ^ Future of 1927-era East L.A. theater in question, May 14, 2009

External links

  • Los Angeles County Department of Public Works web site
  • Lakewood Accountability Action Group A group of County Residents that lives in Lakewood California (within Supervisor Knabe's district) and often assists cyclists and others with getting the LA County Dept. of Public Works to repair and or fix issues with the San Gabriel River Bike Path.

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