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Los Angeles County Department of Public Works
Department overview
Formed1985 (1985) (Merger)
Preceding agencies
  • County Engineer
  • Flood Control District
  • Road Department
JurisdictionLos Angeles County, California
HeadquartersAlhambra, California
Employees4,269 (2016)[1]
Annual budget$2,448,066,000 (2016)[2]
Department executive
  • Mark Pestrella, Director

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 at 900 South Fremont Avenue in Alhambra, California.[3]

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.

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.[4] 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.[5]

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 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.[6]

Former Directors

Major Divisions



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 to 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. ^ "Recommended Budgeted Positions 2016–2017" (PDF). County of Los Angeles. Chief Executive Office. p. 2. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  2. ^ "2016–17 Recommended Budget" (PDF). County of Los Angeles. Chief Executive Office. p. 543. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  3. ^ "Contact Public Works." Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. Retrieved on September 27, 2009.
  4. ^ Stevens, Matt (August 25, 2016). "L.A. betting that stormwater can help ease California's drought". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  5. ^ Amy Pyle and Leslie Berger, Boy's Death Prompts Calls for Changes, Los Angeles Times, February 15, 1992
  6. ^ Lynn O'Shaughnessy and Tracy Wood, County Skirts the Rules; Campaign Donor Profits Big, Los Angeles Times, November 7, 1988
  7. ^ Los Angeles County Public Works Director Will Retire After 38 Years, Los Angeles Times, January 06, 1994
  8. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-09-04. Retrieved 2012-01-28.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  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

Coordinates: 34°05′9″N 118°08′56″W / 34.08583°N 118.14889°W / 34.08583; -118.14889