Los Angeles had little need for sewers as the 1880s opened.  More 

traditional methods of disposal proved sufficient for the city's few thousand 

residents.  Most still used outhouses, while wealthier individuals with newer 

homes connected their indoor plumbing to cesspools. 

    Efforts to provide sewer service for the business section had already 

begun, however.  The Bella Union Hotel, the first commercial building to have a 

sewer connection, provided its own system consisting of a small, square wooden 

pipe crossing Los Angeles Street to a connection with the zanja.  Harris 

Newmark recalled that when it burst in early 1860, flooding a building owned by 

pioneer resident Francis Mellus, Mellus took matters into his own hands and 

plugged up the sewer.  The Bella Union's proprietors promptly sued him. 

    Construction of a municipal sewer began under Mayor Joel Turner at the end 

of the 1860s.  The first project was a wooden pipe 500 feet in length along 

Commercial Street.  That early-day muckraker Horace Bell claimed that the 

sewer, which only served one property owner, emptied into a cesspool which soon 

became clogged and created such a health hazard that the court ordered it 

filled.  Bell estimated the sewer's expense at no more than $400 but he claimed 

the council paid for it in scrip that cost the city nearly $53,000.

    In the 1870s sewer construction continued in fits and starts: a block-long 

sewer on New High put down shortly after the one on Commercial; a brick and 

wood sewer on Los Angeles Street, between First and Second, in 1873; brick 

conduit down Main from the corner of Arcadia to Winston, and then to Los 

Angeles Street in 1875; in 1879 on Los Angeles from Commercial to Arcadia, 

connecting with the Main Street sewer. 

    In the 1880s sewers were extended piece by piece over the business 

district.  Parts of Spring, Fort, Hill and Olive were sewered, but as late as 

1887 Hope Street still had no sewer, nor was there any significant sewering 

south of Seventh or west of Flower.

    What to do with the sewage at the end of the line was a question easily 

resolved at first: the sewer ended in a large field and the effluvia was 

dispersed on the land.  When complaints from nearby residents became so 

vociferous that they could not be ignored, city authorities simply extended the 

sewer a short distance to a more thinly populated section of town.  For some 

time the sewer terminated near Los Angeles and Ogier Streets {Ogier was between 

the present Fourth and Fifth} and emerged onto the surface there.  As a result 

of complaints it was extended to Seventh Street where Chinese gardeners used it 

to irrigate and fertilize their lettuce, radishes and other vegetables.  This 

practice created such a stench that those living in the vicinity complained 

until the sewer was once more extended, this time to Washington Street, midway 

between San Pedro and Alameda Streets, where it was again spread on the land.  

    The growing problem of sewer waste disposal became one of the major topics 

among the city's residents during the 1880s, a concern that was reflected in 

the letters columns of the daily press.  As that decade ended the Times was 

printing more communications about sewers than any other subject.  Complaints 

did not come only from residents.  Visitors, too, groused to the paper about 

the city's lack of modern sanitation practices, as exemplified by this letter 

early in the decade.

                         {Times, Oct. 13, 1882, p. 3}

                            The Sewerage Question.

              To the Editor:

              The first thing a stranger does upon entering a town is 

         to look into the health of its people.  If a person is 

         looking for a home he is more anxious to learn if there is a 

         perfect system of drainage.  He looks about to find the 

         source of water, and if plentiful and pure.  No town can be 

         healthy with impure water.  If he finds neither he is quite 

         likely to leave, to find a better locality, and when leaving 

         he is certain to influence Tom, Dick and Harry, who are 

         contemplating settling wherever he does.  A town is never so 

         thickly populated but there is room for more, and it behooves 

         the settlers to encourage, rather than to drive people away.  

         But, one says, what is to be done if we cannot arouse the 

         proper authorities to give us a good sewerage?  One says the 

         evil is a glaring one, and our city fathers know it, if they 

         don't help us, and we can't get away from it, it is our 

         bounden duty to keep others from suffering, so we advise our 

         friends to go where the health of the people is made a 

         consideration; thus hundreds are driven from your lovely city 

         that otherwise would settle here could they be assured of 

         good drainage and pure water.

              The question is a serious one.  How long can Los Angeles 

         remain even as healthy as now, with China town with all its 

         filth and stench under the nostrils.  I've traveled much and 

         can safely say, Los Angeles has the dirtiest streets of any 

         town of its size I have ever seen.  I have noticed daily the 

         water carts turning on the water onto the filth thus laying 

         and packing it in, and in some localities the stench is 

         intolerable as the sun pours its rays upon it.  Let the "City 

         Dads" bestir themselves.  I predict that in three years Los 

         Angeles will be a very unhealthy city.


    By 1883 residents near the Washington Street sewer outlet demanded its 

removal.  Two proposals were put forth: extend the line to a new sewer farm in 

Vernon, near the intersection of Jefferson and Alameda, or build the sewer east 

to the river, thence south along the river some four miles to a sewage farm.  

The estimated cost of the Vernon line was $4000, half that of its rival. 

    Responding to the proposal that a sewer farm be established at Vernon, 

former councilman Jesse Butler, a frequent contributor to the letters column, 

offered this opinion as to how Vernon residents would react.

                         {Times, Oct. 24, 1883, p. 3}

                     The City Sewage--A Voice From Vernon.

              To the Editor of the Times--Sir:  I find in the columns 

         of your daily, date of October 20th, quite an interesting 

         article upon the present and future sewerage of Los Angeles 

         city.  I most heartily indorse everything therein contained, 

         and can further add that Jefferson street will not only be in 

         the near future, but is at this present time, the home of 

         quite a number of the most respected and respectable families 

         in this county, all of which lands are today improved after 

         such a manner as makes them not only ornamental but 

         profitable to the now happy and healthy occupant.

              I take, sir, this means of notifying the public 

         generally that the good people of Vernon District are fully 

         alive to their own interests, notwithstanding the fact that a 

         few of the would-be moneyed men have seen fit for 

         (mistakingly) individual gain to scatter broadcast over our 

         entire neighborhood, the seed of disease, ruin and 

         desolation.  The same people are almost to a man solid 

         against the introduction of the sewerage into this locality, 

         here to be emptied or used for any purpose whatever, and 

         today stand ready with a protest which I now hold in my hand, 

         signed by over fifty sound, solid and sane citizens, who are 

         not only willing, but determined, when the proper time comes, 

         to contest the right of any corporation or individual to do 

         aught that will depreciate the lands or impair the health of 

         our prosperous little community.

                                                  J. H. B.

              October 22nd, 1883.

    Vernon got its sewer farm when Los Angeles extended the line to Jefferson 

and dumped the outflow on the several hundred acres owned by Andrew Briswalter.  

For four years that solved the city's problem.  By late 1887, as Butler had 

predicted, Vernon's residents echoed the complaints heard over the years from 

others who had been at the end of the line.  More compelling than complaints 

from Vernon was the impact of the real estate boom, which found the city with a 

sewage collection system as inadequate as that of its disposal.  With the city 

at the peak of the boom, the council was anxious to move forward with sewer 


    City Engineer Fred Eaton, later a prominent figure in the Owens Valley 

aqueduct project, developed a plan calling for a sewage farm west of the city 

at the Cienega, near what became the intersection of La Cienega and Venice 

Boulevards.  In addition, the Eaton plan included an outfall sewer line 

paralleling Ballona Creek to carry surplus, untreated sewage to the sea near 

Playa del Rey.  Mayor William Workman, whose term was noted for improvements in 

the infrastructure, was as eager to sewer the city as he was to pave its 

streets.  "B," however, questioned the need for haste. 

                         {Times, Oct. 17, 1887, p. 6}

                              Sewer Connections.

              Los Angeles, Oct. 14.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         Are there not many hundred houses in this city that can 

         connect with existing sewers, but which have not connected 

         with them?  And if we had a million dollars' worth more 

         sewers, would they be any more likely to make the connection?  

         Why this unseemly haste of the Sewer Committee that the Mayor 

         and the people must be permitted only ten days to study the 

         matter and make up their minds?  It will not take but a 

         little more show of what looks mightily like "forcing the 

         issue" to tempt the people to vote the plan proposed down 

         when it comes before them.


    Unlike "B," most Angelenos agreed with municipal authorities that the 

situation required immediate action.  They were divided, however, regarding the 

proper solution.  From early 1888 on through 1889 the pages of the Times 

reflected an intensifying debate over the merits of an adequate sewage farm 

that could accommodate a city several times the population that Los Angeles 

then had versus an outfall sewer to the Pacific.  While most city officials 

supported the outfall sewer, letter writers chose sides.  Dr. Francis F. Dole, 

a physician, supported the sewage farm.  J. H. Marvin urged support for the 

outfall system.

                         {Times, Jan. 23, 1888, p. 3}

                             Los Angeles Sewerage.

              Los Angeles, Jan. 19.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         There is no doubt but every gallon of sewage of this city, 

         until its inhabitants number double its estimated increase to 

         200,000, can be so utilized at some profit to the city.  Not 

         that I mean that any money can be made from it over and above 

         the expense, but that some income can be received to meet 

         expense and interest and save completing the outlet sewer to 

         the ocean for quite a number of years.

              The composition of sewage varies much less than might be 

         expected.  The difference is one of degree rather than of 

         kind.  There is little difference between the sewage of a 

         watercloseted town and a non-closeted.

              There is no doubt that the solid excrement forms the 

         most important polluting agent of the sewage, yet it is by no 

         means the greatest in aggregate amount, and is indeed but a 

         small fraction of the total polluting material which comes 

         from the innumerable articles of domestic economy.

              Sewage when fresh and freely exposed to the air, as in 

         sewers only partially filled, has little odor and can 

         scarcely be considered offensive, but once let it accumulate 

         in large quantities and come to comparative rest, 

         putrefaction sets in and it becomes vilely odorous, a 

         seething mass, full of those minute organisms which live and 

         grow and multiply in airless deoxygenated mediums.

              Sewage has thus far been disposed of in one of three 

         methods.  (1) It may be turned into a river or the ocean, 

         where it can be carried by currents, diluted by diffusion and 

         oxygenated by dissolved oxygen, without appreciable nuisance.  

         (2) It may be applied directly to the land, if sufficient 

         area may be obtained to dispose of it without offense.  (3) 

         It may be treated with chemical agents, such as directly 

         destroy organic matter.

              Los Angeles has no river with water sufficient the year 

         round to dilute her sewage.  This is no misfortune.  The 

         great question of Massachusetts today is how to purify her 

         streams and rivers, made vile by sewage.

              It is feasible to carry our sewage to the ocean, but not 

         without future danger, should our coast become densely 


              The processes, inorganic and organic, by which effete 

         matters are got rid of by the soil can be but feebly imitated 

         by man, hence the value of the 6000 or more acres in the 

         Centinela ranch, which the City Engineer specifies as ready 

         for irrigation, an area capable of disposing of the sewage of 

         a city with nearly 500,000 people, in this climate.

              There is no agent which so efficiently deodorizes sewage 

         as the soil, which acts not only as a check to putrefaction, 

         but also absorbs the gases of sewage.  This action, it has 

         been proved, is limited to the more superficial layers of the 

         soil, which indicates broad irrigation rather than deep 

         infiltration, thus saving in the expense of deep excavation 

         and preparation of the soil.  It has been demonstrated from 

         experience that simple straining of sewage is all that is 

         needed to fit it for broad irrigation.  The solids can then 

         be cremated at small expense.

              It is an erroneous idea that sewage can be effectually 

         treated by chemicals alone.  Any chemical that will 

         effectually destroy the spores of bacteria or deprive them of 

         potential life will certainly render the sewage unfit to be 

         disposed of anywhere, for by such addition it becomes a 

         virulent poison.

                                         F. F. DOLE, M. D.

                         {Times, Jan. 30, 1888, p. 6}

                              The Sewer Question.

              Los Angeles, Jan. 28.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         Will you please state the amount of bonds voted two or three 

         years since by the city for its improvement, how apportioned, 

         and what has been done with that part intended for a sewer 

         system?  There is no subject of so much moment to our 

         citizens as this one of sewerage, and there certainly seems 

         to be something radically wrong somewhere, that a matter of 

         such vital importance is so delayed or neglected.  Can you 

         tell us the fault?  Does our city government fail to 

         comprehend the situation, or, understanding it, is there a 

         lack of ability to take hold of the business and carry it to 

         completion?  This city cannot long afford to remain in its 

         present unprotected state.  Thousands of vaults and 

         cesspools, with their foul and deadly gases, are crowding one 

         another in the thickly settled districts, spreading disease 

         with every breath.  What is to be done?  What is being done?  

         Why not a public meeting about this matter, to arrange to 

         carry the filth of the city to the ocean?  It should not stop 

         short of there.

              It is the duty of every good citizen to urge upon the 

         Councilmen of his ward the necessity of thorough and speedy 

         sanitary legislation.  And, Mr. Editor, no newspaper of our 

         city can do more good than by keeping this burning question 

         strongly and constantly before those in authority and 

         property owners until relief is given.  If we expect to 

         continue our growth we shall have to keep pace with that 

         growth in public spirit and public works.  All progressive 

         cities look to this emergency and meet it.  I sometimes think 

         we have very little to show for the vast sum of money 

         annually amassed by taxation.

                                              J. H. MARVIN

              By ordinance No. 175, entitled an ordinance to provide 

         for the use of bonds for the purpose of making certain 

         necessary improvements, adopted by the Council at its meeting 

         June 30, 1885, and approved by Mayor E. F. Spence on the 6th 

         day of July, 1885, bonds to the amount of $245,000 were 

         issued.  These bonds are known as the general improvement 

         bonds of the city of Los Angeles, draw 6 per cent. interest, 

         payable semi-annually, and are payable on or before the 

         expiration of 20 years from the date of their issue.  These 

         bonds were apportioned as follows;

         To the improvement of irrigation system.............$120,000

         To construction of street sewers..................... 40,000

         To completion of City Hall........................... 65,000

         To building and repairing bridges and street

            improvement....................................... 20,000

              Of these several amounts, $55,000 of the irrigation 

         bonds have never been put on the market, and are now in the 

         City Treasury.  The $40,000 set aside for sewers was 

         originally intended solely for the brick sewer on Main 

         street, but between $18,000 and $20,000 has been expended for 

         pipe, the remainder still being in the treasury.  The 

         proceeds of the other bonds were expended for the purposes 

         for which they were issued.  This is the entire bonded 

         indebtedness of the city.  A few months ago $150,000 bonds 

         for school purposes was voted at a special election but some 

         doubt having been cast as to the legality of the securities 

         they have never been issued.--[Editor Times.]

    For the January 1, 1913 midwinter edition of the Times the editor chose 

as the issue's theme the question: What would Los Angeles be like twenty-five 

years hence, in 1938?  A staff artist envisioned a city of great skyscrapers 

lying at the edge of a harbor, with large freighters moored nearby.  Twenty-

five years earlier G. W. Briggs had foreshadowed that artist's conception in 

this letter to the Times proposing another solution to the sewage problem.

                         {Times, April 7, 1888, p. 5}

                 Suggested Canal to San Pedro or Santa Monica.


              Los Angeles, April 6.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         The difficulty experienced in providing Los Angeles with 

         commercial facilities in order to develop her resources and 

         place within reach of millions of Americans her vast climatic 

         advantages has not been overestimated by either the press or 

         the prominent patriots who have an interest in her welfare.  

         Her want of efficient sewerage arrangements, and the 

         expensive machinery which will shortly have to be adopted to 

         provide this great essential to the development of the 

         people, has been and will continue to be not only dangerous, 

         but a positive hindrance to the highest interests of the 

         city.  Our banks are choked with idle capital, while the 

         commercial magnates are unable to find an outlet for their 

         enterprise.  Could not the very favorable position for 

         developing a canal from here to the Pacific be taken 

         advantage of?  A variety of means, in addition to the fact of 

         transit, could be adopted.  It could be made the means of 

         conveying our sewerage to the sea; it could furnish the means 

         of irrigation and thus aid in the cultivation of thousands of 

         acres of rich land, and it could also add the great jewel of 

         attraction to this very highly-favored land by providing the 

         City of the Angels with a lake.  No engineering difficulties 

         stop the way.  It is a straight line to the sea, and a 

         gradual fall for the water to travel.  The Los Angeles River 

         could be utilized instead of allowed to waste and filter 

         through the gravel and sand until it is lost.  It would flush 

         the canal and a series of sluices could be arranged, whereby 

         its waters would be a source of fertility throughout its 

         course.  The sewage could be conveyed beyond the city limits 

         to join the water, and a large basin of water for ships to 

         load and unload their freights would add beauty, harmony and 

         advantage to a landscape which otherwise is far beyond 

         comparison with any yet inhabited by man.  Twenty miles of 

         canal, with no aqueducts or expensive bridges to erect, could 

         be easily accomplished.   The capital required for such a 

         project could be secured in the city.  An income from travel, 

         sewage irrigation and the vast increase to business which the 

         construction of the canal would insure, would soon provide an 

         ample return for the capital required for its construction.  

         The hygienic requirements of 60,000 people are such as to 

         require a speedy and efficient system to be adopted, or some 

         great calamity will be reaped as the reward of our 

         negligence.  A sewerage system to provide for a wealthy 

         community like Los Angeles will not have to be a half-and-

         half measure.  It must be thorough and complete.  This will 

         involve a cost which, in all probability, will be equal to, 

         or may even exceed, the construction of a canal, and which 

         will possess no advantages nor bring any return for the large 

         outlay necessary for sewerage construction.  It will also be 

         a continual source of expense, and no small amount of danger 

         as well.  Dangerous gases collect, especially in immense 

         sewers, and carry, too frequently, disease and death into 

         every household.  An open canal appears to be the most 

         natural, can be easily constructed, is without danger and its 

         construction would give a great charm to the district, and 

         cannot fail to be a source of pride and profit to the 

         citizens of Los Angeles.  If a few public-spirited men, like 

         our worthy Mayor, would take on the project, its success 

         would be insured, confidence established and the capital 

         stock subscribed for without delay or hesitation.

                                             G. W. BRIGGS.

    While other writers supported Briggs' suggestion, most attention focused on 

plans for moving the sewage to the west, either to the Cienega sewage farm or 

into the Pacific.  In 1888 the council's sewer committee formally adopted a 

plan utilizing both a sewage farm and an outfall sewer.  Ballona Lake, some 

fourteen miles distant, was to become a settling basin.  That drew this 

response from "Citizen."

                          {Times. July 9, 1888, p. 3}

                    The Proposed Sewer--A Word of Warning.

              Los Angeles, July 8.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  In 

         last Sunday's Times I read an article giving a somewhat 

         extended account of the proposed outfall sewer to the sea.  

         This is a subject of vital importance to every citizen, or 

         prospective citizen of Los Angeles, and permit me, Mr. 

         Editor, as one deeply interested in the future of your 

         splendid city, whose growth and prosperity have been almost 

         unparalleled, to venture a few remarks on this subject.

              In the outset, the writer of the article above referred 

         to, states that "there is likely to be any amount of worry 

         before the thing is finally gotten through."  Undoubtedly 

         this is so, but, in my opinion the trouble of putting it 

         through will be no comparison to the great harm which will 

         accrue to this city after it is completed, if it is built in 

         the manner proposed.  It is a matter of surprise to me that 

         intelligent people will for a moment consider the plan of 

         allowing the sewage to be turned into a "dead lake," but a 

         few miles beyond the city limits, thus forming a hotbed of 

         disease in the direct line of the ocean breeze, which, 

         instead of coming to us laden with pure, life-giving air, 

         will sweep over our city tainted with the deadly poison of 

         foul drainage, and scattering broadcast the seeds of disease 

         and death.  Once publish in an eastern paper the fact that 

         the sewer system of Los Angeles finds its outlet in this way, 

         and the hitherto enormous immigration to this place will 

         receive a decided check.  Your reputation for healthful 

         climate is worldwide, and this city is destined in the near 

         future to take its place, not only among the great cities of 

         the world, but as one of the most noted sanitariums on the 

         earth, and she is deserving of a sewer system in keeping with 

         her pretensions and advantages.  If you allow a foul, 

         malaria-breeding lake to be planted here, for the sake of 

         saving a few dollars, and bringing into use a few acres of 

         alkali land, you commit a grave error--you cripple your 

         business interests, your commercial interests, your financial 

         interests, in fact the very life of your city.

              Statistics, as published a few weeks ago, show that in 

         the Vernon district, where this system of irrigation from 

         sewage has been practiced, in a school of 80 pupils 75 per 

         cent. of them were unable to attend on account of illness.  

         This in itself proves, if common sense does not, that it is 

         but a disease-breeding nuisance.  Your city does not wish, I 

         am sure, to derive a revenue at the cost of human life.

              Your correspondent says: "The volume of sewerage is 

         sufficient to irrigate the whole district, and after it is 

         turned on and the beneficial (sic?) results become apparent, 

         it is said that the city may derive a handsome revenue from 

         its sale," and further argues that "a big saving will be 


              Very likely, and the undertaker will also "derive a 

         handsome revenue," as well as the doctors.  I would suggest 

         that a new cemetery also be laid out, as soon as practicable, 

         for it will undoubtedly be needed if this order of things be 

         carried out.

              We do not care to earn the reputation for 

         unhealthfulness and malaria, which our sister city of San 

         Diego enjoys.

              A friend wrote me not long since, setting forth the 

         advantages of that place, remarking that a relative--a 

         physician--had recently established himself there, and was 

         "so much pleased with the city," and innocently added: "His 

         business is wonderfully good."

              We want a sewer, by all means, and that right soon; but 

         let it terminate in the sea.  This city, with its wealth, its 

         climatic advantages, and its beautiful location, should have 

         one of the most perfect and complete sewer systems that can 

         be built.  Your population is largely made up of people of 

         leisure, people who come here for the express purpose of 

         enjoying the delightful and healthful climate, and who, with 

         large means at their command, are not tied here by business 

         interests, or by any means permanently located, and all such 

         will speedily "move on" to some place where more regard is 

         paid to the laws of health, if you persist in using your 

         "balmy sea breezes" as an escape valve for the noxious 

         drainage of the city.

              I came here for the benefit of my health, and have been 

         completely restored, and there is not a more enthusiastic 

         lover of Los Angeles in the city today than myself.

              It is, therefore, with pain that I see you about to 

         commit such an unmistakable error.  The question is being 

         agitated to a great extent among your citizens and visitors, 

         and I have met not a few who stand aghast at the very idea, 

         and who signify their intention of a speedy removal, if the 

         project is carried out as suggested.

              One gentlemen of wealth, who came here with the 

         intention of making this his home, said to me the other day:  

         "I had intended building here a handsome residence, at a cost 

         of $8000 or $10,000, but I have made up my mind to wait and 

         see how this sewer business develops."

              Many of the citizens who would readily vote for 

         $1,000,000 bonds to build a good, substantial sewer to the 

         sea will not vote a penny of the $250,000 required to 

         construct this pestilence-breeding, irrigating canal.


    Objections to the cost and continued disagreement between advocates of a 

sewage farm and an outfall sewer delayed action for another year.  In the 

summer of 1889 Abbot Kinney, who would a few years later develop waterfront 

property at Venice, voiced a vigorous objection to the outfall plan.  A 

recreational gun club owned acreage considered essential to the construction of 

the outfall sewer.

                          {Times, July 2, 1889, p. 6}

            The Outfall Sewer--Some Views Worthy of Consideration.

              Los Angeles, July 1.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  In 

         the editorial of the Tribune this morning on the gun club's 

         proposed sale of its useless lands to Los Angeles city at an 

         exorbitant price, the position of Santa Monica has been 


              The citizens of Santa Monica, after due deliberation, 

         are determined to prevent, by all legal means, the dumping of 

         the Los Angeles sewage anywhere in their neighborhood.  The 

         situation of the outlet of the sewer at the gun club's ground 

         has been fully discussed and fully condemned by the people of 

         Santa Monica.

              The city authorities of Los Angeles seem to be pursuing 

         a course that gives no expectation to us that the outfall 

         sewer can ever be located in our neighborhood.  The strategy 

         of the Santa Monica position I do not feel at liberty to 

         disclose, but I may safely call attention to one point that 

         has been overlooked.  Col. R. S. Baker, one of our public 

         spirited citizens and also one of our citizens determined to 

         maintain his own right, owns a portion of Santa Monica and of 

         the San Vicenti rancho.  He also owns a portion of the 

         Ballona rancho, where he keeps a yacht and a number of 

         pleasure boats.  This land fronts on the ocean adjoining the 

         gun club property.  Col. Baker has expressed himself as 

         thoroughly decided to use every possible means to protect his 

         rights both at Santa Monica and at the Ballona.

              The city of Los Angeles has now an opportunity to break 

         up forever the Chinese monopoly of market gardening in this 

         county, and of placing that lucrative business in the hands 

         of our own population.

              This can be done by the city purchasing 1000 acres of 

         land, planting a heavy belt of eucalyptus around it and then 

         of letting the inside lands in blocks of five, ten and twenty 

         acres to the highest bidder, excluding Chinese.

              Or the city can plant the whole place to the Jarrah 

         eucalyptus, which resists the teredo, and is the best piling 

         known in the world.  The eucalyptus is known everywhere that 

         it grows as the greatest disinfector of marsh or sewerage 

         water in the world.  In sufficient quantities it does away 

         with malaria.  Such a plantation would therefore provide 

         security against unhealthy emenations, and at the same time 

         be a source of revenue of considerable amount.  The trees 

         with sewage irrigation would grow phenomenally, and would 

         give a prompt return.  This piling is of great value, as it 

         is practically permanent when placed in a wharf.

              Or the city could deodorize and dry the solid fertilizer 

         in the sewage.  The sale of this and of the water thus 

         purified for irrigation on the dry lands to the southwest of 

         the city would again pay all expenses and yield a revenue to 

         the city sufficient to pay the interest on the bonds.

              Another point to consider is that there is no such hurry 

         for rushing with our shirts off into a sewer scheme as some 

         interested parties make out.

              According to the last report of the Health Officer of 

         Los Angeles, the death rate of the city was 8 in 1000.  This 

         is the lowest death rate of any city in the civilized world.  

         Our death rate has been materially lower than that of any 

         sewered city in this State for years.  Oakland, San Diego, 

         Sacramento, etc., have death rates generally double, often 

         three times greater, and sometime exceed our death rate by 

         four times.  Baltimore's death rate averaged 18 in 1000, for 

         the 10 years before the sewers were put in.  The year its 

         sewers were completed, it rose to 26 in 1000, and never has 

         been as low as before the sewer system.  The difficulty with 

         the sewers is that every house in a sewered city is connected 

         with every other.  Therefore, a disease in one house, if the 

         traps be sucked out or temporarily defective in other houses, 

         at once renders these subject to infection.

              That the surplus water together with the sewage of Los 

         Angeles is of value in a dry country like ours is too evident 

         to demand exposition.  It is not so clear to the people that 

         our sewage can be easily deodorized, dried and made of market 

         value.  The proposition of the West system, however, shows 

         that this can be done at a cost of $50,000 for construction, 

         labor, etc., for, I believe, ten years.

              Vernon is always cited against any utilization of the 

         sewage.  This district, of course, objects.  One man takes 

         sewage, the next one does not; one lives on a little place 

         without any idea of making it productive, another wishes to 

         earn his living from his land.  So the whole district is 

         checkered with conflicting interests.  Besides this, the 

         method and manner of application of the sewage is crude and 

         bad in the extreme.  But because these imperfections exist in 

         the Vernon district is no reason for not establishing a sound 

         sewerage system--sound sanitarily, in not destroying forever 

         miles of sea shore, and rendering the place where the sewage 

         is dumped a desert.

              Sound financially, in that the proceeds and rents of 

         fertilizers, or irrigation water and timber and of lands, 

         should pay in 10 years the total cost of the sewer.

              Thus the city would possess a valuable property, its 

         tributary country would be from five to ten times as 

         productive as it would be without water, and good, sound, 

         business sense would be our characteristic.

              The City Engineer, the City Attorney, and, in fact, all 

         the intelligent men in the city, such as Andrew Glasell, John 

         Hanna, Judge Walter Van Dyke, etc., are opposed to the 

         outfall sewer, as compared to one that will be both a benefit 

         to the city and to the country around it as well.  That is to 

         say, of one utilizing the water and sewage.

              When we consider that 10 years of litigation must result 

         in attempting to force the city sewerage down Santa Monica's 

         throat, some more reasonable and less wasteful plan of 

         disposition of the sewerage may well be thought of.

                                    ABBOT KINNEY.

    Also objecting was J. S. Wakeman, who supported flushing the sewage south 

to Long Beach in the Los Angeles River rather than development of a sewage farm 

or outfall sewer on the westside.  The "Trombone" was Editor Otis' belittling 

nickname for the rival Tribune, published by his former partner at the Times, 

Col. Henry Boyce.  For a similar view, see the letter by "Cosmopolitan," 

published the same day and included in the chapter on the river.

                         {Times, July 24, 1889, p. 3}

                            The Bray of the 'Bone.

              Santa Monica, July 22.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         The notes being blown by the Trombone on the sewage question 

         sound so unmistakably like the braying of a donkey that one 

         feels more inclined to pity than be angry at their author.  

         As a sample of what the 'Bone is giving forth the conclusion 

         of the editorial in Friday last's issue is noteworthy.  The 

         writer says:  "Let the work be done and then if there should 

         be any damages Santa Monica can carry the case to a higher 

         tribunal and there settle the matter."

              A wise remark, forsooth!  Build a $500,000 outfall sewer 

         with the probability of having to tear it up again.  This 

         much is certain, the residents of Santa Monica are united as 

         one man in opposition to the present plans, and the issue 

         will be fought tooth and nail from here.  Apart from the 

         contamination of the water, which is certain, Mr. Eaton's 

         many excuses to the contrary, the very association of the 

         sewage with the name of Santa Monica is damage enough, and in 

         addition to deterring immigration to this place would be a 

         trump card in the hands of those interested in other seaside 

         resorts in that part of the country.

              In point of fact it is by no means assured that the 

         sewer can be constructed as easily as Engineer Eaton claims.  

         The Southern Pacific officials are reconsidering the question 

         as to whether or not they will grant the right of way, for it 

         has been shown to them that by so doing they will be dealing 

         a death-blow at one of their most paying branch towns.  Why 

         is it that the natural outlet for the sewage from Los Angeles 

         by way of the river is set aside in favor of a more expensive 

         route and one that bids fair to destroy the reputation and 

         prospects of the natural seaside resort for this part of the 


              The claim that the river-bed is 30 feet too high at one 

         place is simply an excuse, and a bad one, too, for what is 

         there to prevent the sewer being constructed across country 

         to a junction with the river in the vicinity of Florence?  

         There filtering-beds could be established, and in the summer 

         the needed water could be turned onto the thirsty lands 

         adjacent, whereas in winter the flood-gates could be thrown 

         open and the refuse run into the river, which at that time of 

         the year is naught but a muddy torrent.

              The prevailing winds would drive all unpleasant odors 

         away from Los Angeles, but in the case of the present plans 

         the coast breeze would carry the obnoxious vapors toward the 


              The citizens of Santa Monica are anxiously awaiting to 

         see what stand The Times will take in the matter, and trust 

         that it will be for and not against them.

                                               J. S. WAKEMAN.

    The council set August 30, 1889, for a vote on a sewer bond measure 

totaling nearly $1.3 million.  This included $1/2 million for a storm drain, 

slightly under $1/2 million for an outfall sewer and $1/3 million for an 

interior sewer system.   Readers W. T. Spilman, who years later would be a 

outspoken opponent of the Owens Valley project, and "Taxpayer" found fault with 

both the sewer farm and the outfall sewer.  Dairyman Anderson Rose owned a 

large parcel of land, through which the sewer would run, four miles east of 

Santa Monica.

                          {Times, Aug. 5, 1889, p. 5}

                            Mr. Spilman's Opinions.


              Los Angeles, Aug. 4.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  It 

         is being urged upon the taxpayers and voters of the city of 

         Los Angeles, that the construction of the outfall sewer to 

         the ocean is a public necessity, on the ground of preventing 

         sickness and disease in the city, and that by carrying the 

         sewage away by the outfall sewer all danger to health in the 

         city from the sewerage will be averted.  This argument 

         appears to be the strongest thus far advanced by those who 

         are in accord with the City Council in this matter, and who 

         desire to see the outfall sewer built to Ballona.

              Now, it appears to the undersigned that not only is this 

         argument unfounded in fact, but that the facts directly prove 

         that the outfall sewer will be directly the cause of the 

         sickness and disease in the city, which the advocates of the 

         outfall sewer claim they wish to prevent.  What are the 

         facts?  It is asserted, with a probability of truth, that the 

         difference in altitude between the level of the sea and the 

         level of the low ground on which the largest part of the city 

         of Los Angeles stands is about 400 feet, the intervening 

         distance being a gradual slope, unbroken with any steep or 

         high bluffs or hills, and that the ocean wind rolls up this 

         incline into and past the city of Los Angeles without an 

         obstacle to break or divert its course.  The rules of 

         philosophy teach us that air is a gas, and although an 

         imponderable substance is yet heaviest at the lowest point, 

         or at the sea level.  Now, when from the ocean a current of 

         air is forced over the surface of the ground up this inclined 

         plane to the city of Los Angeles, it rolls over and over, 

         grinding into the ground surface, and sucks and absorbs under 

         a law of philosophy all the moisture it is capable of 

         holding, and with it all the germs of vegetable and animal 

         decay that lie in its pathway.  This current of air being in 

         constant commotion becomes thoroughly impregnated with these 

         germs, and carries them with it into the habitations in the 

         city.  Eminent medical scientists unite in the conclusion 

         that these germs floating in the atmosphere and inhaled into 

         the lungs carry disease and death.  The deadly typhoid and 

         scarlet fevers, diphtheria and malaria are thereby brought 

         into the homes of the most careful, only to carry off its 

         members, and particularly the little ones, who have not 

         vitality enough to resist the presence of these poisonous 

         germs.  The wind currents at Los Angeles come invariably from 

         the west or from the direction of La Ballona, and these wind 

         currents are almost constant, as any one can readily perceive 

         by going upon the hills west of the city at the westerly end 

         of the cable road.  

              The question then arises if the City Council of Los 

         Angeles shall purchase land for a place of sewerage deposit 

         at or in the vicinity of Lake Ballona (and it is rumored that 

         it has contracted to purchase some 2000 acres for that 

         purpose in the event that the bonds are voted), will not the 

         deposit of that sewerage of the city at such place not be 

         followed by the transmission back to the city, not only of 

         the sewerage gases, but of the germs of the decaying sewage 

         material that will be there deposited?  The soil all around 

         the vicinity of Lake Ballona is understood to be adobe in 

         character, therefore there will not be a percolation of the 

         sewerage waters into the earth there, but on the contrary the 

         sewage water will stand upon its surface and become a 

         stagnant lake wherever it may be deposited.  The effect of 

         the hot sun upon the deposits will be to cause it to become 

         putrid, and with every wind from the ocean, over the surface 

         of this decaying filth, the air will take up and become 

         saturated with the poisonous germs of this wholesale 

         atmospheric poisoning manufactory, only to bear them onward 

         and upward into the residences of the people of Los Angeles.

              Will this not bring a pestilence in the track of this 

         deadly current?  Will it not prepare Los Angeles for the 

         inroad, at a moment's notice, of yellow fever, or other 

         infectious diseases equally disastrous?   The scourge of 

         cholera that only a few years ago wiped out so many lives in 

         Italy was directly traced to the bad sewerage and filth of 

         the Italian cities where it existed.  Even in those cites 

         where the cholera was the most widespread and fatal, those 

         portions of them that were kept clean were hardly visited by 

         this disease.

              Only a few years ago, yellow fever was brought by ship 

         to Guaymas, Mexico, and its widespread deadly march caused 

         the utmost alarm in California, for fear its germs would be 

         carried across the border and into our own cities.  Because 

         of this alarm, the State Board of Health established a sort 

         of quarantine at the State line, and Los Angeles did not 

         escape the fear of its visitation.  Suppose those fever germs 

         should again visit the lower Mexican coast, and despite all 

         precaution, make a lodgment at Los Angeles.  Would not the 

         existence of this putrid mass of sewerage at our very doors 

         afford, as in those Italian cities, the very food on which 

         these germs would fatten and multiply, and thus secure such a 

         foothold as would render their extermination difficult before 

         much of our population went down in the face of death?

              This is not overhighly drawn.  Only a few years ago the 

         people of the city of Memphis fancied themselves secure from 

         pestilence, but the omission to provide for the proper 

         removal of its filth, and the germs of disease thereby 

         engendered, caused the loss of hundreds of its people when 

         the germs of yellow fever once found lodgment there.

              Again, the fogs that roll up from the ocean and envelop 

         Los Angeles city during a large part of the year, drag along 

         with them whatever impurities there may be in the air.  These 

         fogs come directly over where this sewer farm would be 

         located.  These fogs alone cause some sickness with many 

         people, and unhinge and debilitate many others as long as 

         they last.  It is a common thing to have people complain of 

         headaches caused by these fogs, and during the times of the 

         prevalence many persons are obliged to seek a temporary home 

         where the fog does not reach.  Will not these fogs, then, 

         rolling over and over this bed of sewage, become saturated 

         with these poison germs from the decaying mass, and become 

         still more obnoxious and unhealthy?

              The sanitary questions that occur in considering the 

         proper disposal of the sewage of Los Angeles city are more 

         important to that city than any question of expense to the 

         city, for Los Angeles has acquired what reputation it already 

         has, and whatever of business growth and importance it now 

         has, because of its unrivalled climatic conditions.  Now, can 

         we afford to take a step that will imperil our future growth, 

         by the adoption of a system of sewerage that will directly 

         imperil the very conditions and reputation that have brought 

         people here from all over the world?

                                        W. T. SPILMAN.

                          {Times, Aug. 5, 1889, p. 5}

                              A Strong Argument

                       AGAINST THE BALLONA SEWER ROUTE.

              Los Angeles, Aug. 3.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  It 

         is stated by the Tribune, and the friends of the proposed 

         Ballona sewer route, that it is the cheapest and only 

         available route; also that none of the sewage will reach the 

         ocean except during the winter months.

              Statements are easily made; their value, however, 

         depends upon the reliability of the parties who make them.  

         Figures don't lie, but liars will figure.  I challenge an 

         investigation of the situation.  None of the land along the 

         Ballona route is suitable to take and absorb the sewage, and 

         the entire sewage is not contracted for, as stated by the 

         Tribune.  The land-owners along the line, with few 

         exceptions, are opposed to its being used on the land for the 

         above named reason.

              After leaving University Station the Cienega is soon 

         reached.  This is boggy land and cannot take sewage.  From 

         the Ballona road No. 2 (next west of the Cienega) to Mr. 

         Rose's place the route is along the county road.  The land on 

         each side is a mixture of clay and adobe; in most places very 

         heavy adobe.  Between Mr. Rose's and the ocean it is heavy 

         adobe all the way, covered principally with salt-grass.

              As to the Ballona route being the cheapest:  Between 

         three and four miles of the route is over ground that to 

         build a substantial foundation capable of sustaining a heavy 

         brick sewer will be attended with enormous expense, swamp, 

         mire, bog and quicksand being the difficulties to overcome.  

         Nearly the whole valley to the south and west of Mr. Rose's 

         place is overflowed during the winter, forming a lake three 

         miles square, which is a favorite hunting ground for ducks 

         and geese.  At this season it is crusted over and covered 

         with salt-grass.  A brick sewer over the ground will be 

         constantly settling and cracking, and the leakages will be a 

         continual source of damage to adjoining property.  The 

         difficulties to be overcome along this route will be attended 

         with a series of experiments and patchwork costing a large 

         sum of money.

              It is no argument in favor of the Ballona route that the 

         right of way costs nothing except the modest sum paid the gun 

         club for the privilege of running a trestle over its flooded 

         fields (the club not parting, however, with its hunting 

         privileges--the only value to the land.)

              The Times and Herald have not sold themselves to this 

         scheme, but have allowed all sides of this question full 

         discussion through their columns.  An article was written 

         upon this subject and given to the Tribune, over the 

         signature of the author, for publication.  The Tribune 

         refused to publish it, stating that the article was too 

         strong an argument against the proposed Ballona route, and 

         while admitting the value of the claims set forth, the editor 

         stated that the Tribune had pledged itself to the City 

         Council, and therefore could not allow the article to appear 

         in its columns, even over the signature of the writer.

              There are large tracts of land west of the city needing 

         irrigation, with a sandy or gravelly soil that will take 

         sewage.  These lands are also in direct line of an ocean 

         outfall.  Shall we adopt a route requiring enormous expenses 

         over land that cannot take sewage, subject to constant and 

         expensive repairs, just to sustain a pet scheme of the 

         present City Council, which is being boosted by a paper 

         pledged to its plans?


    Bond advocates, including the Express and Tribune, argued that approval of 

the bonds was in the interest of the city's workingclass residents.  Jesse 

Butler, once a Greenback Labor Party leader in Los Angeles, "Taxpayer" and 

"Workingman" believed that labor's welfare would be better served by a "No" 

vote.  "F" reached the same conclusion regarding both the bonds and the sewer 

itself insofar as women, who were not eligible to vote, were concerned.  

"Hazard's bombshell" was the phrase the Times used to describe Mayor Hazard's 

revelation that the contract with Rose needed only the signature of the city 

clerk, not the mayor.  The South Side Irrigation Company, a sewage farm of some 

2000 acres in nearby San Antonio Township, had a contractual right to the 

city's sewage.

                         {Times, Aug. 17, 1889, p. 6}

                              The Outfall Sewer.


              Los Angeles, Aug. 12.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  As 

         I belong to that despised and often-abused class called the 

         working men, and as some of the same class, in their honest 

         zeal for a job, have been apparently going it blind, for any 

         sort of bonds, to make work for the honest worker, I feel it 

         my duty to say, through your influential paper, something to 

         those men on that badly mixed-up question.

              There is no use ignoring the fact that our lords of the 

         Council have been working with indecent haste, when they did 

         work, and with a stubborn persistence, on a pet scheme to 

         sewer this city in a way that does not sewer it, and will not 

         be worth a cent for a long time to come.

              All the western hill part of the city has no signs of an 

         attempt to sewer it, on the part of the Council and this same 

         Council will not lay down a sewer on Downey avenue, where 

         they are clamoring for it, and need it immediately.  Now, 

         what is the use of a sewer anywhere in this city, when the 

         western winds, which blow forever over us, except a few days 

         in the year, just preceding our few rains--what is the use of 

         sewers whilst our winds shall be contaminated every day by 

         the cesspools that already, and shall soon, much more abound?  

         This policy simply means contamination, sickness and death 

         for the inhabitants east of the western hills, and the same 

         in a milder form for the westerners themselves.

              Why did not this Council come to the people and say:  

         "We know you want a good thorough sewerage system for this 

         city; we will get your choice of the plan of sewerage; we 

         will issue the question of bonds to you in two forms; the 

         first shall be for a thorough system of sewerage that shall 

         include every street of the city, to be immediately sewered, 

         and a system of outlet that may be the best adapted to 

         convey, give or sell the sewage to outsiders, to the best 

         advantage for the city.  Secondly, the plan of an outfall 

         sewer to the ocean, ignoring as at present, the full sewage 

         of the outlying portions of the city, till a more convenient 

         season.{" - Ed.}

              In this, there would be a choice, but the present mode 

         of bonds is, heads, I win; tails, you lose.  There is no 

         choice about it.  It is only saying to the people: "You vote 

         for bond and we will give you an outfall sewer to the ocean 

         and as much inside sewerage as we may see fit to give you.  

         But, if you do not vote for the bonds, we shall get no money 

         and shall give you no sewerage system."  And to the workers 

         and mechanics it says:  "You dare to oppose our bonds and our 

         pet outfall, and we will give you, the worker, no work and no 

         money, and you, who sell goods, shall have no money from the 


              Isn't this sweet legislation for a free people in a 

         government by and for the people?  Why, this is worse than 

         even Napoleon did, except in the forced loan he made on the 

         Netherlands, and that was because he considered them enemies, 

         since they were determined to remain neutral.

              Now let me say to the worker:  All the good you will get 

         from city sewerage will be done in the city limits.  All this 

         outside business will be managed (if to the ocean) by large 

         contractors, who will work you like slaves and board you as 

         such, away from your homes, and either import their labor or 

         make you work at their own price--degrade you into the dirt 

         and filch the scanty bread from the mouths of your wives and 

         children.  I know you have had a long outing from labor.  God 

         knows I pity you, and if I had the power and was in the 

         Council, as I once was, I would give every willing, honest 

         hand plenty of work at a good price, as I once did when 

         there.  But I do not want to see you vote for bonds, that are 

         only a mock, a cheat and a snare to you, and will only get 

         you deeper into idleness, higher taxes and poverty.  This 

         sewerage business will have to be done, do not fear; you 

         reject these tyrannical fool bonds, and they will have to 

         submit honest ones, that will give you work and fair wages, 

         sooner than the money from the proposed bonds will do.  And 

         the merchant shall get the money for the clothing and food 

         that goes on and into the sweet children that go to our 

         schools, with good clothing on their well-fed bodies, and the 

         shining, smiling faces of happy contentment.

              In this article I do not intend to censure the workers, 

         white or colored; they are hungry, and the vile contractors 

         and political jobbers are exciting their fears and feeding 

         them on false promises, but I know, and I hope these persons 

         have found out by the past, that the threat of the jobber and 

         contractor have never done much harm, and their promises have 

         always deceived and disappointed them.  Vote, no, boys, and 

         show them you have brains as well as hands, and mean 


                                           JESSE H. BUTLER.

                         {Times, Aug. 17, 1889, p. 5}

                           How a Taxpayer Views It.

              Los Angeles, Aug. 10.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         The absorbing topic of the hour is the sewer.  It is 

         discussed on the street corners, in the stores, shops and 

         hotels.  The advocates of the route to the sea say if the 

         river route is taken and the water run upon the land, it will 

         stink the city and whole country out of existence; but just 

         here steps up one who lives there, and on whose farm the 

         sewage runs, and says his farm is worth more by 100 per cent. 

         than it was before using sewer water, and so little offense 

         is there that strangers never discover it, and often water 

         their horses in the sewer ditches, and the trouble is they 

         cannot get enough of that kind of water.  But if running the 

         water to the river will stink up that section of country and 

         city when the wind is in south, why will not the smell be the 

         same if the sea route is taken, and 50 inches of this same 

         water be spread over the land on the way, with the prevailing 

         westerly wind?

              The fact is, the stink problem cuts but a small figure 

         in this question.  The motive to run the sewer to the sea is 

         deeper, broader and more offensive than any smells that may 

         arise therefrom.

              The misfortune is, that our city government is composed 

         of mushroom statesmen, whose peculiar fitness seems to be to 

         demoralize the police organization, plan to lay out drives, 

         boulevards and parks, where it will do most good to replete 

         their impoverished pockets on the receding swell of a busted 


              If the Council, in a sanitary and financial point of 

         view, wish to promote the health and monetary interest of the 

         class of people in whose interest they profess to legislate, 

         why do they not put the city's money as the law provides, 

         where it will return some revenue to benefit the poorer 

         classes of taxpayers?  Why do they persist in a desire to 

         bond the city to that extent, that taxes for years to come 

         will be a burden to thousands who have come here and invested 

         their all in little homes yet unpaid for, and that for some 

         time to come will deter capitalists from abroad investing in 

         manufacturing, building mammoth hotels or any other 

         enterprises?  Do they persist in that route to the sea 

         because the cost is greater, and that greater sums of money 

         will be handled, great contracts awarded, and hence a great 

         chance for untold sums of "swag" and "boodle" to find its way 

         into the pockets of some of those whose boom in corner lots 

         has gone "where the woodbine twineth"?  Can't they make 

         enough out of the boulevard, park and other little schemes to 

         let up on this, or would they rather wreck the city?  It's 

         true a sewer must be built; but why the long, expensive 

         route, when the shorter and cheaper from a practical 

         standpoint is just as good?  Suppose it should happen that 

         the sea route pollutes the beach at Santa Monica; it would be 

         an untold misfortune to this city.  The plea of the sea route 

         is that a "big job" will be given to the laborers of this 

         city, and hence the pledge of the Republican party will be 

         redeemed.  All things being equal, would not the laborer of 

         the city be satisfied with a shorter job if by that route 

         taxes were less burdensome?  Business might revive, people 

         and capital come in and investments be made that would make 

         property a more sure thing.  A city with a bursted boom, 

         buried in taxes, never is inviting to business or capital. 

         The powers that be must put self out of the question in this 

         sewer business as well as politics.  Thousands of people in 

         this city today are struggling to live; they can't pay for 

         their homes nor the taxes now levied against them without 

         suffering in their families.


                         {Times, Aug. 30, 1889, p. 3}
                               Will They Do It?

              Los Angeles, Aug. 29.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         The following is being circulated among the workmen of the 


                                 "PUBLIC WORK.

              "We are of the opinion that in all public work the 

         citizens of this city should always be given the preference, 

         and we would therefore recommend that in letting contracts 

         for any kind of city work that there shall be a clause 

         inserted that the contractor will at all times give the 

         preference to citizens of this city, and that he will not 

         employ labor from other cities and counties, and will not 

         hire persons who are not upon the Great Register, unless he 

         has been unable to obtain a sufficient number of laborers 

         from the citizens of this city, and also, that no Chinese be 

         employed or material made or manufactured by Chinese be used 

         in the construction of any public work.

              (Signed)                "Theo. Summerland,

                                      "C. McFarland,

                                      "A. C. Shafer.

                                      "R. E. Wirsching."

              Now suppose the sewer and the school bonds are voted, as 

         the parties named above desire, what assurance have the 

         laboring men of the city that the pledge thus made will be 


              Did not the same members of the Council vote for and 

         indorse a contract with Rose, that, if carried out, would 

         beat the city out of anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000?  Have 

         not the same men, in violation of the city charter, refused 

         to place the city funds where it would draw interest for the 

         benefit of the city and the relief of the taxpayers?

              Have not these same men, by these and other acts, and 

         refusing to act, proved themselves to be untrustworthy, 

         dishonest, scheming, deceiving, misrepresenting, and a set of 

         unstatesmanlike imbeciles?

              Do the laborers of this city dream for a moment that if 

         these bonds are voted, and contracts let for the schoolhouse, 

         sewer and storm drains, any contractor will be bound by the 

         Council as set forth in that circular addressed to the 

         workmen of the city?

              Have not a large number of mechanics and general workmen 

         of the city often experienced the fact that at least one of 

         the Council, whose name appears signed to that circular, has 

         been in the habit of hiring the cheapest labor he could get 

         to do his building, putting on men to do a regular mechanic's 

         work at $1 a day, when wages were from $2.50 to $2.75 per 

         day, and thus turning out "snide" work, to impose upon an 

         innocent purchaser?

              Do you think a man that will do that himself would be 

         over-zealous to tie up a fat contractor, particularly if it 

         was made worth his while not to do so?  Don't be deceived in 

         this matter; vote intelligently, vote honestly, vote without 

         the influence of boodle, and vote for posterity.

              The Tribune of today claims to have destroyed the effect 

         of Mayor Hazard's bombshell by having secured the right of 

         way from Mr. Rose for $12,000.  Can't the Tribune see that 

         Mr. Rose is still ahead?  The interest on that money at the 

         usual rates will annually pay for more water than he 

         requires.  But the Tribune also attacks the Mayor in his 

         official relation.  The writer has mingled among the voting 

         people of the city for the last two weeks discussing the bond 

         question, and he has never heard a word of condemnation 

         against the Mayor, but on the contrary, that he was the most 

         honest man in the city government.  On the other hand, he has 

         heard hundreds say they wanted the sewer and wanted to vote 

         for the bonds, but they were afraid to trust the Council to 

         handle that sum of money.  That is the plain situation of 



                         {Times, Aug. 28, 1889, p. 6}

                               On to Bankruptcy.

              Los Angeles, Aug. 24.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         Workingmen, your own small homes must pay 25 per cent. extra 

         taxes--$1 a front foot assessment, and the additional $50 for 

         connections if you vote the sewer bonds.  Stop and consider!

              I do not belong to any woman suffrage club, though I 

         believe every practical and just woman should, but I wish to 

         say a word for women property-owners in our city, many of 

         whom do not yet seem to realize what voting the sewer bonds 

         means for them.  As for the workingmen who own a home, the 

         present plan will bring them a little work, but out of the 

         money paid them they must pay a large sum in assessments and 

         increased taxes for many years to come.

              To condense the points against voting for the bonds:  

              They provide for but one payment.

              They do not provide sewers where needed; and it will 

         take three times this sum to do so.

              They will bring interest to some of the members of the 

         Council in whose banks they will lie two years.

              They will benefit the City Surveyor and the contractors, 

         but only in small degree the men who work under the 


              The plan proposed binds the city to buy a worthless 

         piece of land for a large sum, part of which goes to some of 

         the Councilmen.

              It binds the city to pay damages to the South Side 

         Irrigation Company, whose contract, which runs fourteen years 

         longer, will be broken if the new plans carry.

              It binds the city to pay any and all damages to the 

         railroad company, along whose roadbed the sewer will run, and 

         to any and all persons who may be injured by any accident 

         caused to the road by the sewer.

              They bind the city to supply forever 50 miner's inches 

         of water for irrigation to land which, in return, only gives 

         the privilege of sinking a conduit.  Forever, in this land of 

         water scarcity, and possible convulsions of Nature that may 

         change the water courses.

              This plan throws away a large annual income, which could 

         be laid out in paying for needed work, instead of for what 

         will not be required for 30 years, and not then if we drive 

         away our citizens by taxation and schemes like this.

              The storm water is needed to cleanse the paved streets, 

         a work the contractors do not succeed in.

              This large sum of money will be locked up for two years, 

         drawing interest only for those who still have the city funds 

         in their possession, in spite of the repeated protest of the 

         Mayor and the indignation of all honest citizens.

              The money will be secured by mortgage, subject to 

         foreclosure 60 days after it falls due.  It cannot be paid; 

         or, if it is, there will be no equivalent to the city.

              The diversion of the waters of the river will cause 

         lawsuits between the city and those having riparian rights on 

         the river.  As is plain to all but the willfully blind, "this 

         Council cannot be trusted with such a sum of money, which 

         offers great temptation to misappropriation."

              Now, in looking over the list of transfers of real 

         estate in the papers one finds that a large number of names 

         that appear are those of women.  Of the many lots too low in 

         value to appear in the list, many are now owned by women.  

         Many of these women have no means of earning money.  They 

         must pay on their cheap lots just what a man in profitable 

         business will have to pay on his, to help build the sewers. 

         They will have no chance whatever to save their lots from 

         condemnation on account of the sewer assessments and 

         increased taxes which they, in very many cases, cannot pay.  

         {In the? - Ed.} same way, assessments that were laid upon many 

         lots on or near (illegible} street, if that cruel ordinance 

         {illegible} that section is carried out {at?} present, will 

         be beyond the sum that these women-owners can pay, and they 

         will lose those lots, when, a year or two from now, they 

         might pay and hold their lots.

              Now, who is it that may possibly be led to vote for 

         these bonds?  The workingman who does not own one foot of 

         land and who, if the bonds are voted, may not hope to for 

         many a year, also the small property-owners who may not yet 

         realize that sewer and grading assessments are not made in 

         proportion to value of property, but all must pay alike.  

         These and the roughs and toughs can wrest the money from the 

         woman's purse, and the land, for which she has sacrificed 

         everything from her grasp; she, the hard-working woman, who, 

         in many cases, can earn nothing; who, in other cases, has to 

         support herself and her drunken husband and little children, 

         can have no vote against this injudicious, extravagant 

         scheme, which is already being read about in eastern cities, 

         and considered enough to retard the growth of this city for 

         years if it is carried out.


    The bonds failed to receive the necessary 2/3 affirmative vote although a 

majority of the voters supported them.  The Times claimed that upwards of 1000 

"repeat" voters cast ballots in favor of the bonds, though it conceded if such 

was the case it was done so cleverly that no arrests were made for illegal 

voting.  Joseph Mesmer, son of a pioneer family and a leader in the anti-bond 

campaign, presented this election post-mortem in a letter written immediately 

after the vote.  In the 1880s ballots, or "tickets," were still provided by 

parties involved in the election.

                         {Times, Sept. 1, 1889, p. 6}

                     Mr. Mesmer Discloses Some Ugly Facts.

              Los Angeles, Aug. 31.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         The people of Los Angeles may well have reason to 

         congratulate themselves on the defeat of the $1,280,000 sewer 

         bonds, and specially those who asserted their independence in 

         defiance of the city authorities, who, with all of their 

         employes, were out in full force, working, influencing and 

         intimidating voters.  As chairman of the Anti-sewer Bond 

         Campaign Committee, I was an observer of what I consider the 

         most disgraceful contest ever witnessed in this city, and 

         those who aided in this unfairness ought to feel ashamed of 

         their acts.  Owing to the uncertainty of having justice done, 

         we had appointed, through the courtesy of Constables Clement 

         and Smith, two special deputies for each precinct, 30 in all, 

         at $3 per deputy.  We also selected 18 challengers at the 

         polls to prevent illegal voting, and notwithstanding our 

         united efforts, I have reason to believe that there were over 

         500 illegal votes cast for the bonds out of a possible 1500 

         contemplated.  Why, even a policeman was challenged and 

         denied a vote in precinct A, Fourth Ward.  J. W. Brady 

         reported that a policeman approached a voter in precinct B, 

         Seventh Ward, within 10 feet of the poll, telling him he was 

         voting the wrong ticket.  It is customary of all elections to 

         have an equal division of election officers at each polling 

         place.  This allotment of fairness was not considered.  The 

         two chairs and two tables furnished each precinct by our 

         committee were taken by these election officers, and our men 

         were deprived of our lawful property, plainly marked, "For 

         Anti-sewer Bond Committee."  This occurred in precinct B, 

         Second Ward; precinct A, Third Ward; precinct B, Sixth Ward; 

         precinct B, Seventh Ward; precinct B, Eighth Ward.

              Our tickets were stolen and hid away in precinct B, 

         Eighth Ward.  I caught a fellow in precinct B, Seventh Ward, 

         holding down our tickets with the seat of his pants.  In 

         precinct C, Second Ward, our tickets were taken from the 

         table, taken to around the corner of College street, where 

         they were torn in two.  Our Deputy Constable was ordered to 

         make the election officers disgorge our tickets in another 

         precinct.  Posters were pasted around, "Beware of Illegal 

         Ballots!  Get your Tickets at the Polls!"  This subterfuge 

         was resorted to in order to intimidate voters for asserting 

         their rights and privileges, in order that they might see who 

         dared vote against the bonds.  Did any one see an illegal 

         ballot?  Had the full vote of Los Angeles city been recorded 

         yesterday, as it should have been, we would have 

         overwhelmingly defeated our opponents on an even issue, 

         notwithstanding the powerful aid rendered by some of our 

         county officials.  Without organization the will of the 

         people is absolutely powerless unless all dare assert their 

         rights at the polls.  Such a combination as developed on 

         yesterday was unknown, even to the wideawake Los Angelenos.  

         Why did they not array themselves equally in favor of the 

         school bonds?  Let the echoes reply.

              Respectfully submitted,

                                          JOSEPH MESMER.

    While one anti-outfall sewer spokesman, engineer John Hall, referred to the 

Ballona outfall proposal as "defunct" after the election, the council was 

unmoved.  By December, 1889, with most Angelenos supporting development of a 

sewer system and only disagreeing on the method of disposal, the council still 

was inclined to move the sewage westward to a sewage farm and an outfall sewer.  

The Times strongly opposed the outfall plan, preferring that the sewage be 

disposed of through an irrigation method.  "Citizen" and "Another Citizen" 

raised questions about the judgment of city officials in this matter.  

Particularly singled out was City Engineer Fred Eaton, a self-educated 

professional who had held the position of superintending engineer with the Los 

Angeles City Water Company for several years prior to his election as city 

engineer in 1885.  The "Dutchman" referred to by "Another Citizen" was Rudolph 

Herring, whom the city council brought to Los Angeles as a consultant in 

December, 1889.

                         {Times, Dec. 24, 1889, p. 5}

                            The Old Question Again.

              Los Angeles, Dec. 23.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  

         Now that the important question of sewerage is again 

         agitating the minds of the citizens of Los Angeles, would it 

         not be well to put some pertinent questions to be answered by 

         the intelligent readers of your valuable paper?  We are 

         passing through a terrible financial maelstrom, in which 

         hundreds of dollars are being engulfed.  Whether this is due 

         to the natural depreciation of values, after the unnatural 

         inflation of values during boom times, or to other causes, is 

         unnecessary for us to determine.

              In these times of greatly depreciated values hundreds 

         are on the verge of bankruptcy, and taxes are already high.  

         This being the case, is it wise to burden the already 

         overburdened and oppressed people with a million and a half 

         of debt, which is at best only an estimate, and our city 

         officials never over-estimated the cost of public 


              Would it not at least be well for the tax-payers 

         (without regard to party) to look to the efficiency of the 

         men into whose hands it is proposed to place the immense sum 

         of $1,500,000, to be expended at their own option in an 

         outfall sewer.  An engineer who cannot grade streets one-

         third of a mile over our magnificent hills and valleys 

         without leaving sinkholes at almost every intersection, or a 

         dead level where the water cannot flow off (see intersection 

         of Bellevue and Holliday streets, Kellum and Edgeware, 

         Bellevue and Water, Water and Temple, etc., etc., all over 

         the city) is hardly the man to intrust with the engineering 

         of the city's sewerage system, involving, as it does, the 

         health and financial interests of the entire city.  When the 

         impracticability of the scheme is grasped and the certainty 

         if once attained the people have a long and {perilous? - Ed.}  

         litigation before {them?} with the probability of {defeat?} 

         in which case the expenditure is a dead loss, it looks like 

         corporate suicide, paralyzing every industry and leaving the 

         people to bend under a load of taxes they can never pay.  The 

         result will be the wealthy citizens who have come here to 

         enjoy this beautiful land and who have helped to make Los 

         Angeles what it is today will invest their moneys elsewhere, 

         and this now promising city will be as dead to enterprise and 

         thrift as it was ten years ago.

              Is there no better way?  What is the objection to 

         surface drainage into the river, thus rendering our streets 

         delightful all the year round?  What is the objection to 

         selling sewerage to those who are anxious to take it and who 

         are willing to guarantee that it shall offend no one?  What 

         is the objection to the city's purchasing sufficient land to 

         utilize its sewerage, thus avoiding extensive law suits, 

         saving the public money, reducing taxation and holding itself 

         ready to grasp the water system in its own hand at the 

         expiration of charters, thus securing to the city a revenue 

         which will render possible the prosecution of every public 

         improvement which must result in the healthy growth of all 

         the interests of this our beloved City of the Angels.


                          {Times, Dec. 27, 1889, p.3}

                           What He Was Elected For.

              Los Angeles, Dec. 24.--[To the Editor of The Times.]  In 

         Citizen's criticisms of the City Engineer and the Sewer 

         Committee, he does not seem to understand that the City 

         Engineer was elected to put in a sewer and not to attend to 

         such small matters as establishing street grades.  He may not 

         know that the City Engineer was urged for election because he 

         had evolved a system of sewers which, it was claimed, no one 

         else could have planned, or was able to construct without his 

         aid, and not for his engineering knowledge or experience.  In 

         his own language:  "By G-d, I told them when they asked me to 

         run for the office that I would not take it just to monkey 

         with their d--n streets, but if they would agree to put in my 

         system of sewers I would consent to run, and they promised to 

         do so, and by G-d, they have to do it."  Citizen probably 

         does not know that the City Engineer's knowledge of, and 

         experience in engineering is confined to, and has been paid 

         for by the city of Los Angeles, and that about every dollar 

         that he has earned by his profession has been drawn from the 

         treasury of this city.  Citizen must consider that few men so 

         educated, elevated and rewarded would condescend to waste 

         their genius on things so filthy as our streets are at 

         present.  Unfortunately for our sewer matters, the United 

         States does not produce engineers, and the 20 or more able 

         and experienced American engineers now residing in Los 

         Angeles, many of whom are heavy taxpayers, and are now 

         unemployed, are not the men that the City Council could trust 

         to devise a sewer system, so they had to import some wise 

         Dutchman, who knew by intuition just what we want and what 

         amount we ought to pay for our sewers, and what is Citizen, 

         or any other American-born fool, going to do about it?

                                            ANOTHER CITIZEN.

    An advisory board of engineers, appointed by the council to review the 

rejuvenated sewage farm/outfall sewer proposal, rejected the farm and opted 

instead for an outfall system as the sole solution to the disposal problem.  

The bonds were split into three separate issues on the ballot - an outfall 

sewer, interior sewer system and a storm drain - but while all three won the 

support of voters in March, 1890, only the interior system received the 

required 2/3 majority.  In 1892 the package was resubmitted to the voters who 

finally approved it.  The outfall sewer at Hyperion went into operation in two 

years, dumping untreated raw sewage into Santa Monica Bay.  On occasion, when 

the system was unable to handle all the sewage, engineers diverted the surplus 

into Ballona Creek.  Coastal communities protested, and after prolonged 

litigation that lasted far beyond Abbot Kinney's prediction the city installed 

a modern sewage treatment facility at Hyperion, although occasional failures of 

the system resulted in the dumping of untreated sewage into creek and bay a 

century later.