10 Crazy Conspiracy Theories That Could Only Happen in LA

Los Angeles can be weird. Often it’s an endearing quality. Other times, not so much. It’s no wonder this city has conjured its own collection of crazy conspiracy theories specific to our locale. Sometimes, they even pop up in this blog, like the time we discussed the legend of Devil’s Gate Dam being a portal to hell. Yeah, that happened. But today, we have 10 LA-centric conspiracy theories we’ve never talked about before. Some are clearly lunacy. After all, LA is a crazy city, so our myths, legends, and lore need to keep pace with our daily lives. Others… well, they might have something to them. 

Traffic Tribulations

Photo credit: 4X4 Blazer 1776

It seems that the global pandemic changed everything… especially how frequently people say “The pandemic changed everything.” But much of the world has had time to slip back into the old routines. Just ask any Angeleno stuck in the city’s legendary rush “hour” (which is actually about 13 hours long). As more commuters return to the office, those drives back home get longer and longer. Even as the media tells us people are fleeing California in droves, traffic just gets worse. And with nothing to do at all of those red lights, minds begin to wander to possible explanations. 

This has given way to one of LA’s most enduring crazy conspiracy theories. That LA altered the traffic light syncing during the pandemic, but neglected to change it back. Could this be the method behind our shared madness? While it would be a relief to think we could simply flip a few switches to return to manageable traffic, this is a conspiracy theory without any weight behind it. The powers-that-be did in fact change traffic syncing during the pandemic. But they were returned to their pre-pandemic patterns in June 2021

A related conspiracy theory posits that there’s actually a shadow organization within the civic government that purposely creates LA’s terrible traffic as some sort of sadistic social experiment. Just imagine Los Angeles as a giant VaultTec vault from Fallout. We’d like to say this isn’t true, but shadow organizations, by definition, stick to the shadows. If you’re reading this, traffic overlords, you can stop the experiment. We’ve all gone crazy enough. 

Treating Humans Like Hospital Waste

Photo credit: Russ Allison Loar

LA’s Skid Row remains one of the saddest and, honestly, scariest districts in the city. But what can we expect from a virtually lawless grid where we simply dump our unhoused population, many suffering from physical and mental illnesses, and just try to forget they exist? One of the city’s crazy conspiracy theories takes this “dumping” literally… and it might not be all that crazy. 

This one suggests that local hospitals and institutions, overpopulated and overburdened, bypass normal discharge procedures and simply drop their disoriented patients at the edge of Skid Row to fend for themselves. It’s horrific, unconscionable… and not exactly far-fetched. After all, this is a world in which politicians bus immigrants to more compassionate cities. Who’s to say similar thinking isn’t happening all around us? 

Losing Faith in Downtown LA

Faith, Hope, Charity: the three theological virtues are meant to create a template for a moral lifestyle according to the Christian faith. And, if you ask the right person, they aren’t bad names for streets either. At least that’s the thinking at the heart of one of downtown LA’s crazy conspiracy theories. 

Photo credit: Downtowngal

The rumor goes that, at one time, downtown boasted streets dubbed Faith, Hope, and Charity. Obviously, Hope Street still exists. But Grand Avenue was originally Charity Street. However, the repeated joke about “living on Charity” wore a little too thin for its residents, thus the rename to Grand. So, what about Faith Street? Legend has it that this was the original moniker for Flower Street. In this case, the legend is just that. Faith Street never existed in downtown LA. 

There’s Gold in Them Thar Parks

Elysian Park is one of the most beautiful locations in Los Angeles. And it also might be the site of buried treasure worth millions. But what wayward pirate would stash their booty in its remote canyons? The story goes that, on the cusp of the Mexican-American War, the area’s wealthiest residents banded together and deposited their fortunes in the earth beneath Elysian Park for safekeeping. Allegedly, some of those families never returned after the war, and their riches remain there to this day.

While we’d lump this in with other crazy conspiracy theories, the legend had enough substance to gain the attention of the producers of Unsolved Mysteries in 1994. They sent out a ragtag team of treasure hunters and researchers to turn up the lost treasures of Elysian Park. While they returned empty-handed, they also offered some veracity to the claim, stating that their technology indicated the presence of a subterranean tunnel. 

Photo credit: Fizzy+lifting

The Great Football Drought

For about two decades, Los Angeles, one of the largest cities in the United States, didn’t have an NFL team. Seems a bit strange, right? The city’s football deficiency ended up contributing its own offering into the annals of LA’s crazy conspiracy theories. But to understand this one, you first need to understand an important rule of the NFL’s charters. One of the requirements for an NFL team to move to another city is a three-quarters majority vote from all active team owners. If a team wants to move but can’t secure votes from the owners of their peers’ teams, they’re pretty much out of luck.

The conspiracy theory suggests that a group of NFL team owners banded together to exploit this rule to their advantage. Allegedly, they purposely left Los Angeles vacant as a viable bargaining chip. When a team tried to move to LA, they’d always vote them down as part of this secret alliance. If their host city wasn’t giving them what they wanted, they’d just threaten to move their team to LA. Thanks to their pact, they knew they’d get outvoted as a safeguard. A popular concession that these owners frequently requested was an up-to-date NFL stadium. Looking around the country, an immense amount of new stadiums were constructed during the period when LA was devoid of any NFL presence. 

The conspiracy theory continues that, when all of the owners of this secret alliance received their respective stadiums, they refrained from blocking team transfer requests. In 2016, the Rams returned to LA, followed the next year by the Chargers. This theory built up enough steam that frustrated Los Angeles football fans regularly blamed this cryptic alliance for the two decades of football drought the city suffered. 

Photo credit: All-Pro Reels

Big, Crazy Conspiracy Theories for Little Towns

Traveling south to Long Beach, we come to the peaceful neighborhood of Bixby Knolls, the site of our next urban legend. Rumor has built over the years that Bixby Knolls was an enclave for little people; specifically the actors who played munchkins in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz. In Bixby Knolls, they were free to live comfortably without the stares and questions of outsiders disrupting their lives.  

It seems likely that this particular entry in our list of crazy conspiracy theories arises from an optical illusion. The houses in a gated community within Bixby Knolls were built with looming front doors. Since they are situated a distance from the road, passersby would see these doors and assume that they were of typical length. But since the door knobs appeared to be placed lower, it created the impression that they were built for little people. In reality, it was simply an eccentric design. 

Something in the Air

One of the most recent crazy conspiracy theories of the LA area involves the higher-than-average rainfall of the last couple of years. Some Southern Californians, weary from the barrage of atmospheric rivers, blamed the surprising amount of rainfall on the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (SAWPA). Specifically, their cloud seeding initiative. 

Photo credit: InSapphoWeTrust

Cloud seeding isn’t science fiction, though it may sound like it. It involves introducing small amounts of a compound known as silver iodide into natural storm systems. This is typically achieved by releasing the compound into the atmosphere from ground-based generators or dropping it directly into clouds from aircraft. Silver iodide is naturally occurring and, in small amounts, unharmful. But conspiracy theorists worry that the stronger-than-usual storm systems that have hit LA harbor toxic amounts of silver iodide from storm manipulation. 

You may want to fold up that tinfoil umbrella, though. While cloud seeding is a very real process, there’s no proof to support the claims that cloud seeding with inordinate amounts of silver iodide created the atmospheric rivers of the last two years. 

Counter Counter Culture in Laurel Canyon

Laurel Canyon in the late 1960s was a special place. Take that however you will. But David McGowan’s book Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon spells out his take in detail. It draws a connection between the influential music coming out of the communal canyon, hippie culture, mind-altering drugs, politicians, and the CIA. It sounds like certified tinfoil hat territory. But then again, the CIA has admitted to exploring LSD as a potential means of mind control as part of their MKUltra program. Could Laurel Canyon’s artistic output be directly tied to mind control experiments utilizing LSD? 

Photo credit: Ron Kroon for Anefo

McGowan hypothesizes that U.S. government agencies were directly responsible for bands like The Doors, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, The Beach Boys, and more as a means of discrediting and crippling anti-war activism. How? By inviting left-leaning youth to simply “turn on, tune in, and drop out.” Throw in the local presence at the time of the Manson Family and things just get wilder and weirder. 

The Other “Big One”

Crazy conspiracy theories are often an attempt to make sense of senseless and unpredictable situations. Therefore, it’s no wonder that there’s at least one myth used to try to bring some order to the chaos of Southern California’s seismic activity. This conspiracy theory suggests that some of the earthquakes that rock the region are actually subterranean nuclear weapon tests. Coincidentally (or not?), China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station was positioned at the epicenter of an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the seismic scale. 

Of course, there’s America’s dark history of nuclear testing in the deserts of Nevada. But it’s no secret that Southern California is built over a hotbed of faultlines. So, are we at the mercy of unpredictable earthquakes? Or sitting atop a radioactive bubble? It definitely adds new meaning to the term “the Big One.” 

Malibu’s Coastal Craziness

Were these crazy conspiracy theories not quite wild enough for you? Then we’ll end with one of the most outlandish of them all. It claims that, somewhere off the coast of Malibu, an abyssal trench plunges downward leading to a complex system of mysterious caverns. Allegedly, this system leads to a secret alien base near Point Dume. The legend continues that a submarine attempted to explore this cave system, but never returned. 

A conspiracy theory this unhinged easily holds its ground alongside some of the stranger ones we covered in previous blogs. Remember the ancient civilization of lizard people beneath downtown LA? Several conspiracy theories from around the world make mention of USOs: unidentified submersible objects. But the Point Dume base is the closest we have to an LA take on this modern myth. 

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