The Free City of Los Angeles was born in 2046, when the central authority in Sacramento decided the city was a hopeless dump for money, energy and time that wasn't worth the effort. Particularly after the Inferno and severe depopulation by VITAS 2 made it unprofitable to rehabilitate, the city has been left to it's own devices. It's made the city a haven of crime, sin and Shadowrunners of all streaks.
The entire city is a vast, polluted, crumbling urban jungle to daunt even the famous Seattle Barrens. A sea of human misery. A few small enclaves of the wealthy and powerful exist isolated from the greater city – Studio City (old West Hollywood), Mulholland Drive, Westside, UCLA and Fun City are literally walled-off from the rest of the city and heavily defended by the corps who operate in those areas. Glittering islands surrounded by crumbling streets, abandoned buildings and burning vehicles. Water restrictions on the other residents of the city do not apply in these places.
The former downtown is known as Arcology Row – this is where the megacorps store their lower-middle class employees in happy, content chains. The sheer number blots out the horizon. Every megacorp has an Arcology here. Even Aztechnology and Saeder-Krupp have property, although they are technically forbidden to do business in Cali Free State. No love lost for leaving them high and dry, the L.A. govt allows them access to hork off Scramanto. Corp security is so thick you can barely breathe.
East LA is home to the working class stiffs desperate to stay afloat – the ones too poor to live in the Arcologies. Outside of the corp-controlled Arcologies or the stifling wealth of the enclaves, this is sadly one of the nicest areas still surviving in the city. Home to Lockheed's major research park.
Harbor and Coast Town (also known as Poisonville) are shit-holes of major pollution dumping and crippling property. Dominated by endless strips of cold-fusion plants – the sole source of water for much of the city after the Central Valley cut off L.A. from 'their' water. The locals go through one slice of hell after another. Most recently, a reactor off the L.A. coast overloaded and sent a tidal wave into the beach line. Leaving a green, glowy slime behind in it's wake.
El Infierno - “Hell – the very worst part of L.A. got it's start in the nastiest neighborhoods in L.A. prior to the awakening. Compton, Gardena, and Hawthorne - the poor in these areas kept getting poorer all through the 21st century, with the local gangs getting more violent and more members. The new Arcology construction in downtown areas like Watts led to gunpoint relocation of even more poor citizens into the already-crushing humanity and poverty. The city's solution to the growing violence and crime was to build a giant wall around the entire seething cauldron – leading to the nickname of “El Infierno” by the locals.
After Cali seceded from UCAS at gun point, the Inferno became the location for forced relocation of 'undesirables' by the Cali Free State government. Be they poor, meta or humans who just didn't toe the racist line. And for eight long years, the vast district was ignored and left in it's descent into literal hell, save for the armed guards on all the walls.
Then the Lost Election happened - in '46, an Inferno-based gang helped wipe the databanks clean of that years election results. Sacramento declared war on the Inferno, that all gangs were to be purged and the urban jungle 'purified of its criminal, metahuman taint'. State Guard, Lone Star officers and corp mercs poured into El Infierno in force. Bombing, burning and smashing everything in their path. But it didn't take too many hours of killing innocent civilians before the State Guard (and even the mercs) started deserting in droves. Eventually Sacramento gave up on El Infierno and Los Angeles entirely. Leaving the city to it's own devices.