Ray Hebert, 86; Times reporter one of the first to cover city planning

From a Times Staff Writer

Ray Hebert, who as an urban affairs writer for the Los Angeles Times was one of the first reporters in America to cover city and regional planning, has died. He was 86.

Hebert died April 26 of lung cancer at a hospice in Carlsbad, according to Rick Floyd, a family friend. A colon cancer survivor from the 1970s, Hebert in late March was again found to have cancer.

As an urban affairs specialist, Hebert wrote extensively about water issues, urban growth and traffic problems. His 1965 series on traffic congestion, “Are We Losing Our Mobility?,” explored many of the issues that Southlanders continue to face more than 40 years later.


Born in New Orleans, Hebert moved to Southern California when he was 9.

After graduating from John Marshall High School and attending Los Angeles City College, he served in the merchant marine for four years during World War II.

After the war, he began his journalism career at United Press International in Phoenix. He joined The Times in 1951 as a general assignment reporter covering a variety of stories. He started writing about urban affairs in 1960 and stayed on that beat until his retirement in 1988.

While Hebert was writing about urban affairs, his brother Bob was covering horse racing for The Times, becoming one of the country’s leading turf writers and handicappers.

Ray Hebert wrote occasional freelance pieces for the paper after his retirement. He and his wife moved to Carlsbad in 1988. She died in 1992. Their son Phillip died in 1974. Another son, David, died in 1989. Bob Hebert passed away in 1999.

Hebert is survived by a niece.