Most people bash L.A., and I miss it....and I only moved 130 miles south to San Diego!!! Most of the photographic community in L.A. centers around commercial work, universities, galleries, etc. It's a competitive but very open environment. AND no one blinks an eyelash when they see cameras around town...sorta' normal, actually. Add to that the availability of photo supplies and equipment (Freestyle, Samy's, Calumet...all have stores in L.A.).
I have to laugh when someone plans a trip to So. Calif. and everyone bashes L.A. There is so much to photograph that it's hard to put the camera down. Just spend a day downtown.
As for meeting people from APUG, a lot of us have already met...one way or another. Per Volquartz's workshops, various conferences, etc. Do we meet up regularly? Probably not...but if you wanted to start something up, I'm sure other Angeleno's would jump in.