Councilmember Blumenfield Leads Public Works Committee to Take Major Step in Reinstating Hundreds of Streets for Service

LOS ANGELES, CA- Today Chairman Bob Blumenfield led the Public Works and Gang Reduction (PWGR) Committee to approve keys steps to reinstate over 300 streets to the City grid, many of which were removed from public use in 1936.

“It is absurd that we have streets in the City of Los Angeles that haven’t been serviced since the Great Depression,” said Blumenfield. “Ever since I took over as Chair of the Public Works Committee last year, I have used the power of that position to right this historic wrong. It has been unfair to the people living on those streets, that for all intents and purposes have been used as public streets, to be treated like second class tax payers.”

The PWGR Committee specifically approved the recent Bureau of Engineering (BOE) report, which was prompted by Blumenfield, to direct the City Attorney to draft a new ordinance reinstating all remaining streets. Of the 374 streets that remain removed from public use, 84 are in Blumenfield’s district, the most of any district in the City.

This problem began in the mid-1930s when the State of California introduced a statute that gave local municipalities the power to remove public streets and property from their grid for many reasons, including if they were deemed dangerous or posed potential dangers. Signs were posted on these removed streets, but as the years went by, those signs disappeared as development continued in hillside communities and the streets continued to be used by the driving public.

Until Blumenfield spearheaded this issue, the City claimed for decades that its duty was merely to ensure these streets were physically passable rather than maintaining, fixing and updating them like every other street in Los Angeles. But this made little sense as many of the removed streets entwined with streets on the grid and most residents had no idea that their street was any different than others.

In 2013, Blumenfield started to investigate this issue and authored motions to bring streets back to the grid of City responsibility. Soon that led him to ask the City Engineer and the Bureau of Street Services (BSS) to report on all streets removed in his district and he discovered just how widespread the problem really was. Blumenfield later authored a subsequent motion focused on all removed streets in Los Angeles, leading to this current BOE report agreeing with his assessment that all streets must be brought back in the queue. While waiting for departments to move forward on his City-wide policy changes, Blumenfield has proactively brought back eleven of his district’s streets so far with a dozen more waiting for approval from the Board of Public Works. Each of these efforts required research about the particular street’s history.

Blumenfield said, “It was essential to bring all the key City departments together including BOE, BSS and Planning, to get on the same page and move forward to remedy this problem. These streets won’t be fixed overnight, but getting them back in the queue and taking responsibility for them is an enormous step in the right direction.”

Next the City Council will vote on the Committee’s recommendations when, if approved, the City Attorney will draft the new ordinance reinstating all streets removed from public use.

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