Blumenfield Proposes Public-Private Partnerships to Address City's Crumbling Sidewalks

Takes first step towards bringing City’s 50/50 sidewalk repair program to LA’s commercial corridors.

LOS ANGELES, CA – Los Angeles City Councilmember Bob Blumenfield today introduced a measure that will instruct the Bureau of Street Services (BSS) to prepare and present a citywide pilot sidewalk repair program for commercial properties, similar to the City’s successful 50/50 program, which ended in 2009.

Uprooted sidewalk in Woodland Hills. Bureau of Street Services has previously estimated that 40% of the system or 4,620 miles is in disrepair, with a majority of the disrepair caused by tree roots.
Uprooted sidewalk in Woodland Hills. Bureau of Street Services has previously estimated that 40% of the system or 4,620 miles is in disrepair, with a majority of the disrepair caused by tree roots.

“Public-private partnerships present an innovative opportunity for the City to address critical infrastructure needs while making the most of every available public dollar,” said Blumenfield. “Investments in infrastructure reap tangible benefits to our City, as well as to our business communities. With our sidewalks in disrepair, it’s time to revive this idea in a way that best reflects the changing needs of our City.”

With an estimated 10,750 miles of sidewalks, there are substantial challenges in the development and implementation of a citywide sidewalk repair program. Bureau of Street Services has previously estimated that 40% of the system or 4,620 miles is in disrepair, with a majority of the disrepair caused by tree roots.

Under the 50/50 program introduced in 2004, BSS would survey participating sidewalks, provide a cost estimate to repair the sidewalk and the property owner would pay BSS 50% of the quoted estimate. 

Blumenfield’s proposal would reinstate the 50/50 program for commercial property owners along transit and pedestrian corridors, and includes an incentive for property owners to take quick action by lowering the subsidy over time.

“We need to take swift action to upgrade our sidewalks, which will encourage people to get out and walk, visit our local restaurants and businesses and improve streetscapes to help revitalize our neighborhoods,” concluded Blumenfield.

While the City Attorney has taken the position that sidewalk repair is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner, the City stopped assessing property owners for sidewalk repairs caused by certain tree root damage in 1973. This has resulted in confusion and sidewalk repair inaction—even when property owners are willing and able to contribute towards repairs.

The motion has been referred to the Committee on Public Works and Gang Reduction.

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