Tackling LA's Broken Sidewalks

Today we delved into the issues surrounding our crumbling sidewalks as the City Council began an urgent conversation around sidewalk repair in the City of Los Angeles. For too long, LA neighborhoods have been strangled by broken, buckled, impassible, and dangerous sidewalks that have threatened safety and jeopardized economic activity due to decades of neglect.

Earlier this year, I was proud to play a role in pushing the City to resolve ongoing litigation that had previously hampered efforts to comprehensively address our sidewalk infrastructure. In settling, the City made a $1.4 billion commitment to sidewalk repairs and pedestrian improvements, the first $31 million of which are included in the recently passed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Today, in a special joint hearing of the Council’s Public Works and Gang Reduction Committee and the Budget and Finance Committee, of which I am a member, we took first steps toward bringing our sidewalks into compliance with the American with Disabilities Act and making them passable and safe for all Angelenos. Several field hearings will be held throughout Los Angeles to follow up on today’s discussion.

We considered recommendations that include:

  1. The City will inspect all City sidewalks.
  2. For damaged sidewalks at residential locations, the City would repair the sidewalk at the City’s expense, but thereafter responsibility for future repairs would be assigned to the adjacent property owner (“Fix and Release”).
  3. For undamaged sidewalks at residential locations, the City would immediately assign responsibility for future repairs to the adjacent property owner.
  4. For sidewalks in any condition that are adjacent to commercial properties and to the property of other governmental entities, the City would assign responsibility for those sidewalks to the adjacent property owners.

Today’s meeting was just the beginning of a longer conversation about how best to address the City’s sidewalks. I will continue to push the City to take creative and innovative approaches to fixing our City’s broken sidewalks, including use of alternative materials that will allow for enhanced groundwater recharge and are less prone to buckling, as well as ways property owners can partner with the City to address sidewalks adjacent to their property, similar to the City’s successful 50/50 program.

In my annual budget survey, I asked Valley residents what funding sources the City should use to meet its sidewalk obligation. As the process moves forward, I look forward to hearing from you about this important City issue. In particular, if there is a City sidewalk you think needs urgent attention send me an e-mail at [email protected] with the sidewalk’s location. By gathering more data about where the most urgent need is, we can make the best use of our City investment.

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