L.A. Should Share Sidewalk Repair Cost, Councilman Says

By City News Service

With nearly half of its sidewalks still in disrepair, the city should begin shouldering some of the costs of fixing broken walkways alongside commercial properties, a Los Angeles city councilman said Tuesday.

Property owners would pay 50-75 percent of the costs, while the city would cover the rest, according to Councilman Bob Blumenfield’s proposed motion.

The idea revives a similar program, which ended in 2009, that split sidewalk repair costs evenly between the city and property owners, with the city’s Bureau of Street Services doing all of the repair work.

The new program would be restricted to commercial areas such as “pedestrian corridors, transit routes and transit hubs,” and offer an incentive by reducing the property owners’ share of the costs depending on how quickly they act, according to Blumenfield.

“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,” Blumenfield wrote.

Under his motion, the Department of Public Works’ Bureau of Street Services would be instructed to develop a pilot program and incentive plan.

According to the city attorney, the burden is on property owners to repair broken sidewalks, but “confusion” about who bears responsibility persists, according to Blumenfield’s motion.

About 4,620 miles, or 40 percent of the city’s 10,750 miles of sidewalks, need fixing, with much of the damage caused by overgrown tree roots, according to the motion.

In 1973, the city stopped assessing property owners for repair costs on sidewalks eroded by tree roots, but has gone ahead and fixed some sidewalks, which has contributed to some of the confusion and resulting lack of action on repairs, the councilman’s motion says.

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February 6, 2014  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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