By Jack Humphreville.

Without a long term plan, how can the City of Los Angeles claim that it wants to create a pedestrian friendly environment when over 40% of its 10,750 miles of sidewalks are in need of significant repair?

Last month, Councilmember Paul Krekorian, along with Herb Wesson and Joe Buscaino, introduced two motions to address the repair of our sidewalks.

The first motion focused on residential sidewalk repairs by proposing a program where the homeowner and the City would split the cost of repair 50-50.  The City is also considering programs to help finance the repair of privately owned sidewalks through the establishment of a low-or-no-interest revolving loan fund and the creation of neighborhood Assessment Districts that are not smothered by the City’s dysfunctional bureaucracy.

This motion also charged the Chief Legislative Analyst and the Bureau of Street Services to develop an enforcement plan (including fines) for commercial properties and governmental properties not owned by the City.

The second motion proposes a City Sidewalk Repair Program that will prioritize the repair of city-owned sidewalks to limit the City’s liability in case of accidents.

Krekorian has also expressed his concern during budget hearings about the hundreds of millions of dollars of liabilities associated with Willits v City of Los Angeles, a class action lawsuit that alleges the City violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 because our sidewalks and curb ramps are inaccessible to people with mobility disabilities.

While these proposed stop gap measures are better than nothing, the City needs to devote the necessary resources (estimated to be $5 to $10 million) to survey of all of our sidewalk curb ramps and to develop a comprehensive long term plan to repair and maintain our walk ways.

The City must also devise a plan to finance the estimated $1.5 billion to $2 billion that it will cost to repair our failed sidewalks and curb ramps.  This would involve the issuance of long term bonds over a period of years that would be serviced by the huge incremental revenues from the 20% tax on DWP’s Power System revenues that are expected to double over the next ten to fifteen years.

Krekorian is to be commended for highlighting the issue of our broken sidewalks.  But now he must push ahead and turn his proposals into action so that we can eventually walk on our sidewalks without having to worry about breaking our necks.

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Originally posted at City Watch LA.