July 25, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

Billion-dollar repairs in store for L.A. sidewalks

(Thinkstock)
(Thinkstock)

The Los Angeles City Council agreed today to spend nearly $1.4 billion over three decades on sidewalk repair projects to settle a lawsuit filed by disabled residents and their advocates, who accused the city of hindering their ability to use public walkways by failing to maintain them.

Mayor Eric Garcetti called the settlement a “big move in the right direction,” and said it sets the stage for creating a “comprehensive sidewalk repair plan.”

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Guy Wallace, said the sidewalk repairs will affect “more than 200,000 Angelenos who live with mobility disabilities.”

The settlement, which is still pending court approval, would require the city to invest $31 million a year for 30 years, with the amount adjusted for inflation over that period. After at least 26 years, the annual amount would grow to as much as $62 million to match inflation.

The city would be required to spend at least $25 million each year, and make up any difference within three years.

The nearly $1.4 billion commitment would start in 2015-16 fiscal year, if approved by the court, and Garcetti said he is planning to incorporate the initial allocation in his upcoming budget.

He said most of the money would come out of the city’s general fund operating budget, and he does not expect any funds to come from the federal government.

The agreement settles litigation by several groups, some that sued the city nearly five years ago, contending the city was violating the American Disabilities Act by not doing enough to make sidewalks more accessible.

Councilman Paul Krekorian — who chairs the Budget and Finance Committee that advanced the settlement proposal — called it “a historic win for the disabled community,” adding that the settlement could also save the city money, with injury claims costing the city about $5 million annually.

Krekorian said he plans to hold joint hearings with the Public Works and Gang Reduction Committee to talk about how a sidewalk repair plan would work.

The city would theoretically spend the money on a series of not-yet- developed repair programs that could involve cost-sharing with property owners or offering loans.

The Los Angeles City Council already recently agreed to set aside $27 million in a sidewalk repair fund.

City officials said they last tried to tackle sidewalk repairs in the 1970s using federal funding, but ran out of money.

There has been some debate over who is responsible for fixing sidewalks. Sidewalks next to private residences are privately owned, but the city assumed responsibility in the 1970s to pay for their repair.

While the lawsuit was pending, city officials had opted initially to use the $27 million sum to fix sidewalks that are unquestionably the city’s responsibility, such as those next to libraries, parks, fire and police stations and other municipal property.

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