Los Angeles — referred to as the broken sidewalk capital of the country — today agreed to spend $1.4 billion over thirty years to fix thousands of cracked, buckled, and dangerous sidewalks.
As the NBC4 I-Team has exposed, LA’s sidewalks result in scores of accidents, costing the city $5 million a year in payouts.
After spending nearly two hours behind closed doors today, the LA City Council approved a settlement to a 2010 lawsuit brought by disabled residents and advocates, who said the city’s sidewalks were impassable and violate the Americans With Disabilities Act.
City leaders, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, called the settlement "historic" and said it was the biggest agreement of its kind ever.
"It’s something that will improve access, public safety, boost property values and neighborhood pride," Mayor Garcetti said at a news conference after the council vote.
Under the proposed settlement, which still must be approved by a federal judge, the city will start spending $31 million a year in the next budget year to fix broken sidewalks, with the amount going up over years, adjusted for inflation.
Lawyers for the disabled plaintiffs who sued the city, praised city leaders for hammering out the settlement. "This settlement will create a sidewalk system that will make life better for the disabled and for all people in LA," said Guy Wallace, attorney for the plaintiffs.
City leaders also acknowledged that an untold number of mature trees will be uprooted to replace buckled and uplifted sidewalks, so they say the settlement includes money for “tree replacement” as well.
Mayor Garcetti told reporters that the city will first use money earmarked by the settlement to fix sidewalks in front of city buildings, public transportation, and hospitals. Then, Garcetti says, the city will make a priority list of other bad sidewalks to fix, based partly on input from citizens.
But it remains unclear if $1.4 billion over thirty years is enough to fix the every-growing backlog of damaged sidewalks, that are causing an increasing number of accidents to pedestrians.
"This (settlement) addresses all the sidewalks that are causing damage and the ones that can cause damage," Garcetti said.