As Los Angeles is forced to spend millions of dollars in settlements to Angelenos hurt on the city's cracked sidewalks, a new City Council proposal aims to solve LA's broken walkway woes.
LA City Councilmen Paul Krekorian and Herb Wesson motioned last week to create a Sidewalk Repair Fund that is meant to fix -- not just patch up -- the nearly 40 percent of city sidewalks that need repair.
That 40 percent is equivalent to around 4,600 miles, according to Krekorian's office.
Additionally, the city pays $3 million to $5 million annually in settlements to people injured by falling on sidewalks, city officials said.
"The plan makes (repairs) easier and more attractive and more able to be done by the average homeowner," said Ian Thompson, a spokesman for Krekorian.
The money is meant for sidewalks to actually get repaired, which currently can take years, instead of just patched up with asphalt, Thomspson said.
The bulk of the fund's cash, around $20 million, is from sidewalk repair allocations in this year’s budget. The rest of the money comes from unused sidewalk repair funds from last year, Thompson said.
The city didn’t spend all of its money last year because of the lack of a clear direction of how to use the funds, Krekorian’s office said. The plan now charges city officials to develop a program that puts funds toward the sidewalks that are most in need of repair or are the largest sources of liability.
Krekorian and Wesson proposed seeking out alternative funding methods to repair the city’s sidewalks. Their plan suggests investigating the possibility of a 50/50 program across the city, in which private property owners and the city split the cost of repair of sidewalks.
The motion suggests that payment could be done through low-interest or no-interest loans to property owners who want to fix sidewalks in front of their buildings.
Funds may also be used to enforce an existing law that commercial property owners repair broken sidewalks, which could draw fines that could be rolled back into the repair fund.
"We have an opportunity to fully address the broken and buckled sidewalks that have plagued Los Angeles for decades," Krekorian said in a statement. "This is a comprehensive, sustainable program that will result in sidewalk repairs at residential, public and commercial properties."
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The motion comes shortly after support waned for the "Save Our Street Los Angeles" initiative. The initiative would have raised the sales tax by half a cent for 15 years to repair the city’s streets and public walkways.
Councilmen Joe Buscaino and Mitch Englander, who originally championed the tax hike, announced last month that they would not continue the effort to put the initiative on the November ballot.
Englander described the proposal as "terminated."
"Before asking voters to open their wallets, we owe it to them to thoroughly and exhaustively explore all options, and to ensure that we are maximizing the use of every tax dollar we receive," Buscaino said in a statement.
A joint meeting of Budget and Finance and Public Works committees is planned when the LA City council comes back from summer break.