Money for Sidewalk Repairs May Fall Through the Cracks

Fight over who should pay goes to Sacramento

Sidewalk repairs are not cheap. And sometimes it's not clear who is at fault for damage. Maybe it's no wonder, then, that in an era of tight budgets, nobody really wants to take responsibility for paying the bills to repair them.

It's estimated trees have broken 4,000 miles of Los Angeles city sidewalks. In better economic times, the city paid for repairs. But now, homeowners could soon face that bill.

"The city has no money to fix sidewalks," says City Councilman Bernard Parks. "We should go back to the 1911 Act, say they belong to the adjoining property owner. Allow them to fix their sidewalks so everybody in the area can pay equal amount and keep their sidewalks up."

What's that about a 1911 Act?

There actually is an old law on the books that requires the city to take responsibility for sidewalks. Councilman Parks says it's got to go.

But Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar, has authored a measure for  voters to first have a say about sidewalk responsibility.

"If they want to shift the responsibility of sidewalk repair to the homeowner, they have to hold an election to make sure they get the approval of the community," says Assemblyman Fuentes.


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Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to oppose that bill. But many property owners say, they live with worry. And the buck has to stop somewhere.

"I own a small triplex down the street," said Lee Walton. "My constant fear is someone will come and trip on the sidewalk. Child will be injured on bicycle or scooter."

Politicians say it boils down to money and who is truly able, not just willing, to pay.

"It's logical to me that those trees, that sidewalk repair and damage ultimate belongs to the city of Los Angeles," says Assemblyman Fuentes.

But Councilman Parks has different ideas.

"The City Attorney has written it at my request," said Councilman Parks. "So we alter the current municipal code, take that ordinance out and say, we're no longer responsible."

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