Watch Your Step

LA will consider repealing a 1974 ordinance that made the city responsible for sidewalk repairs

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To reduce the city's budget deficit, Los Angeles may soon stop repairing sidewalks and driveways on the city's dime.

This month, the City Council will consider repealing a 1974 ordinance that made the city responsible for sidewalk repairs, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The policy was initiated with a federal grant that ran out long ago, according to the newspaper.

"We have no ability to perform these repairs," Councilman Bernard Parks told the paper. "The money ran out in the mid-1970s, yet the city has continued to hold itself responsible."

According to the city's Bureau of Street Services, of the city's 10,750 miles of sidewalks, about 4,600 miles are in need of repairs, at a projected price of $1.2 billion.

City Council committees have recommended the city devise a financing system enabling the city borrow money through a "revenue anticipation bond," with the understanding that property owners would pay for sidewalk repairs through annual property taxes, according to the newspaper.

Until the 1970s, property owners were responsible for maintaining sidewalks.

When federal funds became available, the City Council decided to repair sidewalks damaged by tree roots planted between curbs and walkways, assuming responsibility "for most sidewalk repairs," Donald Shoup, a UCLA professor of urban planning, told the Times.

The funds ran out in 1978, leaving the city without a sidewalk repair program.

In 2005, the city started a shared-cost program under which residents voluntarily covered part of the repairs to get their sidewalks fixed quicker. Last year, city funding for that program also ran out.

Residents will likely oppose the new policy.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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