Los Angeles City Councilor Ron Halperin called on Wednesday for a citywide assessment of broken and bent sidewalks, saying city workers are still trying to make progress on repairs that are required as part of a major legal settlement.
In his 47-page review, Halperin also called on the Department of Public Works to change the way city sidewalks are repaired, focusing more on smaller sections of broken sidewalk. Right now, he said, city crews are replacing much longer sections of sidewalk, including sections that are not necessarily damaged, making the program more expensive and time consuming.
“There are a lot of ‘good enough’ sidewalks now being cleaned up where we could spend that money on the parts of the sidewalk that need help the most,” he said.
The controller audit comes more than five years after the City finalized a lawsuit filed by disability rights defenders over the poor condition of sidewalks in Los Angeles.
Under the deal, the city agreed to spend over $ 1.3 billion on sidewalk repairs and upgrades over a 30-year period. Around the same time, city leaders endorsed a policy known as “fix and free,” instructing city crews to repair sections of sidewalk and then paving the way for private property owners to take charge.
After the city has confirmed that the sidewalk section complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, it remains under warranty – five years for commercial property, 20 years for residential property – with city crews covering repairs during those periods, Elena Stern said. , press secretary. for the Department of Public Works. According to her, after that, the responsibility remains with the owners of private property.
By June 30, Halperin said the city had issued 4,879 certificates in which certain sections of sidewalks were repaired and adhered to ADA requirements, which is less than 1% of all sidewalks in the city.
The audit does not say what percentage of the city’s sidewalks are seriously damaged. Instead, he notes that the city received 50,000 reports of repairs that were not resolved under a new sidewalk repair program. “We will not know what needs to be repaired until we make a real assessment,” said Halperin’s assistant.
Harrison Wallman, spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti, said his boss appreciates the feedback on Halperin’s screening.
“Mayor Garcetti has always made sidewalk repair his top priority – so he created the city’s first renovation program in three decades, which repaired more miles of sidewalk than any other program in history,” Wallman said.
Stern, a public works spokesman, described the sidewalk repair program as successful, saying more than 2,300 new or upgraded ramps have been built and 141 miles of sidewalk refurbished – based on a five-foot sidewalk width. According to her, the program complies with the terms of the 2016 settlement agreement.
Meanwhile, sidewalk deterioration continues to be costly. Over the past five fiscal years, city leaders have signed $ 35 million in lawsuits over crashed sidewalks, according to an audit.
“We spend about $ 30 million a year on sidewalk repairs, but last year we spent $ 12 million on settlements,” Halperin said in an interview. “So we really need to look at how we use our money to help solve the problem.”