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Committee Of Los Angeles City Council Agreed That City Should Spend $31mil Over Course of 30 Years To Fix Tree-Root-Damaged Sidewalks

 

There are two open seats on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

A joint committee of the Los Angeles City Council agreed today that the city should spend about $31 million each year for the next three decades to fix tree-root-damaged sidewalks next to both residential and commercial properties, but clashed over whether property owners should be responsible for future fixes.

The city earlier this year agreed to settle a lawsuit by disability advocates by spending a total of about $1.4 billion for the next 30 years on repairing sidewalks and making public walkways more accessible. The settlement has prompted the City Council to begin developing a plan for tackling the workload.

Top city officials had recommended that the city only foot the bill for sidewalk repairs next to residential properties, and not for commercial sidewalks, which can be costlier to fix.

However, members of the Budget and Finance Committee and the Public Works and Gang Reduction Committee opted today to pursue a plan that would cover both types of sidewalks, with a potential cap on how much the city would spend on each repair.

The panel today stopped short of Councilman Paul Krekorian’s proposal to implement a “fix and release” strategy in which the city would cover the cost of the first sidewalk repair, then returning the responsibility back to property owners for subsequent fixes.

Krekorian said property owners are technically responsible for fixing sidewalks, but about 40 years ago, the city assumed the responsibility of repairing sidewalks damaged by tree roots, only to see federal funding for the projects to dry up.

About 80 percent of the city’s sidewalk damage are caused by tree root growth, according to a city report released last week.

Councilman Bob Blumenfield said today he had “a real problem with shifting that liability” for the sidewalks back to property owners.

“We all use the sidewalks,” Blumenfield said. “The costs should be spread out over all of us.”

Krekorian countered that despite the city’s assumption of some of the responsibilities, property owners are liable for anything happening on sidewalks and could be sued if anything goes wrong on them.

Under Krekorian’s proposal, the sidewalk repairs would be guaranteed so that if any cracks or problems show up a few years later, the city would go back and fix them. Members of the joint panel today considered guarantees of between five to 20 years.

Councilman Paul Koretz said a five-year guarantee might be too short and suggested 20 years, but Krekorian balked, saying this would be akin to giving property owners, who are likely to move to a different home within 10 years, a lifetime pass on being responsible for the sidewalks.

City officials were instructed today to report back to the joint committee on these issues, along with several others, such as how to prioritize the sidewalk repairs.

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