Buscaino Advances $10 Million Sidewalk Plan

  • 02/11/2014
  • Reporters Desk

Buscaino Advances $10 Million Sidewalk Plan

LOS ANGELES — Councilman Joe Buscaino announced that he advanced a $10 million sidewalk repair plan, during a special Public Works and Gang Reduction Committee hearing Feb.6.

The proposal ­ put forth in a joint report from the city administrative officer, and the Public Works bureaus of Street Services, Engineering and Contract Administration ­ would divide the money evenly among three repair priorities:

The first third ($3.33 million) will be spent on locations where past claims and lawsuits have been filed in high pedestrian use areas, an additional third will be spent along iconic streets city­wide and the final third would be allocated equally among the 15 council districts for a 50/50 program. All construction would be performed by private contractors, with the Bureau of Engineering overseeing the program and the Bureau of Contract Administration inspecting the work to ensure it is up to city standards.

The Bureau of Street Services estimates 4,600 miles ­ – 40 percent of sidewalks -­ are in disrepair and will require an estimated $1.5 billion to fix. Historically, most sidewalks were constructed by real estate developers as new housing tracts were built, and thereafter, state law mandated that repair was the responsibility of the adjacent property owner. Developers also planted street trees at the same time, and had long favored the Indian laurel fig (ficus) tree because of their hardiness and rapid growth rate. However, the ficus and other fast­-growing trees have very shallow root systems that often grow under sidewalks and cause them to buckle and uplift.

In 1973, facing an angry backlash of homeowners, who received citations ordering sidewalk repair, the city council passed an ordinance that exempted the property owner from that responsibility if the damage was caused by the growth of tree roots. The council never adequately studied the cost implications of this policy, and within two years, a backlog of repairs developed that has grown exponentially in the 40 years that followed the policy shift.

Buscaino added a provision to require at least 5 percent of the work to go to contractors that hire at ­risk youth and young adults, and requested the city administrative officer investigate the feasibility of creating a tax incentive program for businesses that proactively undertake sidewalk repair.

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