At Length james at desk 1

Published on September 6th, 2012 | by RLn Staff

1

The Problem of Fixing L.A.

The sidewalk repairs are a classic example of our dysfunction as a city

By James Preston Allen, Publisher

Every time I hear that the Los Angeles City Council is going to hire another consultant to study one of our multiplicity of problems, I just cringe thinking, “another over-priced report telling us what we already know.”  So you may have heard that the suggestion coming out of Councilman Joe Buscaino’s subcommittee on Public Safety was to hire a consultant for what staff estimated was up to $10 million to do a survey of our cracked and crumbling sidewalks. Luckily some of the council members balked at this, but in the big picture of city budgets and city contracts $10 million isn’t a big number. It does however start to add up, and that seems to be the city’s biggest problem.

The problem of fixing things in Los Angeles is one of perspective. The centralized bureaucracy in Los Angeles wants to control everything from the top down with “big city” efficiency in an effort to prevent, or at least, stem corruption and waste.  Our citizens on the other hand want services and solutions delivered on a local, I-want-to-see-the-face-of-government on a small city basis. In reality L.A. is not the classic example of “big cityness,” but rather a collection of small communities, some former municipalities, that over the last century were annexed into the one big metropolis.

So in the vacuum of city solutions, both big and small, I’d like to proffer one that seems quite simple to see if anyone at the council has the gumption to try it out.

Who knows the city better than the citizens of the neighborhoods who live there?  Lets engage them, or perhaps empower them, to solve their own sidewalk problems. There are some 93 chartered neighborhood councils who could be enlisted for this task, if given the proper incentive.  Let’s say that the City Council authorize a budget of $10,000 per neighborhood council to survey their district.  Give them city engineering maps and a deadline of say three to six months to submit the number of feet and addresses of the sidewalks and curbs needing repair, with the caveat that they only get paid upon completion.

As the neighborhood councils cover most of the city, any areas that are not covered could then be surveyed for far less than $10 million, but by engaging the councils the city would do several things: give some real power to the citizens to help fix a chronic public safety problem that is a serious liability risk; give the neighborhood councils back some funding that was lost from the current budget; and save the city some 90 percent of what it would cost to hire a consultant who would take three years to learn the neighborhoods.

This decentralized approach will undoubtedly have its glitches that could probably be solved by allocating another five percent of that $10 million to oversight and review by department of Street Services and/or Bureau of Engineering, but still we would have motivated citizens on the ground working with city employees solving a common problem.  I know this sounds way too optimistic to happen in Los Angeles, but stranger things have happened when we get our minds around something that is truly for the common good.

So let’s say that the City Council gets these 93 neighborhood council reports and they are fairly accurate, what does the city do next?  It is estimated that the repairs alone on this “deferred maintenance” of sidewalks and curbs is going to cost $1.2 billion. Yikes! And even scarier is that some at City Hall think that the individual property owners where the repairs are made should pay for it– ouch!

Let’s get one thing sorted out first. Sidewalks are public right-of-ways just like streets, and the city should no more charge a property owner for repaving the street in front of their property than they should replacing the sidewalks or curbs. This is primarily the City’s responsibility and duty.

Now let’s talk seriously about how the city can afford to pay $1.2 billion in repairs, if that is even an accurate estimate seeing as how no one has done the survey or the math yet.

I would once again like to suggest a novel approach that solves more than one problem.  Currently the various city pension funds that hold billions in investments that are not consistently seeing the return on that investment from Wall Street brokers. This means that the city has had to “back fill” its obligation out of the general fund by as much as $200 million a year. In a recent L.A. Times article the cost of pensions was pegged at 4.2 percent of the city’s budget with it ballooning to something like 15.6 percent by 2016. Of course this is based on the actuarial projections of current revenues and the rising projection of costs for retirements.  What if the pension funds had a better rate of return?

Likewise, the city’s bond rating isn’t what it use to be. So if the city issued bonds to cover the cost of the sidewalks, we would have to a pay higher rates.  The cure that I propose would be for the various pension funds to jointly invest in their own city.  Loan the city the money to repair the sidewalks at a fixed rate for 20 years, at a rate higher than their average return but lower than the rate we’d pay on bonds.  To guarantee those loans the city would put up real property as collateral– such as the convention center or perhaps the Greek Theater–depending on the assessed value needed. The city would win in several ways. One of those ways would be that we won’t have to pay broker or placement fees to sell a new issue of bonds and we wouldn’t have to pay the cost of placing it on the ballot. Another way is that it would guarantee a constant rate of return to its pension funds, thus lowering the percentage of its general fund obligation and lastly the city would get a better rate on this debt than it would get from the market.

The savings to the city just might be enough to pay for itself without having to raise taxes, fees or the price of parking tickets.  And if this closed -loop investing were to work in one area, who knows how much the city could save with this self-funding mechanism if were it put to greater use by building other needed infrastructure or low income housing– just as long we don’t let the big developer types start thinking that they can fund their special projects by doing this! This is public money to be used to directly benefit the public and guarantee safe returns for our retirees, nothing more.

The bottom line of this plan is that the self-funding mechanism keeps the Wall Street banksters out of the public purse when we need to fund a project that is obviously a benefit to the common good for all of Los Angeles.

Tags: , , ,


About the Author



One Response to The Problem of Fixing L.A.

  1. Steve says:

    The comments within this newspaper range from rantings about free speach in public places to cracked sidewalks. In viewing the past months articles, I simply sit and shake my head in wonderment. Each article seems to make sense, somewhat; however the overall picture is stated as “San Pedro has problems which are both rediculous in nature and astounding by the neglect of city management. ” There are other cities along the coast, with beautiful beaches and welcoming tourist destinations. San Pedro has few to none of the attractions, other than a place to watch the barrio meet the waterfront. Until the city management decides sit up and take lessons from other cities, ( San Diego, San Francisco, both sea ports ); the city will remain a disaster and filled with complaints only noticed in a small newspaper. And, the only growth in the city is found in the fly population and panhandlers on Gaffey Street; not in the over-stated numbers of tourists who are not flocking to the USS Iowa because of their knowledge of the crime riddled city.

Leave a Reply

Back to Top ↑
  • Like Us On Facebook!

  • The Guide to Fine Dining

    The Guide to Fine Dining
  • Calendar

    April 2015
    S M T W T F S
    29

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityComplete Whale Watch with Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

    Category: EntertainmentJanis Mann & Bill Cunliffe Duo

    Category: ArtSecond Sight: New Representations in Photography

    Category: TheaterMarilyn Forever - A Full-Length Opera

    30

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    31

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtLuminous, Transparent, Realistic Watercolor Workshop

    1

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    2

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtFirst Thursday Artwalk

    3

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtFirst Thursday Artwalk

    Category: EntertainmentPiano Nights with Rob Klopfenstein

    Category: EntertainmentSister Spit National Tour

    Category: CommunitySister Spit National Tour

    Category: EntertainmentRequiem at Rolling Hills

    Category: EntertainmentSomething Funny at the Warner Grand

    4

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: TheaterTaking Sides

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityBreakfast with the Easter Bunny

    Category: TheaterThe Crucifixion

    Category: EntertainmentBobby West at the Seabird Lounge

    Category: EntertainmentEwan Dobson and Guest

    Category: EntertainmentAmerican Monster Burlesque and Blues Show

    5

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    6

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    7

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtLuminous, Transparent, Realistic Watercolor Workshop

    8

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: TheaterDon’t be Afraid to Pogo

    9

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: TheaterFilm Festival: ‘The Red Pony’

    Category: EntertainmentMarian Marie at the Seabird Lounge

    10

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: TheaterFilm Festival Opening Night Screenings

    Category: EntertainmentPiano Nights with Rob Klopfenstein

    Category: EntertainmentHaden Triplets at the Annex

    Category: EntertainmentJulian Coryell Trio

    Category: EntertainmentRichard Turner Group at the Seabird Lounge

    11

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtMexican Mobile Consulate

    Category: ArtElks Lodge Groundbreaking

    Category: TheaterHollywood Nostalgia Tribute

    Category: EntertainmentLuca comes to the Annex

    Category: EntertainmentAzar Lawrence Featuring George Kahn

    Category: EntertainmentWhich One’s Pink

    12

    Category: ArtCan the Artists of the World be Censored?

    Category: ArtTies to Modernism

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: TheaterLAHIFF Presents DocSunday

    Category: EntertainmentSecond Sundays at Two

    Category: TheaterThe Suburban Showgirl

    Category: EntertainmentTradicíon at the Seabird Lounge

    Category: EntertainmentTribute to the Black Crowes

    13

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    14

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtLuminous, Transparent, Realistic Watercolor Workshop

    15

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityThe Quixote Festival

    Category: CommunityBirding with Wild Birds

    Category: CommunityEarl Ofari Hutchinson Gives Talk at CSUDH

    16

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityThe Quixote Festival

    17

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityLong Beach Grand Prix

    Category: CommunityLong Beach Grand Prix

    Category: ArtRolling Hills Homes Tour

    Category: CommunityThe Quixote Festival

    Category: CommunityRolling Hills Homes Tour

    Category: EntertainmentPiano Nights with Rob Klopfenstein

    Category: Theater‘Get On Up,’ the James Brown Story

    Category: EntertainmentJacob Szekely Trio

    Category: EntertainmentDavid Jackson at the Seabird Lounge

    Category: EntertainmentThe Sure Fire Soul Ensemble

    18

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtRolling Hills Homes Tour

    Category: CommunityLong Beach Grand Prix

    Category: CommunityRolling Hills Homes Tour

    Category: ArtCelebrity Lecture Series

    Category: TheaterBye Bye Birdie

    Category: CommunityLA Local Beer and Food Fest

    Category: EntertainmentSuperhero Soundtracks

    Category: EntertainmentThom Rotella 4tet

    19

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityAuthors Day with Lisa See

    Category: TheaterIn My Life: Tribute to the Beatles

    Category: TheaterBye Bye Birdie

    Category: TheaterThe Suburban Showgirl

    Category: EntertainmentNova Live at the Seabird Lounge

    Category: EntertainmentA Wailing of a Town

    Category: EntertainmentDavid Garfield Quintet

    Category: EntertainmentA Wailing of a Town

    20

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityWelcome to Night Vale

    21

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtLuminous, Transparent, Realistic Watercolor Workshop

    22

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    23

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityGrand Grunion Gala

    Category: EntertainmentAndy Waddell

    24

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityTechnology Conference

    Category: ArtFarmer’s Market

    Category: EntertainmentPiano Nights with Rob Klopfenstein

    Category: EntertainmentBrian Auger’s Oblivion Express

    Category: TheaterBye Bye Birdie

    Category: EntertainmentSouth Side Slim Blues

    25

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityEarth Day Celebration

    Category: CommunityNature Walk

    Category: CommunityGreen Prize Festival

    Category: CommunityHandmade in South Bay's 2nd Annual Spring Boutique

    Category: CommunityRestoration Highlights Workshop

    Category: ArtHousing Development Opening

    Category: ArtRay Carofano: riverrun

    Category: TheaterBye Bye Birdie

    Category: EntertainmentNoise Fest 19

    Category: EntertainmentSpock’s Beard

    Category: EntertainmentThe Gears, The Crowd

    Category: EntertainmentAzar Lawrence at the Seabird Lounge

    26

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityFarmer’s Market

    Category: CommunityWalk Cabrillo

    Category: ArtOpen Studios at Angels Gate

    Category: ArtQuilt Show

    Category: CommunityQuilt Show

    Category: ArtLos Angeles Artists Propose Solutions to Human Trafficking Through Art

    Category: TheaterBye Bye Birdie

    Category: EntertainmentSuburban Showgirl

    Category: ArtLA Philharmonic

    Category: EntertainmentLos Angeles Philharmonic

    Category: CommunityAbilities Night

    Category: EntertainmentOil Boom, Sir Madam, the South Hollows

    27

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    28

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtLuminous, Transparent, Realistic Watercolor Workshop

    29

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunitySan Pedro Kiwanis Club

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    30

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: CommunityFarmer’s Market

    Category: CommunityOpen Mic Nite

    Category: ArtPlacas: The Most Dangerous Tattoo

    Category: TheaterPlacas: The Most Dangerous Tattoo

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    1

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtPlacas: The Most Dangerous Tattoo

    Category: ArtBach’s Lunchtime Recital

    Category: EntertainmentPiano Nights with Rob Klopfenstein

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: TheaterBye Bye Birdie

    2

    Category: ArtVarnette Honeywood

    Category: ArtMOLAA Presents Fantastic Mexico

    Category: ArtJohn Elgin Woolf: Master of Hollywood Regency

    Category: ArtPlacas: The Most Dangerous Tattoo

    Category: CommunityFeria de Dominguez Adobe Brunch and Tea

    Category: CommunityFriend Fest

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: TheaterAbigail/1702

    Category: TheaterBye Bye Birdie

  • Take a Trip to Havana

    Take a Trip to Havana
  • Join the RLn Network

    Subscribe Today:


    Options


  • Get Home Delivery!

    Get Home Delivery!
  • Reset The Net: Protect Your Privacy

    Reset The Net: Protect Your Privacy