A proposal that would shift the responsibility of fixing broken sidewalks back to property owners was under consideration Monday by a city hall panel.
Property owners were once responsible for fixing the sidewalk in front of their residence, but in 1974 the city of Los Angeles exempted them from having to repair the sidewalk primarily damaged by overgrown tree roots. Back then, the city wanted to take advantage of federal funds for the repairs, but that money soon evaporated leaving the city still responsible but unable to continue the repair jobs. A new city report recommends that the city “phase in” the process for restoring the responsibility of sidewalk repairs back to homeowners.
The report also recommends that the city once again set up a sidewalk inspection program to evaluate the condition of sidewalks and to issue notices or citations when repairs are needed. Another proposal out of the city administrative office would have the city assume the responsibility for repairing sidewalks adjacent to single-family homes if they are found to be damaged by street tree roots, and then assign that responsibility back to the property owner(s) for future fixes.
The administrative office report has advised against most cost-sharing plans for now, since the city would be responsible for fixing residential sidewalks during the first few years, except for when the programs are aimed at encouraging more repairs.
City leaders have so far agreed to spend about $1.4 billion—some $31 million yearly—over three decades as part of a legal settlement with disability advocates to reduce the amount of crumbling sidewalks around the city. The settlement requires that the city prioritize its repair spending starting with sidewalks outside city-owned buildings and facilities, then transportation corridors, hospitals and other medical facilities, commercial and business areas, places of employment and, finally residential areas.