By Dana Bartholomew, Los Angeles Daily News
It could take up to 30 years for Los?Angeles to fix its backlog of buckled and broken sidewalks, according to a $1.4 billion repair program approved Wednesday.
But for homeowners and businesses who can’t wait, the city will now offer thousands of dollars in construction rebates to help pay for out-front sidewalk makeovers.
“This sidewalk repair program will change our neighborhoods for generations to come,” said Councilman Paul?Krekorian, who chairs a city budget committee and represents a southeast San Fernando?Valley district lined with crumbling sidewalks. “In every respect, this is an enormous step forward.
“We committed today to inject more than $1?billion into the economy for decades to come in order to solve this intractable problem.”
The so-called Safe?Sidewalks?L.A. program, unanimously approved Wednesday, comes after 10,750 miles of cracked, broken and buckled sections of sidewalk piled up over the past four decades.
It also comes after disability-rights groups won a settlement from the city.
Under the city’s first sidewalk repair program in 40?years, Los Angeles will spend up to $30 million a year for the next three decades to make the repairs. The plan is under environmental review.
Sidewalk repairs are underway around public parks, police stations libraries and city centers.
The next step will focus on repair requests by residents with disabilities.
And starting now, the city will offer cost-sharing rebates to eligible property owners willing to fix their own sidewalks. Homeowners can receive up to $2,000; businesses up to $4,000. The rebates will be available for three?years.
The estimated cost for replacing a 5-by-10 foot section of damaged sidewalk and one tree, according to one city rebate estimate, is $850. A 45-foot section and one tree might cost $2,500.
For information about Safe?Sidewalks?L.A., rebates or to report a broken sidewalk, go to www.sidewalks.lacity.org, or call 3-1-1.
“I encourage all Angelenos to take advantage of this historic program,” Mayor?Eric?Garcetti said in a statement. “Together we are going to improve access and safety, boost property values and give people across Los?Angeles reason to feel good about our public walkways.”
By the middle of the century, however, it’ll be up to property owners to foot the bill for further repairs.
Homeowners will then have a 20-year “warranty” in which to get their sidewalks repaired — just once — by the city. Commercial property owners will have five?years.
If property owners fail to maintain their sidewalks after the warranty expires, the city will fix the sidewalk and send the owner the bill.
The new sidewalk plan reverses a long-standing city ordinance that required Los?Angeles to fix its jagged walkways. Under state law, property owners must pay for sidewalk repairs. But a law passed in 1973 put Los?Angeles on the hook for sidewalks damaged by tree roots.
Then decades ago, the city failed to make the repairs, which led to a vast crumbling infrastructure and millions of dollars paid out after trip-and-fall lawsuits.
The comprehensive sidewalk repair plan forged out of the disability lawsuit settlement follows three years of debate and a score of public meetings across Los?Angeles.
For every tree removed during repairs, two must be planted. In addition, the rebate will pay up to $500 for a replacement.
“We have seen sidewalks in our city that are embarrassing,” said Councilman Joe?Buscaino, a major advocate of the plan. “We will fix them for future generations.”
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