L.A. May Push Sidewalk Repairs On Residents
LOS ANGELES (AP)
Los Angeles could soon end its policy of repairing sidewalks and driveways warped and mangled by tree roots, leaving the work and cost to homeowners.
The City Council this month will consider ending the ordinance passed in 1974 that made the city responsible for the damages. The policy was initiated because of a federal grant that is long spent, and the cash-poor city says it can't continue. "We have no ability to perform these repairs," Councilman Bernard C. Parks, chairman of the council's budget and finance committee, told the Los Angeles Times for a story published Sunday.
"The money ran out in the mid-1970s, yet the city has continued to hold itself responsible." The city has spent about $95 million to replace 550 miles of sidewalks since 2000. It also spends between $3 million and $5 million annually to settle lawsuits from those who are hurt on damaged sidewalks, and that liability could also fall partly to property owners. The real estate industry and many homeowners are planning to fight the move. "It is patently unfair for the (city) to push this forward," said Mel Wilson, housing advocate for the Southland Regional Association of Realtors. "This has not been given a full airing, and people are going to be upset." Before the ordinance passed, the city would cite homeowners whose sidewalks were twisted or crumbling, and if the repairs weren't promptly made would do the work themselves and bill the residents. The city used federal funds for the work from 1974 until 1978, when the grant ran out. In 2005 the city began a cost-share program where residents willing to foot half the bill could move to the front of the line for repairs, but funds for that program ran out last year. The proposal under consideration suggests that the city wait a year between noting damaged sidewalks and compelling homeowners to fix them to ease the burden, but the ordinance could still prove hard to sell to homeowners. Palms resident Ahnjel Ali said she shouldn't be responsible for the magnolia tree that has made her sidewalk buckle. "I didn't put the tree there," she said. "I shouldn't be footing that bill."
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