LA City Council begins $1.4 billion dollar plan to repair city sidewalks

- The Los Angeles City Council is expected Tuesday to set into motion a $1.4 billion plan to repair a backlog of broken sidewalks throughout the city and turn over the responsibility of future upkeep to property owners.

City officials plan to spend the funds, which average out to at least $30 million a year, over the next three decades to fix about 11,000 miles of sidewalks. The amount was agreed to as part of a legal settlement with
disability advocates.

The number of damaged sidewalks began piling up more than 40 years ago, when city leaders saddled themselves with the responsibility of fixing broken sidewalks damaged by tree roots, but soon ran out of funding to finish the job.

In the intervening years, the question of who is responsible for the condition of the sidewalks remained in dispute, with the issue complicated by the fact that state law says the task of maintaining the sidewalks actually
belongs with the adjacent property owners.

The City Council today will consider adopting a "fix-and-release" strategy that includes repealing a law that makes the city responsible for the repairs, while also committing to paying for the entire expense of one-time
repairs on broken sidewalks next to both residential and commercial properties.

If the plan is approved, city officials will begin rolling out several sidewalk repair programs beginning next month. A website will go up Dec. 1 at http://sidewalks.lacity.org to allow property owners to submit repair requests.

The repairs would be scheduled according to priorities laid out in the lawsuit settlement. Sidewalks next to government facilities, transportation corridors and medical buildings are among the top priorities, but other factors
could influence when repairs are scheduled.

Property owners who are willing to pay for part of the repair costs could also move their repairs up in the queue. A rebate program will be available for three years that will reimburse property owners half of the repair costs, although those rebates would be capped at $2,000 for sidewalks next to residential lots or $4,000 next to commercial lots.

Those who have a physical disability and have trouble walking over damaged sidewalks and curb ramps will also be able to submit requests to have the repairs occur sooner.

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