Sunday, September 20, 2015

Infrastructure Update: #LAsidewalks

taken 9.20.15 at the bus stop at Echo Park Ave and Sunset
Will our crumbling #lasidewalks infrastructure see a comprehensive strategic plan that includes a transportation finance strategy?

Last week Investing in Place met with staff from the City of LA’s Chief Administrative Office (CAO) for a update on the status of the sidewalk repair program.  We learned that in early October the City’s Committees of Budget/Finance and Public Works/Gang Reduction will come together to consider the CAO’s sidewalk repair recommendations for policy action, we believe the policy recommendations need to reflect a different approach.

City of LA - High Injury Network priorization zonesWe see this as a critical time for stakeholders to get involved and support a sidewalk infrastructure policy program that:

  • Views sidewalks as a core part of the City’s transportation network, not piecemealed based on property ownership characteristics (ie City facility, business/commercial, residential).
  • Creates a citywide sidewalk strategic plan/inventory strategy.
  • Creates a prioritization plan based on social equity and public health metrics and uses the city’s high injury network (HIN), and other factors to inform the prioritization plan.
  • Leverages the potential 2016 Los Angeles County transportation sales tax revenue to accelerate the repair program to fix the city’s sidewalks in 10 years, not the proposed 30 years.
  • Involves and is informed by stormwater capture and tree preservation/replanting strategies.
  • Supports meaningful community participation during this effort.

Background: On April 1, 2015 the City of Los Angeles announced the settlement on American with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit to fix LA’s sidewalks. After several years of litigation the City of Los Angeles agreed to fix the city’s broken sidewalks and ensure accessibility and safety for all. This legal agreement represents the largest disability payout in the country. The settlement calls for a citywide sidewalk repair plan and spending over $1 billion in funds to fix and improve sidewalks throughout the city within the next 30 years (see LA Times and Legal Aid Society coverage and analysis).  This then triggered the City Administrative Office (CAO) to issue a report to Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council, called “New Policy for Repair and Management of Sidewalks Adjacent to Private Property,” in May 2015.  This report included recommendations for a comprehensive sidewalk repair strategy, including the development of policies to address sidewalk repairs by other governmental agencies, commercial property and residential properties. This report is still a recommended action by the CAO’s office.  It is critical to realize, no decisions have been made by the council on how to proceed further.  Members of City Council are currently in the process of assessing the recommendations. They are also holding community meetings, assessing the needs of their districts and requesting input from area residents on sidewalk repair needs.  So now is the time for stakeholders to weigh in. Per staff in the CAO’s office, the City Council is expected to decide on sidewalk funding and repair policy this fall, with the goal of approving the policy and staffing levels by December 2015.

It is a critical time to weigh for stakeholders to weigh in on this policy decision. The city is potentially approving a $1.4Billion dollar infrastructure plan without comprehensive strategic plan or funding strategy. The sidewalks in the City of Los Angeles represent one of the most critical public spaces, but are not yet afforded the same luxuries many other transportation infrastructure projects enjoy such as strategic planning, data and inventory collection, safety prioritization, comprehensive funding or being viewed as a core part of the transportation network.

Next steps: We are thinking about hosting a conference call in the first week in October to brief partners on this policy effort and invite LA City staff to share the latest updates, especially before the Joint Committees meeting. Please email if you’d like to be involved.

Previous #lasidewalk blog posts:

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