Monday, August 7, 2017

Updates from the City of LA’s Sidewalk Citizen Advisory Committee

Background: In 2010, a class action lawsuit between Willits et al plaintiff group and the City of Los Angeles addressed the need to repair damaged sidewalks in the City of ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In May 2015, the Council approved the Willits v. City of Los Angeles Settlement Term sheet (Settlement), which includes various City of Actions that provide improved access to persons with mobility disabilities in accordance with local, state, and federal accessibility requirements. The settlement defines pedestrian facilities as “any sidewalk, intersection, crosswalk, street, curb, curb ramp, walkway, pedestrian right of way (ROW), pedestrian undercrossing, pedestrian overcrossing, or other pedestrian pathway or walkway of any kind that is, in whole or in part, owned, controlled or maintained by or otherwise within the responsibility of the City of Los Angeles.

Investing in Place is pleased to participate in the City of Los Angeles’s Citizen Advisory Committee for the sidewalk program. At last month’s quarterly meeting, the Bureau of Engineering provided a update on the status of the program.  (See the powerpoint that guided the presentation.)

Key Takeways:

  1. Inventory: Bureau of Engineering expects to have the inventory of all of the City’s sidewalks by the end of 2017.
  2. Prioritization: This summer Bureau of Engineering staff expect to present a prioritization methodology for the City’s sidewalk program.
  3. Environmental Impact Report: The City is preparing to do a Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the sidewalk program – first step is holding Notice of Preparation (NOP) workshops this month.
  4. Rebate Program: The cap for homeowner rebates for sidewalk repair has been lifted to $10,000.

Inventory: One of the biggest obstacles to finally rebuilding the City’s sidewalks and crosswalks (and in many cases building them for the first time) is the lack of information on inventory, conditions and a finance plan to get the work done.  Fixing LA’s sidewalks is work that has not meaningfully happened since the 1970s, over 40 years ago. Without knowing the scope and need of the problem – and with no finance strategy – the City’s sidewalks have fallen through the cracks again and again when it comes to infrastructure funding and political attention. Slowly, thanks to a class action lawsuit (Willits v. City of Los Angeles) this is changing.


At July’s Sidewalks Citizen Advisory Committee, it was reported that the City Bureau of Engineering expected to have the inventory of all of the City’s sidewalks by the end of 2017. While this inventory will not capture conditions (that will be done next), this is a huge start towards creating a meaningful sidewalks strategic plan that could allow the City to leverage transportation funds in order to accelerate the repairs to 10 years instead of 30 – as well as allow the City to begin to address the over 20,000 of backlogged repair requests submitted through 311. You can see the inventory in progress at

Prioritization: This summer Bureau of Engineering staff expect to present a prioritization methodology for the City’s sidewalk program. With such an enormous infrastructure need in front of them – deciding where to start first is critical. (To be sure you are notified when their report is posted and expected to go to Council – sign up for Council File #14-0163-S3.)

The Willits v. City of Los Angeles settlement requires prioritization of:

  • Transportation Corridors
  • Hospitals, medical facilities, assisted living facilities and other similar
  • Places of public accommodation such as commercial and business
  • Facilities containing employers
  • Other areas such as residential neighborhoods and undeveloped areas

Investment priority will also be determined by City Council criteria and input from Bureau of Engineering – but one thing we are particularly excited to see is, based on the input from Citizen Advisory Committee, that priority is assigned to sites within 500 feet of the High Injury Network and the City’s Vision Zero Action Plan. (For more – see page 6 of pdf.)


Environmental Impact Report: As the City of LA prepares to complete the inventory, decided on the prioritization and comply with the Willits Settlement – the City is also preparing to do an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the sidewalk program, the first step is to seek input on the parameters of the EIR – what should be addressed, what questions need to be answered, what impacts need to be measured. This is called the Notice of Preparation (NOP). Right now, the City is seeking input on the NOP and is hosting 3 open houses where attendees can give feedback. One of the key environmental impacts expected with this program is the significant removal of large quantities of mature street trees in a city that already struggles to support a robust urban canopy and lacks shade for its sidewalks and bus stops. The City expects to replace street trees at a 2:1 ratio, consistent with City policy.


Public scoping meetings will be held to obtain input on the scope and contents of the EIR starting this week:

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017
Ronald F. Deaton Civic Auditorium
100 W 1st Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Event time: 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Monday, August 14th, 2017
Mid-Valley Senior Citizen Center
8825 Kester Avenue, Panorama City, CA 91402
Event time: 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Thursday August 24, 2017
Westchester Senior Citizen Center
8740 Lincoln Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90045
Event time: 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.



Rebate Program: The City is offering a rebate program that financially assists property owners who choose to repair their own sidewalks. If you want to fix your sidewalk yourself, there is a process through which you can do that without waiting for the City to make it around to your house. And when you do you will be reimbursed up to $10,000 (for both residential buildings and businesses). Previously, the cap for the rebate program was $2,000, but this summer City Council increased it, as the the average cost to fix residential sidewalks has been estimated at $5,000 – $6,000.


Key Resources:

Recap of Metro's 1st Customer Experience Committee Meeting - Buses, Vision Zero and More!

by Scott Frazier

Diverging Diamond Interchanges, Complete Streets and the 710

by Scott Frazier