Friday, March 17, 2023

Creating LA’s Capital Infrastructure Plan: 3 things LA can do right now

Part 1 of 2

Los Angeles doesn’t have an overarching plan to guide the way it maintains its public right-of-way. The City needs one in order to thoughtfully and equitably invest in our city’s collective wealth–the streets, sidewalks, trees and public spaces that can make it possible for all Angelenos to live fully and move freely.

We have defined a Capital Infrastructure Plan (CIP) in previous blog posts and reports as: 

A long-term, unified direction for investment in our city’s infrastructure, working toward a vision for the city defined by those who live here. A CIP serves as the city’s plan for its major assets: it lists specific projects and programs along with expected costs and timelines. It encompasses all sources of funding. 

Investing in Place is calling for a CIP for the public right-of-way that is a 10-year budgeted plan using projections from the public works and transportation formula funds the City receives every year. The plan will include funding coming in from all sources, as well as a plan to be ready for future funding opportunities and grants. 

Through initial work started in 2022, Investing in Place has identified the first steps needed for creating a Capital Infrastructure Plan in the City of Los Angeles’s public right-of-way (PROW). These are initial steps that set the City up for long-term success, as follows:

  1. ASSET INVENTORY & ASSESSMENT: Collect all department and bureaus asset management inventories, starting with the five Public Works Bureaus and Department of Transportation.
    • The City needs to inventory assets and understand the scale and asset conditions (infrastructure asset management).
    • A complete inventory and the infrastructure conditions are likely not obtainable immediately, but are the first steps to understanding who has what.  
  2. COORDINATE PLANNING EFFORTS: Identify all of the existing, disconnected, and often conflicting efforts to plan for the public right-of-way from various city entities, such as (but not limited to): 
    • Bureau of Engineering – Equity in Infrastructure program
    • Bureau of Engineering – Sidewalk Repair Program (Wilit’s settlement)
    • Bureau of Street Services – One Infrastructure Street Improvement Projects 
    • Bureau of Street Lighting –  Smart City Efforts
    • Board of Public Works – Public Right-of-Way Protocols
    • Department of Transportation – Vision Zero
    • Department of Planning – Mobility Plan 2035
    • Chief Administrative Office – Equity in Infrastructure (a motion that began this process in 2021 at the request of City Council by members no longer on the council)
  3. DEVELOP, ARTICULATE, AND ADOPT A VISION for the streets and sidewalks that incorporates all competing uses this critical public space contains. Policymakers need to agree on outcomes the city wants to achieve in the public right-of-way in 10 years to meet the needs of the people (e.g. 80% of the sidewalks will be accessible, or the urban tree canopy and shade in public areas will be increased by 35%). There needs to be a policy-level agreement of what success looks like. The foundation of this vision can be built on existing adopted plans and must be inclusive to be effective, meaningful, and measurable. We need to know where we are going so we can honestly assess if we are meeting the needs of the people.

As these first steps are undertaken and to effectively create a functional CIP that delivers needed outcomes, the plan must initially include three critical components to eliminate “on-the-shelf” syndrome that afflicts many plans:

  • A prioritized project list with expected costs, funding sources and timelines.
  • A plan for state-of-good-repair/maintenance and asset inventory to monitor conditions.
  • Staff capabilities and local hire development programs to implement and create targeted local hire.

This is possible: other cities do this. Read Part 2 (coming soon!), where we share what we’re learning from those other cities.


 – The types of investments covered by the CIP vary widely across different cities.  The most common assets listed include buildings/public facilities, roadways, parks, transportation, and utilities. Many cities include housing (New York, San Francisco, Atlanta). Some cities include the airport in the CIP (Chicago, Eugene, San Diego, Long Beach), and others include police and fire (Boston, San Francisco).
– Infrastructure asset management refers to the management of physical, rather than financial assets. Infrastructure assets can include but are not limited to: streets, roads, sewer lines, water lines, bridges, sidewalks, curbs and gutters, traffic signals, traffic signs, street trees, landscaped medians, storm drains, etc.

Keeping Our House in Order: What LA Has Done, and What's Next

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Creating LA’s Capital Infrastructure Plan: 10 Lessons From Other Cities

by Investing in Place