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L.A. may stop footing bills for sidewalk and driveway repairs


For 15 years, InJu Sturgeon pleaded with the city of Los Angeles to repair the treacherously slanted, cracked and crumbled sidewalk in front of her house in Palms. "I offered to pay 50%," she said. "I even threatened to sue them."

But the burden of mending pavement that has been cracked or lifted by expanding tree roots could soon fall to her — and tens of thousands of other Los Angeles property owners.

With cash in short supply, Los Angeles may soon end its policy of repairing sidewalks and driveways at city expense. This month, the City Council will consider repealing a 1974 ordinance that made the city responsible for sidewalk repairs, a policy that was initiated with a grant of federal funds. That pot of money, however, dried up long ago.

"We have no ability to perform these repairs," said Councilman Bernard C. Parks, chairman of the council's budget and finance committee. "The money ran out in the mid-1970s, yet the city has continued to hold itself responsible."

The real-estate industry is girding for a fight. Realtors say the city has done a poor job of explaining its plans to neighborhood councils and homeowners, even though the change could cost many property owners thousands of dollars each.

Read the full story here.

--Martha Groves

Photo: A bicyclist passes a damaged sidewalk. Driveway repairs would also be affected by the plan. (Los Angeles Times, Genaro Molina / May 5, 2010)

Comments () | Archives (31)

It looks to me that the tree in the picture in front of Mrs. Sturgeons home is coming through a public sidewalk. The last I remembered is that sidewalks are the responsibility of the city, if this is the case than the city is darn well lucky nobody has had a "Trip and fall accident" and sued them for damages. Whats that adress, I fell like a little powerwalk this morning?

Its would seem the city is now dragging its feet when it comes to meetinng their actual duties to public service. Its would seem more feasable for residents of Los Angeles to repeal the law that allows city elected officials wage increases to be tied into a superior court judges wage increase. We should as Angelinos consider that those who we elect into office dont deserve the wages they make due to the very poor work performance as leaders. Repeal city elected officials salaries. Efficiency starts at the top now is the time as Angelinos to make that known.

Talk about biting one's nose of to spite their face. This proposal to stop fixing sidewalks and streets is a great idea - if one wants the City to look raggedy and shabby ~ which will be a dis-incentive for the attraction of new business and industry.

Way to go !! You betcha .

I think it should be the property owner's responsibility. For the majority LA's existence, that was the case. Now we're in dire economic times and I think it should go back to the way it was. Owner's got a break for over 30 years. They should be happy with that. Kind of reminds me of Greece and its citizens who are demanding that they still get 14 months pay for 12 months of work. The status quo is unsustainable.

Owner's are suffering enough, I understand - believe me, I do - but the city as a whole is sinking fast. Our streets are falling apart. Side walks should be owner's responsibility so that the city can focus on what's most needed.

This quote says it all - "I didn't put the tree there," she said. "I shouldn't be footing that bill." But you bought the property with that tree on it. Now take responsibility.

L.A. City Council should mandate property tax credit, stright line deprecation, to property owners who take it upon themselves to repair sidewalks damaged by city owned trees.

Let me get this straight, homeowners will be responsible for repairing sidewalks that are damaged by city owned trees? Our mayor and city council are useless. Bernard Parks is still an idiot.

A law should be passed that requires these cheap, greedy homeowners to maintain their properties in a safe and proper condition. The law should have teeth in it and compel these louts to make the repairs immediately or face fines compounded for each day they delay. What makes these homeowners feel that they are entitled to make other hardworking and less fortunate people support their free ride down easy street?

Looking at the picture I think Mrs. Sturgeons property line starts where you grass ends and the sidewalks begins. The city would be responsible for any injuries cause the those tree roots. It would be in the best interest of the city to remove the tree before somebody gets hurt.


Does anybody know an alternative for concrete sidewalks?

Rarely do I ever reply to posts, but Jim Q. Citizen is just so off track.

1st, the city of LA has raised taxes/revenue many times over the last decaade, from an extra $100million a year for garbage fees to parking being $1 to $2 an hour from 50 cents.

Do you remember when there was no transfer tax on property? Then $900 per house for " repair of sidewalks" in late 1970's, now the transfer tax is $3200 per house. Yet no sidewalks have been fixed.

The truth is that the average citizen of LA does not vote. So when the city has extra money, it has gone to hire more workers and give pay raises while the unions fund thier candidates to communicate with a limited amount of voters and continue the cycle.

The insult to injury is this. You can not remove City trees without spending thousands of dollars. For example, the city plants a ficus. Ten years after you bought your house, the sidewalk cracks, you find out that Ficus's are famous for cracking the sidewalk. You want to put in a tree that does not have a root system that cracks sidewalks, but when you try to replace the tree, the local HOA opposes it. So you are screwed.

Finally, the sidewalks are for all citizens. The courts have held that you cannot deny acess to anyone on your sidewalk. Clearly sidewalks benefit everyone from homeowners to renters to business owners. As such, they shoul be repaired just like a city street which of course does not happen in LA.

Roots of some tree species grow straight down with little threat to surface structures. Other species' roots spread out and can cause damage such as that pictured. The city itself planted most of those trees lining our sidewalks without consulting tree specialists. Now that their trees begin to cause damage, the city wants to back out of its responsibility for its own ill-advised action. We can await the appropriate lawsuits against the city.

Well, considering that the city pays Mr. Parks over $300,000 in pension, etc, no wonder there's no money left for such inconsequential things as sidewalks!

To PM's comment U R wrong. In 1994 I had 7 Carob trees on my property (Ilive on a corner) The trees cracked & separated a wall shielding my back yard, raised my driveway on one side, deep cracks in the pavement in the garage, etc. After calling the City 4 or 5 times, they sent an inspector out who said they could do nothing and I could do nothing, because the trees weren't dead. I called 4 or 5 more times. Got a reasonable guy that gave me authoity to remove 2 trees at my own expense. I got the permit which said 32 feet of sidewalk and the droveway apron had to be replaced, and I had to buy and plant another Carob tree in a spot in the middle of the 2 lost tress. $4,290 dollars. two years later they came around taking out trees, whether you liked it or not, I now have 3 trees. They didn't repair the sidewalks either. I put in a claim for half of what I spent and they literally called me a sucker.

Jim Q. Citizen I forgot to add, the free ride you are refering to is not very free. We pay property tax and insurance. Have you ever noticed when the City needs money, home owners are hit first? Auto owners are hit, alchoholic beverages, gasoline is hit and tobacco is hit. If they would adjust their salaries, the use of vehicles, spending accounts for employees, and the outrageous retirement, we wouldn't be in this fix. Bernard Parks has 2 city retirements in the 6 figure range, but a retired veteran who also retires from the goverment cannot draw 2 retirements. Another law written for them.

Compare this to Santa Monica which is repaving 6 miles of streets not because many of them needed it, but mostly because they had to spend their federal bailout money on something that would create jobs.

Jim Q. Citizen, these are city trees that are causing the damage. If the city were to decide to cut down the tree tomorrow the homeowners would have no say in it. You see it happen all the time. If it's city trees damaging city sidewalks then it should be city money being used to repair damages. If they want to argue otherwise than these people should use the city's argument against them and claim the sidewalks as private property.

Property lines ends at the inside edge of the sidewalk. The sidewalk and parking (the grassy area between the sidewalk and the street in most neighborhoods) is the property of the city-not the the homeowner. Any tree in the 'parking' area are the property of the city of L.A.. Funny how other smaller cities (Pasadena, Burbank, Glendale, West Hollywood etc.) manage to trim their city owned trees yet the city of L.A. cannot. That also goes for properly maintaining streets, street lighting etc. etc. The city of L.A. has been a poorly run mess for years-long before this current economic downturn.

What? Residents expect the city to repair sidewalks? Unheard of...where I come from, we, the taxpayers and homeowners are responsible. And, the local town has special "watchers" that cruise around daily to find violations, i.e., crack in the sidewalks, high grass, unkempt yards, junk cars, etc. If they find a violation, they present you with a notice...fix it or else! They give you 30 days or heap huge fines if you don't comply. I think LA residents have been given hand-outs too long and they need to take responsibility. It's your sidewalk...you need to fix it.

Homeowners will also now also be responsible for repairing the streets in front of their properties. Apartment residents will be responsible for the city owned utility and light poles outside their buildings. Students will be responsible for maintaining local schools. The injured should be responsible for the upkeep of public hospitals. The illiterate and unemployed will be required to vacuum and check out books before using the library computers for a job search.

This is great. We'll no longer need to pay taxes!

Of course, if the home owner removed the tree, they would be fined for destruction of city property.

I will pay for it on my own. My solution = cutting down the city owned tree that is ruining the city owned sidewalk.

Whoever installed side walks should maintain them or pay for removing them.

Ownership of the sidewalks needs to be established.

Those are city trees aren't they? It is the city trees that are destroying the sidewalks. Therefore it is the city's responsibility.

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