LA’s broken sidewalks: City Council votes to keep studying the decades-old problem

A broken sidewalk outside of Los Angeles City Hall.
A broken sidewalk outside of Los Angeles City Hall.

The Los Angeles City Council agreed Tuesday to study alternative ways to pay for sidewalk repairs throughout the city. 

The Bureau of Street Services estimates that as much as 40 percent of the city's 10,900 miles of sidewalks are broken. Fixing them could cost $1.5 billion. 

Staff will report back on how best to prioritize the repairs. Ideas so far include creating a complaint-driven mapping system and focusing on areas that present the greatest challenges to pedestrians. Council members also asked for reports on the possibility of paying for the repairs through assessment districts or low-interest loans. 

"It's not the solution itself but it's that necessary push forward to get us to more solutions. And there's a lot of solutions that we've been talking about," said Councilman Bob Blumenfield. 

Problems with sidewalk repairs are nothing new to City Hall. Leaders have struggled with the issue for four decades. Up until 1973, Los Angeles property owners were responsible for maintaining sidewalks. Then, over the objections of Mayor Tom Bradley, the Los Angeles City Council voted to take on the financial responsibility of repairing sidewalks damaged by city-owned trees. However, that policy was not fully funded, and the lack of follow up led to broken and buckled walkways throughout Los Angeles. 

Councilman Bernard Parks said the city needs to move on from the studying the problem and focus on solving it. 

"All we need to do is drive drown the street and any place there's a tree, there's a broken sidewalk," Parks said.