Wed, May

LA: Expensive to Fix … Too Expensive for Some


PERSPECTIVE-The recent water main break on Sunset should remind us how costly Los Angeles is – and will be – to maintain. 

The main was 93 years old. Some connections and valves might be just as old. 

The repairs to the infrastructure and the surrounding properties will run well into the millions. I would not be surprised if the repair cost for Pauley Pavilion could amount to one-fourth the $136-million renovation price tag in 2012. If you factor in loss of use and revenue, the vehicles in the garages, my guess may be in the ballpark, or at least the basketball court. 

It was if the Los Angeles River was restored to its natural and wild state, but right through Westwood.

Someone is going to pay, and it won’t be Brian D’Arcy and his well-compensated IBEW brethren. 

Even if the city’s insurance covers most of the repairs for UCLA and Westwood, just think of what it will do to future risk premiums. 

If this were a one-time event, we would suck it up and move on. 

But how many such potential disasters lurk? 

What if the Red Line tunnel was inundated? A parking garage in Century City? Another fire truck in Valley Village? 

The liability associated with the city’s aging infrastructure is not just about the materials and labor required to replace water mains and power lines; the cost for personal property damage and possible loss of life could easily dwarf that of all other components. 

If you consider the costs of repairing streets and sidewalks, upgrading public transportation and paying for the ever-growing retirement benefits of city employees, Los Angeles might become too expensive for the average resident in the not too distant future. 

To be fair, Los Angeles is not the only city in the nation facing this problem, but there is little solace in that fact. 

Think of it as living in the same house for many years. You go through a long period with little in the way of replacement costs, but eventually age catches up. You procrastinate on major repairs, perhaps squeezing more life out of the roof. Then a 50-year storm hits and it collapses. 

Many cities are well past the low maintenance portion of their lives; Los Angeles is one of them. 

How many residents will opt to move outside the city limits, if not the state, rather than bear the costs?


(Paul Hatfield is a CPA and former NC Valley Village board member and treasurer.  He blogs at Village to Village and contributes to CityWatch. He can be reached at: [email protected])





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