Wed, Apr

Broken City Sidewalks, Broken City Promises, Broken City Processes


FIX IT POLITICS-Next Tuesday night there will be much discussion about our city's broken sidewalk and how to pay for it.  Tired old speaking points and aphorisms will be thrown out, and tired old solutions will be discussed, and courageous fixes for these problems will be ignored ... again. 

The presentation about sidewalk repairs is from 6-8 pm on Tuesday, July 28th, at the Mar Vista Recreation Center Auditorium (11430 Woodbine St., Mar Vista).  If a concerned citizen wants to learn about frustrations about sidewalks and infrastructure and relevant Westside issues, feel free to read the Argonaut instead of wasting time and money on the Times. 

It's no secret that the City of Los Angeles will spend over $1 billion over three decades on sidewalks and curbs as a settlement that is the result of a lawsuit by those (rightfully) defending the rights of the disabled--who are more impacted by these horrific sidewalk disruptions than any other group. 

It's also no secret that the City has been irresponsible in not having a plan to pay for this, and that it has been trying for years to make homeowners, property owners and renters find ways to pay for these sidewalks...even though they already have, again and again and again for the past several decades. 

It's again no secret that the City, while taking modest steps to address infrastructure issues, has a budgetary process that is stunningly tone-deaf in how it treats its infrastructure and required City services.

Yet is the City to blame, or is the electorate to blame by electing the same nincompoops who got us into this mess, and who treat those raising the alarm on these problems as kooks, nerds, wonks and other marginalized losers who just need to get a life? 

So will the following ideas, previously raised and all virtually summarily ignored, get again raised and ignored? 

1) Have Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates in equal numbers, and present at all meetings, with employee union representatives so that the proper consideration to infrastructure repair can be raised when union negotiations and budget deficits and pay/pension hikes are next addressed. 

2) Tie all City employee pay/pension hikes to benchmarks with respect to sidewalk and other infrastructure repair.  For example, if more urgent sidewalk fixes are completed (and appropriately verified) at an expedited schedule, a sliding scale of pay/pension hikes can be provided as incentive for these fixes to occur sooner, and for innovative and hard-working City employees to be rewarded. 

3) Establish higher pensions for those police, fire, and other essential City workers--who must NOT be asked to do hard physical labor in their 50's--be tied to their performance in an end-of-career reassignment to enforcing mitigation and infrastructure funds and building/safety codes from developers and landlords who have been shirking their legal obligations for decades. 

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4) Steer any and all developer mitigation funds away from the General City Budget Fund, and right-size them based on true/real-world impacts of new developments, so that an expedited sidewalk restoration effort can be implemented.  No, it's NOT hard to get to that $30 million or more per year needed to comply with the recent landmark sidewalk settlement. 

5) Dedicate a sufficient amount of potential "Measure R-2" funding for City of Los Angeles sidewalk repairs to both fulfill the obligations of the sidewalk settlement as well as to fulfill any pedestrian/bicyclist/transit rider needs to create the Great Streets/Walkable Streets that Mayor Garcetti has promoted so vociferously...and then use that dedication to ensure City voters affirm that measure in next year's November 2016 elections. 

These ideas aren't new, and aren't much more than tying the resolution of our sidewalk problem to basic human nature.  Yet they potentially go a long way towards fixing two other broken things in the City of Los Angeles, and which demand immediate attention and repair: 

The broken spirit of Angelenos that their elected leadership and civil service really cares about them, and the broken trust of Angelenos that their elected leadership and civil service can resolve issues that affect their daily lives.


(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at  [email protected]   He also does regular commentary on the Mark Isler Radio Show on AM 870, and co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)






Vol 13 Issue 60

Pub: Jul 24, 2015

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