ALPERN AT LARGE--This is a topic that should be headlines, but is buried below the soap operas in Washington, Sacramento, and Downtown Los Angeles. But we face this drill every day, and you KNOW the drill:
The road you use and need every day gets repaved and is beautiful ... and THEN the utilities come in, tear up the road to make a fix (which no one reasonably denies is necessary, but the TIMING!), and you wonder: why the heck aren't the utilities and the City working together to do the utility fixing, and THEN repave and repair the roads?
The problem is obvious: this "cutting" of the roads leads to a significant decrease in half-life of this newly-repaired road, and no asphalt patch will be as strong as concrete, and beyond the aggravation it's just not cost-effective or efficient for anyone.
The answer is this: THE COSTS TO THE UTILITIES (STREET DAMAGE RESTORATION FEE, OR SDRF) TO DO THIS WHENEVER AND WHEREVER THEY WANT IS TOO SMALL, AND THERE IS NO COST AT ALL FOR CUTTING INTO ROADS OVER 20 YEARS OLD.
Well, that is changing. At the Mar Vista Community Council Transportation/Infrastructure Committee meeting last night, consultant Laila Alequresh of the State of the Streets (CR17-1311) reported that after years of careful analysis and writing, City Controller Ron Galperin, with the legal analysis and fine touches of City Attorney Mike Feuer, have done the following:
1) With the passage of CF14-1571-S2 and CF15-0600-S22, the 20-year fee removal is over.
2) The SDRF is now updated to 2018 costs/impacts, and the money to the city might jump each year from less than $10 million to over $50 million.
And with 13,000 utility cuts to our roads each year (!), and only 14 utility inspectors for the whole city, that sort of oversight and appropriate fee arrangement is more important than ever.
Ms. Alequresh is one of those consultants who I wish the City could clone, and I'm grateful that her common sense hasn't gotten her fired yet by a City that's so used to inefficiency and favorable treatment to special interests that it doesn't know any better. But these two files/bills will go the City Council next week after being passed in the Public Works Committee yesterday (10/3/2018).
The SDRF will still be based on factors such as the age of the street and the size of the cut, but there IS an impact on tearing up a beautiful new/repaired street for a utility fix that IS necessary but IS more appropriately timed before or during the upgrade/repair.
So, credit goes to Galperin and Feuer, whose efforts will certainly make our streets "GREAT" in ways that the childish antics of Vision Zero and Mayor Eric "Elect Me For President in 2020" Garcetti.
And if the utilities don't want to pay so much for their cutting up our streets in a timely manner?
Perhaps they can work with, and talk to, and collaborate with, the City's street services departments (which are too many, and too disparate, but that's another issue) so that the utility fixes are done BEFORE the street is repaired, so that when a street gets resurfaced and repaired ...
... it STAYS repaired, and uncut, for years.
(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also 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 was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at email@example.com. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)