Sat, Apr

Hey, City Hall!  Take a Hike! Our Sidewalk ‘Fix’ is NOT Settled!


ALPERN AT LARGE--While it's not hard to conclude that the City Council and Mayor of Los Angeles presumes we're stupid and uninformed (and, perhaps because of our perpetually-low voter turnout and continued re-election of underperforming incumbents, their conclusion is understandable), there's something we can all agree upon:  our sidewalks are horrible, dangerous, and an insult to high-taxpaying Angelenos. 

An excellent summary of the thirty-year settlement of the City for a class action lawsuit on pedestrian rights-of-way for the disabled was written by Joe Linton of Streetsblog LA.  But seriously ... 

... Thirty years?  How can any reasonable adult with an IQ of 80 or higher accept that "fix"? 

Particularly, when the LA City Council voted without discussion to allow the Related Cos. developers a $198.5 million financial aid package for a high-profile downtown hotel project across from Walt Disney Concert Hall.   

As stated by David Zahniser of the L.A. Times, the Council voted 12-0 to allow Related to keep half the nearly $400 million in projected tax revenue over 25 years--a figure that normally flows into the general fund, which pays for police, firefighters and other city services. 

To be frank, we DO need Downtown development--but our sidewalks need fixing (and, of course, our parks, roads, infrastructure, and police/fire services).  So without trying to prioritize our sidewalks over other City services, it's not hard to point out the horrible timing of this giveaway right after the City Council and Mayor FAILED to come up with a sidewalk "fix". 

No, Mayor Garcetti and our City Council leaders, your faces should NOT be pointed heavenwards with a sense of satisfaction and "job well done" with respect to "fixing" our sidewalks.  Please take my advice, and wipe that collective smile off your faces and look downwards, at the sidewalks, and recognize that as we move forward into the next election cycle and "Measure R-2" you're NOT done. 

You didn't FIX anything, and not certainly with a "fix" that Angelenos would accept. 

In my last CityWatch piece, I described how my son and I (he was just a baby when I started the fight for the Expo Line) took a walk up Westwood Blvd. and down Sepulveda Blvd. on Memorial Day. 

The sidewalks were dreadful, and these were clearly within walking range of two of the most critical and contested and utilized Expo Line stations on the Westside.   

It's not hard to conclude that those Westsiders who fought the Expo Line legally should have placed higher priority on the sidewalks as mitigation for the Expo Line.  To their discredit, they did not. 

It's also not hard to conclude that the City of LA, who are often led by the same folks with leadership positions on the Metro Board, should prioritize the sidewalks that will be most frequently-used by transit riders. 

The Mar Vista Community Council just unanimously approved a motion supporting an expeditious speeding up of the sidewalk repair "fix" to 7-10 years, and NOT the ridiculous 30-year timeline.  They will soon vote on another motion to prioritize the sidewalks on major thoroughfares within 1/2 mile of all rail transit stations over the course of two years.  I am guessing that this motion will be similarly received. 

This isn't just a Westside issue--if sidewalks within 1/2 mile of any Eastside Gold Line or San Fernando Valley Orange Line Busway aren't fixed, then they darned well ought to be.  Now.  NOW! 

So to reiterate: 

1) Expedite and refinance the sidewalk "fix" to 7-10 years, and use private contractors to jumpstart this process.  Don't prioritize the City's union workers--prioritize the taxpayers for a change.  And fix/replace any trees along the way, because the ficus trees will only rip up the new sidewalks; native trees will get the job done, and are long overdue. 

2) Prioritize sidewalks within 1/2 mile of all rail/busway stations with a two-year deadline.  If we're going to celebrate the opening of the Expo and Foothill Gold Lines, and fighting to get Metro Rail into LAX, then we better make sure they're pedestrian accessible.  ALL of our wrecked sidewalks are a disgrace, but a two-year expedited focus on major transit stations makes sense. 

Because what DOESN'T make sense is for the City and County to benefit from Measure R-2, and to expect Angelenos to deal with unsafe and unusable sidewalks for up to 30 years...and we do NOT have to vote "yes" on Measure R-2 this November. 


(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 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.)



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