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Los Angeles Finally Has a Plan to Fix Its Terrible Sidewalks

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The City Council is close to passing a "fix and release" plan that would repair sidewalks, then hand responsibility off to property owners

Los Angeles's plan to finally fix its broken sidewalks is moving forward once again after many attempts. A newly proposed plan, which was inspired by a report last year from the City Administrative Officer, would have LA on the hook for repairing sidewalks near houses and businesses the first time around, but hand the burden of upkeep over to the owners of the properties the sidewalks are up against, says the LA Times.

The new plan would also repeal a 1970s rule on the books that made the city responsible for fixing all its own sidewalks. According to state law, the owner of the property next to the sidewalk is tasked with its upkeep, but LA took on the job when federal money was available to do so; now that federal funding is no longer around, hence the jagged sidewalks.

The unique-to-LA rule "got us in this mess to begin with," Councilmember Joe Buscaino tells the Times, referring to the enormous backlog of repairs that have to be done on the city's famously busted walkways. Following a court ruling last year, Los Angeles legally has to fix them at this point.

Under the proposed sidewalk repair plan, the city would first repair sidewalks near commercial, industrial, and residential properties, "regardless of whether the damage was caused by a city tree." There would be a cap on how much the city would spend on each parcel in LA, so that the funding for repairs can't go to just one mammoth project.

The city would also offer rebates to anyone who wanted to fix their sidewalk on their own, before the city gets to it, "reimbursing them for roughly half of the average cost per square foot of repairs" if they make the fixes within the first three years that the program's in effect and eliminating permit fees for the work.

There would also be a "warranty" that protects repairs from any problems; if something went wrong with a repaired sidewalk, the city would fix it. (The warranty would be 20 years for residential sidewalks and five years for commercial sidewalks.)

Though everyone is pretty much in agreement that LA's sidewalks need repair, not everyone is excited about this plan—some community groups aren't happy about homeowners having to pay for the costs of sidewalks at all after all these years.

The plan has already won the support of two City Council committees, and will now go before the full council. If the City Council approves it, the program could go into effect in July, the start of the next budget year.