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LA Considers Shifting Responsibility Of Sidewalk Repairs To Homeowners

LOS ANGELES ( — Los Angeles has crumbling sidewalks in need of repair, but a plan to fix them won't make a lot of homeowners happy.

That's because the city is considering a proposal that would make property owners responsible for fees to maintain them.

"It's an eyesore, yes. And it's dangerous, yes," said Gato Grossman, who has had an uprooted sidewalk in front of his Studio City home for more than 30 years.

Since 1974, the city has maintained the areas where trees have uprooted sidewalks, but City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana wants the responsibility to shift to the homeowner.

"Throughout the state, throughout the country, it's private property owners' responsibility to repair sidewalks, and so what we are doing is we're going to eventually be the way it is in the rest of the state," Santana said.

Santana is recommending two options. One would make the homeowner responsible for sidewalk repairs immediately, while another is called fix-and-release.

Under the latter plan, the city would fix the sidewalk, guarantee the work for five years, and the homeowner would then be responsible for fixing any future damage and be subject to possible lawsuits if someone gets injured.

For commercial properties, the switch would be immediate and businesses would have to foot the bill once an inspection deemed their sidewalk to be damaged.

Santana says the city doesn't have any money set aside strictly for sidewalk repairs as previous proposals for a designated fund never passed.

"It's this generation of elected officials that are choosing to bite the bullet and actually come up with a policy and commit the resources and get it done," he said.

Santana said the recommendations are a way to fulfill $1.4 billion lawsuit settlement with disability advocates that requires the city to repair sidewalks.

Grossman says he'll fight the proposals all the way.

"If they trip and fall, they'll sue me, so instead of being sued, I'll protect myself by sectioning it off," he said.

The city, however, says sidewalks cannot be sectioned off as they must be accessible.

The first of a series of public meetings to discuss the issue is scheduled for Monday at City Hall.

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