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Public Works Committee Approves $10M Plan To Fix City Sidewalks

LOS ANGELES ( —  A Los Angeles city council committee Thursday approved a $10 million plan to repair damaged sidewalks.

"I am thrilled that we are finally making some progress on addressing the downright embarrassing condition of our sidewalks," said Councilman Joe Buscaino, who chairs the Public Works and Gang Reduction Committee that approved the funds.

The funding proposal will be heard Monday by the Budget and Finance Committee. If approved there, it will go to a vote by the full City Council.

The funds would be split three ways, with a third of the $10 million going toward fixing sidewalk damage tied up in lawsuits and liability claims.

Another third would go into a larger effort to spruce up well-traveled, high-profile and "iconic streets" around the city, Buscaino spokesman Branimir Kvartuc said.

The remaining money would fund a cost-sharing program. In that plan, expenses of repairing sidewalks will be split evenly between property owners and the city.

Buscaino said the $10 million will chip away at a $1.5 billion problem that grew over a long period, with about 40 percent, or 4,600 miles of sidewalks, still in bad condition.

The backlog of broken sidewalks, he said, is a "result of four decades of disingenuous policies whereby the city took legal responsibility for a massive expenditure, without ever figuring out how to pay for it."

Many of sidewalks in California, and the trees that line them, were installed by real estate developers. State law dictates property owners are the ones who must pay for repairs, according to Buscaino.

But the city's damaged sidewalk problem suffered a blow in 1973 when city leaders passed an ordinance that made it the city's responsibility to fix sidewalks damaged by tree roots, he said.

Councilman Bob Blumenfield this week also weighed in on the issue. He favored a cost-sharing plan in which commercial property owners would pay 50-75 percent of the cost, while the city would cover the rest.

His proposal also includes an incentive that would reduce the property owners' share of the costs based on how quickly they act.

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