Ryu on LA's sidewalk repair program

A multimillion-dollar taxpayer-funded program to fix dozens of miles of sidewalks outside Los Angeles-owned buildings is being questioned by a City Council member.

At a Monday hearing on sidewalk issues, Councilman David Ryu said he’s concerned that sidewalks with “minimal or almost no damage” are being fixed in his district.

As part of a sweeping repair program, nearly $15 million has been spent to fix sidewalks in front of at least 129 city facilities, according to a city report released this month. 

The same report states that sidewalks in front of 442 of 600 city facility sites still require repairs.

City Hall leaders last year opted to fund repairs in front of city-owned buildings, rather than general public walkways because of a now-settled lawsuit brought by disability rights groups.

Ryu, whose district stretches from Sherman Oaks to Silver Lake, said his aides took photos of some of the planned sites.

“We can’t find where the damage is,” Ryu said. 

A city employee in the Bureau of Engineering made similar complaints to this news organization about sidewalk repairs done this month outside the city-owned Marvin Braude San Fernando Valley Constituent Center in Van Nuys. The employee, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, questioned the repairs, noting that some sidewalk panels didn’t appear to need replacement.

The sidewalks around Marvin Braude were also identified by city assessors as needing repairs.

Responding to Ryu’s concerns at Monday’s hearing, City Engineer Gary Moore defended the fixes, saying that a rise of more than a quarter of an inch makes a sidewalk no longer compliant under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In a follow-up interview, Moore said if sections that are non-ADA compliant are bridged by a 3-foot ADA-compliant section, engineers must replace the whole area so it is structurally sound.

Asked about the Van Nuys repairs two weeks ago, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works wrote in an email that “city assessors went to the site and found non-ADA compliant sidewalk.”

During a recent visit to the Van Nuys site, large sections of the sidewalk outside the Marvin Braude Center were either being ripped up or marked for removal.

Sidewalk repairs are a major goal of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who took office vowing to fix the city’s walkways and streets. Several Los Angeles council members have also pushed for sidewalk fixes in their district.

During Monday’s hearing, Ryu said the priority should be residential or commercial property sidewalks, rather than city properties, where he said those fixes aren’t immediately needed.

“Although there is legal reasoning as to why many sidewalks need to be repaired, we should be more strategic when it comes to repairing the massive backlog of damaged sidewalks,” Ryu said in a statement after the hearing.


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