Why Isn’t My Street Repaired?

Via de las Olas was vacated by the City in 1958.

39 Palisades Streets on ‘Vacation’

Street Vacation does not mean your local street is going to Big Bear over the holidays or escaping to the Caribbean for a little rest and relaxation. Rather, at one point, the City of Los Angeles decided that some city streets were too expensive to maintain, so they set them “free.”

In 1935, California passed a law allowing cities to pull “municipally owned” property out of public use. The City of L.A. starting withdrawing streets in 1936 because a city engineer told lawmakers it would prevent claims against damages arising from defective streets.

According to the original ordinance, those vacated streets were supposed to be outfitted with barricades and warning signs.

City Councilman Bob Blumenfield (District 3, in the Valley) brought “street vacation” to the City’s attention last March, when his constituents sought help in getting streets repaved—some had not been touched in 80 years.

In a May L.A.Times story (“Some L.A. Streets Aren’t Being Repaved Because of a Law Dating from the Depression”), Blumenfield said, “Many residents have no idea that their street is withdrawn until they try to get it fixed.

“The reality is, whether we like it or not, we’re liable for these streets anyway,” he said.

The Times story reported that the 1935 state code has since been repealed. “And in the decades since, city attorneys have advised that L.A. still bears legal responsibility for such damages on withdrawn streets, according to city records, including a 1988 engineering report and a 2014 motion made by a city councilman.”

Blumenfield asked for a report that would list all the withdrawn streets and what the cost would be to repair them and bring them back into service. The City Council approved the request in March.

According to a September report to the City Council from the Bureau of Street Services and the Bureau of Engineering, “Our investigations to date have found streets that are now being used by the public even though they are technically withdrawn from public use.”

According to City records presented to the City Council in September, 374 streets have been withdrawn over the years, including 39 in Pacific Palisades.

Palisades streets withdrawn in 1937 included Giardino Way to Tramonto; W. Livorno Drive (Ida Street to Salerno Dr., Salerno Dr. to Marquez Ave. and Marquez to Bollinger Dr.); Marquette St. (Bienveneda to 400 feet east of Las Casas); Alta Mura Road (San Onofre Dr. to Alta Mura);San Onofre Drive (Alta Mura Rd. to Terminus); Bellino Drive (Tranquillo Road to Sabbiadora Way and Quadro Vecchio Drive to Tramonto); Tranquillo Road (Sabbiadora Way to Tranquillo);Monte Grigio (Sabbiadora Way); Monte Grigio (Tramonto Dr.); Notteargenta Road (Sabbiadora Way to Tramonto); Coperto Drive ( Tramonto Dr.); Via Nicolas (Paseo Miramar); and Fermo Drive (Romany Road to Rustic Canyon Road).

In 1948, 11 streets off Paseo Miramar were “vacated” (Vista Pacifica to Alondra Dr.), (Alondra to Resolano Drive), (Resolano–2), (Resolano to Catalonia Avenue), (Catalonia to Lucero Avenue), (Lucero Avenue via Nicolas), (Via Nicholas to Florence), (Via Florence to Sunset Blvd.), Via Maria (Via Florence) and (Florence via Maria to Paseo Miramar).

After the Pacific Palisades “killer slide” on Pacific Coast Highway (off Via las Olas) in 1957, that road, which transverses the bluffs, was vacated (from Mt. Holyoke to Friends Street).

In 1958, three more roads that fed into Posetano Road (Stretto Way and Revello Drive–both directions) were vacated.

The last street vacations in the Palisades came in 1963 when streets that fed into Tramonto Drive were “let go,” included Revello to Coperto and Coperto to Quadro Vecchio. Also, on that list were Casale Road to Capri, Castellammare Drive to Stretto and Stretto Way to Breve Way.

According to a California Newswire story in October (“Bureaucratic Oddity Removed to Address LA’s Unpaved Streets”):

“The [City] council, on a 10-0 vote, moved to draft an ordinance that would reverse all the old ordinances and other rules that have withdrawn the streets from use, and address in the future appropriate measures for the “expected small number of streets” that may not be appropriate for public use.”

A cost to repair them was not available in the September 27 report, nor was cost reported in any news stories. Circling the News emailed Councilman Mike Bonin to see if he had an estimate and/or a timetable for the streets in the Palisades.

The Newswire story noted an additional problem: “The Board of Public Works had adopted a policy many years ago that required streets to be built out to city standards in determining safety and passability, which led to them not being reinstated for paving, even though other nearby streets might also not meet current city standards but haven’t been withdrawn and still receive regular maintenance.”

In an earlier story, CTN discovered that 23 percent of the streets (175 of 769) in Pacific Palisades received an F grade. The average grade was a C- and—vacated streets are not graded.

Streets that have been vacated by the City are not on the L.A. Bureau of Street Services to be repaired, such as Via de las Olas, which is still used by local residents.

 

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