Today, L.A. City Controller Ron Galperin released a statement: “Tens of thousands of sidewalks throughout Los Angeles are impassable for the elderly, individuals with disabilities and pedestrians of all ages. Despite its recent focus on the issue, the City’s sidewalk repair program is simply not working as it should. The sheer scale of the problem, combined with the City’s inefficient and ineffective strategy to address it, means dangerous sidewalks aren’t getting fixed fast enough. In fact, most won’t be fixed for years or even many decades.”
The late Dick Littlestone advocated for years for a handicapped accessible ramp on Antioch between the medical building and the alleyway next to Café Vida.
In February 2020, CTN reported: “When the City first announced that Pacific Palisades would receive parking-meter money that could be deployed in the main business district, longtime resident Dick Littlestone, 95, immediately put in a request to have a handicapped sidewalk access ramp built by the alley at 15317 Antioch.
“Somebody in Councilman Mike Bonin’s office told him to contact Mike Patonai, the West L.A. District Engineer, for more immediate action.
“He did so on May 7, 2019, sending a photo and his sidewalk access request.
“Littlestone wrote: ‘Note that there is a simple, inexpensive asphalt ramp for sidewalk access on the other side of that alley next to the [Cafe Vida] cafe. I use a walker. It is difficult for me to access the sidewalk at that curb with a caregiver. Would be impossible for a wheelchair-bound person. Note that there is a simple, inexpensive asphalt ramp for sidewalk access on the other side of that alley next to the cafe.’
“Ten months later, there is still no word about installing the requested ramp.”
Why would it take years to add a handicapped ramp to a sidewalk?
For more than 50 years, the City lacked a comprehensive sidewalk repair program and was sued in 2016 in Willits v. City of Los Angeles.
The suit maintained that Los Angeles had violated the Americans Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by failing to construct accessible curb ramps at intersections and failing to maintain sidewalks in a condition that is usable by class members who rely on wheelchairs, scooters and other assistive devices for mobility.
The court agreed and a class action settlement required that the City spend more than $1.4 billion to make its sidewalks, curb ramps and crosswalks accessible to individuals with mobility disabilities.
The City Council adopted a “fix and release” policy, which meant that the City would repair broken sidewalks and then issue a certificate of compliance, along with a limited warranty, to the adjacent property owner for the repair.
After the limited warranty, it would then be up to the owner of the residence or business to maintain the sidewalk on their private property.
Galperin’s report noted that less than one percent of the City’s sidewalks have been certified as repaired. There are three reasons for the lack of repairs:
1) When the City fixes a sidewalk, it replaces the entire parcel — far more than it is legally required to do — making repairs more costly and time consuming.
2) the current priority is to fix sidewalks next to City-owned facilities, leaving out L.A.’s residential neighborhoods and commercial centers.
3) the City is responding slowly to repair requests.
Go to the interactive dashboard (visit: https://lacontroller.org/data-stories-and-maps/sidewalks-dashboard/).
To read Galperin’s report, visit: https://lacontroller.org/audits-and-reports/sidewalks/.