Concerns About "Difficult" Projects and Safe Sidewalks LA

As we reported last week, Investing in Place, Los Angeles Walks, AARP, and Tree People recently convened stakeholders and representatives from the Mayor’s Office and Bureau of Engineering to discuss Safe Sidewalks LA, the City’s new pedestrian infrastructure repair program.

While we learned a good amount about the planned implementation and structure of the new program, we at Los Angeles Walks remain concerned about the lack of detail in a few key areas. Over the coming weeks we will elaborate on those particular concerns. We will begin by considering the City’s discretion in making repairs.

Despite some positive signs, most notably the recent groundbreaking of the MyFigueroa complete streets project, mobility advocates have been frustrated with the seeming inability of the City of Los Angeles to come through on safety-enhancing projects that present any sort of implementation challenge. Most often, unfortunately, a project to increase the safety of all road users is deemed “controversial” due to opposition from either a particular group or a particular City Councilmember. Proof of widespread opposition isn’t required; just a whisper has been enough to shelf projects that would provide a vital connection for Angelenos and/or would surely save lives.

We are therefore very concerned about the lack of detail regarding how the decision to either postpone or exempt a submitted Access Request (see earlier post) will be determined, and who will have that discretion.

The legal settlement that was the impetus for Safe Sidewalks LA includes a remarkable number of clauses that give the City discretion to postpone or exempt a safety issue. Five paragraphs stand out (highlights ours):

Section 12.7

  • (i) The City shall prioritize remediation, installation or other construction for locations that do not have site constraints or technical infeasibility issues, as defined in the standards set forth in Section 12.9 below;
  • (ii) With respect to unusually expensive installation or remediation concerning any Pedestrian Facility, the City shall have the discretion to address such items in connection with larger, street-related capital projects at such locations;
  • (iii) Work on difficult sites may be postponed if there is an alternative accessible route within no more than 200 feet of the condition at issue (to the maximum extent feasible).  Such alternative routes will be identified to persons with Mobility Disabilities in accordance with applicable ADA Title II regulations;
  • (iv) Locations at which site constraints make strict compliance with applicable design standards impracticable may be made compliant with the standards set forth in Section 12.9 below to the maximum extent feasible;

Section 12.10

  • (iv) there exists a technical infeasibility to installing or performing a Program Access Improvement at the particular location because of topography or some other factor, including if remediation would be “technically infeasible” as defined by Standard 106.5 of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

Our concerns begin with the vagueness of what constitutes an “unusually expensive” or “difficult” site. These terms are not defined, which is understandable, as the City likely did not want to be legally bound to repair facilities immediately if the repair would bust the budget.

However, with the lack of a clear set of guidelines or other planning document that the public can view and comment on, we do not know how Access Requests will be sorted as either feasible or infeasible.

Since immediately infeasible work may be postponed, our next concern is for how long may work be postponed? Indefinitely? Or is there a set period? If the City will be able to delay an Access Request or other repair to include in a future, larger street-related capital project, is there a time limit as to when that larger capital project may begin? How can the public, and especially those with mobility disabilities, be ensured that the future capital project would include the repair, that it would be remembered by City staff, and that it wouldn’t be excluded for cost or other reasons?

Where will the money for making signs for alternative accessible routes around “difficult” sites come from? If someone submits an Access Request, and the site is deemed “difficult” and an alternative accessible route is identified, will the original requester be notified of that fact? Or will they simply be told that the repair is not feasible?

Lastly, if a project can be exempted entirely due to “topography or some other factor,” will the requester or public be notified as to what that “some other factor” is? Will there be a chance for either the requester or the public at large to appeal an exemption?


As an example of our concerns, the photo above shows the north side (looking west) of Melrose Ave. from Wilcox Ave. past Cole Ave. near the Paramount studios. It is clearly not accessible (see the poles?). If an Access Request is made for this sidewalk, what will happen? Either the utility poles will have to be moved, an easement will have to be taken from the adjoining properties, or space will have to be taken from the travel/parking lane (or some combination of those options).

Any of those options will be expensive, and possibly even “difficult.” Will the City just say the project is infeasible and exempt it? Will the City say it’s too “difficult” and postpone work until some future work on Melrose Avenue? And when would that be? Would they postpone work and sign an alternative accessible route on the south side of Melrose?

Safe Sidewalks LA was created to fix these problems,  but how can we be assured that it will? 

We worry about a program where the most troublesome and dangerous chokepoints are exempted or effectively postponed forever, leaving intact the most pernicious gaps in our accessible network. We worry about a program that fixes all the tree root rollercoasters and greater than half-inch gaps, but fails to fix the blocks-long stretches of three-foot sidewalk. We worry about a program that lets our leaders and City staff off the hook for making “difficult” choices that prioritize safety and accessibility.

Mayor Garcetti's Aging Initiative

Cities embrace the future — and determine their destiny — by constantly reinventing themselves.

In Los Angeles, we are in the midst of a historic transition away from our reputation as the car capital of the world. Today, a growing mass transit network is redefining how people think about commuting to work, getting to afternoons at the beach, and enjoying nights out with friends.

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A Future of Walking on Age-Friendly Streets?

On May 18, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled the Age-Friendly City Initiative: Purposeful Aging LA, which is his 17th Executive Directive in the three years he has been mayor. With the Initiative, Los Angeles joins 90 other American cities and three others in California—San Francisco, Saratoga, and West Sacramento—in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities. 

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LA Finally Has a Plan to Fix its Sidewalks

Safe Sidewalks LA is the long-awaited plan to fix LA’s deteriorating (and sometimes non-existent) sidewalk system. The program is the result of a class action lawsuit filed by people with mobility disabilities, and requires the City to spend roughly $30 million every year for the next 30 years to make LA sidewalks meet accessibility standards.


This past Wednesday, November 30, as City Council members discussed and ultimately approved Safe Sidewalks LA in City Hall, 40 community stakeholders met in the Arts District to ask representatives from the Mayor’s Office and Bureau of Engineering all about the program.

The meeting, led by Investing in Place and co-hosted by Los Angeles Walks, AARP, and Tree People, brought together advocates, activists, representatives from community groups, and individuals who work on everything from water conservation and urban forestry to racial justice and disability rights.

Here is a snippet of what we learned about Safe Sidewalks LA:

  • The City has created three repair categories: Access Repair Requests, General Repair Requests, and a Rebate Program.
  • Access Requests must be made by or on behalf of anyone with a mobility disability.  
  • The City will prioritize Access Requests by type of repair or construction as mandated by the settlement (i.e. repairs on transportation corridors will be completed before sidewalks adjacent to hospitals).
  • General Requests will consist of requests for repairs in the pedestrian right of way made by people not in the Settlement Class (i.e. people without a mobility disability).
  • For the Rebate Program, the City will offer a rebate to property owners who fix sidewalks in front of their property using one of the city-approved contractors.
  • The City will reimburse up to $2,000 per residential lot and $4,000 per commercial lot under the Rebate Program.

While the City began accepting repair requests online and over the phone (via 311) on Thursday, December 1, many details of the program are yet to be determined.

Other aspects of Safe Sidewalks LA are already concerning. Los Angeles Walks has many questions about the implementation and operation of the program.

Primarily these concerns have to do with:

  • How the City will raise awareness of the program;
  • How the City will ensure that all residents have the skills, knowledge, and ability to submit requests for repairs;
  • How the City will prioritize projects and implement them equitably;
  • Who will have discretion in determining the feasibility of repairs;
  • How the City will interact with stakeholders and the public;
  • The lack of consideration of crosswalks as part of the path of travel.

To address these concerns and many others, the stakeholder group will continue to meet as the City rolls out Safe Sidewalks LA. You are invited to join us! Let us know if you are interested.

Stay tuned. There's lots more to come on this in the future! 

November 2016 Updates

Here's what we covered in our update this month --  

Next Tuesday, November 29, you can keep seniors walking for a healthy, happy older adulthood. #GivingTuesday
Union Tower Seniors

Keep Seniors on the Move this #GivingTuesday

Mr. Wong (top left) walks six miles a day through Westlake and Koreatown. But many of his neighbors are afraid to walk two blocks to Food4Less. This #GivingTuesday, you can make Westlake safer for hundreds of older adults by providing group walks, trainings, and workshops. Programming you make possible will bring attention and resources to the senior walking environment in Westlake and beyond. Learn more >

Footnotes 2016 is Out   

This year's edition of our annual publication brought together gerontologists, policy advocates, and activists to address the mobility concerns of LA's seniors. How will Los Angeles accommodate this booming population? Find out >

You're Invited: Sidewalk Repair Info Session 11/30

The long-awaited City of Los Angeles Sidewalk Repair Program is underway. How will it work? Where will the City start? Find out directly from Ted Bardacke, Director of Infrastructure, Los Angeles Mayor's Office, on November 30, 1pm-3pm, Arts District. Presented by Los Angeles Walks, Investing in Place, and Tree People. RSVP now >

Bike Ped Count Numbers are In   

The LA County Bicycle Coalition recently released the 2015 Bike Ped Count report. The effort, funded by AARP and supported by Los Angeles Walks, counted nearly 21,000 people biking and 140,000 people walking over six hours at 156 distinct locations. Go to the numbers >

See you on the sidewalk!

Los Angeles Walks

LA Artists Take on World Day of Remembrance


What: Day of Remembrance Road Concert 
Where: Find over 40 site-specific works along Spring St. and Main St. from 1st to 9th St., and on 1st St. between Spring and Main (map)
When: Sunday, November 20, 2016 from 11am-5pm
For more information: Visit Los Angeles Walks' table at Spring Street Park, on Spring St. between 4th and 5th St.

Over 40 Los Angeles artists will perform and present site-specific works along a two-mile stretch of Downtown LA this Sunday, November 20, 2016, to honor people who have been killed and seriously injured on our city streets this year.

The "Day of Remembrance Road Concert," produced by LA Road Concerts, commemorates International World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, and is part of a worldwide effort to bring attention to the fact that traffic violence is one of the leading causes of death around the world, as it is in Los Angeles and the United States. Globally, more than 1.25 million lives were lost in traffic crashes last year; 35,092 people were killed in traffic in the US in 2015. 

The Day of Remembrance Road Concert is presented in partnership by LA Road Concerts, the Los Angeles Vision Zero Alliance, the City of Los Angeles Vision Zero Initiative, and Alan Nakagawa, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s Artist-in-Residence.

The Road Concert is part of the Vision Zero Initiative, a citywide effort to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries in Los Angeles by 2025 through engineering projects, education, and enforcement. The event intends to raise awareness of traffic violence in Los Angeles through creative, captivating, and curious works of art. 

Participants are invited to join Los Angeles Walks at Spring Street Park from 11am-2pm to create memorials to people killed while walking in Los Angeles. At 2:30pm, Los Angeles Walks will offer a group walk of the entire Road Concert route, meeting and ending at Spring Street Park. RSVP here.

Find much more information here: Day of Remembrance Road Concert

Find a full press release below. 


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Four Things to Be Proud Of

One year ago, your support allowed Los Angeles Walks to hire our first staff member, Emilia Crotty, as a full time policy and program manager. To mark this milestone, we’ve compiled a list of four things we are proud to have accomplished since then.

As a direct result of your support, these are your accomplishments. Thank you for making it all possible...   

1. This year, you built a citywide coalition committed to creating safe, healthy streets.

Over the last 12 months, more than 20 community organizations and concerned individuals came together to form the Vision Zero Alliance. The Alliance is a unique coalition that supports and influences the City’s ambitious Vision Zero initiative, which aims to eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injuries in Los Angeles by 2025.  

Your support allowed Los Angeles Walks to facilitate monthly Vision Zero Alliance meetings, liaison with City agencies, and foster the development of the Alliance, which creates a unified constituency for safe streets in Los Angeles.

Through your support, the Alliance has pushed the City of Los Angeles to (1) increase and improve its community engagement methods, (2) commit to advancing social equity through engineering investments, and (3) make enforcement strategies more transparent.

We are proud that these efforts have brought national attention to the Los Angeles Vision Zero Alliance. Thanks to Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Program for partially funding this vital program.

2. You offered seniors a chance to improve their quality of life.

Your support created the beginnings of a Safe Routes for Seniors campaign in the Westlake/MacArthur Park neighborhood just west of Downtown LA, a dense neighborhood where more seniors are involved in traffic collisions than anywhere else in Los Angeles. Safe Routes for Seniors engages older adults to identify and champion street safety improvements in their neighborhood.


Through the program, you’ve made it possible for residents to identify obstacles to walking, develop a set of design solutions to improve walkability and safety for senior residents, and advocate for physical changes on the streets and sidewalks they frequent. A more walkable environment will improve the physical and emotional health of senior residents, and reduce social isolation.

3. You installed wayfinding signs in South Los Angeles.

This year you also helped to launch the Walk This Way/Caminale wayfinding signage program. Along with the support of ioby (In Our Backyard), you made it possible for a group of teenagers to lead a community-based project that installed 11 wayfinding signs along Central Avenue, a main route in their South Los Angeles neighborhood.


The signs provide information on walking and biking times between various destinations, show connectivity between neighborhoods, celebrate community history and assets, and encourage walking. A pilot program, we will use this experience to develop a Walk This Way toolkit for easy implementation in other Los Angeles communities.

4. You got hundreds of people outside to walk their city.

Finally, you offered hundreds of people a chance to experience dynamic and diverse neighborhoods across the city through twelve group walks, all led by volunteer Walk Ambassadors. In addition to monthly walks, you made it possible for Los Angeles Walks to host four WalkLAvias - the simplest way to CicLAvia.

The best thing people can do for walking in Los Angeles is to get out and walk, and these group walks make that possible for so many people.


Thank you for all you’ve done this year to make walking safe, accessible, fun, and equitable for all Angelenos. We look forward to working with you to do even more in 2017.

All the best and safe streets for all,

Deborah signature

Deborah Murphy

Founder and Executive Director 


Walking Home from College: Why Measure M is Critical to the Future of Los Angeles

My mom always told me she felt comfortable in her dented-but-charming 2011 black Toyota Camry. I’ve never bought into the notion that a car could be a sanctuary, but she thinks of her car as a second home. She grew up in the San Fernando Valley of the 1980s, a mall-centric autotopia, so it makes sense. But, at twenty years old, it’s not the sort of mentality that I’ve grown to share.

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World Day of Remembrance Call for Artists

Day of Remembrance Road Concert: DTLA Spring and Main Loop
Los Angeles Road Concerts is seeking artists of all kinds to install or perform site-specific works in unused public space in Downtown Los Angeles along a loop made of 1st, Spring, 9th and Main St. as part of World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, Sunday, November 20, 2016.

Submissions may be sent through the online form or to

In four previous events, LA Road Concerts has shown work from over 250 Los Angeles artists in unused public outdoor space. In a “road concert” participating artists display installations, perform works, facilitate carpool happenings, host spontaneous readings, and make music in unexpected spaces, such as on the sidewalk, between dumpsters, along streetlamps, as well as inside the audience’s earbuds as they traverse the path of the road concert. Audience members can walk, bike, skateboard, carpool or take public transit. They can time it to see it all, go it unplanned, or carefully curate their day.
LA Road Concerts seeks to investigate the possibilities of LA's streets as sites for artistic exploration while offering a street-level window onto the city's diversity of people, buildings and landscapes, how the metropolis grew and cars came to dominate, and the in-between and negative spaces the city left behind as it expanded. Through a wide open call process, LA Road Concerts brings together art school graduates, working artists, local residents and other artists, writers, musicians, performers, to realize a broad array of kinds of interactions with the sites. 
This particular road concert is part of the annual World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (, commemorating the many millions killed and injured on the world’s roads, together with their families and communities. For pedestrians, DTLA is the most dangerous area of the most dangerous US city. Over 600 people on foot were hit by cars in DTLA over 12 years, averaging a person a week. This road concert asks participating artists of any medium to make works that bring awareness to traffic casualties, ponder solutions and utopias, remember the victims, investigate car culture, and explore the complexity of the problem, such as what causes people to make dangerous decisions like texting or drinking while driving, or how our transit systems reflect America's race and class inequalities and privilege the able bodied.

The Day of Remembrance Road Concert loop traverses DTLA’s Historic Core, moving southwesterly along Spring and northeasterly along Main, passing LAPD Headquarters, the LA Times Building, $9 flat rate public parking lots, the Hotel Cecil, City Hall, and other landmarks. Works can be in one location, many locations, or no location in particular. Participating artists don't need to be physically present and may choose to make downloadable work.

The preferred deadline for submissions is November 1st, though submissions will be accepted until a week before the event.
An official map of the day’s events along with project descriptions and other downloadable information will be available to the public a week before the event on the event website ( Previous road concert projects can be viewed through the website. (site relaunch: TBD)
Please contact us with any proposals, questions, or suggestions at Or feel free to call or text Stephen van Dyck at 505-331-9588 to discuss your potential submission. 

Vision Zero LA Releases RFQ for Community-Based Organizations and Artists

Read the original City of Los Angeles Vision Zero post here.


Download a PDF of the application here. For more information on this opportunity, send questions to

Qualifications are due by 4pm on November 4, 2016. See below for complete timeline and instructions.

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) has received approximately $250,000 in funding from the California Office of Transportation Safety (OTS) to work directly with community based organizations to implement innovative, creative and engaging, site-specific interventions, outreach, and education along 10 specific corridors suffering from some of the highest rates of traffic deaths and serious injuries in Los Angeles. This Vision Zero Community-Based Outreach and Education will bring awareness and advocacy to the issue of traffic safety, and aims to help eliminate traffic fatalities along 10 high-fatality corridors, or Vision Zero Impact Corridors. LADOT has contracted with Community Arts Resources (CARS) to coordinate the community-based outreach and education campaign.

A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) went public on October 17, 2016 for organizations and individuals who have knowledge and deep experience with specific communities located along high-priority corridors. These organizations and individuals will work directly with CARS to develop and implement creative solutions to community engagement and education on the issue of traffic safety in their communities.

Organizations, individuals, or teams are invited to submit their qualifications to be eligible to receive a grant of approximately $25,000 per one-mile corridor (per Vision Zero Impact Corridor) to execute the scope of the Vision Zero Temporary Intervention Program. 

The community-based outreach and education program will develop on-the ground, site-specific physical intervention(s) along high-fatality corridor(s). This may be accomplished by performing one or several of the following intervention strategies in any combination:

  • Artist-led or creative interventions along the identified corridor(s) including sculpture, graphics, visuals, or time-based temporal projects
  • Community specific solutions with a specific cultural vocabulary
  • Interactive approaches that involve participation by residents of the area
  • Iterative processes that develop a project based upon continual feedback loops to inform and refine the finished program

The community-based organizations may work independently or in collaboration with other organizations within the targeted community. Arts organization as well as individual artists are also encouraged to submit their qualifications. 


Criteria for Selection

Qualifications will be reviewed based upon the following criteria.

  • Direct experience with at least one of the identified communities and its challenges
  • Proven experience executing community-based projects
  • Past work using non-traditional approaches or creative approaches to community engagement
  • Fiscally sound and responsible track records
  • Understanding of the Vision Zero program and principles


Vision Zero Community-Based Outreach and Education Project Schedule

Specific engagement activities will develop from a planning phase that will occur after the contract has been awarded.

  • RFQ Released (October 17)
  • Questions regarding the RFQ (submitted by 11:00am on October 24 to
  • Posting of Answers (October 28 by 5pm)
  • Qualifications Due (submitted by 4:00pm on November 4 to
  • Panel Review (late November)
  • Contracts Awarded (December 2016 – January 2017)
  • Planning Phase (January, February, March 2017)
  • Roll Out of Installations and Activities (April, May, June 2017)
  • Wrap-up and evaluation of efforts (July, August, September 2017)


Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


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