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!