Councilman Bernard Parks and the Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative broke ground on the city’s 100th sidewalk repair yesterday as part of a project to improve South L.A.’s District Eight, calling on repairman to tear out the old pavement with shovels and drills.
The initiative’s executive director Veronica Hahni said the partnership had succeeded at “improving the quality of life for South Los Angeles residents by removing invasive tree roots and replacing these uplifted sidewalks.”
The repair also marked an important milestone for 84-year-old South L.A. resident Geneva James, who has lived at the corner of St. Andrews Place and 48th Street for more than 40 years, according to the L.A. Times. For many of those years, the broken-up, uneven sidewalk impeded her ability to leave the house, James’ grandson said at the event.
“I am glad I live to see it,” James said. “I will be able to come out and worry about not falling.”
Of the 11,000 miles of sidewalk in Los Angeles, about 40 percent need repairing, Hahni said.
According to a report by the city administrative office, L.A. spent $3 million of the $10 million initially allocated for sidewalk repair in the last fiscal year, fixing 21 sidewalks. This fiscal year the city adopted a $20 million budget for sidewalk repair in addition to $7 million re-appropriated from last year. The city’s proposal states that repairs utilizing the new budget will likely not begin until January 2015.
At yesterday’s event Parks said that through the partnership with LANI, sidewalk repairs are done quicker and cost 60 to 70 percent less than if completed by the city alone. Parks said the best way to complete projects like this is through partnership with private industry.
Parks said he hopes to complete 400 sidewalk repairs in District Eight before leaving office in June. Sidewalks in disrepair have caused problems for some residents including 39 year-old Dora Garcia, who said she called the city multiple times and no one came to look at the problem.
“We been having lots of problems coming in and out the house, taking groceries in and plenty times I have tripped,” said Garcia, who has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years. “We called and they haven’t done nothing about it.”
Parks said having sidewalks in disrepair is a liability to the city in addition to posing health risks to residents, especially seniors.
“The city pays out literally millions of dollars each year to people who trip and fall and injure themselves,” he said.
While Parks’ partnership with LANI extends only to sidewalks in District Eight, he said he hopes that other officials can learn from his example.
“We hope council members are smart enough to see what works and begin to replicate it in their district,” he said.