The streets of South LA are filled with potholes

By Emilie Mateau

Listen to an audio story from Annenberg Radio News

imageAnyone who drives in Los Angeles has encountered potholes. The problem is so bad that City Councilman Joe Buscaino is beginning a series of hearings to get public input on a ballot measure to fix them. He wants a three billion dollar bond measure that would fund repairs over a ten-year period. That may sound like a lot of money, but it’s the drivers who are now paying the cost of bad roads.

Los Angeles streets are notorious for potholes. And the road to a solution has been a bumpy one. It’s a problem for the entire city, but Kathy Price says it’s especially bad in South Los Angeles. She’s lived in South Central all her life and complains about the problem all the time.

“You know in other executive areas they get it done so quickly and fast because they have the support. But because we’re a lower class of people here sometimes we just have to wait for the last kid on the totem pole, so that we can get the help that is needed. And that’s not fair,” Price said.

Drivers can file a report to the city and claim damages. If the city feels it failed to fix the pothole in a timely manner, then it will pay drivers for the repair costs. “The city is supposed to pay for these tires. Just call and put the report in and let them know. But it’s a long process. Meanwhile I’m paying for how many sets of tires before the process is finished,” Price said.

This is not a new story. KPCC reporter Sanden Totten did a story on Los Angeles potholes two years ago and even has a story of his own. “I was covering another story Downtown and I was driving along and that’s when I got nailed by a monster pothole. My editor was like, ‘You know, that’s a story. More and more people are having this problem you’re having,’” Totten recounted.

In its annual report, the American Society of Civil Engineers says that bad roads cost California drivers $13.9 billion annually. That’s over $500 per driver. California has one of the largest road systems but the report says about 68% of its roads are in poor or average condition.

imagealign=”left” hspace=”0″ vspace=”0″ />John Bitterolf, manager of a South LA tire repair shop says potholes “cause a lot of damage to the cars.”

John Bitterolf, the manager at a South LA auto-body and tire repair shop says repairs can be pricey. “I’ve seen everything from a tire that’s been damaged, so the cost of replacing a tire, to some pretty serious suspension work. Well above $1,000,” Bitterolf said.

Bitterolf sees many customers paying for problems that are simply not their fault. “No one expects to have that repair. It’s something that frustrates people and they feel like it’s not their fault. You have a choice. You either hit the car next to you or you hit the pothole. It can cause a lot of damage to the cars,” Bitterolf explained.

But the root of the pothole problem really lies in LA’s biggest weakness – it’s inability to deal with this little thing called rain.
“LA is so unprepared for any type of weather and then when it happens it’s just a disaster,” Bitterolf said.

Paige Graham can attest to how bad the situation has become for cyclists. “I’ve actually stopped riding my bike because the streets are so hard to ride on,” Graham said.

Local residents have long been waiting for the city to actively address the issues faced by bikers and drivers in LA. But in the meantime, the potholes will continue to weigh heavy on their pocketbooks – which may not be as deep as the potholes they have gotten stuck in.

Special Meeting Schedule
(Public Works Committee)

City Hall
April 3, 2013 – 6 PM
200 N. Spring St.
Room 340 – John Ferraro Council Chamber
Los Angeles, CA 90012

April 8, 2013 – 6 PM
Port of Los Angeles Administration Building
425 S Palos Verdes St
San Pedro, CA 90731

April 16 – 6 PM
Van Nuys City Hall
14410 Sylvan St.
Van Nuys, CA 91401

April 23 – 6 PM
West Los Angeles Municipal Bldg
1645 Corinth Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90025

4/25 – 6 PM
Location TBD

4/30 – 6 PM
Location TBD

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