Will LA Homeowners be Responsible for Sidewalks?

The Los Angeles City Council is considering shifting all responsibility of sidewalk care to property owners. Currently, the city takes care of the tree roots, which is considered the biggest problem, while the property owner takes care of the sidewalk. The proposal would also make the homeowner legally liable for any trip-and-fall claims from sidewalk damage. The City Council is also considering more inspections of sidewalks to issue citations and order repairs.

Homeowners and homeowner associations have opposed the policy change. This opposition, along with the inability of council committees to take action, has kept the proposal from passing. “We are celebrating our sixth anniversary of motions and all we are doing is asking the same questions,” said Councilman Bernard Parks, Budget and Finance Chair. “We have spent $100 million to build 500 miles of sidewalk and they are in worse shape than ever before.”

Federal funding originally was used by the city to take care of the tree root damage, but this funding has been used up. The city has been taking responsibility for the tree root damage since 1973, but now the city is strapped for cash. There are 4,700 miles of the 11,000 miles in the city that are labeled as being in poor shape. The estimate to repair damaged sidewalks is $1.2-1.5 billion. The city also pays $4-6 million in liability claims every year.

Other options being discussed by the city council include creating sidewalk assessment districts (where homeowners vote to pay the city sidewalk maintenance); and certifying sidewalks as safe when property is sold, utilities are connected, or when building permits are issued.