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2 Years to Survey City Sidewalks? We Can Do Better

Surveying city sidewalks is the kind of effort neighborhood councils were made for.

Three years is simply too long a timeframe to survey the city's miles upon miles of damaged sidewalks, three Los Angeles City Council members told the Bureau of Street Services on Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Councilmen Eric Garcetti, Bill Rosendahl and Joe Buscaino called for the Bureau of Street Services to "go back to the drawing board" on a proposed field survey of an estimated $1.5 billion in damaged sidewalks. They said they want a less costly approach than the proposed survey, which officials have predicted would cost "well over $10 million."

Last week, street repair managers told the council the survey would take three years, with specialists spending 18 months walking every sidewalk in the city and an additional six months developing the software that would list the results. The survey could be a first step toward asking property owners to approve a tax to finance repairs.

Northeast L.A. residents are no strangers to craggy sidewalks. Concrete slabs heave from the ground along North Figueroa Street, forced upward by the roots of Sycamore trees. Up and down Highland Park's and Eagle Rock's avenues, sidewalks damaged by trees uprooted during December's remain in disrepair.

In their presentation to the City Council, the Bureau of Street Services said it would take staff 18-months to walk the streets and another six to compile the data.

According to the Times, Garcetti said it takes his staff only one day to conduct a street-by-street graffiti assessment.

Is there a faster, cheaper way to survey sidewalks?

I asked Member Janet Dodson if a sidewalk survey wasn't just the kind of project the local boards were created to conduct.

Instead of hiring an expensive private contractor to walk the streets, why not send them to neighborhood councils to train the board members to do the job instead? The neighborhood council members could pass that knowledge onto local volunteers. Council and community members could then walk the streets over the course of a few weekends, mapping damaged sidewalks along the way.

"Two months, we could get it done, no problem," Dodson said.

Why not? Neighborhood residents already know the hotspots, and neighborhood councils were created for the purpose of communicating local issues to City agencies.

What do you think of this plan? Would you volunteer?

Hulga September 03, 2012 at 04:47 AM
All I could glean from that was that no one could figure out where the money went. Just because it was screwed up once doesn't mean it shouldn't be done again ever. Better oversight next time, better technology is available now too. It could work and is a far better idea than letting the city waste millions. I was walking by Occidental today and the sidewalk was so bad, we had to walk in the street!! It's really embarrassing especially if L.A. is to be considered a world class city.
Ricardo September 03, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Walk down Meridian or York Blvd and be careful you do not trip over the sidewalk that is often as much a foot or more above the level sidewalk. It is an accident waiting to happen that can result in serious injuries or death, depending on the person. Why is it that if you travel to the Westside, South Pasadena or Pasadena that there is a marked difference in the way the sidewalks are cared for? A lawsuit will cost the city more than the repair of the sidewalk.
Peter Bedard September 04, 2012 at 05:01 AM
Hey Bob, I lived in Silver Lake at the time this survey was done and it was extensive. Actually a huge amount of graffiti isn't on walls but on the streets and sidewalks. Garcetti's team walked around and recorded everything and it was done fast and efficiently.
Peter Bedard September 04, 2012 at 05:03 AM
Great idea! Do you know anyone at Apple or Google that might Benito helping with this?
Greg Warner September 12, 2012 at 12:52 AM
Sidewalk damage is a living creature as it grows daily. Even an accurate survey is only a snapshot of the total damage with no means to repair or minimize future damage because of lack of funding. A citywide survey is not needed to begin a repair program now. Here is my solution: 1. Develop a funding plan as City of Pasadena and other cities have done to charge the sellers of property to repair sidewalks to bring their sites up to code. As much as 5 - 10% of property transfers annually. 2. Continue with the 50-50 shared voluntary cost plan for those property owners willing to pay. 3. Require all new developments to repair sidewalks as a condition of approval. 4. Stop planting sidewalk eating (and sewer clogging) trees (ficus, magnolia, camphor, etc) in small parkways. Many other cities use this format and it works. Why not LA?

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