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L.A. City Council Opposes Sidewalk Repair Bill

The resolution would make the city responsible for sidewalk maintenance and repair.

The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday urged state lawmakers to oppose a bill that would force the city to maintain its decades-old responsibility to repair sidewalk damage caused by street-side trees.

The council unanimously approved a resolution by members Bernard Parks and Jan Perry putting the city on record against the bill, which is also opposed by Los Angeles County and the California League of Cities.

"This is a bad bill that targets Los Angeles," Councilman Tom LaBonge said.

The legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, who is running for Los Angeles City Council in the northeast San Fernando Valley, would bar the city from repealing its 1973 law requiring the city to pay for sidewalk repairs.

The bill would also prohibit the city from creating special assessment districts to allow property owners to pay to fix their own sidewalks, instead requiring the city to pay for the repairs out of its general fund, though a Fuentes aide said that section is expected to be cut from the legislation.

Fuentes, D-Sylmar, called the council's vote a stance against homeowners and other California cities.

"We are seeing cities such as Los Angeles among others trying to shift the responsibility for repairing sidewalks caused by tree damage from cities to homeowners. During these difficult economic times, this seems patently unfair," Feuntes told City News Service.

"Homeowners were rarely, if ever, the one responsible for planting the trees on sidewalks; therefore, they should not be forced to pay for the damage done to the sidewalks," he said.

In the early 1970s, the city agreed to pay for sidewalks ruined by street trees at a time when federal funding was readily available. The money ran out, and the city effectively stopped paying for sidewalk repairs years ago.

City officials place the cost at repairing more than 4,000-plus miles of sidewalks as high as $2 billion. Taxpayers also pay out $3-4 million per year in damages for lawsuits won by people injured as a result of broken sidewalks.

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