Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pounding the Pavement (Deborah's Post for 2/27)

I want to talk this week about sidewalks, and the sidewalk in front of your house as a microcosm of transportation infrastructure. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council are proposing that homeowners should be responsible for the repair of damaged sidewalks in front of their property, regardless of the age, extent or origin of the damage.

Here is an LA Times article, and here is an LA Times blog poll.

The main points:

-It could cost the homeowner $15 per sq ft to replace damaged sidewalks

-Homeowners are already responsible for certain other upkeep expenses when their property changes hands, namely gas shut-off valves and low-flow toilets.

-The City’s current rate of sidewalk repair will not complete its backlog until 2091.

-Homeowners are not allowed to make decisions regarding planting or removing trees in the public right of way which may be causing damage or posing slip-and-fall hazards.

-Homeowners are not allowed to remove the sidewalks and make them part of their own private landscaping.

My beef and what this has to do with transportation planning:

A major theme in contemporary urban planning is the need to create more walkability, more compact developments that are pedestrian friendly. Putting the responsibility for the pedestrian infrastructure in the hands of potentially un-informed, poorly motivated individuals is as unwise as it is unfair. Our city sidewalks form an integral part of both the multi-modal transportation infrastructure and the stormwater management infrastructure. We should be looking for new innovations in the design and materials, and perhaps finding costs-savings by converting to pervious pavements where appropriate. We should not be looking for costs-savings by merely abdicating responsibility.

1 comment:

J. Sparks said...

Great post! I have to agree with you here; not only would shifting responsibility to homeowners impede a more walkable environment, but it would also impede the creation of a cohesive urban design theme. I like the old diamond-shaped sidewalks around USC. Severance St. doesn't have those, but what if I replaced the sidewalks in front of my building with them? It would create a mish-mash that would detract from the aesthetics of the built environment.

Hey LA--raise the gas tax to pay for your infrastructure!