City Council Waives Fees for Do-It-Yourself Sidewalk Repairs - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

City Council Waives Fees for Do-It-Yourself Sidewalk Repairs

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Los Angeles, CA -

(FOX 11 / CNS) The Los Angeles City Council agreed today to waive hundreds of dollars in fees typically charged to people who want to pay for the repair of broken sidewalks outside their properties.

Property owners were paying at least $265 in permit fees on top of the cost of the repair and, with additional surcharges, fees can sometimes add up to $500 or $600, city officials said.

Councilman Joe Buscaino said the council's unanimous approval of his proposal, which calls for an ordinance that will eliminate the fees, was a "small but significant step toward addressing the estimated 4,600 miles of broken sidewalks.''

"Until we implement a comprehensive repair program, the very least we can do is stop penalizing responsible homeowners and business owners with exorbitant fees when they are willing to proactively repair their own sidewalks at their own cost,'' he said.

A plan to fund about $10 million in sidewalk repairs citywide is pending in the Budget and Finance Committee. If approved there, it would go to the full City Council for a vote.

The funds would be split three ways, with a third of the $10 million going toward fixing damaged sidewalks tied up in lawsuits and liability claims. Another third would go toward a larger effort to spruce up well-traveled, high-profile and "iconic'' streets, according to Buscaino spokesman Branimir Kvartuc. The remaining money would fund a cost-sharing program, in
which the expenses of repairing sidewalks would be split "50-50'' between property owners and the city.

Buscaino said the $10 million would help chip away at a problem estimated to cost $1.5 billion to fix. About 40 percent of city sidewalks, or about 4,600 miles of walkway, were in poor condition.

Real estate developers put in many sidewalks, and state law says property owners must pay for repairs, according to Buscaino. But city leaders confused the matter somewhat in 1973 by passing an ordinance that made it the city's responsibility to fix sidewalks damaged by
tree roots, he said.

City Councilman Bob Blumenfield is calling on city staffers to explore a cost-sharing plan in which commercial property owners would pay 50-75 percent of the costs, while the city would cover the rest.

His proposal also includes an incentive that would reduce the property owners' share of the costs based on how quickly they act.

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