unfriendly business environment even more hostile. Since it will disproportionally affect owners of smaller businesses, it will give them another reason to leave Los Angeles, which could result in a loss of jobs.
Caruso, who twice toyed with the idea of running for mayor, said the city would be better served by being more judicious about its spending and creating an environment that encourages business formation and job creation. Those tax-generating policies would feed city coffers and allow it to fund repairs.
Two City Council committees – Budget and Finance, and Public Works and Gang Reduction – were scheduled to have a joint meeting this week about the sidewalk recommendation, made by City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana. If the Santana proposal is approved, commercial property owners would have one year to make voluntary sidewalk repairs. After that, an inspection program would be implemented and property owners cited by the city would have one year to make required repairs. If they don’t comply, the city will make the repairs and send the bill to the property owner.
“I like Miguel Santana a lot, but he should sleep on this one,” said Caruso, who’s chief executive of Caruso Affiliated.
The city has been responsible for repairing buckling sidewalks – largely caused by the force of tree roots – for more than 40 years. But Santana’s report, coming in the wake of a settlement agreement reached last month in which the city agreed to invest $1.4 billion over the next 30 years to repair and improve its sidewalks, might herald an end to the practice.
The settlement stemmed from a case, Willits v. City of Los Angeles, in which the city was accused of violating the Americans With Disabilities Act by failing to maintain sidewalks in a manner such that they were safe for those who rely on wheelchairs and scooters.
The backlog of repairs that need to occur in order for the streets to be safe is huge. The Bureau of Street Services has estimated that roughly 40 percent of city sidewalks need repairs at a cost of between $1.2 billion and $1.5 billion, according to Santana’s report.
As part of the settlement, the city is expected to shell out just $30 million a year, increasing eventually to $63 million a year as costs rise, for the next 30 years.
Santana’s report, compiled after consultation with the departments of Public Works, Transportation and Disability, asked Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council to repeal an exception to a section of the municipal code that gives the city responsibility for walkways.
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