Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles Proposes Sales Tax Hike to Fix Sidewalks


Two policy analysts with the city of Los Angeles have recommended elected officials put a half-cent sales tax hike on the November 2015 ballot to pay for the repair of LA's worst sidewalks and streets. They say the tax hike would generate $4.5 billion over the next 15 years, with $640 million for broken sidewalks. Reason TV took a look at LA's crumbling sidewalks in LA's New Crack Epidemic: Sidewalks. Here is the original post:

Ever walk down a Los Angeles city sidewalk? It may feel like climbing the Himalayas.

Tree roots have uplifted many city sidewalks across L.A., turning a quick walk around the neighborhood into a treacherous experience. According to  The Los Angeles Times, the city receives about 2,500 claims a year from people who hurt themselves on these cracks.

"People get hurt and people can die from falling down on and hitting their head on the sidewalk," says Los Angeles resident Peter Griswold.

What's the city's solution to this problem? A three-year, $10 million survey of all of the city's sidewalks.

Residents like Griswold say that price tag is too high. He has come up with a plan of his own that involves photographs, GPS devices, and—most importantly—volunteers. Griswold is confident that his ragtag crew of sidewalk cartographers can find and report trouble spots more quickly—and cheaply—than city workers.

"What Peter Griswold is trying to do with volunteers, the advantage that has is that it's decentralized," says Adrian Moore, vice president of research at Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes Reason TV.

Moore grants it may be hard to implement on a large scale but you have to stack that up against the usual way city governments fix local problems. Namely, writing a fat check to a contractor so they don't have to deal with it anymore. Hence, the $10 million.

Moore points out that these uplifted sidewalk cracks are indicative of something bigger: bureaucracy run amok.

"One of the problems bureaucracies have, and LA in particular has, is nobody who manages these departments actually invests the management effort in saying lets be ruthless about prioritizing what's most important," says Moore.

Written and produced by Paul Detrick.

Music by Lee Maddeford.

Approximately 4:23 minutes.

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  1. They say the tax hike would generate $4.5 billion over the next 15 years, with $640 million for broken sidewalks.

    Wait, what? What’s the rest of the money going to be spent on?

    1. That money will go to replace the money for roadz that was uuhh.. misplaced.

      1. I thought it went to the Bureaucrat’s Lifestyle Enhancement Fund.

  2. sarcasmic wants to tax people based on how many miles they walk every year.

  3. Don’t let people have trees growing near the sidewalks.

    Where I live the city has a 50′ right of way, which is pretty typical.

    If you look at that video all the damage is caused by tree roots.

    1. Or don’t build sidewalks.

    2. Different tree species obviously affect slabs differently. Palms, for example, don’t crack concrete at all since their roots don’t increase in diameter the same way dicots’ roots do. But I’ve heard Los Angeles is removing palms and replacing them with shade trees since they don’t provide enough shade or fix enough carbon (seriously).

      Picking smaller trees, or having a wider strip in between the curb and sidewalk would help.

      1. A wider strip would involve the city stealing more land from the people who own whatever property is nearby. So smaller trees or less shade.

    3. Isn’t the City responsible for repairing all of the damaged sidewalks within the city of Los Angeles?

      Actually, the answer is no. The only exception to this rule is when trees have uplifted the sidewalk. In all other cases it is the adjacent property owner’s responsibility to maintain and/or, repair the sidewalk. Property owners by law are expected to maintain the area between the curb4ace and the back of sidewalk in a safe condition (Los Angeles Municipal Code, Chapter VI, of Section 62.104).

      LA owns the planting strips (parkways) along with the tree in it so they assumed sidewalk repair responsibility for tree caused damaged. They control the type of trees planted and maintenance for the trees (according to their website).

      The kicker on non-tree sidewalk damage is up until last month, LA required a repair permit along with a $265 + $.85/sq ft fee. RC’z iron law strikes again!

      1. Oops. Blockquote should have this link


  4. Nobody walks in la.

  5. Wait, what? What’s the rest of the money going to be spent on?

    Billboards extolling the virtues of publicly funded sidewalks.

  6. Ever walk down a Los Angeles city sidewalk? It may feel like climbing the Himalayas.

    Look, what’s important here is that the LAPD has enough money to steal Lamborghinis from people.

    Obviously other things, lower priority things, are gonna fall by the wayside.

    There are some who say that the LA city administration can not be trusted to spend the money for its intended purpose, That the LA city council has a track record of fiscal mismanagement. These people are mistaken. Projections show that LA would be in a much worse state of disrepair if not for the strong leadership the city council has shown.

    So give them some more money and stop bitching. They *promise* to use the money for what its earmarked for this time. What more do you want.

  7. I live in LA. I have a tree that is growing out of the area between the sidewalks and the street. I am not allowed to fix the problem. I have to request from the city for an arborist to come out and evaluate the problem. I requested and so far its been over 2 months with no word. There is no way to get follow up feedback – you simply must wait. I had contacted a tree service and they were the ones that told me I had to get a permit from the city of LA – they won’t touch the tree until I do. I read online that the city originally was given grant money ($25 million in the 70s) from the feds to increase the tree population and for sidewalk repair. Tree trimming and repair would occur on a 50 year rotation. We have not even gotten to the point where the first trees officially have to be reviewed and the city has long spent the money on other things. So they changed the city laws a few years back and now the property owners must fix the trees – but only after haven been given a permit. If by some miracle they actually send out an arborist, that arborist will tell you what you can and cannot do to your property. If the arborist declares your tree to be a “great” tree, then they can require you to fix the sidewalk around the tree into your yard. If the tree starts to damage the water pipes of your own home or a neighbors, you are responsible for first getting a permit to fix as well. FU LA.

  8. Sidewalks here are in ridiculously bad shape, but for some reason, I’m pretty sure there’s enough waste to cut to pay for repairs without raising taxes. In a sane world of course.

  9. Obviously the solution is to switch over to the use of rubber sidewalks.

  10. In SF, there’s a non-profit named Friend of the Urban Forest. They were kind enough (at least in my neighborhood) to plant trees for nothing!
    I wasn’t home when they made the offer, so I missed the wonderful opportunity to have the sidewalks in front of my house (for which I am responsible) ripped to sheds by the Ficus Something they planted, which you also may not remove without months of red tape cutting.
    They haven’t bothered to offer imbursement for the damages, or even an apology.

  11. The proof as to how deep your average municipalities corruption goes, is this is standard practice. “Waaah, waah, we’re out of money… we need a tax hike just to take care of basic services!”

    Government doesn’t even know how to maintain the most central services any more.

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