L.A. City Council Eliminates Sidewalk Repair Permit Fees

Los Angeles took a very small step forward on the issue of sidewalk repair.

Hopefully that metaphorical step forward doesn’t too closely resemble the very real steps L.A.’s pedestrians are taking on the city’s treacherous and lawsuit-ridden buckling sidewalks. Estimates place L.A.’s broken sidewalks at more than 4,600 miles.

At its Tuesday meeting, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved Councilmember Joe Buscaino’s motion 13-0941. The Buscaino motion, one of a handful of sidewalk measures under consideration, proposed eliminating permitting fees for sidewalk repair. In the past, these permit fees have applied to property owners who fix their own sidewalks.

In addition to the cost of actual repair, a private party fixing her own sidewalk would pay permitting fees to the city. Minor construction “A-permits” for sidewalk repair cost a $265 flat fee plus 85 cents per square foot.

For sidewalk repair, the permitting fee is no longer.

This fee-elimination lowers a barrier, but it doesn’t mean that hordes of property owners will now rush to repairs. A much more comprehensive (and comprehensively funded) sidewalk maintenance system is still needed. Maybe something that resembles the systems that are in place to keep streets operating as well as they do for automobiles. 

In other sidewalk repair news, the city’s proposed one-time $10 million sidewalk repair program, also shepherded by Councilmember Buscaino, will be returning to the Budget and Finance Committee soon, and then on to the full council.