By Dave Bryan

NORTHRIDGE (CBS) — Robabeh Nakhost, who’s in her 80s and suffers from back, hip, and foot problems, needs a wheelchair to get around.

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But there is no getting around the obvious. The sidewalks near and in front of her Northridge home are so buckled, people on foot can’t even walk on them. Dave Bryan, reporting for CBS2 and KCAL9, said the sidewalks don’t say much for city maintenance.

For their part, the city says they can’t afford to fix the sidewalks. When the Nakhosts asked, they got a form letter.

The resident’s here can’t afford the repair bill either. Many of them are financially-challenged and on fixed incomes. Nakhost feels trapped in her own home.

Sometimes, a family friend —  Reza Helali — helps push her wheelchair across the dangerous gaping segment of twisted, broken sidewalk. They might as well be climbing a steep cliff in the high Sierra. Says Nakhost, “It’s hard for me. It’s a very bad situation for me.”

The spreading root system of a pine tree in front of her home has pushed the sidewalk nearly two feet high at its peak, creating a hazard for anyone trying to walk, ride a bike, or skateboard across it. For Ms. Nakhost, it’s impassible on foot.

For her husband,  also in his 80s — can no longer push her up the steep sidewalk.

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Family friend Reza Helali, a former TV news anchorman in Iran, brought the issue to the media. “It’s a shame, for the United States — for Los Angeles County.”

A letter from the City informed the Nakhosts that the 700,000 trees in LA can be trimmed only once every 50 years becuase of budget limitations. It goes on to say there are about 50,000 service requests a year, and they would have to wait their turn — which she says she and her husband might not live long enough to ever see. “I have to be in line? Fifty years?”

The elderly couple investigated paying for the tree and sidewalk repairs themselves but got estimates ranging from $5-7,000 , money the Nakhosts, who are retired and living on a fixed income say they don’t have.

They question what their taxes are going for.

Helali issued a challenge to the Mayor and city officials–offering a prize if they come out and are able to walk across the busted sidewalk themselves. He said, “I invite Mr. Villaraigosa, and all the city people, one day, only one day, they come here and walk in this pathway. And if they can walk it, I give them a prize.”

This is not an isolated incident. The City acknowledges that nearly half the 11,000 miles of sidewalk in LA are badly in need of repair–broken, cracked, and in some cases impassible.

As Reza Helali puts it–the Nakhosts are not alone “This is not a problem for Mrs. Nakhost, and Mr. Nakhost and me and my daughters. This is a public problem.”

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Bryan reports, the city believes they are saving money — now. But this is before lawsuits mount with injuries from disabled people, young kids, anyone who falls, in the long run the city might pay a much steeper price.