LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles city Council reached an agreement Wednesday with disabled residents and their advocates to make more than $1 billion in city sidewalk repairs to settle an Americans Disabilities Act lawsuit.

Three groups sued the city four and a half years ago contending the city violated the ADA by not doing enough to make sidewalks more accessible. With three cases unresolved, city officials had said they were unable to move forward on a long-term sidewalk repair plan, even as money for repairs has become available.

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“This $1.4 billion settlement is the largest disability access class action settlement in U.S. history,” plaintiffs’ lead counsel Guy Wallace said. The settlement, in which the city agreed to spend $31 million a year for 30 years, will install curb ramps throughout the city, fix sidewalks that are broken and torn up by tree roots, install accessible sidewalks and remove many other barriers, he said.

“By making the City’s sidewalks and crosswalks accessible, this settlement will make it much easier for persons with mobility disabilities to get to and use government facilities, to find or get to jobs and workplaces, to go shopping, to go to the doctor, to participate in community life, and to be with their friends and families,” Wallace said.

The settlement will also allow people with disabilities to make requests for access fixes in their own neighborhoods.

“For decades, buckled sidewalks have plagued neighborhoods from the San Fernando Valley to the South Bay,” City Councilman Paul Krekorian said in a statement. “All of that is going to change starting today with the city’s historic commitment to fix our sidewalks and make them accessible to everyone.”

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The Los Angeles City Council agreed recently to set aside $27 million in a sidewalk repair fund, but details of how the money will be spent still need to be determined.

The city would theoretically spend the money on a series of not-yet-developed repair programs that could involve cost-sharing with property owners or offering loans.

City officials said they last tried to tackle sidewalk repairs in the 1970s using federal funding, but ran out of money.

Complicating the lawsuit was an unresolved debate over who is responsible for fixing sidewalks. Sidewalks next to private residences are privately owned, but the city assumed responsibility in the 1970s to pay for their repair.

While the lawsuit was pending, city officials had opted to initially fix sidewalks that are unquestionably the city’s responsibility, such as those next to libraries, parks, fire and police stations and other municipal property.

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