LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles City Council vote unanimously Tuesday to reverse a bureaucratic blunder which has left hundreds of streets unpaved, but still in use, for up to the past 80 years.
In a 10-0 vote, the council approved the drafting of an ordinance that will ultimately see the streets in question undergo proper repairs.
The unpaved streets had been officially “withdrawn” from public use going as far back as the 1930s amid a lack of funds, because they were deemed unsafe or not up to proper code, but were mostly left open to the public for driving or walking as they crumbled and deteriorated throughout the decades.
A city report released in September, L.A. has 374 such streets that have been withdrawn from use. That report was requested by Councilman Bob Blumenfield, who has spearheaded the motion to reverse the blunder
The Public Works and Gang Reduction committee recommended a new ordinance that would reverse all the old ordinances that have withdrawn the unpaved streets from use, and that recommendation is now set to be voted on by the full council.
The report found that multiple ordinances and other City Council actions as far back as the 1930s have withdrawn streets from public use, and that in general, these ordinances authorize and direct the Board of Public Works to return streets to public use when they are found to be safe and passable.
But the Board of Public Works adopted a policy many years ago that required streets to be built out to city standards in determining that the street was safe and passable, leading them not to reinstate the streets for paving.
This Kafkaesque-like scenario went unnoticed for decades, and the report found that many of the streets were still in use “even though they are technically withdrawn from public use.”
According to the report, Blumenfied’s district in the West San Fernando Valley has the most withdrawn streets, at 84. Councilman David Ryu, whose district includes the Hollywood Hills, has the second most, with 81.
The decision to withdraw streets was caused by a state statute that has since been repealed, according to the Los Angeles Times, and was intended in part to prevent liability claims against the city for damage from defective streets.
“While these streets have been withdrawn, the city still has a liability on them, which makes absolutely no sense,” Ryu said.
This comes as California voters will decide next month whether to pass Proposition 6, which would repeal a gas tax hike which was approved by the state legislature last year. The hike is slated to raise over $50 billion over the next decade for road and bridge repairs.
Meanwhile, in 2017, the city of L.A. paid out more than $19 million in lawsuits to settle cases involving cyclists injured or killed on city streets. That prompted the city council in February to create a plan to regularly inspect all bike paths and lanes and devise ways to pay for any needed repairs.
To report a pothole to the city, visit the MyLA 311 Service Request page or use the MyLA311 mobile phone app.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)