Observing Los Angeles

LA's crappy streets, sidewalks and water mains in the NYT*

An LA sidewalk left unfixed for years in Rancho Park. LA Observed file photo by Judy Graeme.

Adam Nagourney tells the rest of the world in a New York Times story Tuesday that the water main break that flooded UCLA — destroying a couple hundred cars and the floor of Pauley Pavilion — is only the most dramatic display of how far Los Angeles city managers have let the infrastructure go. Nagourney, the paper's LA bureau chief, goes into the politics of paying for upkeep and of asking voters for a tax increase to pay for improved streets and sidewalks. He quotes UCLA urban policy professor Donald Shoup — "It’s part of a pattern of failing to provide for the future" — former DWP chief David Nahai, current DWP chief Marcie Edwards, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Fix the City leader Mike Eveloff, chamber of commerce president Gary Toebben, Councilman Mitch Englander and Board of Public Works president Kevin James.

Also this:

The challenge also coincides with a push by city leaders to move Los Angeles away from its historic reliance on cars, with heavy investment in its expanding mass-transit system and bicycle lanes. In an interview, Mayor Garcetti said that any public works campaign would have to factor in that change.

“We have to build a city that people can be happy to walk in and drive in, but we also have to account for the transit revolution that’s coming,” he said. “If we spend billions and billions on car-only infrastructure — ignoring pedestrian, bicycle and transit users — we may look back 10 years from now and say, ‘Whoops, maybe we should have tied all those things together.’ ”

* 12:45 p.m. update: Nagourney or his editors mixed up the city of Los Angeles budget (about $8 billion) with the unrelated and much bigger county budget (about $26 billion) — the link even goes to the county budget page. No correction posted yet. From the third graf of the story:

With each day, it seems, another accident illustrates the cost of deferred maintenance on public works, while offering a frustrating reminder to this cash-strained municipality of the daunting task it faces in dealing with the estimated $8.1 billion it would take to do the necessary repairs. The city’s total annual budget is about $26 billion.

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