Friday, February 18, 2011

CityWatchLA - LA: Complaint-Driven City

CityWatch, Feb 18, 2011
Vol 9 Issue 14

The City of LA is one of the greatest cities in the world but it is also one of the most dysfunctional, one where the delivery of city essential city services is driven by complaints, not a commitment to performance standards that the people of LA can depend on.

Councilmembers position themselves as gatekeepers who fill potholes and install speed humps as if they were personal favors bestowed upon the select few who have access to the council office.

This “pothole politics” approach to running the largest city in the most populated state in the most powerful country in the world takes place while the budget deficit spirals out of control, while our infrastructure is collapsing, and while development runs amok.

It simply isn’t working. You shouldn’t have to go to your council office to get smooth, safe, well-lit streets that move traffic and get you where you need to go. You shouldn’t have to call 311 to state the obvious, that the large hole in the street appears to be...gulp...a pothole!

The simple reality is this, the city knows where the potholes are. They are measuring outrage and they are limiting liability.

The City Attorney regularly pays for damages caused by potholes, if the pothole had been reported before the incident. Your 311 calls don’t help the city find the potholes, they help the city absolve itself of responsibility and liability for the potholes not reported.

The Bureau of Street Services not only knows where the potholes are, they know where the new ones are likely to appear. BOSS surveys 69,000 street segments with a van that is loaded with video, laser, and computer equipment in a data collection process that takes three years to complete. They have the data.

What they don’t have is the support of City Council on simply moving forward with an aggressive and comprehensive plan for repairing our streets and sidewalks.

There’s no mystery as to the location of the potholes and broken sidewalks. The missing element is simply political will, the commitment to craft a budget that supports the Great City mandate.

Public Safety, Public Works, Public Health, and Public Education are the cornerstones of a Great City and it is imperative that the City of LA craft a budget that is balanced for the long-term and matches our long-term commitment to a well-planned and well-funded city.

The City of LA is bleeding money on short term fixes while ignoring the need for long term solutions.

The era of pothole politics is over.

Now is the time to demand a standards-driven city, one where our city administration delivers services according to standards that the people of LA can depend on!

(Stephen Box is a grassroots advocate and writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at: Disclosure: Box is also a candidate for 4th District Councilman.)

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