The City of Los Angeles has reached a tentative agreement with disability advocates to spend $1.4 billion to fix crumbling sidewalks that do not provide people who use wheelchairs with the adequate public access required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The lawsuit was filed in August 2010 by Communities Actively Living Independent and Free (CALIF) and several disability advocates. The plaintiffs alleged that Los Angeles discriminated against disabled residents by not fixing damaged sidewalks; not repairing sidewalks with curb cuts that were too steep for wheelchairs; not removing obstructions that blocked sidewalks, such as signs and trees; and not ensuring enough access to public transportation via sidewalks. It is estimated that 40 percent of the sidewalks in Los Angeles are in need of repair.
Damaged sidewalks have been a problem for disabled Los Angeles residents for decades. Many residents of Los Angeles have been involved in accidents related to broken sidewalks. The city has paid over $6 million in damages related to trip-and-fall lawsuits since 2011.
According to the settlement, which still needs to be approved by a judge, the City of Los Angeles has 30 years to repair or replace damaged sidewalks. It is required to spend $31 million per year to improve sidewalks starting in 2016 and gradually increase it to $63 million per year in the future. The settlement also requires the city to pay $15 million in attorneys’ fees and costs.
This settlement is an important victory for disabled residents of Los Angeles. Cities and towns have a responsibility to make sure that their public spaces are accessible to individuals who use wheelchairs in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.