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Morning Brief: Crumbling Sidewalks, LA’s Olympic Contract And A Strike Averted

a cracked sidewalk with one portion raised a couple of inches above a flat section
We didn't have to go far to find sidewalks in need of repair, like this one in Highland Park.
(Alborz Kamalizad
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Nov. 18.

If you’ve ever braved Los Angeles city sidewalks, I don’t need to tell you they need some serious help. Crumbling pavement, wide cracks and slabs of concrete uprooted by — well, tree roots — have made walking or rolling on local sidewalks a risky activity.

It seems clear that the city can’t keep up with the demand for sidewalk repairs — and now a new audit from City Controller Ron Galperin supports that.

Among other findings, the report points to a massive backlog in repair requests, a “wasteful” process for fixing sidewalks that takes too much time and concrete, and thousands of injury claims and lawsuits that have cost the city $35 million over the past five years.

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“In the last fiscal year alone, it was $12 million in payouts,” Galperin said at a media briefing Wednesday. “Thirty million [budgeted for sidewalk repairs], but $12 million for lawsuits — imagine that.”

The audit also shows a massive discrepancy in how the city prioritizes fixing hazards for people walking and rolling vs. hazards for people using vehicle lanes.

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“In [fiscal year] 2021, it took StreetsLA an average of 41 days to complete sidewalk repair requests with asphalt, compared to just three business days to close street pothole repair requests,” Galperin said in a letter to Mayor Eric Garcetti and other city leaders that accompanies the audit.

The city controller also provides some recommendations to address the problems. (Spoiler: invest more money in repairs.) You can learn more about all that in my reporting.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • Strike that strike. The union representing non-tenured professors and some other faculty members says it has reached a tentative contract agreement with the UC system that "revolutionizes the first six years of a lecturer's career at the UC."
  • It took more than four years for the city to get down to the nitty-gritty details with LA28, the nonprofit whose formal name is the “Los Angeles Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2028.” But on Wednesday, after months of negotiations, the contract was finally made public. We examined it.
  • Almost 26,000 people died from fatal drug overdoses over a 15-month period in Los Angeles County, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The staggering 63% rise took place between January 2020 and March 2021.
  • The Cal State University system requires all staff and students going on campus to get vaccinated, but enforcement has varied. Cal State Long Beach leads the pack with 97% vaccinated.
  • So much depends upon a shipping container. The delayed steel boxes are a symptom of and contributor to our global supply chain problems; tens of thousands of empty ones are currently stranded at the Port of L.A. alone. But can you imagine a world without them?
  • The Rust crew member who made the 9-1-1 call after cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot has filed a lawsuit against actor Alec Baldwin and the film's other producers, alleging they knowingly created unsafe conditions on set.

Before You Go ... RIP, El Place (But The Party Isn’t Over)

The managers of El Place, formerly Noa Noa Place, took to Instagram Tuesday evening to announce what so many people in L.A.'s Latina/o LGBTQ+ community never wanted to hear: the Boyle Heights bar and restaurant is closing.

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“I don’t think it’s sad for me. I think it’s more like, ‘Okay that’s the end of this chapter of this book,’” co-owner Luis Octavio said on Instagram Live. “And we just don’t have another option unfortunately.”

Octavio and his co-owners, Deysi Serrano and Donaji Esparza, said they tried to negotiate with their landlord for lower rent, but their efforts were unsuccessful.

Though the physical location is closing, the owners say they plan to host monthly El Place parties. They are currently in talks with an L.A. venue that could host more than 500 people with a full stage and state-of-the-art sound system.

So don’t be shocked to see El Place show up in our events lists in the near future.

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