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News

Construction Sites Won't Be Able To Shut Down L.A. Sidewalks Anymore

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New developments must leave sidewalks open or create paths (Photo by Juliet Bennett Rylah/LAist)
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Sick of running into blocked-off sidewalks due to huge construction projects? Well, there are some new guidelines in place to prevent that from happening. If you've been a pedestrian recently, you may have discovered yourself choosing between backtracking to a crosswalk or taking a precarious walk into the street due to closed sidewalks near massive construction projects. Councilman Jose Huizar asked the Department of City Planning to look into the issue of sidewalk access during construction last summer, and last month, the Department implemented new guidelines that call for new developments to keep sidewalks open for pedestrians, Downtown News reports. If the sidewalk can't be kept open, construction crews will need to create a new path. These new rules apply to any new project in the City of Los Angeles, from the last week of June onward.

These pedestrian sidewalks or paths must be safe—meaning there must be a barrier to prevent anything from falling down and striking a pedestrian, and some may require partitions to separate pedestrians from passing cars. Pedestrians who find there's no path for them can complain to the L.A. Department of Building and Safety, who will be checking to make sure developers are following the new rules.

Walkways could still be closed if there are no other feasible options for a development, however, sidewalk access will be a part of environmental review process for new projects. Charles Rausch, an associate zoning administer for the department, told LAist that most new developments are subject to an environmental review, with the exception of some small projects. In the past, sidewalk access wasn't considered during the environmental review process for new developments at all.

Rausch told Downtown News that a decade ago, the sidewalk closures weren't as much of a problem. "But all of a sudden, construction fences were going up in the public right away," he said. "Personally, I've seen too many people in, for instance, Little Tokyo walking around construction sites in the street. Someone's going to get killed."

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Downtown News notes that South Park and the Financial District have been particularly plagued with closed sidewalks, though we've seen them recently in Koreatown, Chinatown and Westwood, too.