Mayor Eric Garcetti highlighted Los Angeles' crumbling roadways Monday by launching a new program to patch the city's countless potholes and cracked streets.
Standing near yellow-vested workers on a busy Sherman Oaks roadway, Garcetti unveiled L.A. Neighborhood Blitz, a program that relies on neighborhood council leaders to help prioritize street repairs. Twice a year, the city's streets department will lay asphalt or drop cement in each neighborhood council area, based on the feedback.
"This is the beginning of many things we are going to do with streets in this city," said Garcetti, who was joined at the event by his new appointees to the Board of Public Works.
Turning the spotlight on the city's decaying roadways is par for the course for new politicians. Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa immediately launched "Operation Pothole," after being elected in 2005, and gamely filled a pothole in front of TV cameras in North Hollywood months after taking office.
And across town on Monday, newly sworn in Los Angeles Councilman Mike Bonin was scheduled to repair potholes, according to a release from his office.
At the Sherman Oaks event, Garcetti left it to city workers to rake steaming asphalt over a spider-veined, 17-foot by 10-foot cracked section of pavement near Woodman Avenue -- "I'm not dressed for it today," he said -- in front of the cameras.
Existing funds earmarked for street repairs will pay for the new program, said department director Nazario Sauceda. Officials said the program is similar to the Hollywood graffiti removal program, which relies on neighborhood feedback to find and scrub away tagging, and represents the community involvement that's central to Garcetti's administration. Garcetti also recently launched a new Government 101 program to encourage greater civic participation.
"The key thing is for you to report things that need repairs...that is the basis of Neighborhood Blitz," Saucedo said at the mayor's press conference.
The city budgets about $115 million a year on street repairs. To pay for more long-term fixes, like street reconstruction, officials are in the early stages of looking at raising taxes, or bonding against Measure R, the half-percent sales tax approved by county voters in 2008.
A citywide comprehensive roadway repair program could top $1 billion, officials have said.
During his race for mayor, Garcetti repeatedly stated he'd let taxpayers decide whether they wanted to pay for more costly street repairs. He reiterated that message Monday, but also cautioned that continued neglect of long-term fixes would prove more costly.
"The longer we wait, the more we pay," Garcetti said.
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