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Disabled sue LA over deteriorating sidewalks

February 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Nearly half of the sidewalks in the city of Los Angeles need repairs. Some are in desperate shape, causing a real safety hazard for the disabled.

Mahdokht Nakhost is one such citizen. It can be quite a struggle for her to get around, and she worries she might tip over on the sidewalks in her neighborhood.

The sidewalk in front of her house doesn't even resemble a sidewalk anymore. The roots of a giant pine tree has pushed up the concrete and made it all but impassable.

"It's more difficult for me because my back hurts, and two or three times I have really fallen down," she said.

It's all part of a big problem for the city of Los Angeles. There are thousands of miles of broken and cracked sidewalks. Officials admit there is no money to fix them.

After several complaints, the city has sent letters telling the Nakhosts they can pay for sidewalk repairs themselves.

"We don't have money to pay for this, it's too much for us," Nakhost said.

Since she can't pay, they put her on a waiting list

But the Disability Rights Legal Center isn't waiting. It filed a class action lawsuit against the city, arguing the sidewalks fail to comply with the American with Disabilities Act.

Neighbor Joe Zamiska feels it's the city's responsibility to keep sidewalks in working order.

"You would think with the money that we pay that the money would go somewhere," he said. "I don't know where the money goes."

Meanwhile, the Department of Public Works wouldn't comment about the issue. They said in a statement: "After discussion with managers and City Attorney, we decline to speak on camera or issue a statement because we're currently in litigation about ADA issues involving sidewalks and don't want to jeopardize the City's cases."

That case goes to court in November. Nakhost hopes she doesn't have to wait that long before she can use her sidewalk again.


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