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Disabled suing LA over poor sidewalk conditions

January 31, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
West Los Angeles resident Judy Griffin argues that if you think Los Angeles streets are bad, the sidewalks are even worse.

Griffin said many sidewalks are cracked, creating a bumpy ride for wheelchair-bound disabled people like her. Griffin is part of a class action lawsuit by disabled residents demanding the city repair the sidewalks.

"The sidewalks are terrible," Griffin said. "They're uprooted by trees, there are no curb cuts."

Disability rights lawyers said the damaged sidewalks violate policy in the Americans with Disability Act by preventing disabled residents equal access on sidewalks.

City officials said with 10,000 miles of sidewalks in need of repair in L.A. at a cost of over $1 billion, they just do not have the money to do the job.

"We don't have the funds to repair the sidewalks," said city council member Dennis Zine. "We have a $72 million gap in our budget until the end of this fiscal year, and then we have a $253 million deficit next fiscal year."

Disability rights attorneys said their class action lawsuit represents more than 200,000 L.A. residents who use mobility devices, including wheelchairs, canes and walkers.

"We would be asking the court to order the city to comply with the ADA in coming up with a comprehensive plan to address the inaccessible sidewalks," said disability rights attorney Surisa Rivers.

City officials said they know it is their responsibility to repair the sidewalks and the department of public works is looking at what can be done.

"They have money," said Griffin. "If they have money to pave a street or paint a wall they have money to help 200 thousand residents trying to get around in the city."