Thousands of elevators in Los Angeles overdue for annual inspections

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Lots of skyscrapers with lots of elevators fill downtown Los Angeles, but have you ever checked whether the elevator permits are up to date?

"I cannot say that's come up in my life," Andrea Shapiro, from Tarzana, said. "I'm more concerned when I get in an elevator and it is really dirty. That bothers me a lot."

Many elevators within the city of L.A. are way behind on their inspections. Some haven't been inspected in more than a year.

L.A. is the only municipality in the state that inspects its own elevators. Officials say there are some 21,000 elevators to manage. You might be surprised to know that a whopping 9,000 elevators are now overdue for their annual inspections.

"I feel like that kind of explains why we end up waiting so long for the elevators," Linh Hua, of Redondo Beach, suggested.

But that's not quite right. According to Kim Arther, chief inspector with the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, it's up to building owners to maintain and repair elevators. But he confirms the city has been struggling with a backlog of inspections for at least two years. Among the reasons, he cites L.A.'s construction boom.

"As a result of that, there's a lot of permitted inspections we need to make on the new elevators and conveyances inside these towers," Arther explained. "So that added to the workload that the department already had for inspections."

Arther said elevator technician staffing shortages have made matters worse, but a solution is in the works with the recent hiring of five new technicians.

"We're training them now and hope to have them in the field by this summer to help reduce this backlog," Arther said.

"Well, I don't want to get trapped on an elevator anytime soon," Shapiro pondered. "But I understand that everyone's short-staffed right now, but certainly I'd like to see everything get caught up."

Until then, Arther is assuring the public even elevators awaiting inspections are safe.

"Elevators are the safest way of transporting humans from one place to another, and our safety engineers have an exhaustive checklist to make sure all the safety mechanisms are in place," Arther said.

Building and Safety officials say they plan to hire two additional elevator technicians and they hope to have a full staff of 22 engineers by the fall of 2020. Still, they want the public to know that if you're ever concerned about the safety of any elevator, you should call 311 and a technician will be dispatched right away.
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