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LOCAL VOICES: Fix the ‘potholes’ to make Compton into a great city, again

Part 2: A plan to repair the city’s innumerable rough and rugged ‘potholes’; a great city has great streets  By CHRIS PETIT, Contributing Writer What do Los Angeles, Long Beach, Santa Monica and Compton have in common?

Part 2: A plan to repair the city’s innumerable rough and rugged ‘potholes’; a great city has great streets

 By CHRIS PETIT, Contributing Writer

What do Los Angeles, Long Beach, Santa Monica and Compton have in common? Each has rough and rugged streets complete with crater-sized potholes. Those potholes have only increased in size over time. Compton can feel good about the fact that it’s not the only city with a pothole problem. But just because everyone else has bad streets, does that mean that the citizens of Compton should care less than they do? A great city has great streets.

Chris Petit

Chris Petit

Compton’s potholes are no big secret. At every City Council meeting, Block Club meeting or Town Hall, you can bet with certainty that potholes will be discussed; and discussed, well let’s just say…passionately! The mayor, city manager, and other department heads are always  eager to tell us how many potholes they filled in the last year. And that’s fine. They should get credit for being active. But activity is not the same as achievement. And I’ll ask you this rhetorically; “Do I really care how many potholes have been filled, if I keep hitting the one directly in front of my house?”

The city cites deferred maintenance as the reason that our streets are in such disrepair. They tell us that the failure belongs to past administrations that did nothing to address Compton’s infrastructure. In short, they are telling us that our streets did not get this way overnight and that it’s not their fault.

That might be a fair assessment as well, but as a citizen I want you to own the problem now. Just tell me what we are looking at, and tell me your plan to fix it. That’s it. No delays, no broken promises, just fix it. (And by the way, I’m not too keen on paying an additional tax to fix streets that my exorbitant property tax, school, and utility assessments should have already taken care of.)

From my point of view, and I feel that most would agree; a pothole is a simple and small thing. And without going into cold patch vs. injection, it’s something that’s relatively easy to fix. The late Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn used to make sure that he took a different route to work every day so that he could report potholes. It was his attention to little details like this that made him a beloved county supervisor.

So if a pothole is such a minor thing that’s easy to fix, and the city never fixes it or fixes it in a permanent way; it tells me that I can’t trust the city with the little things. How demoralizing is that? And if I can’t trust you to fix a pothole, how can I trust you with a $300 million budget? Why would I believe anything you tell me?

I don’t completely distrust the city, but I can see how and why many do. It’s because ignoring the small things has become a part of the character of a once fine city. Potholes scream, “I DON’T CARE!” more than any other problem. Fixing the streets is a matter of priorities. Are the streets the top priority in Compton? It doesn’t feel like it. But here’s what we can do:

  1. Require that the city manager and related department heads actually drive or walk each district in Compton weekly and report potholes.
  2. Require that these same people give an accounting at the weekly council meeting stating how many potholes were counted and filled in the previous week; as well as how many will be filled the next week.
  3. Every major street repair should be posted to the city’s website and social media outlets, with updated information concerning timelines and anticipated traffic disruptions. Whatever problems exist with the current city app or processes for reporting potholes should be updated and fixed immediately!
  4. Transparency: Regular audits of our vendors to ensure that Compton receives top level work, such as cities like Carson. (A vendor doing a street repair last year, dumped the unused asphalt in Burrell-McDonald Park where it stayed for a month, while children played on the piles. Unacceptable!)

There may be more suggestions on how to get our potholes fixed, but these are mine and it’s a start. Citizens be encouraged! Let’s use our voices.

“Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind – even if your voice shakes.” – Maggie Kuhn

Chris Petit is a homeowner in Compton.

 

Compton Herald is a digital news publication providing clear, fair and current news, information and commentary about Compton, the Los Angeles metropolitan area, Los Angeles County, California, and the world.

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