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Soulvine: sidewalk talk

Columnist Betty Pleasant on the City of Los Angeles proposal to make property owners responsible for sidewalk repairs

Los Angeles sidewalks are so raggedy and dangerous that the city can no longer afford to repair them; officials want to pass that responsibility to us

UNBELIEVABLE! — Do you know what our sick Los Angeles city government is contemplating? Well, sit down and let me tell you all about it. While our elected city representatives are doing absolutely nothing to stop the creeping gentrification of predominately black neighborhoods and the wholesale evictions of tenants in those and other neighborhoods, all of our city officials — from the mayor to the L.A. City Council — are studying the process by which they can make us pay for the repairs and upkeep of the sidewalks in front of our homes!!

ComptonHerald.com | Betty Pleasant

“Soulvine” is commentary by Betty Pleasant

I’m serious, people. The city apparatus has decided that we, the property owning people will be held responsible for the sidewalks that front our properties. Our leaders have already decided to do this, and they’re now trying to figure out how to go about it. I have a few words to say on the matter.

The sidewalks of Los Angeles are public property and they belong to all of us, regardless of where we live and whether or not we personally own any property of any kind. The property owners of Los Angeles pay taxes so the city of Los Angeles can create and maintain sidewalks for the use of everybody. But now, the city is claiming our public sidewalks are so raggedy and dangerous that it can no longer afford to repair them. Therefore, it has decided to pass that ball to us.

Well, the way I see it, if the city holds me responsible for the sidewalk in front of my house, then it has obviously given it to me and therefore I own it. And I would thank the city for adding a sizable strip of land to my present property line. And since I’d own the sidewalk, I figure I could do anything I want with it, just as I do with my present property. The first thing I’d do with my newly-acquired sidewalk is have it ripped out. I’d remove the crumbling concrete and plant a garden in its place. Then I’d surround it with a cute little fence to keep the public off of it. After all, I don’t want the public traipsing through my new sidewalk garden, just as I don’t allow the public to walk through my yard.

What about that strip of land from the sidewalks to the curbs? That strip is also city-owned. In my neighborhood, that strip contains huge, 100-year-old city-owned trees full of beehives that become uprooted and fall on people and parked cars whenever the wind blows. The city is very covetous of that strip and does not allow the people to touch it or anything growing on it. Well, if the city decides to give me its precious curbside strip in front of my house by making me responsible for it too, I would remove those old sickly trees the city has on it and plant younger and healthier trees there that won’t fall on cars and people.

Given the ridiculous direction the city is moving, I wouldn’t be surprised if the city decides to make us personally responsible for repairing the potholes in the streets. And, given the city controller’s audit shows that the Department of Water and Power is spending large portions of its taxpayer-provided operational funds on expensive employee junkets and other diversions, the agency’s finances can come up short too. In that event, will the city hold property owners responsible for the continuous bursting of Los Angeles’ 100-year-old underground water pipes? Probably. That’s the kind of mindset our city leaders have. Is there anything we can do about it? Probably not. We can all just move and leave this silly city to itself.

Los Angeles, I’d readily accept responsibility of your police department

For the record, the only city entity for which I would readily accept responsibility is the Los Angeles Police Department. Because then I’d be in a position to force LAPD Chief Charlie Beck to tell the people and the press exactly what “suspicious behavior” the unarmed Ezell Ford was engaged in while walking along Florence Avenue last summer which caused two cops to stop him, shoot him multiple times and kill him. If Ford had been doing anything wrong or illegal when the cops stopped him, a detailed description of his behavior would have been the first thing out of Beck’s mouth. We would know all about it — chapter and verse. But no-o-o, we get an LAPD informant telling us that Beck has labeled Ford’s killing a “justified shooting.” Heck, I and other journalists still want to know what “justified” the cops’ encounter with Ford in the first place! And yes, Los Angeles, I’d readily accept responsibility of your police department.

You know what else I’d accept some power over? The City Council. The tenants of Crenshaw Boulevard’s Lafayette Square Apartments have acquired assistance to fight their wholesale evictions from Adrian Dove, chairman of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) California; Ernie Smith, chairman of CORE’s board of directors; and Chris Williams, head of CORE’s housing/health/elderly task force, which had prepared the tenants to meet with the city council, June 5, to deal with the serious problem the low-income, elderly, disabled and military veteran evictees are facing. The group never got a chance to talk to the council because Friday’s council meeting was suddenly moved from downtown Los Angeles to Van Nuys — in the Valley!

But all was not lost because the intercity tenants and their CORE activists met with the mayor’s people and informed them of their plight, and met with Angela Adams, the assistant director of L.A.’s Section Eight Program, who promised to assist the tenants in their fight to retain their homes.

GOD SPEED — Former co-worker and long-time friend, Ken Miller resigned from the Los Angeles Sentinel last week and accepted the position of president and CEO of the Cleveland Call and Post newspaper in Ohio. The renowned Don King had been trying for the past eight months to convince Ken to take the job. He left the Sentinel June 4, and I talked to him a day later from Cleveland, because you know I had to get the full 4-1-1.

Stay in touch, my friend.

Betty Pleasant is a contributing writer and columnist for the Compton Herald. She was formerly a reporter at the Los Angeles Sentinel and a columnist at the Los Angeles Wave.

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