One of the Winnetka Neighborhood Council’s long standing goals is to address the worst streets in the WNC boundaries. Over the years we’ve managed to work with the City to get streets such as Lubao Ave and Quartz Street’s repaved. In addition, in 2006 we worked with the City to allocate a one-time allotment of $100,000.00 to repave streets around some of our local schools. One goal set almost at the beginning of the WNC’s existence was to re-pave Mason Ave, between Sherman Way and Roscoe, easily one of the worst major streets in our community.
On September 1, 2007, the WNC, with the assistance of Councilmember Zine’s office, completed a portion of our long term goal. A section of Mason Ave, from Saticoy to Stagg was repaved. In 2005, the WNC had the street reviewed by the Bureau of Engineering and it was deemed a failed street. It’s taken us since then to get this project resolved.
It’s important to understand that the WNC has very little direct control over street paving. We get numerous requests throughout the year from stakeholders with bad streets. In the past, your City Councilmember may have also had a say in which streets get paved and which don’t. However, with the advent of modern technology and the extreme financial situation the City is in, even that has changed. What the WNC can do is work with the City Councilmember and the Bureau of Street Services and help to define what the priorities are. If it’s possible, and if it fits in the overall street maintenance and resurfacing plans we can have some influence.
The Bureau of Street Services website, does a wonderful job of explaining the daunting task that they do and can help us all to understand why it’s so hard. According to their website, they accomplish their mission by, “a variety of minor and major maintenance techniques are employed by the Street Maintenance and Resurfacing Divisions which are responsible for maintenance and repair of 6,500 miles of dedicated public roadways (28,000 lane miles) and 800 miles of alleys (400 miles fully improved and 400 miles unimproved, of which 178 miles are unimproved dirt alley). It performs nearly all resurfacing and reconstruction of residential and major streets and alleys averaging up to 200 miles of resurfacing per year. It also cleans all improved 13,000 curb miles of streets and alleys, the pedestrian subways, tunnels and public walkways. Miscellaneous functions include bridge and stairway repair and bulkhead construction. The Bureau’s two asphalt plants produce approximately 600,000 tons of asphalt annually.”
At a recent public educational meeting Bill Robertson, Director of Public Works, explained that the City hasn’t had enough funds to address the City’s streets in decades. At one point he explained that it would take almost $1 billion dollars to adequately return LA City streets the level they should be. Needless to say, that type of money just doesn’t exist. Putting it another way, street repair is probably third in line in City priorities behind Fire and Police…which we all know we don’t have enough of either.
The Bureau of Street Services has in place a very regimented plan for taking care of the streets. Streets that are relatively new or in good condition are maintained by making sure that cracks and potholes are filled as quickly as they are reported. More seriously damaged streets can be addressed by slurry or flex sealing (which keeps additional water from seeping into the street and further damaging it by eroding the base), maintenance blanketing (about 1 to 1½ inch of asphalt over damaged areas), or complete resurfacing.