The city of Los Angeles will spend $1.3 billion during the next three decades to make its infrastructure more accessible to people with mobility disabilities.
The funds, which amount to between $31 and $63 million per year, will be used to fix the city’s sidewalks, curb ramps, crosswalks, pedestrian crossings and other walkways. The legislation did not specify where the funding would come from, according to the L.A. Times.
By the city’s own estimates, 40 percent of L.A.’s sidewalks are inaccessible to wheelchair users.
“This historic agreement shows what can be accomplished when the City and its residents work together to solve chronic, systemic, seemingly intractable problems,” said Linda Dardarian, an attorney for the plaintiffs, in a news release. “The City’s sidewalks have been deteriorating for decades, but due to the dedication and commitment of the City and the community of people with mobility disabilities, this trend is being reversed, to the benefit of everyone who lives in or visits Los Angeles.”
The funding is part of a proposed legal agreement that must still be approved by a federal court.
In 2009, a group of wheelchair users, Communities Actively Living Independent and Free, filed a lawsuit against the city, arguing that it was systematically violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to maintain its sidewalks.
“This settlement vindicates the central purposes of the ADA: access, independence and equality,” CALIF Executive Director Lillibeth Navarro said in a news release. “In Los Angeles, for too long, wheelchair users and people with other types of mobility disabilities have been forced to struggle with curbs that don’t have curb ramps, sidewalks that are broken and torn up, and crosswalks that are filled with potholes and cracks…Now people with mobility disabilities will be able to go whether they need to go, and also where they want to go. That is what the ADA is all about.”
The settlement, if approved, would be the largest ADA settlement ever of its type. The previous largest agreement also involves Los Angeles sidewalks.
In 2009, Disability Rights Advocates and the AARP Legal Foundation reached an agreement with the state Department of Transportation to spend $1.1 billion over 30 years.
The plaintiffs are represented in the lawsuit by attorneys from the Disability Rights Legal Center, the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center, Schneider Wallace Cottrell Konecky Wotkyns, and Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian and Ho.