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After five years of requesting concrete repairs on the streets of Hancock Park, residents’ wishes will finally be granted.
The Los Angeles Board of Public Works unanimously approved improvements to five intersections in the neighborhood, with work scheduled to begin on June 15.
“We’re certainly happy that it’s been approved and it will be done,” said Tim Allen, Hancock Park Homeowners Association (HPHA) street committee chair. “We’re certainly unhappy about the process.”
Crews will repair the intersections of Clinton Street and Wilcox Avenue; Clinton Street and Cahuenga Boulevard; 4th and June streets; 1st and June streets; and McCadden Place and 4th Street. The project will cost approximately $400,000.
Hancock Park community members noted that many of the streets in the neighborhood are upwards of 90 years old, and recent repairs have only been made when the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) worked on piping.
Hancock Park’s historical preservation overlay zone (HPOZ) rules dictate that all streets must be repaired with concrete to protect the character of the neighborhood.
The city, on the other hand, repairs streets with asphalt, which is a much cheaper material.
“[Fourth District] staff was repeatedly told by the bureau of street services staff that using asphalt-resurfacing dollars allocated in the city’s annual budget for concrete work was not possible [because there aren’t any] city concrete crews, and that the money allocated in the annual budget was for asphalt-resurfacing only,” said Councilman Tom LaBonge, 4th District. “It was only when current staff put aggressive attention on the [city administrative officer’s (CAO)] office that this conversion of funds became an option, and even now, the bureau of street services is piggybacking on the existing Wilshire BRT contract.”
The bureau of street services includes a special projects division, which performs concrete work paid for by the city’s annual budget, but only small projects such as curbs and gutters, LaBonge added.
“They do not fix entire streets,” LaBonge added. “The Hancock Park project is a multi-year and multi-million dollar project — it is of a different scale and not what the special projects division is created or budgeted to do. We are able to take advantage of the Wilshire BRT contractor that is operating in the area now, but that option won’t exist in future years.”
Allen and HPHA president Cindy Chvatal contend that the concrete approval proves the council office could do something about the work — even if just a small amount at a time.
“All we want is to be considered in the yearly budgeting,” Allen said. “Concrete does cost a little more upfront but it lasts five times as long, so the lifecycle is longer. If we can do just [one intersection a year] so be it.”
Chvatal said it was frustrating that the association had to continue to pressure the council office to finally achieve the desired result.
Kevin James, president of the board of public works, said the process to convert money and gain approval from the CAO’s office would be required for any future concrete repairs. But he also noted it is possible for the council to consider an RFP for an outside contractor when nearby workers — like those on the Wilshire BRT project — aren’t present.
“It is a budget decision made by the city council and the policy makers,” James said.
Regardless of all the issues, Allen said construction crews coming to replace concrete in Hancock Park would be a welcome sight.
“They definitely need the work,” he added. “People are blowing out tires.”
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