Thursday, March 6, 2014

Corralitas Public Staircase: Neighbor Shovels Mud, Questions Hillside Stability

Photos: Corralitas Neighbor, March 4, 2014.   One incredibly fit Corralitas neighbor sent these photos and the following email:

"Just moved hundreds of yards of wet dirt off the stairs. Noticed that, if not fixed we will lose the use of these stairs. Will the city take any action to save these stairs?"

Yes, that's a question we've asked many times, as have all the neighbors who use the Corralitas Public Staircase regularly.  But first, we'd like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the neighbor who got a great functional workout moving all that mud from the public staircase - BRAVO! 

The Corralitas Public Staircase has been around since at least 1922. In 1961, the lower 2 levels were realigned & got handrails, when the 2 Freeway was built.
The Corralitas Public Staircase is #16 in most need of repairs on the 2003, Citywide list of 222 public staircases.  The list was spearheaded by our City Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell while working as deputy for then City Councilmember (now Mayor) Eric Garcetti in CD13.   

Unfortunately, even during the real estate boom years, when the City was flush with money, there was no money allocated with the City budget for staircase repair & maintenance.  The City places responsibility for maintenance on the adjacent property owners, as they do with sidewalks.  It seems a bit onerous since there are larger grading & structural issues with public staircases, than with ordinary sidewalks in front of people's homes.  (The City can't decide who's responsible for paying for City sidewalk repair right now anyway.)

Further complicating matters, the City also considers the public staircases as "streets."  Which would seem even more absurd since you can't drive on them. The City budget for street repair includes nothing for public staircases.  The City does not expect the adjacent homeowners to pave or repair the City streets.  Does the City expect homeowners to do structural repairs on the City public staircases?  If so, then why was the Corralitas Public Staircase not repaired during construction of the adjacent houses? 

In December 2009, the City did a partial repair to one landing on the Corralitas Public Staircase.  Apparently, the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council paid for it.  However, it failed to address the more important structural issues.  According to the 2003 survey, 40' of concrete needed replacing in addition to structural repair.   It was like putting a bandaid on broken leg.
So again, a big thank you to the neighbor who cleared the dirt and mud from the 6-story, Corralitas Public Staircase so the rest of us could continue to use it.  We'd also like to encourage other neighbors to pull the weeds as they sprout in the staircase, before the dirt hardens up again.  The castor bean seedlings will be sprouting by the weekend - pull them as soon as you see them - so they don't damage the staircase further.