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    Councilwoman Schipske Unveils New 5th District Sidewalk Repair Technique; Pilot/Test Project Could Expand To Other Districts

    (Jan. 25, 2007) -- With more miles of sidewalk in the 5th Council district than any other, Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske (who took office in July last year) has unveiled for testing a new sidewalk repair system that's fast...and proponents call more taxpayer friendly.

    Using already-budgeted 5th district sidewalk repair funds ($10,000 from the $300,000 allocated to each Council district) for a pilot project, workers from a private firm (Precision Concrete Cutting) will use high powered saws to shave off sidewalk bumps from a half inch to an inch and a half...and simultaneously create the legally (Americans with Disabilities Act) required tapered slope, all within minutes.

    We watched as this worker made short shrift of a sidewalk bump next to the El Dorado Senior Center. First, measurements. One end is nearly flat but there's a 5/8ths inch displacement at the other end (which requires a gentle 5" slope under federal rules.)

    Don't even think about doing this yourself. The private firm's workers, contracted with the city, do this.

    A little quick clean up and...'s the final result...complete with a tapered 5" slope.

    Within a few minutes (about 15-20 minutes with this amount of sidewalk displacement), the job was done. A company rep said a single crewmember can do about forty of these a day...and using a three person crew 150 day isn't impossible.

    Each job costs between $20-$25 and Councilwoman Schipske says the fixes can also reduce "slip and fall" claims against the city. The pilot project will fix 400 sidewalks at the $25/location rate...and if it's successful, Councilwoman Schipske says she'll bring it to the full City Council for consideration in other parts of the city.

    A company rep said his firm is presently performing its sidewalk-sawing services for six OC cities...and the City of Los Angeles.

    We asked a company rep if his firm's sawing-system could fix a larger sidewalk bump near a tree a few feet away. The rep noted that the larger bump was near a more aggressive tree root...and in such cases it might make sense to do additional work that includes a root barrier and other repairs.

    LB City Hall currently uses an asphalt-patching system system for many sidewalk repairs (which arguably leaves a less aesthetic result than the sawing system). Among those watching the saw-cutting system demonstration was City Engineer Mark Christoffels and other city management.

    Councilwoman Schipske says she learned about the sidewalk-sawing system at a vendor's booth while attending a recent "League of CA Cities" conference. We quipped to the Councilwoman that she'd miraculously found the only useful result of attending a "League of CA Cities" meeting [Schipske likes their policy-wonky events] ...and she followed-up on her internet blog:

    People often question the value of elected officials going to conferences. So when I went off to my first conference a few months ago in San Diego for the League of California Cities, I actually did go to the sessions and spent a considerable time talking and listening to the vendor who brought their wares for cities to view.

    After 45 minutes at the booth for Precision Concrete Cutting, I was convinced that their unique system of repairing raised sidewalks to eliminate trip and fall hazards was just the thing for fixing the 9,000 sidewalks needing repair in the 5th Council District. (Which is the most needing repair in the entire city I might add.) The City's Public Works Director, Christine Andersen was also at the conference and took time to review the same system.

    The system is simple. Any sidewalk raised 1/4 to 1 and 3/4 inches can be quickly saw cut and made smooth so that the trip hazard is removed. It is amazing: for an average of $25 and 15-20 minutes a sidewalk (with those parameters) can be fixed. This is a fraction of the time and money spent on grinding or asphalt patching. The result of the saw cutting is much, much more attractive than either grinding or asphalt patching.

    This system is extremely important to the 5th District. Not only do we have the most sidewalks needing repair, but because our residents are older than in other council districts and because depth perception starts failing when we hit our 50's, a raise in a sidewalk of only 1/4 inch can result in a tragic fall -- and a claim against the City of Long Beach.

    Today [Jan. 24], we kicked off this pilot in the 5th. $10,000 of the $300,000 allotted to the 5th District (the same amount allotted to each Council District) will be used to repair 400 sidewalks with saw cutting. If Public Works is pleased with the quality of the work, we will use this system to repair more and perhaps the system will be used throughout the city.

    I am also working to develop a 50-50 program that would allow residents who need to speed up the repair of their sidewalk (for instance if they are getting ready to sell their home and can't wait to be on the list -- which right now is very long), they will be able to pull a permit from the City to repair their sidewalk and the City will pay up to 1/2 of the cost to repair it (up to the maximum that the City would normally pay).

    Both of these "pilots" will stretch the limited dollars our District has been given to repair sidewalks...

    The demonstration was also video'd for an upcoming segment on LBTV cable channel 8.

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