A Plea for Help

To Whom It May Concern,

I have lived in the San Fernando Valley for over 20 years. I work, pay my taxes and have never been in legal trouble. I have had pothole damage to my vehicles a number of times in the past, but just paid for the damage myself or ignored the damage done to my car.

In November of 2011, I was exiting a mini mall in Studio City from a full stop, and my car slammed down into a hidden pothole and I heard something crack underneath my car. I immediately pulled over and saw a dent on my front fender, but had no idea at that time what the full extent of the damage was to my car. I went into a store in the shopping center to ask [the] owner if he knew about the bad potholes exiting the driveway to all of the stores, and he told me yes, he did, and that he had asked the City to fix the potholes numerous times and had many customer complaints and the City had not responded. He said maybe I would have better luck and told me to call 311 to report  potholes and damage done to my car.

So I called 311, they took a report about the potholes and gave me the number to call to get a claim form from the City for damages. I received that form about 2 weeks later and I not only filled out the forms in full, but I included an estimate for damages from Honda, which was over $1000, because I have severe front end damage underneath my car now. It almost scrapes the ground because it is hanging so low and has a crack underneath and has to be replaced.

I waited about 2 months and didn’t hear anything from the City Attorney’s Office, so I called and was put through to a really rude clerk (he said his name was Tom Wong) and he got very defensive when I asked how long this was going to take and what I was supposed to do about my car. In short, he told me that I would just have to wait because my claim had not even been assigned to an investigator yet to make a determination, or I could sue the City of Los Angeles. I knew I wasn’t getting anywhere with him, so I hung up.

Less than TWO DAYS later, I received a letter from the City Attorney’s Office, from an investigator named Craig Bushey, who denied my claim, with no explanation or basis for the decision and was once again told to sue the City, if I chose to. Not only is 2 days not enough time to investigate a claim, but I was never contacted regarding any details about my claim or my car damages. This action leads me to believe that the clerk forwarded my claim to an investigator right away and he told him to deny my claim just because he didn’t like me. So apparently, this was not about he damages done to my car.

I am not working right now, I cannot pay any deductible to my insurance company to pay for the damages and I need my car to find work and I went through all of the proper channels to get my car damage covered by the City that I have paid taxes to, for over 20 years. I am very disappointed and frustrated by these events and I am wondering if there is anyone that can help me … other than suing the City, which is the only advice that I was given TWICE.

I don’t think that the taxpayers should have to pay for court time for legitimate car damage caused by a City street, do you? The ironic thing is, they fixed the potholes at the location of the incident over a month ago, because of my report.

I would really appreciate some help with this matter if you could. Thank you very much for your time.

Sincerely,

Patti Metroulas
Studio City Resident
818-766-3456
email:blupeeps2@yahoo.com

Here’s part of our reply to Patti:

In the Naked City, there are a million stories like this — the City just turns its eyes away from such things cause they figure most citizens will give up and go away …

Here’s what I would do:

1) Contact your local council person and complain and ask them to take action.
2) Call the mayor’s office and complain.
3) Try contacting David Goldstein at CBS in Los Angeles; he does investigative articles about incompetence and crime in Los Angeles; you can say something like “if this happened to me, it must have happened to many, many others and the city is shirking its responsibilities to taxpayers.” He may “smell” something: djgoldstein@cbs.com
4) You might also try “Fightback With David Horowitz”; Horowitz used to be a consumer reporter on TV: david@fightback.com
5) David Lazarus at the L.A. Times is always going after government and corporate offenders and gets results: contact him at David.Lazarus@latimes.com
6) Also at the L.A. Times is Michael Hiltzik, who does some expose work: michael.hiltzik@latimes.com
7) Find a lawyer to work on spec to mount a class-action suit against the city on behalf of all the people who have had their vehicles damaged by potholes, and were not able to collect.

Good luck and let me know what happens.

Harley Lond

A Burst of Damage

On March 29, 2012, Martin Wolfson wrote:

This pothole burst my tire, and damaged my front end. It’s on Sepulveda Blvd. Southbound between Howard Hughes and 77th street.

Martin Wolfson

<wolfs103@mail.chapman.edu>

A Presidential Pothole

This beauty took out 2 tires, bent one rim and cracked another. Total damage, $652.00.

Date: 09/04/11
Location: Pacific Coast Highway and President, Harbor City Calif.
Approx. size: 5 feet by 4 feet

Thank you,
Rocco

I Am Disabled and Hit a Pothole

Pothole: La Brea & Pico, Los Angeles, Calif. 90019

First I thought only the tire was blown, though it became apparent quickly that my headlights, rear lights, alignment were effected — it was a huge jar to hit —

Please say there’s some help — does the city help for real or is it just a waste of times?

Mirsha Lopez

Thank you for your help — I realize you get so many complaints. Thank you for your service to Los Angeles.

Teeth-Rattling Potholes in Hollywood

On December 28, 2010 I went through this gorgeous pair of potholes at the corner of Carmen and Gower in Hollywood. After my teeth nearly rattled out of my head I heard a hiss, and didn’t make it to the end of the block. These photos were taken two days later, after some good Samaritan put up a road cone. Thanks a lot.

jb-potholes.jpg

Last time I checked, the pothole was still there (with no road cone).

Thanks to Pep Boys on Hollywood Blvd for giving me a good price on a new tire.
— Jim Briggs

Update April 5: I drove by that intersection last night and the potholes are gone! The whole street has been repaved.

Spiffy Wilshire/Westwood Corridor Not Immune to Potholes

Late last month reader  J. P. Weiss reported a nice pothole on the North side of Wilshire Blvd. at Thayer (just East of Westwood).  “This one cost me $550 of damage this weekend,” Weiss reported.

Wilshire/Thayer Pothole in Westwood

We haven’t had a chance to follow-up on this to see if the pothole has been filled — but Weiss has filed a claim against the city.

But with the recent rain deluges inundating the city, we’ve seen more and more potholes opening up all over L.A. Some bad streets:  Willoughby between LA Cienega and Fairfax; Cahuenga between Sunset and Hollywood Blvds., Franklin between Gower and Beachwood; and so many side streets in the mid-Wilshire areas that we just can’t keep track of them.

What’s worse are the bad roads that have not been repaired. Try driving down the right hand lanes of Santa Monica Blvd., or Beverly Blvd. or Wilshire Blvd. east of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood — the troughs created by the city’s buses make it hazardous to drive more than 10 MPH. And then there’s the horrible intersections that just have not been repaired for more than a year — even though we’ve reported them many, many times. Three are egregious: The intersection of Franklin and Whitley in Hollywood, a busy thoroughfare with a horrible dip, buckled asphalt and potholes that cause drivers to slow down and swerve to the right or left to miss the horrible mess.  L.A. Councilmember Tom LaBonge knows about this — we spoke with one of his aides last year — and he should be ashamed that nothing has been done about it. The other two bad intersections are Willoughby and Seward and Willoughby and Wilcox — though they aren’t in LaBonge’s district — which have been is disrepair despite complaints.

After this weekend’s rain, things will only get worse: rainwater seeping under asphalt is a great recipe for potholes. See the factsheet here.

Hooray for Hollywood!

Here’s a couple new potholes and a bad roadway, all in Hollywood.

1) Reader Harunah reports the following pothole information:

Location: Hollywood. Where the 101 south off ramp meets Vine ave, as you turn right.
Approx. size: It’s deep!! Messed up my alignment
Length of time it’s been there: Couple of weeks

2) And we encountered one on Franklin Ave. in the eastbound lane just east of Cheremoya Ave. This one’s been here for a couple of weeks and seems to be getting bigger. Here’s a photo:

cheremoya.jpg

3) The right lane going east just before and after the intersection of Santa Monica Blvd. and N. Highland Avenue is raised and grooved;  going through the intersection is akin to being on a roller coaster. We suspect this damage is done by the city’s giant buses.  Doesn’t anyone monitor this?

And It Keeps Getting Worse

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We’ve been trying to document the bad streets of Los Angeles (particularly the West Side. MidWilshire and Hollywood) but there’s so many (and the streets keep getting worse) that our original aim to photograph potholes has fallen by the wayside. All we can do is list the horrible streets we’ve encountered and (as mentioned in the last post) complain to the city.

With the rainy season fast approaching, some streets are definitely going to come more unhinged than they already are (see the city FAQ on how rain can create potholes). The recent spate of sewer upgrades in the city have only added to the problem;  DWP workers are digging trenches to repair/upgrade pipes and then inadequately filling up the holes. We’ve encountered many, many patches and trenches whose fillings have sunk, creating more dips and potholes to wreck our cars. And with the recent spate of water main ruptures, more and more streets will be falling apart.

Here’s more mean streets:

Potholes at Willoughby and Las Palmas (in fact, as drivers find Willoughby a useful east-west shortcut during rush hour, the street, especially between Highland and Cahuenga, is getting pretty rough)  SOME STRETCHES OF WILLOUGHBY HAVE BEEN REPAIRED

Wilcox from Willoughby to Santa Monica Blvd. (rough road)

Very rough road (potholes, raised road,  alligator cracks) on Fairfax between Sunset and Fountain going south

Very nice buckling on Melrose just east of Martel going west REPAIRED

Melrose east of Edinborough going west (raised road) REPAIRED

Waring St. and Fuller Ave. (potholes)

Carrillo Dr. (Crescent Heights) between San Vicente and Commodore Sloat going south (rough road)

Crescent Heights and Willoughby (potholes)

Crescent Heights south from Melrose to Beverly (left lane raised)

Highland going north between Wilshire and 6th (right lane bad)

6th between Highland and LaBrea (both directions) (very rough roads)

1st between La Brea and N. Orange Dr. (very bad road, no doubt caused by big trucks service Ralphs and Petco)

Rossmore going north between Wilshire and 6th (rough road)

Wilshire Blvd. from Highland to Crenshaw (rough road)

Wilshire Blvd. and Fremont Pl.

Olympic Blvd. between Century Park East and Spalding Dr. going west (you know when Beverly Hills ends and Century City begins)

Overland Blvd. between Santa Monica and Olympic (this is the worst busy street on the West Side)

Virtually every side street between Santa Monica Blvd. and Olympic between Overland and Westwood (we wonder if these damaged streets were caused by construction vehicles during the several-years-long rebuilding of Santa Monica and Little Santa Monica boulevards?)

More Than We Can Bear

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There’s so many bad streets in Los Angeles that the city is starting to get a reputation as a third-world country. We’ve encountered ruptured roadways, potholes, alligator cracks and inadequately repaired utility trenches at so many locations that it’s almost fruitless to list them; but we’ll try. Here’s some in Hollywood:

Intersection of Franklin and Whitley (several potholes)
Santa Monica Blvd. between La Brea and Vine
Willoughby and Wilcox
Willoughby and Cole
Las Palmas between Santa Monica and Willoughby
Seward and Fountain
Santa Monica and Vine

More to come in a future post.

We recently sent off a missive to Hollywood’s L.A. Councilmember Tom LaBonge about these bad streets and though his Field Rep was sympathetic and passed on our complaint to the proper authorities, nothing has been done. So we fired off another e-mail:

Unfortunately, nothing has been done about any of the streets, in particular the intersection of Franklin and Whitley (several potholes and dips), which is quite nefarious because it is a busy intersection and if one slows down to navigate the potholes you run the risk of being rear-ended.

In addition, lately I’ve noticed several streets buckling; I wonder if that might be caused by the oversize buses because most of the buckling appears to be in right-hand lanes.

Having said that, there is a terrible mound that has arisen on Franklin between Western and Garfield — in both directions — in the middle of the street. I don’t know if that is in Councilmember LaBonge’s district or Councilmember Garcetti’s district, but it must be taken care of as it is a danger to motorists. There’s a similar mound on Melrose east of Edinborough on the north side (going West).

Also, Alcyona between El Contento and Bryn Mawr is getting worse. Earlier this year when the sewers were updated, utility trenches were dug and filled in with asphalt. The trenches are coming undone, adding to the bad state of the road. In addition, a neighbor had some plumbimg work done on his portion of the sewer between his house and the middle of the street, and more trenches have been dug and filled, causing more dips and ruts. It’s like living in a third-world country. (Disclaimer: I visit a friend here often, so this stretch of road is particularly irksome)

In addition, there are so many streets with “alligator” cracks that I think I’m living in Florida; take a drive on Hollywood Blvd. west from La Brea and the street will knock your teeth out.

As of this posting, the only street mentioned above that has been repaired is Franklin between Western and Garfield. The city repaired the mound and smoothed out the street.

The intersection of Franklin and Whitley (which has been damaged since the beginning of this year) remains a travesty.

Stay tuned.

More Thanks

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Dear Mayor and Councilmembers:

Here’s some reader comments on L.A.’s pothole problems:

I found your website while trying to find information about potholes in LA. I was driving down Wilshire, hit a really deep pothole and an hour later my tire was flat. I had sidewall damage bad enough that the tire had to be replaced, and with service charges it’s ridiculous considering it’s the city’s fault for not fixing the road. From what I remember, I called the city (forgot which number) [to find out if the repairs could be reimbursed] and basically had a run-around with the voice menu they have, so I ended up just sending out a few e-mails. Unfortunately I never heard back from anyone. Sounds like they purposely ignore people when it comes to money or repairs. When I was at the tire shop the guy said “it looks like you hit a pothole” before I even told him what had happened. I  guess I should have gotten a little note from him confirming it was pothole damage …  Oh well! I will definitely keep this claim form [we steered him to the online claim form but it was more than six months after the damages, and the city has a time limit on filing claims] for future pothole issues though, I’m sure it’ll happen someday with how horrible the LA streets are in some areas!

And:

I live in Laurel Canyon and think the roads where I live are possibly the worst in the city.  Combine that with a stiff German suspension (M3 w/ 19″) and frustration soon rears it’s ugly head.  I’ve lived all around this country and must say that the roads here are the absolute worst.  To think that frigid,  ice laden, streets of the mid-West and East coast are in much better shape than here is a testament to the gross neglect.

And:

 As a veteran driving instructor in Los Angeles, I have been thinking of starting a pot hole site and found out somebody was more fed up with the streets than I am. In thirty years of driving the streets of Los Angeles I have never seen the streets in such a shameful state. Our mayor should be fired, this is about politics and where they choose to cut and fund money. There are a ton of hard working tax payers that deserve streets that are safe and functional, not destroying their cars tires and suspensions.  Our streets are worse than some third world countries.