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Author Topic: Sidewalk Maintenance  (Read 2868 times)

roadman65

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Sidewalk Maintenance
« on: January 15, 2022, 11:11:39 AM »

When I lived in NJ, despite sidewalk and ROW away from road belonging to the municipality, the property owner behind the ROW is responsible for repairs to the sidewalk and not the city, town, etc.

Why is that? Why should the property owner adjacent to the sidewalk be liable and responsible for municipal property?
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jeffandnicole

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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2022, 12:54:36 PM »

When I lived in NJ, despite sidewalk and ROW away from road belonging to the municipality, the property owner behind the ROW is responsible for repairs to the sidewalk and not the city, town, etc.

Why is that? Why should the property owner adjacent to the sidewalk be liable and responsible for municipal property?

Because, simply, the laws allow it to be that way.  Courts have ruled that way as well.  Technically speaking, from the street or curb line and in is homeowner maintenance, which includes the strip between the road and sidewalk.
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GaryV

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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2022, 12:56:15 PM »

We have to maintain our own sidewalks.  The city tried to pass a tax a few years ago but it got rejected by the voters.  They survey your neighborhood every 7-8 years or so, and mark sidewalk squares that need replacement.  If you don't hire your own contractor to do it, the city has a low-bid contractor that will do it. We hired our own.  Some of the squares that were put in by the city contractor in 2012 are already spalling and cracking. No thank you.

Not only sidewalks, but 10 or 12 years ago our residential street had to be completely replaced. When they originally paved it, maybe 50 years ago, they simply laid the asphalt on the existing gravel road instead of putting in a new sub base. We tried to fight the city on it - when you buy a house you hire someone to inspect it, but you can't have someone dig into the road to see if it was built properly - but the city commission didn't accept our arguments. We're still paying for it as a special assessment.  The kicker is that maybe 5 years ago the city voted for a street tax - so we're paying that too.
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Big John

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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2022, 01:00:23 PM »

In the northern climates, you have to clear them from snow and ice, or the municipality will do it and charge you a high fee.
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SectorZ

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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2022, 01:03:49 PM »

I've never heard of any town/city in Massachusetts make residents responsible for upkeep of a sidewalk beyond the places that at least make you shovel it. I've seen a couple sealcoat a paved sidewalk on their property while having the driveway done, but that is the extent of that.

I am fairly close to neighboring Billerica, and there is a neighborhood built in the late 60's with sidewalks. They were so poorly maintained that mother nature has reclaimed significant portions of it, along with the intelligent idea of planting trees right next to them and thinking that decision would come with no consequences.
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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2022, 01:04:59 PM »

I guess this is why lots of areas in US cities are terrible (and sometimes downright hostile) for walkability: easier to have no sidewalk than to have one and the house owner getting the blame for it if someone slips on ice on the sidewalk that happens to be on their property. Wish sidewalks are maintained by the municipality, like roads, but nope...
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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2022, 01:24:42 PM »

In my city (and I think province wide), the City inspects sidewalks every few years and pays/carries out the repairs themselves. It's common for the City to hire students to do the inspections, Snow shovelling is typically the homeowners' responsibility.

In 2020, Kitchener switched to annual inspections:
https://outline.com/LSwBad
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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2022, 01:26:23 PM »

I guess this is why lots of areas in US cities are terrible (and sometimes downright hostile) for walkability: easier to have no sidewalk than to have one and the house owner getting the blame for it if someone slips on ice on the sidewalk that happens to be on their property. Wish sidewalks are maintained by the municipality, like roads, but nope...

Yep, just another example of the government catering to motorists over other forms of transportation.
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Scott5114

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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2022, 01:34:54 PM »

I believe our sidewalks are maintained by the city. Someone came by a few years ago and ground off the edges of a few slabs where they were out of alignment to make them level again. I didn't call anyone or pay anyone to do that, so I presume the City of Norman did it of its own volition.

That said, I believe that initial construction of sidewalks is to be done by the property owner when the property is initially improved. There are a few lots in subdivisions that for whatever reason never had houses built on them. The sidewalk stops at the boundary of those lots and starts up again on the other side of them. That really blows when it's been rainy and you have to walk through mud or walk in the street. I can't imagine people in wheelchairs or that use walkers find it easy to deal with, either.

While not really sidewalk-related, a really annoying situation came up in the last rental house I lived in. That house had a street behind it rather than another property. So behind my back fence was a sidewalk and a 7-foot grass strip, then the street. I had no idea I was responsible for its maintenance, since it wasn't really accessible from the rest of my property, until the city sent me a nastygram complaining that the grass was too high. So I had to push my lawnmower all the way around the block to mow this stupid 7-foot grass strip. If I had owned that property, I probably would have seen if I could tear the grass out and install pavers or something like that.
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1995hoo

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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2022, 06:33:05 PM »

Our sidewalks are owned, and repaired, by the HOA, but clearing them after a snowstorm is the individual homeowner's responsibility. There’s no penalty for not doing so. You’re not "required" to clear your sidewalk. But you wind up looking like an asshole if you don’t get to it within 48 hours or so because everyone else will get around to dealing with theirs.

Some nearby jurisdictions have laws requiring people to clear sidewalks within a certain amount of time (the District of Columbia does; I think Montgomery County, Maryland, does as well). I have no idea whether, or how often, those laws are enforced.
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Dirt Roads

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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2022, 10:52:41 PM »

When I lived in NJ, despite sidewalk and ROW away from road belonging to the municipality, the property owner behind the ROW is responsible for repairs to the sidewalk and not the city, town, etc.

I was surprised to find out that the city of Raleigh, North Carolina actually forced residents to pay for the construction of sidewalk in front of their homes, even when they didn't want one.  I'm pretty sure that Raleigh still requires homeowners to pay for sidewalk repairs as well (the last evidence I could find was more than 10 years ago).
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Scott5114

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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2022, 11:25:13 PM »

I was surprised to find out that the city of Raleigh, North Carolina actually forced residents to pay for the construction of sidewalk in front of their homes, even when they didn't want one. 

It would be pretty silly if sidewalks ended any time they crossed onto the property of someone who didn't want to pay for a sidewalk. Especially since there are so many property owners who never bother to actually get out of their house and walk around and thus don't appreciate the utility of a sidewalk. Sidewalks should be a continuous way, like a road.
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jeffandnicole

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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2022, 12:43:27 AM »

I was surprised to find out that the city of Raleigh, North Carolina actually forced residents to pay for the construction of sidewalk in front of their homes, even when they didn't want one. 

It would be pretty silly if sidewalks ended any time they crossed onto the property of someone who didn't want to pay for a sidewalk. Especially since there are so many property owners who never bother to actually get out of their house and walk around and thus don't appreciate the utility of a sidewalk. Sidewalks should be a continuous way, like a road.

This can happen when there's older houses without sidewalks. When a vacant property is built upon, newer standards require a sidewalk. They can apply for a variance if it doesn't make sense to have a sidewalk between houses without one. In NJ, the municipality usually can't make a property owner add a sidewalk on their own will, since their requirements were grandfathered in. 

In the northern climates, you have to clear them from snow and ice, or the municipality will do it and charge you a high fee.

That's typically a town-by-town decision. I've heard of the threat of a fine, bit I haven't heard of a town actually doing the shoveling. I don't think I've ever seen anyone in my town ever say they've been fined anyway.
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jay8g

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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2022, 02:54:23 AM »

Seattle is another place where sidewalk maintenance is the responsibility of the property owner. However, there's apparently no real way for the city to force property owners to fix sidewalks, and the city has very little budget to fix them themself... so what really happens is that sidewalks pretty much never get repaired apart from cheap short-term fixes. It's actually become a political issue, yet there's still no real movement. (Same goes for snow removal, not that that's a frequent issue around here.)
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Dirt Roads

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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2022, 02:50:44 PM »

I was surprised to find out that the city of Raleigh, North Carolina actually forced residents to pay for the construction of sidewalk in front of their homes, even when they didn't want one. 

It would be pretty silly if sidewalks ended any time they crossed onto the property of someone who didn't want to pay for a sidewalk. Especially since there are so many property owners who never bother to actually get out of their house and walk around and thus don't appreciate the utility of a sidewalk. Sidewalks should be a continuous way, like a road.

Sorry, I can see where that's not clear.  "They didn't want one" meant everybody in the nerighborhood.  When those neighborhoods were developed in the mid-1950s, they were in the middle of farmland but still within the city limits.  The homes were built in several suburban subdivisions without sidewalks, but in a city street grid pattern.  By the late-1950s and early-1960s, the city mandated that sidewalks be added on (at a time when most of the homeowners were financially strapped).  Literally nobody wanted the sidewalks.  Only a handful of those streets ended up with the sidewalks. But due to political squabbling, the sidewalks ended up on the less-influential side of each street and only those landowners paid toward the construction.  I didn't take an exact count, but there are slightly more than 100 homes in the affected area.

All that being said, today those sidewalks are well-utilized, as they lead to/from the local schools and churches, and also interconnect to the local college as well.  They also connect two poorer neighborhoods together, which seems to enhance the charm of the neighborhood as the appeal of "Inside the Beltline" is catching with the hipster generation moving into Raleigh.
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Scott5114

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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #15 on: January 16, 2022, 04:39:28 PM »

Thus the essential paradox of infrastructure—everyone wants to use it but nobody wants to pay for it.
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HighwayStar

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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2022, 01:35:37 PM »

Sidewalk maintenance is a tax on property essentially, which in some areas at one time made sense. Similar taxes on road footage were used to construct roads as well (which made wide parcels more tax heavy).

That said, in this day and age I don't see the need for sidewalks and prefer to not have them. Just one more thing to maintain and it encourages foot traffic by the house which I would rather not have.
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1995hoo

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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2022, 01:53:22 PM »

....

That said, in this day and age I don't see the need for sidewalks and prefer to not have them. Just one more thing to maintain and it encourages foot traffic by the house which I would rather not have.

So where are people supposed to walk?
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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2022, 02:37:24 PM »

....

That said, in this day and age I don't see the need for sidewalks and prefer to not have them. Just one more thing to maintain and it encourages foot traffic by the house which I would rather not have.

So where are people supposed to walk?

Clearly he intends for streets to be shut down and given over to their rightful users: pedestrians, strollers, people on wheels, and cyclists.  :bigass:

HighwayStar

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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2022, 03:08:21 PM »

....

That said, in this day and age I don't see the need for sidewalks and prefer to not have them. Just one more thing to maintain and it encourages foot traffic by the house which I would rather not have.

So where are people supposed to walk?

In their yard, or at a park somewhere else.
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HighwayStar

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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #20 on: January 27, 2022, 03:09:42 PM »

....

That said, in this day and age I don't see the need for sidewalks and prefer to not have them. Just one more thing to maintain and it encourages foot traffic by the house which I would rather not have.

So where are people supposed to walk?

Clearly he intends for streets to be shut down and given over to their rightful users: pedestrians, strollers, people on wheels, and cyclists.  :bigass:

No, as that would still result in foot traffic by the house. People on wheels are fine though, as long as there are 4 of them and an engine is involved.
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SEWIGuy

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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #21 on: January 27, 2022, 04:14:34 PM »

....

That said, in this day and age I don't see the need for sidewalks and prefer to not have them. Just one more thing to maintain and it encourages foot traffic by the house which I would rather not have.

So where are people supposed to walk?

In their yard, or at a park somewhere else.


So people cant walk places in your world?
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Scott5114

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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #22 on: January 27, 2022, 04:58:45 PM »

I don't want people walking in my yard tearing up the grass. I want them on the sidewalk.

Also, if foot traffic by your property actually seems like a problem to you, you're a fool. My house is on a fairly busy pedestrian corridor (smack dab between two schools so I get a lot of school-age kids walking by, as well as college students) and the biggest problem it has caused is sometimes I have to wait for someone to clear the driveway before I can pull in/out of my garage.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2022, 05:01:21 PM by Scott5114 »
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HighwayStar

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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #23 on: January 27, 2022, 05:11:17 PM »

I don't want people walking in my yard tearing up the grass. I want them on the sidewalk.

Also, if foot traffic by your property actually seems like a problem to you, you're a fool. My house is on a fairly busy pedestrian corridor (smack dab between two schools so I get a lot of school-age kids walking by, as well as college students) and the biggest problem it has caused is sometimes I have to wait for someone to clear the driveway before I can pull in/out of my garage.

I have never had issues with people getting on the grass, the barbed wire fence keeps them out of there.

But I don't like any place that is conducive to pedestrian traffic, you get people selling stuff, evangelists, pollsters, etc. coming to your door. I think the absence of any sidewalks tends to discourage them.
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Re: Sidewalk Maintenance
« Reply #24 on: January 27, 2022, 05:14:04 PM »

So they have to walk in the street, since there’s no gap between the travel lane and the fence. This is a safety hazard.
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