April 25, 2024
Property

CA: Who is responsible to fix sidewalk damage on property?


Trees grow over the sidewalk and street providing cooling shade on North 30th Street in Tacoma, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023.

Trees grow over the sidewalk and street providing cooling shade on North 30th Street in Tacoma, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023.

bhayes@thenewstribune.com

In the concrete jungle, nature grows where it can.

When nature begins to destroy the sidewalk around your property, who does California law say is responsible for fixing it?

Here’s what The Sacramento Bee found on sidewalk responsibility and how to prevent damage:

Am I responsible for maintaining sidewalk around my California property?

California law states sidewalk repairs are the responsibility of property owners that live directly in front of the sidewalk their property faces.

When a portion of the sidewalk is out of repair or in a condition that interferes with public convenience, local authorities can notify the property owner in front of that portion of sidewalk to repair it, according to California Streets and Highways Code 5611.

However, there are specific circumstances where local jurisdictions will take responsibility.

The city of Sacramento requires property owners to take responsibility for their sidewalks, but curbs and gutters fall under the city’s responsibility.

In Modesto, the city will make repairs to a sidewalk if a city tree is responsible for the damage.

A dog walks past cracks in the sidewalk of a park in Sacramento in 2020.
A dog walks past cracks in the sidewalk of a park in Sacramento in 2020. Lezlie Sterling lsterling@sacbee.com

Can I be fined for not maintaining the sidewalk?

If you choose to ignore notices that your sidewalk needs repair, California law provides that local jurisdictions can assess property owners for the costs of maintaining the sidewalk.

How can I prevent damage to my sidewalk?

Susan Clemente, a spokeswoman for Sidewalk Safety, Inc., said the best way for homeowners to prevent damage to sidewalks is to stay proactive.

Since nature grows where it can, Clemente said the main cause of sidewalk damage the sidewalk repair company sees is a result of tree growth.

“You cannot prevent the damage from happening,” Clemente told The Bee via phone. “The only thing you can do is delay the issue by being proactive.”

Though homeowners could remove the tree to avoid damage, local jurisdictions could require for permission to be granted to do so.

Before the city can cite you or before the issue becomes more expensive, Clemente said you should address the issue as much as you can.

“If there’s any kind of trip hazard or slight crack, take care of it as soon as possible,” Clemente said.

What do you want to know about life in Sacramento? Ask our service journalism team your top-of-mind questions in the module below or email servicejournalists@sacbee.com.

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Angela Rodriguez is a service journalism reporter for The Bee. She is a graduate of Sacramento State with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. During her time there, she worked on the State Hornet covering arts and entertainment.



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