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Poll: Should homeowners be required to repair sidewalks?

Sidewalk2If the L.A. City Council goes forward with a money-saving proposal, homeowners under its jurisdiction will be required to repair broken sidewalks in front of homes upon resale, according to an article in today’s Los Angeles Times.

Requiring home-improvement action upon the sale of a home is not unheard of. City of L.A. homeowners are already required to put in low-flow toilets and gas shut-off valves when they sell, but this latest idea could cost homeowners thousands of dollars.

Here are the numbers:

$15: the cost to the average homeowner per square foot of sidewalk to repair
$9 million: what the city of L.A. spends each year to replace about 50 miles of sidewalks
$3 million: what the city of L.A. spends each year on lawsuits over broken sidewalks
$1.2 billion: what the city needs to replace or repair 4,600 miles of broken sidewalks (6,000 miles of sidewalks in the city considered to be in good shape)

So, this is quite the dilemma. Many of us want to see smaller government and more personal responsibility. But a sidewalk is not something over which you have any control. Can you chop down a tree whose roots will damage the sidewalk? Can you forbid the public to use your sidewalk? What do you think?


5 Comments on Poll: Should homeowners be required to repair sidewalks?

  1. In my town, there’s a street tree program that doesn’t let me trim or remove trees planted within x number of feet of the roadway, whether planted by the city, me or the previous owners.
    There’s a giant Shamel ash tree on my property, planted 60 years before I bought this house, that has caused extensive damage to the sidewalk, the nearby fire hydrant, my neighbors’ and my own sewer lines. The city declines to pay for damage to our sewer lines, but they so far are taking care of hydrant and sidewalk problems. I will have about $4k in plumbing repairs to take care of all by myself, however.
    I value the tree for its shade and really don’t want to lose it, but if the city goes so far as to make me responsible for damages to their infrastructure in addition to my own, they will have a fight on their hands, and I think everyone in this tree-loving town would agree that it would be going too far. More likely the city will try to take care of it through a property tax assessment. Not sure how likely that would be to pass, but I would approve it if I could pay $200-300 extra annually in taxes rather than $4-5k all at once.

  2. So the City plants trees 50 years ago that have destroyed the sidewalk around our corner lot and we’re responsible for fixing the damage done by those trees? Perhaps this would make sense if we could choose which trees were planted or remove them if we wanted – but the City will not allow us to do so. I would even be willing to go 50 – 50 with the city, but, making us completely responsible for an error made so long ago seems very unfair.

  3. At least in other parts of the country, cities will go after homeowners for side walk repairs if tree roots have damaged the walks in front of the house. That makes sense, it’s the home owners’ responsibility to maintain their property.

  4. Wow Truxter ! I take it you must live in Cuba ? Insofar as the topic at hand, it should be the city’s responsibility. Its kind of silly for them to build it without your explicit permission then push the maintenance expense onto you.

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