Questions, answered: Sidewalk repairs

Questions, answered: Sidewalk repairs

Michele Ellson

A few weeks ago, The Alamedan posted this map showing 500 locations where the city will be repairing sidewalks, through the middle of next year. The map generated a number of questions about the city's repair program - most notably, how a broken sidewalk can get on the repair list. Liam Garland, administrative services manager for Alameda's public works department, offered answers, which are below; meanwhile, if you've got a recommendation for a sidewalk that needs to be repaired, you can call public works at 747-7930 or submit a request online on Alameda Access by clicking the link, selecting "Street Maintenance" and then, "Sidewalk Repair."

What are the criteria that help your department decide whether to fix a sidewalk? What are the priorities in terms of repairs, and what are not?
State law requires property owners to maintain their sidewalks. California’s Streets and Highways Code states: “(t)he owners of lots or portions of lots fronting on any portion of a public street shall maintain any sidewalk in such condition that the sidewalk will not endanger persons or property and maintain it in a condition which will not interfere with the public convenience...” In instances where a sidewalk lift is caused by a nearby street tree, the city will make a repair as a courtesy. These repairs are typically made in chronological order, although areas with many pedestrians and/or a critical repair are prioritized. Where a sidewalk lift is not caused by a street tree, the city sends a letter to the property owner identifying the condition, requiring its repair, and asking to be informed
when repairs are complete.

What's the timeline for submitting and making fixes (eg, assuming there is a schedule for when lists are drafted and submitted).
Locations for sidewalk repairs are identified either through an annual inspection program or reported by members of the public. In either case, an inspector will complete a repair tag that lists the location, the suggested repair, and the responsible party, usually within two weeks. If the raised sidewalk is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner, the city sends a letter to the property owner identifying the condition, requiring its repair, and asking to be informed when repairs are complete. If the raised sidewalk is caused by a nearby street tree, the city seeks to to complete the repair in about 30 days. If the lift is under three-quarters of an inch, the city grinds adjacent sidewalks to better level them. If (it's) more than a three-quarter-inch lift, the city places an asphalt fillet at the location and puts the location on a list for future sidewalk replacements. Similar to many neighboring cities, this list has a substantial backlog.

How many repairs does the city typically perform in a year, and is the Measure B regional transportation tax your usual (and is it a stable) source of revenue to fund repairs? Is this a typical year in terms of numbers or is this a big project?
This year, the city will complete ~500 repairs, which is more than most years. Before 2009, sidewalk repairs were funded by the city’s general fund. Since then,
Measure B has primarily funded these repairs.

Someone e-mailed me the other day because it was their understanding that sidewalks in front of a residence are the homeowner's responsibility in terms of repair. Is this accurate, or does the city make the repairs in some (or all) cases?
See answer to first question.

I'm also curious what materials you're using to make the repairs - I know the city used rubberized material around Franklin Park a while back, and I'm not sure if that's something you are continuing to use or if you're sticking to cement.
The city typically uses concrete, as it is the most durable material for sidewalks. The city has experimented with rubberized sidewalks at a few locations. Initial results suggest the material may degrade more quickly than concrete and require additional maintenance.