Who is responsible for sidewalk repair?

In May 2015 the City Council approved a ‘Fix and Release’ new policy which accelerates sidewalk repairs and makes the repair process permanent and ongoing. After the City repairs a sidewalk it will give the property owner a 20 year warranty, then release the responsibility for that sidewalk’s maintenance and future repairs reverts to the property owner.

For the last decade most sidewalks have not been getting repaired, in part because the liability for repairing was ambiguous. Most cities place the burden for maintenance and repairs on the property owner. Los Angeles used to do this, but began repairing sidewalks in the 1970s when federal money was available to do so. Also, the City permitted developers to plant ficus and other trees that rip up the sidewalk and therefore many felt the City should be responsible for the repairs. In 2012, the Council proposed that property owners be responsible. I did not think that was fair to change the rules mid-stream to the detriment of unlucky property owners who had a broken sidewalk because of a street tree and authored state legislation to prevent this. Upon becoming a councilmember I worked to create a compromise. This compromise is known as ‘Fix and Release’ and it allows homeowners to get their sidewalks fixed, maintained, and warrantied for 20 years. Ultimately this removes the ambiguity by giving responsibility back to the adjacent property owner after the sidewalk has been properly repaired.