A new sidewalk hazard mitigation initiative, designed to incrementally eliminate trip-and-fall hazards on the sidewalks of Sonoma – along with the accompanying liability – will be on the City Council agenda Monday night.
Kicked in gear by new City Public Works Director and Engineer Dan Takasugi, the proposed policy will roll out a new practice of proactively surveying city sidewalks for tripping hazards. Historically, the city has only acted to mitigate rough sidewalks after receiving a complaint, and has not actively looked for hazards.
The new policy is likely to shock property owners unaware that they’re responsible for the safety of the sidewalks abutting their property. The cost of repairing cracks and raised edges varies widely from one location to the next, but raised edges less than 1.75-inches in height can typically by cut for about $30 per-inch of linear foot. City staff are proposing to cover the cost of all repairs below the 1.75-inch height threshold. Beyond that height, raised sidewalks typically need to be removed and replaced, a cost the city will share 50-50 with adjacent property owners whose share of the cost would be capped at about $1,000, the proposal suggests.
Under current policy, according to a city staff report, “Once a complaint is received by the City, a code enforcement letter is sent to the abutting property owner, directing a timely repair in accordance with state and city codes. The enforcement action is typically not well received.”
But the city does not intend to rush out and survey every sidewalk in Sonoma and then issue repair orders for every hazard found.