Aging, cracked sidewalks in Hollywood Park
By Artemio Armenta and Becky McReynolds
Many of the cracks along Hollywood Park’s sidewalks reflect the signs of concrete poured more than six decades ago. In older and more established communities like Hollywood Park, Curtis Park, and Land Park – cracks in sidewalks are common. Indeed, the sidewalk square near 23rd St. and Larson Way, in Hollywood Park reads, “A. TEICHERT & SON CONTRACTORS, AUG 3, 1948.”Oftentimes, tree roots are the culprit of displaced sidewalks, but weather can play a role. After 1978, homeowners in Sacramento became responsible for repairing the defected sidewalks along their property. For this writer, including other neighbors moving to Hollywood Park – meant having to address some needed sidewalk repair of our own.
My wife and I moved to Hollywood Park almost four years ago. One evening, after returning home from work, we noticed several spray-painted, white arrows near the cracks along some sections of our sidewalk. Shortly thereafter, the city mailed a letter and quoted us around $600 for the repairs, with the option to hire a private third party. We ultimately went with the latter option.
Some local experienced real estate brokers like JoAnn Kaleel with Lyon Real Estate let prospective homebuyers in Sacramento know about the city’s ordinance regarding sidewalks. “If I see cracks along the sidewalk, I let folks know that they may eventually need to make the repairs,” says Kaleel. “The city may come a day after you move into the house, or they may come three years later, but if the cracks are large and can pose a tripping hazard, home owners are reminded of the liability they may face if someone trips, falls, and gets hurt on their sidewalk.”
Liability for homeowners
In fact, the city’s Department of Transportation indicates that “home owners may bear civil liability for a person suffering personal injury or property damage caused by a defective sidewalk; it is in the homeowners’ best interest to maintain the sidewalk and reduce the risk of a lawsuit.”
Kaleel also notes that issues of broken sidewalks are rarely a problem in newer neighborhoods in or around Sacramento. “In Natomas, for instance, you’d almost never have to repair a sidewalk,” she adds. Kaleel represents buyers and sellers in Sacramento, Midtown, Land Park, Curtis Park, East Sacramento, Tahoe Park, and Hollywood Park. “These are older neighborhoods and you definitely see more issues in terms of cracked sidewalks in these areas.”
Homeowners are recommended to examine the condition of their sidewalks. According to the city’s Department of Transportation, whether you are a new homeowner or you have owned the home for several years, if you receive a notice it might mean the hazardous sidewalk was reported to the city through the 3-1-1 call center. Complaints require the city to respond promptly, within 72 hours – to prevent the defect from creating a safety hazard, endangering persons or property or interfering with public convenience.
During a recent February meeting, District 5 Sacramento councilmember Jay Schenirer, along with city representatives met with Hollywood Park neighbors to discuss concerns over cracked sidewalks and complaints received by the city.
Sidewalks are constantly subjected to the elements, and expands and contracts depending on the weather. Concrete is perhaps one of the most durable floor surfaces ever developed, according to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI’s). In fact, a typical concrete sidewalk can have a lifespan of 40 to 50 years but our hot summers and cold winters as well as our many trees can deteriorate the sidewalks.
It’s the owner’s responsibility
According to the city, “cracks, spacing, and grade displacements in your sidewalk also can impede public access and cause serious accidents for passers-by. The City of Sacramento code (12.32.010 and 12.32.020) requires property owners to maintain their sidewalks in such a way that they do not create a safety hazard, endanger persons or property, or interfere with public convenience. The city has specific criteria for determining whether or not a sidewalk requires repair, including the grading and spacing of the sidewalk.”
The city’s 3-1-1 telephone service can help answer any questions or schedule an inspector to inspect your sidewalk to determine if repair is necessary. But city inspectors do not canvass neighborhoods looking for defective sidewalks, and sidewalk inspections are performed when a citizen reports a defective sidewalk. The report may have been associated with the sidewalk in front of your house or in front of a nearby property.
Once reported, the city inspects all sidewalks, curb and gutter up to 75 feet in both directions from the site of the reported defective sidewalk. About 70 percent of complaints come from citizens. The remaining complaints arise when city workers are already in the neighborhood. If they see a defect, they must report it but the city doesn’t go around to each neighborhood and “look” for defects.
Additionally, sidewalks are generally in the city’s right-of-way. In addition, the California Streets and Highways Code Sections 5610 through 5618 allow cities throughout California to require property owners to maintain the sidewalks in front of their property. Sacramento is not the only city to require sidewalk repairs to be the property owner’s responsibility.
“Your Sidewalk” – City of Sacramento website
If you receive a letter from the city that informs you of needed sidewalk repair, or if you believe you have faulty sidewalks, check out the city’s online resource called “Your Sidewalk” (http://www.cityofsacramento.org/transportation/street/sidewalksyour.html).
The city will work with the property owner for the best financial resolution. Generally, an owner will receive a bid and the bill will not exceed the bid. If the work is completed cheaper than the bid, that is what the property owners pay. It’s also interest free.
The property owners may seek other bids but the work must be done to code and be re-inspected by a city inspector. When getting their own bid, the work permit must be purchased by the home owner. If the home owner receives notice from the city and they decide to let the city do the work, that serves as the work permit and another is not required.
If it turns out that you need to perform repairs to your sidewalk, and you feel up to the task yourself, home improvement websites like offer good tips (for example: http://www.familyhandyman.com/search?q=sidewalk). If you consider doing the repair yourself, be warned that it’s a labor-intensive project and it’s not inexpensive.
If you’re not experienced with concrete, you may want to hire experts. They may best know how to lay the concrete.