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City Council Committee to Hear Update on Enhanced Sidewalk Repair Program

Published on Monday, March 13, 2023 | 4:00 am

Public Works Director Tony Olmos will present an update on the City’s sidewalk repair programs to the City Council’s Municipal Service Committee on Tuesday which will explain recent program enhancements that aim to increase the number of sidewalk repairs completed each year.

The City’s sidewalk repair programs are intended to maximize pedestrian accessibility and minimize any potential liability to the City or property owner abutting the damaged sidewalk location, according to Olmos’s report.

The update will cover three categories of sidewalk improvement: annual Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sidewalk improvements, repair requests coming in through the City’s Citizen Service Center, and sidewalk repairs via “Private Capital” — repairs that are funded by private property owners rather than by the City. (According to Pasadena Municipal Code Section 12.04.0311, private property owners are required to pay for sidewalk repairs when they do any work on their property that costs more than $20,000 or when they sell their property.)

The Olmos presentation will also discuss challenges with sidewalk repair concrete color matching, and cost-effectiveness.

Olmos will report that City crews have begun using sidewalk grinding and saw-cutting methods in addition to full replacement of sidewalk panels to address deficient sidewalk locations. These methods can fix vertical lifts of up to 1.75 inches and can repair three locations for the cost of replacing one.

The annual sidewalk repair program has been an ongoing Council-approved Capital Improvement Project project since Fiscal Year 2016, with $12.9 million appropriated to date. Over 18,000 damaged sidewalk locations were inventoried in the 2015 citywide survey, and over 11,000 sidewalk locations reconstructed to date. However, sidewalk conditions are ever-changing, with demand greater than the budget, according to the Olmos report.

Locations are prioritized for reconstruction based on high-traffic volume streets, high pedestrian routes, highest vertical deviation of sidewalk, and ADA-related citizen complaints. The Accessibility and Disability Commission established the criteria and presented it to the City Council at the time of Fiscal Year 2016 program adoption.

Publicly- requested sidewalk repairs are received via the City’s Citizen Service Center through phone call, smart phone App, or online, with an average of 500 sidewalk repair requests each year. City yard crews will generally install a temporary asphalt patch within one week from the time of notice, then notify the engineering division. After patching, adjacent property owners receive a letter required under City Code 12.04.030 since the CSC Notice becomes a liability for both the property owner and City. The engineering division will add locations to its citywide inventory for future permanent concrete repair.

Private capital sidewalk repairs require the sidewalk to be replaced by a City Contractor at the adjacent property owner’s expense, as required per PMC 12.04.031 at the time of home sale or building permit exceeding $20,000. An inspection is performed, and payment is required at a rate in the fee schedule.  These fees can provide from $250,000 to $450,00 in total annually for sidewalk repairs.

Existing sidewalk repair methods include temporary patching replacement, allowing for quick response and mitigating the issue — approximately one week from notification. Color contrast further reduces liability, with work funded by the Public Works operating budget. The method addresses approximately 2,000 locations with an annual $1,000,000 appropriation. Color-matching existing sidewalks can be difficult and costly, with bid prices approximately 60% higher.

Changes to the sidewalk repair methods include recommended grinding and saw-cutting for locations with uplift 1.75 inches or less. Grinding can be performed by City crews, while saw-cutting requires a contractor. Incorporating these methods allows for the mitigation of 3,500 locations with a $1,000,000 annual appropriation versus 2,000 locations using replacement only.

To submit a repair request, citizens can contact the Citizen Service Center through the app, the link on the City’s website, or by phone.

The presentation by Olmos is for informational purposes and there is no action is required by the Municipal Services Committee.

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