Following Monday’s vote by the Atlanta City Council on a new sidewalk maintenance ordinance, we reported that private property owners would no longer be required to pay for repair and maintenance on sidewalks that abut their property. That’s not the complete story.
According to Sally Flocks, founder of Pedestrians Educating Drivers on Safety (PEDS), letting homeowners off the hook was language from the original ordinance, before a substitute ordinance was approved by the Utilities Committee last week. The new language keeps the option of billing property owners for repairs.
“The sidewalk ordinance passed on Monday did not shift responsibility for paying for repairs from property owners to the city,” Flocks said. “Instead, it directs the Public Works Department to use money in the infrastructure improvement and maintenance account that has been identified for sidewalk repairs and other sources to pay for repairs until that money is exhausted. The city, however, maintains the option of billing property owners for repairs after public money allocated to sidewalk repairs has been exhausted.”
Flocks said by 2020, the infrastructure account is likely to have more than $20 million, but that will be for repairs to roads and bridges as well as sidewalks. She is doubtful there will be sufficient funding to keep up with the estimated $15 million cost of annual sidewalk disintegration.
“The ordinance is a good step forward, but people shouldn’t expect it will be enough to repair many sidewalks on neighborhood streets,” Flocks said.