Fix Broken Sidewalks

Tired of broken sidewalks? Read this.

If you live, work or play in Atlanta, you’ve probably tripped on a broken or uneven sidewalk. Not surprising, since Atlanta has an estimated $152 million backlog of broken sidewalks. The City’s sidewalk ordinance, which assigns financial responsibility for repairs to property owners, is a big part of the problem.

Many cities have sidewalk programs similar to Atlanta’s. Yet few such programs function well. For example, in 2010 published an article Broken State of Ithaca’s Sidewalk Program Examined. “It’s expensive when you’re working all over the place, it hard on the city employees, it’s hard on the homeowners,” a representative of Public Works states. Sound familiar?

So increasingly, cities are using innovative solutions. The program Ithaca, New York launched in 2014 is striking. Benefits include:

  • Sidewalks are treated as a public good.
  • Predictable costs to property owners
  • Less red tape and administrative costs
  • Reduced costs to properties that generate little foot traffic

In Ithaca, owners of one- or two-family homes pay an annual maintenance fee of $70. All other lots pay an annual maintenance fee of $140, plus a square footage fee and a street frontage fee.

Ithaca’s program includes features that prevent it from discouraging private investment in sidewalk repairs. Construction or repair work funded by the owner or by business improvement district make the lot owner or business district eligible for a reduction in the sidewalk assessment fees.

We’re reaching out to others to determine how we can make a similar program work here. We’ll keep you posted on our progress.

Please support our Campaign for Safe Sidewalks. With your help, we’ll convince the City Council and Mayor to update Atlanta’s policy so the City can fix its sidewalks – once and for all.