Atlanta’s sidewalk policy is as busted as its sidewalks.
If you live or work 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 law requiring people to pay for repairs to sidewalks next to their property is a big part of the problem.
Six Good Reasons to Change Atlanta’s Sidewalk Repair Policy
1) Sidewalks are shared resources. Maintenance should be paid for by all taxpayers, not just those who happen to live next to a sidewalk.
2) The law is politically unpopular and went unenforced for decades. Public Works attempted to enforce the ordinance in 2013. This angered property owners and elected officials. Since then, Public Works has backed off on enforcing the ordinance in residential areas.
3) The law is unfair to property owners:
- The owner of a single family home should not have to pay as much as the owner of a multi-story apartment building
- People who live on corner lots should not have to pay double
- On many streets, sidewalks exist on just one side of the road
- Atlanta has a high poverty rate – and many people lack money needed to pay for repairs
4) The Public Works Department lacks sufficient resources to inspect sidewalks and implement repairs.
5) Much of the damage to sidewalks is beyond the property owner’s control. This includes car wrecks, illegal parking, street trees, and missing curbs.
6) Pedestrians should not have to endure unsafe sidewalks simply because a property owner cannot afford to pay for repairs.
Many cities have sidewalk programs similar to Atlanta’s. Yet few such programs function well. More and more cities are replacing laws similar to Atlanta’s with ones that treat sidewalks as shared resources and make costs fair and predictable. If Ann Arbor and Ithaca can do it, so can Atlanta.
With your help, we’ll convince the City Council to amend the sidewalk law. We’ll also identify a funding source that enables the City to pay for sidewalk repairs.
This is an election year — and the both the Mayor’s race and City Council seats are hotly-contested. When you speak with candidates, please ask them to change Atlanta’s sidewalk policy. Also ask them to invest at least $20 million per year in repairs.