Although sidewalks are considered public domain, Turlock property owners are held financially responsible for maintaining and repairing the sidewalk adjacent to their property.
In an effort to alleviate some of the financial burden placed on property owners due to this regulation, the City Council will consider allocating $5,000 from the City's Gas Tax Reserve to help backfill the cost of sidewalk repair permits.
As it currently stands, Turlock property owners must obtain a permit from the City in order to repair a sidewalk, generally costing the property owner $157 for the encroachment permit alone. The City Council is seeking to change that on Tuesday evening.
"The matter before Council would authorize staff to use $157.50 in gas tax money to offset the cost of the encroachment fee," said City Engineer Mike Pitcock. "It's intended to help property owners fix the sidewalk without the additional burden of a permit fee."
While the encroachment permit fee would be offset by the City, property owners will still be held responsible for the cost of having the sidewalk repaired. Projects involving curb, gutters, driveways and ramps would also be included in the permit fee relief program.
"It was not intended to pay for the improvements," said Pitcock. "So a property owner doing a small repair under $1000 would get a free encroachment permit."
According to City staff, the fee relief program could have the potential to encourage more property owners to make needed repairs to unsafe curbs, gutters, sidewalks, driveways and ramps. As a result, the probability of ‘trip and fall' injuries could consequently decrease.
"As to failure to correct a deficient/broken sidewalk, at the very least, the property owner could be held liable should someone be hurt and decide to file a lawsuit," said Pitcock.
On Tuesday, the Council is also expected to:
- Appropriate $126,676 from the Gas Tax Fund for the Monte Vista Avenue Rehabilitation project, and approve an agreement in the amount of $887,037.25 with Teichert Construction of Stockton for said project.
- Proclaim October 2013 Breast Cancer Awareness Month, supported by the Turlock Fire Department
- Establish a lien for payment for the abatement of weeds, obnoxious growth and other debris on property and abandoned vehicles that are deemed a nuisance to the public.
The City Council will meet at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall, located at 156 S. Broadway.