By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
A lesson in sidewalks
Placeholder Image
Sometimes those of us who are city-dwellers can take for granted the little conveniences that are inherent to living in town. Although I still remember the hardships of getting a pizza delivered to the extremely rural farmhouse I lived in as a teen — I had to walk a half mile to the end of the gravel road my house stood on to meet the delivery guy — it’s been awhile since I’ve lived in the country.
I have become accustomed to paved roads, streetlights, storm drains and sidewalks. As I related in my last column, I live near California State University, Stanislaus and I often take advantage of the university’s beautiful grounds by walking around the campus. To get to the campus, however, I have to walk five and half blocks. It’s not really a big deal to get to the campus, as I traverse a series of sidewalks and use crosswalk signals when crossing busy streets.
The sidewalks that make my weekly constitutionals an easy undertaking are the crux of this week’s column. I had never really thought about our city’s sidewalks until recently.
On Monday, a Turlock woman came into the Journal and related an incident. It seems she was motoring down the sidewalk on Golden State Boulevard in her electric wheelchair when one of her wheels got caught in a hole and flipped the chair over. The woman said that her chair had been damaged and she hit her head in the fall. She said that when she went to file a complaint with the City, she was told that the property owner was responsible. The woman said that she had always thought that the city maintained the sidewalks, just as they do the streets and lights.
I told the woman that I honestly had no idea who was responsible for sidewalks in the city and I would look into the matter. Well, after talking with the head of municipal services and the city manager, I found out that, indeed, property owners are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of all sidewalks bordering their property.
According to Turlock Municipal Code 7-2-601: “It shall be the responsibility of the property owner, within the corporate limits of the City, to maintain the curbs, gutters, sidewalks, curb cuts, and driveway approaches in a good state of repair at all times. Such structures shall be in such condition that they will not endanger persons or property passing thereon, will not interfere with the public convenience in the use thereof, or be or remain an obstruction or impediment to the normal, customary, and usual pedestrian or vehicular traffic.”
I also read the California Streets and Highway Code Section, which deals with sidewalks and the steps the City can take to ensure a property owner properly maintains their sidewalks. This code is available for public view at The Section numbers are 5600-5618.
Sidewalk responsibility probably comes as no surprise to the many Midwest or East Coast transplants living in the Central Valley. Shoveling snow and ice from one’s sidewalks in the more chilly states is done not only for the property owner’s convenience, but also as a way to avoid potential lawsuits — thank goodness for homeowner’s insurance.
I recommend taking a few moments to inspect the sidewalks on your property and make any necessary repairs. While concrete work is not cheap — it will cost approximately $900 to remove and replace a 4 feet by 12 feet block of sidewalk — it could save you the time and expense of a lawsuit and prevent your neighbors from being injured while walking their dogs.
And if the responsibility of maintaining the sidewalks in front of your property seems unfair, I recommend either moving into the wide open spaces of the country or running for a City Council seat and changing the law. There are two City Council seats and the Mayoral position open this fall. Good luck!
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.