The City of Grass Valley is continually striving to ensure that the movement of people within public rights of way is as safe and convenient as possible.  Historically, the responsibility for the construction and repair of public streets lies with the City, and the responsibility for the construction and/or repair of sidewalks lies with the property owner.

An individual property owner’s obligation to maintain and repair sidewalks and related appurtenances adjacent to his or her property is not new. In fact, existing state law, originally enacted under the Street Improvement Act of 1911 (California Streets and Highway Code § 5600, et. seq.) imposes the obligation to maintain upon the adjacent property owner.

Under § 5610 of the California Streets & Highways Code, a property owner is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk area (including trees placed on public property between the curb and the sidewalk) adjoining his or her property. As defined by the Streets & Highways Code, “sidewalk area” includes the sidewalk, as well as a parkway or parking strip maintained in the area between the property line and the street line and also includes curbing, bulkheads, retaining walls or other works for the protection of any sidewalk or of any such park or parking strip. Under Streets & Highways Code § 5615, if a property owner fails to maintain the sidewalk area, the City can perform the work and proceed to collect the cost from the property owner.

In 2004, the Court of Appeal held that § 5610 properly imposes a duty of repair within the “sidewalk area” upon the adjacent property owner. In addition, the Court of Appeal held that a City is authorized to go further and adopt an ordinance that extends to the property owner liability to the public for injuries caused by the property owner’s failure to maintain the sidewalk area (Gonzales v. City of San Jose (2004) 125 Cal.App. 4th 1127; see also Jordan v. City of Sacramento (2007) 148 Cal.App.4th 1487).

Any person desiring to construct or reconstruct any sidewalk, curb, curb return, gutter, pavement or driveway, or desiring to cut any such curb, curb return, gutter or sidewalk in or upon any public street, alley or public place in the City shall, before entering upon such construction or causing the same to be made apply for an Encroachment Permit.

On November 23, 2010 City Council approved the Sidewalk Cost-Sharing Program to assist qualified property owners in paying for these repairs.

Please see our Municipal Code, Title 12, section 8.50 and 8.60

12.08.040 Duty of property owner to repair and maintain sidewalk.permanent link to this piece of content
As set forth in California Streets and Highways Code Section 5610, the owner of real property adjacent to or fronting on any portion of a sidewalk zone shall repair and maintain such sidewalk zone in a safe and nondangerous condition at the owner's cost and expense. The owner shall have the primary and exclusive duty to perform such repair and maintenance, whether or not the city has notified the owner of the need for such repair or maintenance or has performed similar maintenance or repairs in the past. The duty to repair shall include the repair of damage caused by any force(s) including, without limitation, damage caused by trees planted within the public right-of-way or adjacent private property. Notwithstanding the foregoing, if the owner believes that damage to the sidewalk zone has been caused by a tree planted by the city, the owner shall so notify the city engineer in writing and in the event that the city engineer, or his designee, determines that all or a portion of the damage to the sidewalk zone was caused by a tree planted by the city, the city shall repair the damage to the sidewalk zone caused solely by the city-planted tree, provided, however, that the city's repair of such damage does not alter or effect the provisions of Section 12.08.050 hereof.

Maintenance and repair of sidewalk zones shall include, but not be limited to, maintenance and repair of surfaces including grinding, replacement of sidewalks, repair and maintenance of curbs and gutters which are an integral part of the sidewalk, removal of weeds and/or debris, tree root pruning and installing root barriers, trimming of shrubs and/or groundcover.

12.08.050 Liability for injuries to public.permanent link to this piece of content
Any owner required by Section 12.08.040 to repair and maintain any portion of a sidewalk zone shall owe a duty to members of the general public, including travelers on the sidewalk zone, to keep and maintain the sidewalk zone in a safe and nondangerous condition. If any person suffers personal injury or damage to property, due to the failure of any owner to maintain any sidewalk zone in a nondangerous condition as required by Section 12.08.040, the owner shall be liable to such person for the resulting injury and/or damages.

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