What is the Sidewalk Repair Program?
The Sidewalk Repair Program is a cost-sharing benefit for property owners in San Rafael seeking to repair damaged sidewalks.
Under the program, the City will:
- Split the cost of sidewalk replacement 50-50 with property owners (up to a maximum of $1,000 in City contribution)
- Fully incur the cost of sidewalk offset "shaving" - e.g. when a sidewalk displacement is <1.5" and does not require fully replacement
- Fully incur the cost of curb and gutter replacement (up to a maximum of $4,000 City contribution)
- Fully incur the cost of street tree work removal and replacement (including root trimming, stump grinding, removal/ replacement)
Please note, for sidewalk and curb and gutter construction, the Sidewalk Repair Program has a maximum City contribution for residential properties of $5,000 per property, and a maximum City contribution for commercial properties of $2,000 per property.
Who is responsible for maintenance and repair of sidewalks in San Rafael?
As with many municipalities, San Rafael addresses sidewalk maintenance and repairs in accordance with California State Streets and Highways Code Section 5610, which states that sidewalk maintenance and repair is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner. San Rafael’s sidewalk maintenance policy is also addressed in our local municipal code as
Chapter 11.60, which states that the adjacent property owner is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk in a nonhazardous condition and may also be liable for injuries caused as a result of failure to maintain the sidewalk.
In 2016, the San Rafael City Council called for the development of the Sidewalk Repair Program to assist property owners with the cost of sidewalk repair.
What am I required to repair?
The City will inspect your property and any sidewalk that is deemed to be a tripping hazard will be marked for replacement and indicated as such on the pre-construction inspection survey. Participants at minimum must repair all sidewalks, curb and gutter identified by the City but may choose to replace more at full cost to the property owner.
All work performed will need to comply with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Standards
The City will note in your sidewalk pre-construction inspection form that all work must be ADA compliant (slope of sidewalk, grade, etc.). If the sidewalk repair involves a corner where an ADA ramp is not in place, one will need to be installed. In the event of an ADA curb-ramp installation, the City will bear full cost of the ramp.
The City arborist will make all determinations about trees involved
The City arborist will determine if a tree can survive root trimming (as a part of the sidewalk replacement) or if it must be removed in order to replace the sidewalk. The arborist may also recommend removal of the tree in the case where the roots may be trimmed, but it is anticipated that the tree would uplift the sidewalk again within several years. In the case that...
- A tree cannot survive a root trimming, and must be removed in order to replace the sidewalk
The property owner will be notified prior to removal of the tree in order to proceed with repairs
- A tree can survive a root trimming
Root trimming will occur per City arborist recommendations
If your tree is removed as a part of the sidewalk repair...
In order to minimize future sidewalk damage and encourage the roots to go deep into the soil away from paved surfaces, all new trees planted must be watered by the property owner to City specifications. This will be coordinated between the property once the sidewalk repairs are complete.
How do I join the program?
Steps to join the Sidewalk Repair Program:
- Contact a contractor of your choice. The contractor needs to be appropriately licensed to do concrete work in San Rafael and pay prevailing wages.
- The contractor needs to create an itemized proposal that you will send to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject: Sidewalk Repair Program.
- Once proposal is reviewed, you will be contacted regarding a pre-construction inspection to be completed by a City inspector.
- After the pre-construction inspection, the property owner will complete an Agreement packet to be signed by the property owner, City, and contractor.
- Work can commence after all parties have signed the Agreement
- Final inspection will be completed by a City inspector after the work is complete
- Once final inspection is complete, payment is to be made to your contractor. Proof of payment is to be sent to email@example.com
- Reimbursement will be processed after proof of payment is received
Historically, the City has addressed sidewalk maintenance and repairs in accordance with California Streets and Highways Code Section 5610 (“Section 5610”), which places the burden of sidewalk maintenance on the adjacent property owner. The code states in part that:
The owners of lots or portions of lots fronting on any portion of a public street or place when that street or place is improved or if and when the area between the property line of the adjacent property and the street line is maintained as a park or parking strip, shall maintain any sidewalk in such condition that the sidewalk will not endanger persons or property and maintain it in a condition which will not interfere with the public convenience in the use of those works or areas save and except as to those conditions created or maintained in, upon, along, or in connection with such sidewalk by any person other than the owner, under and by virtue of any permit or right granted to him by law or by the city authorities in charge thereof, and such persons shall be under a like duty in relation thereto.
The City conducted considerable community outreach on sidewalk issues in fall 2016. Three public meetings were held at the Albert J. Boro Community Center, San Rafael Community Center, and the Terra Linda Community Center with approximately 30 in-person attendees. Additionally, an online survey was circulated and promoted via NextDoor. The survey had 388 respondents.
Since fall 2016, there have been three City Council items on sidewalks that were well attended by members of the public. On February 6, 2017, June 19, 2017, and October 2, 2017 the Council heard an update from Public Works staff, listened to input from residents, and provided direction.
Public Works has also received considerable input from the community through our online Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. The Contact Public Works page on the City website allows constituents to submit, via an online form, a written note or request to Public Works.
In October 2017, San Rafael City Council also adopted Municipal Code Chapter 11.60, which, in accordance with California Streets and Highway Code Section 5610, confirms that the responsibility of sidewalk maintenance lies with the adjacent property owner.
In conjunction with the adoption of Municipal Code Chapter 11.60, the City Council called for the development of a pilot program which attempted to share the financial burden associated with sidewalk maintenance between the City and the property owners and encourages repairs to get done Citywide.