Houston city council considers change to sidewalk policy

Under current city rules, property owners are responsible for fixing sidewalks in front of their homes

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HOUSTON - The city of Houston has miles and miles of sidewalks, and in some neighborhoods the sidewalks look like a big broken up mess.

In the Woodland Heights, some residents say sagging and crumbled sidewalks have created an eyesore and a safety hazard.

"If you're jogging obviously you can't use the sidewalks," said J.R. Lozano. "You have to use the streets, because if you're jogging you're likely to fall."

Under current city rules, property owners are responsible for fixing sidewalks in front of their homes.

"One of my pet peeves, since I was a civic association president is the city's policy that they don't fix sidewalks, that sidewalks are the responsibility of the property owner. Really? Not anymore," said Mayor Annise Parker.

According to the mayor, there is a proposed program that could take away the headache and hassle for property owners.

The plan calls for the city to get bids from contractors, who would set a price for sidewalk repairs and replacement.

Homeowners would apply for the work to get done on their property.

Some believe the city should also take over the costs for sidewalk repairs.

"We'll have two programs," said Mayor Parker. "We'll do one that the property owners pay for and you know you're going to get a good job with the city contractor, and then the city will also begin a plan of taking over sidewalks."

Reaction to the proposed plan is mixed.

"It needs to be set up so that small business contractors get a good deal out of it and homeowners get a good deal out of it," said Brett Franklin, who has invested in a neighborhood near downtown.

Mayor Parker says city council would likely vote on the proposed sidewalk plan by the end of the month.

"That's something people of Houston need to vote on as a whole," said Franklin. "But somebody's going to pay that cost eventually. It comes down to who does it.

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