Sidewalks, Curbs, & Gutters
Within the City of Sacramento, there are approximately 2,300 miles of sidewalk. Sacramento City Code, section 12.32, and California Streets & Highway Code 5610 requires that the maintenance and repair of public sidewalks be the responsibility of the property owner.
The City maintains all curbs, gutters, and pedestrian curb ramps, as well as any drains that may need reconstruction when the curb and gutter repairs are performed.
Property owners choosing not to have the City do the repairs must follow the City’s Sidewalk Repair Specifications, the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control (CA-MUTCD), and the City of Sacramento Sidewalk Closure Policy. The City will not be responsible for any damages resulting directly or indirectly from any repairs performed by the property owner or by any person/contractor hired by the property owner.
For more information on the City of Sacramento residential sidewalk program, please read the Sidewalk Maintenance Program Handbook, as well as the City of Sacramento Temporary Sidewalk Patching Criteria. (Please be advised that temporary patching does not meet the City's Standards and Specifications for an acceptable repair and is only done as a temporary measure until the permanent repair can be completed.)
If a property owner takes it upon themselves to repair the sidewalk without having received a notice to repair the sidewalk from the City, or do any work beyond the scope of the sidewalk repair, they must obtain a Construction Encroachment Permit through our Engineering Services Encroachment office.
If the property owner does not take action in one of the above three ways, the City will make repairs under default and the cost will be collected from the property owner. Unpaid collection will ultimately lead to a lien on the property.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: Why did I receive a notice to repair the sidewalk? I did not authorize or call for an inspection from the city.
A: Sidewalk inspections are performed when a citizen reports a defective sidewalk, or as part of a request to replace a utility cut. The report may have been associated with the sidewalk in front of your property or in front of a nearby property. Once reported, the City inspects all sidewalks, curbs, and gutters up to 75 feet in both directions from the site of the reported defective sidewalk.
Q: Why wasn’t I notified that inspectors were going to be out inspecting the sidewalks?
A: Our inspectors do not proactively canvas neighborhoods looking for defective sidewalks. As in the response above, please understand that the City sends inspectors to locations all over the City where a complaint has been lodged. Additionally, the inspectors will also inspect up to 75 feet in both directions for defective sidewalk, curb and gutter.
Q: What is the City’s policy on sidewalk repair?
A: Sacramento City Code, section 12.32.020. Owner’s duty to repair defective sidewalk is the City code for Sidewalk repair.
“An owner shall maintain and repair any defective sidewalk fronting such owner’s lot, lots or portion of a lot. Where a defective sidewalk is caused in whole or in part by a tree root or roots, the owner shall nevertheless have the duty to repair the sidewalk. The director may grant permission to cut the root(s) after consulting with the city arborist. (Ord. 2010-010 § 2) Since 1978, the City has required that property owners remove and replace any portion of the defective sidewalk adjacent to their property.”
Q: Isn’t it the City’s responsibility to maintain the sidewalk? Isn’t it public property?
A: The sidewalk is in the City’s right-of-way. However, California Streets and Highways Code sections 5610 through 5618 allow cities throughout California to require property owners to maintain the sidewalks in front of their property. Sacramento City Code section 12.32 sets forth the City’s procedures under these sections. Sacramento is not the only city to require sidewalk repairs to be the property owner’s responsibility. However, curb and gutter maintenance is the City’s responsibility. As the property owner may bear civil liability for a person suffering personal injury or property damage caused by a defective sidewalk: it is in the property owners best interest to maintain the sidewalk and reduce the risk of a lawsuit.
Q: The sidewalk was in this condition when we purchased the property, why are we just now getting the notice?
A: Whether you are a new owner or you have owned the property for several years, if you receive a notice it means that defective sidewalk was recently reported to the City. Complaints require the City to respond promptly to prevent the defect from interfering with public convenience.
Q: Why is my sidewalk considered defective when it has only a few cracks?
A: A few cracks my not appear to be significant on the surface, but they can cause water to pool and/or seep beneath the existing concrete and cause further damage. The surface may also become uneven, slippery or other defects may appear. A “Defective Sidewalk” means a sidewalk where, in the judgment of the inspector, the vertical or horizontal line of grade is altered or displaced or such other condition exists that interferes with the public convenience in the use of the sidewalk. Below are the criteria City inspectors use to determine when a sidewalk is considered to be defective. Some examples of these conditions are:
- a significant vertical or horizontal displacement of ½” or greater;
- an area of sidewalk that has spacing with a width of ½” or greater;
- settlement of sidewalk causing water to pond and creating a slipping condition to pedestrians;
- excessive cross slopes caused by tree roots;
- chipped and spalled sidewalk surfaces creating a defective condition;
- an area of sidewalk that is off grade (and adjacent to the curb and gutter) to the point where the curb and gutter has significant displacement between the curb, gutter and sidewalk; and
- any conditions identified by the inspector as defective or pose an inconvenience to the pedestrian path of travel.
Q: If the tree is causing damage to my sidewalk is it an option to have my tree removed?
A: The City of Sacramento has policies, procedures and guidelines that are used to determine whether the recommendation is given to remove trees within the City of Sacramento. Tree removal is usually a last resort. A City Arborist will inspect the tree and the scope of the project to determine the correct course of action for each particular site. If for example, is the tree
- dead or dying?
- causing an obstruction that is impossible to correct through pruning?
- crowding and causing harm to other, more desirable trees?
Q: Why do I have to pay to repair the sidewalk when the damage was caused by a City tree?
A: City ordinance requires property owners to take responsibility for sidewalk repairs, regardless of whether or not the tree’s roots causing damage is City owned. Sacramento City Ordinance 2010-010 § 2 states, “An owner shall maintain and repair any defective sidewalk fronting such owner’s lot, lots or portion of a lot. Where a defective sidewalk is caused in whole or in part by a tree root or roots, the owner shall nevertheless have the duty to repair the sidewalk. The director may grant permission to cut the root(s) after consulting with the city arborist."
Q: What is the cost of sidewalk repair and how do I pay for it?
A: The City sends the property owner an itemized list of labor, materials and costs based on the square footage of the segment in need of repair. If the property owner has the City do the work, they may qualify to make interest free installments on the amount through the City’s Revenue Division. Revenue makes the determination on case-by-case basis. For more information, please call the Revenue Department at (916) 808-5527.
Curbs & Gutters
Curb and gutter maintenance is the responsibility of the City.
For Maintenance Services customer assistance please dial 311 or use the 311 app.