Who owns the sidewalk?

One example of the hazards to be found in the sidewalks of La Jolla Village.
One example of the hazards to be found in the sidewalks of La Jolla Village.
One example of the hazards to be found in the sidewalks of La Jolla Village.

San Diego sidewalks

Total length:

More than 5,000 miles

Annual requests to repair sidewalks:


Most common cause of sidewalk damage:

Tree roots

Average cost to repair a section of root-damaged sidewalk:


—Source: City Attorney reports

How to report shoddy sidewalks

The city does not have staff to monitor sidewalk conditions, and relies on the public to bring hazards and eyesores to its attention. To report a cracked, uneven or crumbling sidewalk, call the city’s Street Division at (619) 527-7500.

Though property owners are responsible for some repairs, city picks up tab for most injuries

By Pat Sherman

Phil Coller, president of the La Jolla Village Merchants Association and owner of Everett Stunz bath boutique on Girard Avenue, is “disgusted” with the state of La Jolla’s sidewalks, which he said have a “detrimental effect on the appearance of the Village” and create trip-and-fall hazards.

“Up and down Girard you will find holes everywhere, grating missing, brickwork missing, gradients wrong. In some cases, there is very limited access for wheelchairs to get on and off the sidewalk,” he said. “They need to be upgraded and repaired.”

The question of who is responsible for those repairs, however, is not always black and white.

Phoning the city of San Diego, Coller was told that it is the owner of the residential or commercial property adjacent to the sidewalk who is responsible for its upkeep and repair — with some minor exceptions.

Speaking with the

La Jolla Light

, Hasan Yousef, deputy director of the San Diego Street Division, confirmed that assertion.

“The bottom line is that the adjacent property owner is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk in front of their property, per California Streets and Highway Code 5610.”

Watch your step while walking through the Village.

To help property owners pay for repairs, the Street Division of San Diego’s Transportation and Storm Water Department initiated a “50/50 Cost Sharing Program,” in which the city will foot the bill for half of repairs to “old and deteriorated” sidewalks.

In order to qualify for the program, Yousef said the sidewalk must be standard city-installed concrete, as opposed to upgraded or decorative sidewalk installed by a current or former property owner.

After sending a city inspector to assess the scope of the work, the city will mail a cost estimate to the property owner. Once the city receives a check for the property owner’s portion of the repair, it will schedule the work, Yousef said. The city also will waive the cost of a permit (about $500) and a required city inspection (about $200) that the property owner would need to pay if he or she were doing the work themselves.

Under the city’s 50/50 program, Yousef said, “I’ve seen costs to property owners ranging from $500 to $2,500. Our work is done to city standards, guaranteed and inspected.”

According to a 2011 memorandum by City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, the city allocates $200,000 to $300,000 per year for the 50/50 program, though demand for the program has waned in recent years.



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