Community Leader’s View: Cracked sidewalks may be your problem

By Phil Coller

President, La Jolla Village Merchants Association

Sidewalk Liability

We continually hear complaints about the condition of the sidewalks in La Jolla, not only in the commercial center but generally. Cracked concrete and loose bricks never seemed to get fixed. Complaints to the city about problems often produce no solution and conditions are getting worse.

The Merchants Association sought help from Sherri Lightner’s to see what could be done.

The policy from the city that has been in place since 1975 and is based on the California Streets and Highways Code 5610 was a surprise.

The policy essentially places the responsibility for replacement of PCC (precision concrete cement) sidewalk totally on the abutting property owner unless an unsafe condition exists because of some act of the city or some third party, such as allowing parkway trees to damage the sidewalk, permitting poor compaction of soil under a sidewalk, sidewalk damage caused by city utility intrusion, etc. Consequently, PCC sidewalk replacement at city expense is done only under these conditions.

The city has made exceptions where the costs can be borne on a 50-50 matching basis under all other conditions; provided, however, that damage to sidewalks that the city manager determines to have been caused by owners of property abutting damaged sidewalks or by third parties shall not be qualified for the 50-50 matching basis funding.

Additionally all unsafe sidewalk conditions that come to the attention of the city are patched with asphalt to eliminate tripping hazards and assist in protecting the city from liability.

The conclusion to be drawn by property owners and tenants is don’t assume that the cracked or damaged sidewalk are not your problem — they could be your problem and your liability. If your sidewalk needs repair contact the city to determine where responsibility lies and at least get a temporary asphalt fix, which is free.
For more information go to

  1. To report a problme sidewalk go to