Victory

Save Albany's sidewalks

This petition made change with 144 supporters!


We ask the Albany City Council to place a property tax assessment to fund sidewalk maintenance on the ballot, as called for by Action T-3.E of the draft General Plan and in accord with the Traffic and Safety Commission's unanimous request for the Council to authorize development of a continuous and dedicated source of sidewalk maintenance funding.

Data from City staff suggest an assessment of $25 to $35 per parcel per year would be sufficient.  This is much less than the several thousand dollar cost per one-off repair by individual adjacent property owners currently required, in part because making all repairs citywide under one contract will reduce the cost per repair dramatically.

We favor an assessment based on property square footage so that the cost per person is less for those living in multi unit buildings in recognition of their lower environmental impact. The measure should also include an exemption for households with low incomes that own their home and a rebate for such households that rent their home.

Sidewalks are public infrastructure on public property most often damaged by street trees, which are also public property over which adjacent property owners have no authority. Not surprisingly, many owners have responded “No responsibility without authority,” and not made the repairs, for which we all suffer. Others simply do not have the means.

Sidewalks are the only public system in Albany that does not have dedicated maintenance funding. Streets, storm drains, sewers, gas pipes, and electrical and communication lines each have their own source of such funding. As a result, Albany's sidewalks are in worse condition than each of these other systems. This treats everyone that uses sidewalks as second class to road users. If the roads were maintained this way there would be impassable potholes every few blocks. This is what many users of our sidewalks face.

Further details below for those interested.

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The unanimous Traffic and Safety recommendation can be viewed starting at 2:19:00 of the video of the 17 December 2015 meeting. Draft General Play Action T-3.E can be read on page 36 of the transportation element of the draft General Plan. This action reads, in part, "The City will continue to work toward a reliable, consistent, and equitable funding stream for sidewalk repair comparable to the funding stream for road repair and pavement maintenance."

The City's current approach to sidewalk maintenance involves the Council deciding how much to spend each year. For the previous several years the Council has decided to spend no money on sidewalk maintenance. Prior to that, the Council directed several tens of thousands of dollars per year for sharing the cost with adjacent property owners. These amounts were inadequate as evidenced by the continual deteriorated condition of the sidewalks.

As a first step to rectifying this position, Albany Strollers & Rollers measured the conditions, analyzed the data, and publicized the results documenting the poor condition of Albany's sidewalks.in 2010, and then subsequently lobbied the Council for five years to take action. As a result, this year the Council has dedicated the most funding ever to sidewalk repair: $150,000. The Council has in concept dedicated the same amount next year, and $100,000 per year for the following three years. This is great, and will go far to improving the situation if the future Councils follow through on this commitment in concept.

However this is not a permanent solution. Future Councils, even next year, could again zero out funding for sidewalk maintenance. Undoubtedly a future Council will do so the next time the economy crashes. That is why Albany Strollers & Rollers is calling for a measure to permanently fund sidewalk maintenance, just as Albany voters passed a measure to permanently fund road and storm drain maintenance years ago.

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