The Quality of Life Department has identified numerous locations through the City of Redlands where sidewalks are damaged, raised and buckled. At times, this damage may be due to age, construction activity or private tree roots. However, for the most part, this damage is a result of roots from street trees growing in the parkway. The problem is not isolated to any one location in Redlands, but is common throughout the City. Complaints have been received from virtually all areas where sidewalks and parkway trees exist together.
The Quality of Life Department receives over 100 calls per year related to sidewalk damage. Callers request that the City remove the damaged sidewalk and often remove the street tree. The Street Tree Committee developed a policy several years ago to save all healthy street trees whenever alternative solutions may be available. These solutions may include removing the concrete and replacing the sidewalk with dirt or asphalt, realigning the sidewalk or in some cases, eliminating the sidewalk completely. Most residents ask that the tree be removed and the sidewalk be replaced in a straight alignment and grade.
As street trees continued to grow and roots continued to damage sidewalks, the Quality of Life Department could not keep pace with full repairs of sidewalks with concrete. The inability to keep up with the numerous complaints required that an approved sidewalk policy be established to reduce the City’s liability for injuries caused by raised sidewalks, and to set up a uniform policy for dealing with the damaged sidewalk. Some damage is caused by roots from street trees. A street tree is defined as a tree in the public right-of-way or in a City tree easement. In1992 the Public Works Commission developed a recommended policy for adoption by the City Council to address interim repairs to damaged sidewalks until such time as the City could make permanent repairs.
On May 5, 1992, the City Council adopted a policy on the repair of damaged sidewalks. The policy states:
Upon receipt of a complaint, the Public Works Department will inform the resident that it is the adjacent property owner’s responsibility to maintain the sidewalk in a condition that shall not endanger persons or property and that it will not interfere with the public convenience or safety (Redlands Municipal Code 12.12.120). If repairs are not done expeditiously by the property owner, the City may opt to wedge the sidewalk and bill the property owner.
If, however, the sidewalk is raised because of root growth from a City-owned street tree, then the City shall assume responsibility for making repairs. This responsibility for making repairs shall also extend to any damage caused to the sidewalk by City workers or by the operation of City equipment and to any damage caused by work done under a City contract.
After receiving a request to repair a raised sidewalk condition, the Street Maintenance Superintendent or his representative will determine by measurement what method, if required, will be used to rectify the condition. This decision shall be based on the following criteria:
1. If vertical displacement is less than ½ inch along the entire length of the developed crack, no work will be required on the sidewalk. In this case, root severance is recommended.
2. If the maximum vertical displacement is between ½ and 3 inches, the condition shall be rectified by wedging the uplifted sidewalk with asphalt or any other product approved by the Public Works Director. The wedge, if required, shall be placed within ten working days from the day the request was made. Removal and replacement will be made at the convenience of the City.
3. Vertical displacement exceeding 3 inches shall be wedged as described above and the damage sidewalk shall be scheduled for replacement within the coming year. All sidewalk replacement will be proceeded by a root severing operation, if recommended by the Public Works Operations Manager. If crowning or removal of the tree is required, that shall also be determined by the Public Works Operations Manager.
This policy remains in effect. Asphaltic concrete with small aggregate was found to be superior in its properties to adhere to concrete and last over time. The ten working day time frame was discontinued as the Street Division staffing was severely decreased due to budget reductions in the early 1990's. However, wedging is still completed as soon as possible after a notification is received. Vertical displacements of 3 inches or more are scheduled for removal and replacement as budget allows. The former Street Maintenance Superintendent position and the former Parks Superintendent position have now been combined into the Operations Manager position in the Quality of Life Department.
The City of Redlands has developed a policy to allow private property owners to pay the cost of sidewalk repairs to the City in those cases where the City would place an asphalt wedge on a sidewalk. The City would use this money to fund a sidewalk repair program and make repairs on those sidewalks where costs were borne by property owners.
Therefore, the following policy was approved by the City Council on August 7, 2007 with the adoption of Resolution No. 6637:
1. The City of Redlands shall continue to maintain the sidewalk policy adopted in May of 1992 as may be amended by the Public Works Director regarding materials, staff positions and budget constraints.
2. The City of Redlands shall annually solicit bids from qualified contractors for the repair of damaged concrete sidewalks, curbs and gutters as designated by the Public Works Director or designee based on payment of costs for such repairs by private property owners. An administrative fee shall be established by resolution of the City Council to recoup the costs incurred by the City in administering the program.
3. The City of Redlands shall issue a no-fee encroachment permit to any private property owner who elects to hire a qualified contractor to repair infrastructure damage caused by street trees or other City operations.