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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Putting Cities Back on Their Feet

  • Author(s): Shoup, Donald
  • et al.

Broken sidewalks have become an important legal issue since 2002 when the United States Court of Appeals for the NinthCircuit ruled that the Americans with Disabilities ActADAapplies to sidewalks. As one way to comply with the ADA, cities can requireproperty owners to repair any broken sidewalk fronting their property before they sell the property. Before any real estate is sold, the cityinspects the sidewalk fronting the property. If the sidewalk is in good condition, the city does not require the owner to do anything. If thesidewalk is broken, however, the city requires the owner to repair it before selling the property. Analysis of sales data shows that if LosAngeles had adopted a point-of-sale program in 1995, about half of the city’s 4,600 miles of broken sidewalks would have been repairedby 2007. A walkable city needs walkable sidewalks. Requiring sidewalk repairs when property is sold can help put cities back on theirfeet.

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