Atlanta’s Personal Responsibility Failure: Sidewalks

I’ve never owned a home in the city of Atlanta, so I was completely unaware that adjacent property owners are responsible for repairing the city’s sidewalks.  Oh golly!

Not surprisingly, this guest column on Saporta Report by Sally Flocks of PEDS reports the program isn’t working out all that well.

The City’s program is politically unpopular, especially in low-income areas, and has been ineffective city-wide. The annual budget includes no funding for sidewalk maintenance or enforcement, which ties the hands of Public Works officials. Few people voluntarily repair sidewalks, and everyone who walks suffers as a result.

The 2008 State of the City’s Infrastructure report estimates that 18 percent of the City’s sidewalks need to be repaired or replaced, at a cost of $79.4 million.

In 2004 the City launched a campaign to educate property owners about their responsibility to repair sidewalks. During the four years that followed, the City collected just $200,000 from property owners for sidewalk repairs. At that rate, addressing the City’s backlog of broken sidewalks would take sixteen centuries.

Imagine if we tried to employ this method of maintenance and repair to roads.  Now THAT would be humorous!