Chapter 12.18


12.18.010    Intent.

12.18.020    Definitions.

12.18.030    Owners of frontage responsible for maintenance and repair.

12.18.040    Notice to property owner.

12.18.050    Contents of notice.

12.18.060    Public works director to repair if owner fails to do so.

12.18.070    Notice of cost and claim of lien.

12.18.080    Appeals.

12.18.090    Collection by finance department.

12.18.100    Recording of lien.

12.18.110    Release of lien.

12.18.120    Removal or planting of heritage tree.

12.18.130    Sidewalk improvement--Permit required.

12.18.140    Sidewalk improvement unlawful without permit.

12.18.150    Liability for unsafe conditions and injury to public.

12.18.160    Revolving fund.

12.18.010 Intent.

California Streets and Highway Code Sections 5600 et seq. provide that owners of real property fronting on any portion of a public street or place, when that street or place is improved or if and when the area between the property line of the adjacent property and the street line is maintained as a park or parking strip, shall maintain the sidewalk in such condition that it will not endanger persons or property or interfere with the public convenience in the use of those works or areas.

To promote the public health, safety and general welfare, the city council finds it necessary to enact this chapter, which may be referred to collectively as the sidewalk and tree maintenance and liability ordinance.  (Ord. C-2-11 §1(part), 2011).

12.18.020 Definitions.

For the purpose of this chapter, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings set forth below.  Unless in direct conflict with terms defined herein, other words and phrases shall be interpreted as defined in the Streets and Highways Code:

A.    “Public works director” means the public works director or his or her designee.

B.    “Driveway approach” means the concrete structure located in the public right-of-way between the public street and a driveway or parking area on private property.

C.    “Heritage tree” means a tree as defined in Chapter 12.16 as being a heritage tree subject to the provisions of that chapter.

D.    “Maintenance and repair” work shall include, but not be limited to:

1.    Maintenance and repair of surfaces, including grinding, removal and replacement of sidewalks, curbs and gutters;

2.    Removal of weeds and debris;

3.    Deep root watering, tree root pruning and installing root barriers;

4.    Pruning and trimming of trees, shrubs, ground cover and other landscaping within the sidewalk area, including parking strips and curbs, so as to ensure the convenience or safety of the public in its use of the public street or sidewalk.

E.    “Parking strip” means the area of the street lying between the curb line and the street line or edge of right-of-way along any street; including the sidewalk.

F.    “Property owner” means, without limitation, the fee owner of real property and the person or persons in possession of the real property.

G.    “Sidewalk” means any area provided for the use of pedestrians, including planting areas, driveway approaches or parking strips, between the public vehicular roadway and the edge of right-of-way bordering adjacent private property.

H.    “Street tree” means any woody perennial plant having a single main axis or stem achieving ten feet or more in height, growing or overhanging within a street right-of-way; planted within a street right-of-way and/or designated planting easement.  (Ord. C-2-11 §1(part), 2011).

12.18.030 Owners of frontage responsible for maintenance and repair.

It shall be the duty of the property owner(s) whose property is adjacent to any portion of a public street or place to maintain the sidewalks in a safe and nondangerous condition.  The property owner has the primary and exclusive duty to fund and perform such maintenance and repair, whether or not the city has notified the property owner of the need for such maintenance or repairs or has performed similar maintenance or repairs in the past.  (Ord. C-2-11 §1(part), 2011).

12.18.040 Notice to property owner.

When any portion of a sidewalk or driveway approach is not in good repair and condition and the public works director has knowledge thereof, he or she will notify the adjacent property owner to repair it.  Notice shall be written and given by mailing, either by letter or postal card, to the property owner’s last known address, as it appears on the last assessment rolls of the county of San Mateo.  This section does not create a mandatory duty on the part of the city to inspect sidewalks for dangerous conditions.  (Ord. C-2-11 §1(part), 2011).

12.18.050 Contents of notice.

The notice shall direct the property owner to repair the condition and specify what work is required to be done, how the work is to be done, and what materials shall be used in such repair, and shall further specify that, if the property owner does not repair the sidewalk after sixty days’ notice, the public works director may schedule such repair to be made at the property owner’s expense and obtain a lien against the property in accordance with Municipal Code Chapter 1.16 if the property owner fails to reimburse the city for repair costs.  (Ord. C-2-11 §1(part), 2011).

12.18.060 Public works director to repair if owner fails to do so.

If the repair is not commenced and performed to completion as required by the notice, the public works director may repair said sidewalk.  The cost of such repair shall be an obligation to the city owed by the adjacent property owner.  If the property owner fails to reimburse city costs of repair within sixty days of completion of the repairs, the city shall obtain a lien on the adjacent property in accordance with Section 12.18.100.  (Ord. C-2-11 §1(part), 2011).

12.18.070 Notice of cost and claim of lien.

Upon completion of the repair, the public works director will ascertain the repair cost and apportion it, if the area repaired is adjacent to more than one lot of land.  The public works director will notify the property owner by mail of the repair and demand payment to the city within sixty days of completion of the repairs.  The property owner shall be obligated to the city in the amount of the cost of repair.  If the property owner fails to reimburse the city’s repair cost, the city shall obtain a lien for such cost of repair upon any such lot of land.  (Ord. C-2-11 §1(part), 2011).

12.18.080 Appeals.

The notice of cost shall allow the property owner to appeal the determination as to the responsible property owner(s) or as to the amount owed.  The request to appeal the claim shall be in accordance with the appeals procedures set forth in Chapter 1.25 of the Municipal Code.  (Ord. C-2-11 §1(part), 2011).

12.18.090 Collection by finance department.

In the event the cost of repair to the sidewalk is not paid after a sixty-day notice of cost, and an appeal has not been filed or has been denied, the director shall transmit to the finance department a statement of each such unpaid cost of repair.  The finance department shall endeavor diligently to collect the same on behalf of the city any and all amounts paid or collected shall replenish the revolving fund as provided in this chapter.  (Ord. C-2-11 §1(part), 2011).

12.18.100 Recording of lien.

After the sixty-day delinquent period, the public works director will place a lien on the adjacent property in accordance with Municipal Code Chapter 1.16.  (Ord. C-2-11 §1(part), 2011).

12.18.110 Release of lien.

On payment of the amount owed, the public works director shall request that the county recorder remove the lien.  (Ord. C-2-11 §1(part), 2011).

12.18.120 Removal or planting of heritage tree.

If the property owner wishes to remove or plant a heritage tree in relation to the sidewalk repairs, he or she must apply for a permit as prescribed under this title relating to designation of heritage trees and trimming and removal of heritage trees.  (Ord. C-2-11 §1(part), 2011).

12.18.130 Sidewalk improvement--Permit required.

Before constructing, repairing, or replacing any sidewalk surface in front of a lot or lots adjacent to a public street or place, or removing, planting, or performing any maintenance on a street tree, the owner of said lot or lots shall obtain an encroachment permit from the department of public works.  (Ord. C-2-12 §7, 2012:  Ord. C-2-11 §1(part), 2011).

12.18.140 Sidewalk improvement unlawful without permit.

It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to construct, repair, or replace any public sidewalk surface, or to remove, plant, or perform maintenance on a street tree within the city, without first obtaining a permit from the department of public works unless the public works director decides that no permit is needed.  (Ord. C-2-11 §1(part), 2011).

12.18.150 Liability for unsafe conditions and injury to public.

A.    A property owner shall owe a duty to members of the public to keep and maintain the sidewalk area adjacent to his or her property in a safe and nondangerous condition.  If, as a result of the failure of any property owner to maintain the sidewalk area in a safe and nondangerous condition as required by this chapter, any person suffers injury or damage to person or property, the property owner shall be liable to such person for the resulting damages or injury.

B.    The city shall have a cause of action for indemnity against such property owner for any damages the city may be required to pay in satisfaction of any judgment or settlement of any claim that results from injury to persons or property as a legal result of the failure of the owner to maintain the sidewalks and sidewalk areas in accordance with this section.  No liability shall arise under this section where an application for a permit to correct a dangerous condition is denied and said condition subsequently causes injury to a member of the public; provided, that the scope and purpose of the application is limited to the correction of unsafe conditions as specified by Chapters 12.04, 12.08, and 12.16 of the Municipal Code.  (Ord. C-2-11 §1(part), 2011).

12.18.160 Revolving fund.

A fund shall be provided to cover initially the cost of making sidewalk repairs as provided under Section 12.18.160 and if the property owner wishes to have the city make the repairs.  The revolving fund will be replenished by appropriation and by all moneys paid or collected from sidewalk repairs and repairs in unaccepted public rights-of-way and liens.  (Ord. C-2-11 §1(part), 2011).