Council Supermajority Wants Sidewalk Evaluation - Voice of San Diego

City Council

Council Supermajority Wants Sidewalk Evaluation

All four Republican council members and two Democrats support the now-unbudgeted assessment of San Diego’s sidewalks.

At least six San Diego City Council members want to allocate $1 million in next year’s budget for a first-ever evaluation of the city’s 5,000 miles of sidewalks.

Mayor Bob Filner hasn’t included the proposed assessment, which would document both existing and missing sidewalks, in his budget, even though he has said he backs the idea.

All four Council Republicans — Kevin Faulconer, Mark Kersey, Lorie Zapf and Scott Sherman — and two Council Democrats — Todd Gloria and Marti Emerald — support putting the evaluation in the budget.

“This is a no-brainer,” Faulconer said. “You talk about neighborhood services and this is it.”

Filner staffers told Council members at a hearing last week they didn’t include the evaluation in the budget because of the city’s illogical sidewalk policies, something we’ve exhaustively detailed over the past few months.

For instance, generally, it’s on homeowners to repair sidewalks, but the city gets sued for sidewalk trip-and-falls. Staffers indicated they wanted the Council to fix the policy before the city committed to a wholesale evaluation.

Democratic Councilwoman Sherri Lightner doesn’t support the evaluation for those reasons.

“She does not want to leave unsuspecting residents having to foot the bill for sidewalk repairs,” Lightner spokeswoman Jennifer Davies said.

Lightner’s Democratic colleague David Alvarez said he’d back an assessment if the two engineers and more than a dozen engineering students who would be surveying the city’s sidewalks also looked at curb ramps, storm drains and other pedestrian access issues. He wants to deal with sidewalk policies, too.

“It’s nice to have information, but if you don’t have a plan of action with the information, it’s kind of worthless,” he said.

Many neighborhood, labor and advocacy groups for the disabled have pushed for the sidewalk evaluation as well. New Democratic Councilwoman Myrtle Cole takes office next week, and hasn’t publicly stated a position on the evaluation. On the campaign trail she said she would push for repairs and new sidewalks in the southeastern neighborhoods she will represent.

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