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City proposes update to speed up the sidewalk repair process

Step on a crack, wait for the letters to stack?

Getting a sidewalk repair started in Albuquerque can take over six months since the city will not intervene until sending up to four notices over 180 days to the responsible party.

If by then the property owner has not taken action, the city can put a lien on the property.

But the Department of Municipal Development is proposing an update that would shorten the process to two notices over 120 days.

“We do believe it is going to be an improvement,” DMD spokesman Johnny Chandler said.

Under the proposed change, the city would send the first notice alerting the property owner that they have 90 days to make the fix.

A second notice would give the owner another 30 days to comply but would also include a cost estimate for the repair, Chandler said.

Most sidewalks in Albuquerque are the responsibility of the adjacent property owner, and Chandler said the update would give them options.

“The City will allow property owners to opt to have the City repair the sidewalk with its on-call contractor and invoice the owner, allow the property owner to repair it themselves, and allow the owner to propose alternate means to address repairs, (for example) grinding the concrete versus full sidewalk panel replacement,” Chandler said in an email.

City crews inspected 1,795 sidewalks in fiscal year 2019, according to DMD figures. Most were proactive checks by employees, but 571 were the result of incoming complaints.

In 2019, 228 sidewalks underwent repairs, Chandler said.

Repairs are not warranted for all damage, he said, such as a single crack that does not alter the pavement level or make it noncompliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. But a fix is required when it does not meet ADA standards or is a “trip hazard.”

“We look for sidewalks that are ¼ to ½ inch higher that the rest of the sidewalk,” he said.

The city filed no liens related to sidewalk repairs in 2019, but he said the department has a list of four to file this fiscal year.

DMD aims to take the new process to City Council for a vote in the coming months and be able to implement it when fiscal year 2021 starts in July.

NEW LEADERSHIP: The Albuquerque City Council has a new leadership team.

The council unanimously selected Pat Davis its president for 2020.

Davis just began his second term representing a district that includes Nob Hill and the International District.

Diane Gibson was chosen as vice president.

Isaac Benton will chair the council’s committee of the whole, which deals with the city’s budget.

Jessica Dyer: jdyer@abqjournal.com

 

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