When the sidewalk between your front lawn and the county street cracks or otherwise goes bad, who should pay to repair it? You? Or the government agency in charge of keeping the streets in working order?
It’s not an easy question to answer. But the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors is taking a stand. They want the individual property owner to pay, not taxpayers at large through county government coffers.
The board, on a 5-0 vote Tuesday with no discussion, formally opposed a bill that would transfer the cost to the county and sent letters to state Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian and state Sen. Sam Blakeslee, both of whom are San Luis Obispo Republicans, urging them to oppose the legislation, AB 2231.
In a report to supervisors, county Transportation Division Manager Frank Honeycutt wrote that there are 102 miles of sidewalk along the county-maintained road system. In 2008, Honeycutt wrote, the Department of Public Works estimated that 40,000 square feet needed work, at an unbudgeted cost of $3 million to $4 million.
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He said money for roads is shrinking and the shift in responsibility constitutes “an additional unfunded mandate.” An unfunded mandate is a legal obligation put on a local government without money to carry it out, burdening local taxpayers.
For decades, Honeycutt wrote, the adjoining property owner has been obligated to make repairs. The county gives them time to do it, but if they don’t, the county will fix the sidewalk and bill the homeowner.
Under AB 2231, the county would make all the repairs and bear all the costs, even if the property owner is responsible for the damage.
The California State Association of Counties and the League of Cities also oppose the bill.