No high resolution image exists...
Marshall Park neighborhood resident Alfred Alvarez was notified by the city of Sacramento’s Department of Transportation that he would be required to make repairs to sidewalks bordering two of his lots on F and 28th streets.
Since 2005, Alvarez and city inspectors have disagreed about what can be labelled as a defective or hazardous sidewalk.
Alvarez’ sidewalks have been assessed as needing repairs costing nearly $10,000, which under Sacramento’s city code would require him, the owner, to pay for the cost of all repairs as well as administrative and inspection costs required by the city. In response to these estimates, Alvarez stated that repairs would be made “over my dead body.”
This issue goes back to December 2005, when Alvarez was given his first notice to repair his sidewalks. He repaired them himself by grinding down uneven spots and resurfaced them for the sake of visual continuity. However, after reinspection, the city deemed his repairs unsuitable and required that complete removal of defective squares in his sidewalks would be necessary.
Department of Transportation spokeswoman Linda Tucker said sidewalk repairs are made on a complaint basis and are done to protect the public as well as the homeowner.
“It’s a liability issue to the homeowner,” Tucker said.
In attempt to resolve issues with Alvarez, Tucker said the city has met with him “multiple times over the last five years.”
Alvarez’ said his refusal to repair his sidewalks is not based on a lack of concern for the general public. Rather, he is bothered by the way in which the city requires many residents to pay for the costs of these repairs on credit.
“When I have the money to repair the sidewalks, I’ll complete them in the correct manner,” Alvarez said.
In some cases, homeowners have liens put on their properties in order to ensure repayment of services provided by the city.
“Citizens should not be demanded to pay for things on credit,” Alvarez said. “That’s what got us in this financial crisis in the first place.”
In an e-mailed response, Tucker stated that the city has “about 1,800 sidewalk repair jobs every year.” And of those jobs, only “five to eight bills per year go to a lien against the property.”
Tucker also said owners’ properties go to a lien when, after meeting with them personally, they remain resistant to make payments that will work things out.
Alvarez said he thought the 2005 issue had been dropped until new notices were placed on his door, even after he had repaired the sidewalks up to standards he thought would be code-worthy.
“Everything is cosmetic,” Alvarez said as he assessed the conditions of newly replaced sidewalks in his neighborhood, some of which already show signs of cracking and deterioration.
Tucker said that out of the thousands of repairs made every year, the best way to make sure the job is done correctly, and to code, is to hire a city contractor to do the work.
“We typically give homeowners 60, sometimes 90 days, before we start work,” Tucker said.
In Alvarez’ case, he was given his first notice five years ago and has yet to meet the requirements of the city. His delay in making city-approved repairs comes in part because of his difference in opinion of what the city’s priorities should be.
“It’s more important that the city fixes sidewalks where children and senior citizens walk, like around Marshall School and senior care homes,” Alvarez said.
Under city code, if Alvarez fails to make the repairs required by the notice or fails to respond and execute the agreement, the city will make the required repairs, and the cost would be a lien on the lot or lots of the owner fronting the defective sidewalk.
Tucker expressed the city’s desire to see the issue peacefully resolved.
Alvarez, on the other hand, remains determined to make a statement and said he hopes his protest will cause bureaucratic changes to be made in the city.
“I’m only fighting cosmetic and safety issues,” Alvarez said. “There should be a distinct division.”