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FHWA Home / Safety / Pedestrian & Bicycle / A Guide for Maintaining Pedestrian Facilities for Enhanced Safety

A Guide for Maintaining Pedestrian Facilities for Enhanced Safety

Appendix F: Des Moines, Iowa Sidewalk Ordinance

City of Des Moines, Iowa Sidewalk Maintenance Ordinance

Sec. 102-42. Maintenance.

(a) The owner of any property abutting a public sidewalk shall maintain the sidewalk in a safe condition, in a state of good repair, and free from defects. The abutting property owner may be liable for damages caused by failure to maintain the sidewalk.

(b) In the sole discretion of the department director and if funds and personnel are available for the same, the city inspector may, but is not required to, conduct voluntary inspections of city sidewalks following receipt of a sidewalk complaint to assure that the owners of property abutting sidewalks are complying with the maintenance requirements imposed above.

(c)

(1) If, through sidewalk complaint and voluntary inspection or otherwise, it comes to the attention of a city inspector that an owner of property abutting a sidewalk is not complying with the maintenance requirements imposed above, then the city inspector may cause to be served upon the property owner, by certified mail at the property owner's last known address as shown by the records of the county auditor, notice of the sidewalk defect and of the requirement to cure said defect and/or reconstruct the defective sidewalk or a portion thereof within 180 days from the date of said notice.

(2) In response to said notice, the property owner may submit a written request to the city inspector for an 180 day extension of time to cure the sidewalk defect and/or reconstruct the defective sidewalk, for a total period, as extended, of up to 360 days from the date of the notice to cure and/or reconstruct.

(3) Said notice, if given, shall also state the nature of any immediate or interim repairs or precautions required to be undertaken by the property owner following notice but prior to repair of the sidewalk defect, including but not limited to temporary asphalt wedges, barricading, and placement of protective devices.

(4) Said notice, if given, shall also state that if the property owner does not make the required immediate or interim repairs, and/or cure the sidewalk defect and/or reconstruct the sidewalk within 180 days from the date of the notice or within such extended time as approved by the city inspector, the city may pursue action against the property owner for civil infraction, and/or may give notice and take action pursuant to sections 102-83 and 102-84 of this Code, and/or may pursue any other legally available remedy. Failure of the abutting property owner to complete the maintenance within 180 days from the date of the notice or within such extended time as approved by the city inspector may be punishable as a municipal infraction by a civil penalty pursuant to section 1-15 of this Code.

(d) Curing of sidewalk defect and/or sidewalk reconstruction as ordered by this section shall be undertaken by property owners in accordance with division 2 of this article, except that the following code sections shall not apply: sections 102-71, 102-74, 102-81, 102-91, 102-92 and 102-93

(e) The department director may, in his or her sole discretion, establish policies and procedures relating to income-based subsidies, and to reimbursement of part or all of the cost to repair a sidewalk defect determined by the city inspector at time of inspection to have been caused by city activities and/or city trees, for property owners receiving notice of sidewalk defect. Any subsidies or reimbursements authorized in accordance with such policies shall be subject to funding availability, as determined by the department director in his or her sole discretion.

(f) In the sole discretion of the department director and if funds and personnel are available for the same, the public works department, at the request of the city inspector, may, but is not required to, place barricades or other devices or materials in such places as may serve to protect the public from sidewalks not in compliance with the maintenance requirements imposed above. If such protective devices are placed by the department, they shall not be removed until all sidewalk defects are corrected. Premature removal of the protective devices may be punishable as a municipal infraction by a civil penalty pursuant to section 1-15 of this Code, which penalty shall be available to the city as a remedy in addition to all other legally available remedies.

(g) The department director shall keep records of all sidewalk complaints received, all voluntary sidewalk inspections conducted, notices of defects sent, protective devices placed and sidewalk work done by the city for a period of three years from the date of the action and shall, to the extent required by open records law, make the same available to all persons who claim to have been damaged or injured as a result of the failure to maintain a sidewalk by an abutting property owner.

(h) This section shall not apply to multi-use recreational trails as defined pursuant to section 114-1 of this Code.

(i) Nothing set forth in this section shall be construed so as to prevent or preclude the city, or the department(s) and department director(s) responsible for enforcement of this article, from taking any emergency action or nuisance abatement action, including but not limited to notice and assessment of costs, as deemed appropriate pursuant to chapter 42 of this Code in the event that sidewalk defects are determined by the department director to constitute a nuisance.

(C85, § 23-2.01; O.11,361; C91, § 23-2.01; O.13,314, 14,092, 14,164, 14,800, 15,107)

Sec. 102-43. Definitions-Maintenance of sidewalks.

As used in divisions 1 and 2 of this article, the following words have the following meanings:

Defect or defective condition means a public sidewalk has a defect or defective condition when it exhibits one or more of the following characteristics:

(1) Vertical separations equal to three-fourth inch or more;

(2) Horizontal separations equal to three-fourth inch or more;

(3) Holes or depressions equal to three-fourth inch or more;

(4) Spalling over 50 percent of a single square or panel of sidewalk with one or more depressions equal to one-half inch or more;

(5) A single square or panel of sidewalk cracked in such a manner that no part thereof has a piece greater than one square foot, or is cracked in such a manner that it constitutes danger or potential danger to the public;

(6) A sidewalk with any part thereof missing to the full depth;

(7) A deviation on the staked and constructed grade equal to three-fourth inch or more;

(8) Covered in whole or in part with weeds or other plants, garbage, junk, rubbish, debris, solid waste, bird or animal droppings or any nuisances, obstructions or hazards which makes or tends to make pedestrian travel either dangerous or impractical.

City inspector means any city employee designated by the department director to undertake the city's inspection and notice actions as set forth in divisions 1 and 2 of this article.

Department director means the director of any city department charged with enforcement of any section of divisions 1 and 2 of this article, or his or her designee. Maintain or maintenance means the duty to remove and replace a public sidewalk, or a portion of a public sidewalk, all work to be performed in accordance with established city specifications in effect at the time the work is commenced, so as to render the sidewalk free from defect.

Property owner or owner means the record holder of legal title, and the contract purchaser, if there is one of record, and may be referred to as "person" in division 2 of this article.

Sidewalk means the paved portion of that area between the curb lines of the roadway and the adjacent property lines intended for the use of pedestrians.

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Page last modified on November 21, 2013.
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