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I live in North Park and often run in the central neighborhoods of San Diego, so the condition of sidewalks is a big concern of mine. I can attest that yes, for residents, the city does indeed appear to be dragging its feet on needed infrastructure repairs.

Since Voice of San Diego started the reader-submission blog The Stumblr a while back, I’ve noticed more than ever the abysmal condition of sidewalks in North Park, South Park, Golden Hill, University Heights, Normal Heights and other nearby neighborhoods. I’ve also noticed that the city maintains the sidewalks around the tourist areas of Mission Bay and Balboa Park very well, which is no surprise.

Four weeks ago, I was running and tripped over a broken sidewalk in the 3900 block of Hamilton Street. I fell face-first onto the concrete, bloodied up my face and scratched up my eyeglasses. I’m relieved that I don’t seem to have suffered any serious harm. I reported the sidewalk to the street division a few days later (including a photo of my bloody face) and a crew patched up the sidewalk later that day.

I wrote to City Council President Todd Gloria about my fall and was told by one of his staff members that California law dictates that property owners – not cities – are responsible for maintaining sidewalks, although the city of San Diego sometimes assumes liability for accidents that occur on the sidewalks.

The staffer said the city’s report on infrastructure will be completed soon, and then city leaders will approach the public on how to pay for infrastructure repairs.

I think it is appalling that the city is taking so long to address the issue. I recently read that, historically, the city of Los Angeles has opted to pay for maintenance of its sidewalks, but now that city is considering changing its policy, evidently because it isn’t able to keep up with deteriorating sidewalks. So San Diego isn’t the only California city with infrastructure headaches.

Voice of San Diego’s coverage of the infrastructure issue was instrumental in getting the city to conduct its sidewalk assessment. Hopefully continued attention on the issue will push the city to take action.

Tim Dierks is a resident of North Park. Dierks’ note has been edited for style and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.

Catherine Green

Catherine Green was formerly the deputy editor at Voice of San Diego. She handled daily operations while helping to plan new long-term projects.

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