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If trees are abutting your property, the current property owner has a legal duty to exercise reasonable care so that trunks, branches, or roots of trees do not create an unreasonably dangerous condition for the public. This is the case even for those trees which were planted by a previous property owner.
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In general sidewalks with sections that are sunken, lifted up, or have areas with large cracks are considered unfit or unsafe according to City policy. Sidewalks that have a poor appearance, but are otherwise physically sound, are not considered unsafe. Typically, sidewalk damage is caused by tree roots, the settling of the ground underneath the sidewalk, vehicles driving over, parked illegally on the sidewalk and age.
Some City property owners are surprised to learn that they own the property where the sidewalk is located and that the City has an easement that allows the public to use that portion of the property for passage. In addition, Washington State law, as well as the Everett Municipal Code, places the responsibility for sidewalk repairs on the private property owner. If you have any questions about this aspect of sidewalk regulations, please take a look at Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 35.69 and Everett Municipal Code (EMC) 13.08.010 and EMC 13.08.020.
The condition of the sidewalk was brought to the City’s attention by a notification/complaint from a citizen. The City inspected the sidewalk in response to the notification/complaint and found the sidewalk to be unfit or unsafe. The City requests voluntary compliance to replace the identified unfit and unsafe sidewalk sections as soon as possible.
Even slight defects in sidewalks can cause pedestrian injuries. Sidewalk maintenance is important for appearance and value, but more importantly, it helps prevent injury to a pedestrian.
A permit is needed to reconstruct sidewalks in the right-of-way. This is a requirement of the Everett Municipal Code (EMC) 13.80.
The City offers a sidewalk replacement program. Public Works partners with business and residential property owners to repair and replace sidewalks with city labor and equipment if the property owner pays for the cost of materials. For low-income, senior, or disabled residents that conform to RCW 84.36.381, 383 and 74.18.020, sidewalks will be replaced at no cost.
The waiting time for this popular service may be as long as 8 years. If you anticipate needing a sidewalk repair, make your request as early as possible to get on the waiting list. Due to the long waiting time, property owners are encouraged to repair or replace their sidewalks through another process or at their own expense.
Contact Public Works email to check on the status of a request or for more information.
Even though the sidewalk was initially identified as unfit or unsafe prior to you owning the home, you as the abutting property owner are still responsible for the sidewalk. It is unfortunate that the previous owners did not step up to the plate and replace the sidewalk at that time.
Sidewalks on residential streets are constructed by one of the following:
1. Local Improvement District – A Local Improvement District (LID) provides a way for property owners to get together to pay for street and alley paving, sanitary sewers, street lighting underground wiring, and in some situations sidewalks.
2. Private consultation – Projects can include right-of-way improvements as required in EMC 13.68.
3. Hire a licensed and bonded contractor and pay the full cost for the sidewalk construction. Everett Municipal Code (EMC 13.80) requires a permit for construction work in the right of way and the work must be performed by a licensed and bonded contractor.
Even though it is usually the abutting property owner that hires the contractor and pays to have the sidewalk constructed, a consortium of residents in the area can do the same.
Also see the Sidewalk Construction PDF for more information.