Discussion Forum: Who is Responsible for Sidewalks?

Earlier this year, Jesse Bailey started a discussion on our Discussion Board about sidewalk maintenance. He wrote: 

The LA Times ran this interesting article about sidewalks and the huge ADA settlement they are dealing with to get into compliance. 

Who is responsible for sidewalk repair and maintenance in your town, city or the adjacent property owner? Who pays for the initial construction? What are the pros and cons to each, and what would a strong town do?

I'm grappling with this myself. My inclination is to say it is in the public realm; therefore it's a city responsibility just like the carriageway is a city responsibilty. Imagine if property owners were supposed to maintain the asphalt in front of their property? But on the other hand, the LA case shows how neglectful a city can be. What are your thoughts?

Andrew Price first provided some historical context:

In most American cities (with exceptions to the few large cities that were around pre-20th century), the modern sidewalk came from buildings having a ‘porch’ – something that was always privately owned. After all, streets were always open and fair to everyone, there was little reason to build a ‘path for people’ through this . At the start of the 20th century, we established this idea that the street was a place for people (we drew out lanes for cars, came up with road rules for cars, we made jay walking illegal.) The ‘porch’ was considered private property, and it evolved into the sidewalk of today – something property owners would have to build themselves if they wanted it.

Then, we had several people chime in to discuss the sidewalk maintenance situation in their own towns. 

Read the rest of the discussion and join in the conversation here.