4 Things a Property Owner Needs to Know About Sidewalks

May 1, 2015
General Law

Repair and Replace

If a sidewalk runs through your property, you are required to keep it free from damage or hazards.If you decide you need to repair, replace, or remove more than 25% of the existing sidewalk, you first need to get a permit.


All sidewalk construction or repair must be made with Portland cement. It is the most common type of cement used in the United States, but the system used to manufacture it is notorious for causing greenhouse gases. More “green” options have been developed. Perhaps City Ordinances will need to keep up with changes in technology.



Some neighborhoods in older sections of town do not have sidewalks. The city has the authority to require property owners to install sidewalks. The city ordinance dictates the width, grade, finish, etc. The cost will be assessed against the owner’s property taxes.



If your sidewalk is in an unsafe condition, you must erect approved, lighted barriers to keep people away from it. ­­­­People can sue you if they are hurt because of your unsafe sidewalk.


Within 24 hours after accumulation of snow or ice, you must clear your sidewalk. The ordinance does not specify how much accumulation is needed before the ordinance applies.



If you fail to maintain, repair, or keep your sidewalk clear of snow or ice, the city has the authority to hire someone else to do it and then assess the cost against the property taxes.


Final Thoughts

I once dealt with a case where a property owner (not in Grimes) sprinkled ball bearings all over her sidewalk because she was trying to discourage a neighbor, with whom she had a grudge, from walking on the sidewalk in front of her house. This was illegal in that town. It is illegal to drive across (or carve your initials in) someone’s newly poured sidewalk, drive on the sidewalk, paint the sidewalk, write on the sidewalk, have a fire on the sidewalk, place any dangerous objects (nails, glass, wire, ball bearings, even litter) on the sidewalk, or set up a lemonade stand on the sidewalk (unless you have a permit).