PEDS Sidewalk Forum presentation 7/30/2013


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  • Thank forum participants – and audience for opportunity to share recommendations. Mention why I care. Tell story about friend who tripped on uplifted hexagon paver.
  • Already underway! Public Works is collaborating with Georgia Tech on a high-tech inventory of sidewalk conditions. (Tablet, app, wheelchair:measures vibrations and videotapes conditions. ) Once this is complete, the City will be on notice about every sidewalk defect in Atlanta. It will also have data that enables Public Works to compare severity of hazards.
  • Georgia Tech’s sidewalk inventory and prioritization study will create this. The Connect Atlanta Plan, combined with crash data, GIS maps showing schools, transit routes and other pedestrian generators would be excellent data sources.
  • Typical tripping hazard is ½ to 1” Thank Public Works for decision to close the cement plant. City of Raleigh: $1 million contract with company specializing in repairsAlpharetta also contracts with sidewalk repair comapny
  • Karen Huebner, former director of Atlanta’s Urban Design Commission. Condo adjacent to sidewalk where century-old tree had uplifted hexagon pavers.Public Works replaced the sidewalk with plain concrete – and narrowed the sidewalk near the tree.Karen was thrilled: she had told her colleagues for years to put aesthetic treatments at eye level
  • No excuses: neither insufficient funding nor conflicting local ordinances or special interests justify sidewalks that are not accessible to all users.
  • 2004: City launched a campaign to educate residents about their financial responsibility for sidewalk repair. During the following 4 years, city collected just $200,000.Public Works is doing better than in previous years – but still not nearly enough.
  • February Task Force meeting confirmed that. The sidewalk ordinance has been on the books for over 30 years. When Public Works tried to enforce the ordinance, residents and their elected representatives expressed outrage.Most jurisdictions in the Atlanta region use tax dollars to repair sidewalks.
  • Many sidewalk replacements have been paid for with federal grants, Quality of Life Bond funds, or councilmembers’ discretionary funds. These are all taxpayer dollars. All property owners pay taxes. It isn’t fair to make people pay the full cost of sidewalks adjacent to their property – while subsidizing the cost of sidewalks located elsewhere. This is especially true when funding for some sidewalks came from discretionary funds – rather than from an objective, points-based plan.
  • Sidewalks are not things that simply decorate the abutting property. They provide value by creating a network that enables people to be physically active while getting from Point A to Point B. If a resident or business repaired the sidewalks abutting their property– and a nearby neighbor failed to do so, the investment would have little value.
  • On many streets, sidewalks exist on just one side.In some neighborhoods, sidewalks are located on collector streets but not on streets with less traffic, such as cul-de-sacs. People on the sidewalks benefit from having sidewalks on the collector street – and through taxes, should share in maintenance costs.
  • Why should property owners pay for repairs, when damage was caused by fire officers who parked on the sidewalk to make it easy for them stand in the street at a nearby intersection to raise money for a charitable cause?
  • According to the editor at the East Atlanta Patch, the average cost of repairs that would have billed to each property owner on Delaware Avenue was estimated at $1,600. Many people in Atlanta live paycheck to paycheck – and cannot come up with that on two weeks notice, if ever.
  • Atlanta’s Comprehensive Transportation Plan – adopted in 2010 – calls on City to reassume financial responsibility for sidewalk maintenanceMany funding options exist for our elected officials to choose from. No need to assume the only option is a “magic pot.”
  • Recommended by Connect Atlanta Plan
  • Public Works has recommended this since at least 2005.Competition for revenue: new roads and streetscapes near the proposed new stadiumProjects recommend for local share of proposed transportation sales tax funds that failed last year.
  • PEDS Sidewalk Forum presentation 7/30/2013

    1. 1. The Roadmap to Safe and Accessible Sidewalks in Atlanta Sally Flocks President & CEO, PEDS July 30, 2013
    2. 2. By 2030 one out of five people will be over 60. Most will live an additional 20 – 25 years. / Dan Burden / Dan Burden
    3. 3. Well-maintained sidewalks may be one of the most important ways to keep massive numbers of older people in good enough health to not be institutionalized. Dan Burden Dan Burden
    4. 4. An effective sidewalk maintenance program depends on five principles: 1. Create a comprehensive inventory of sidewalk conditions 2. Use a points-based system to prioritize projects 3. Reduce maintenance costs 4. Amend the City’s sidewalk ordinance 5. Dedicate funding to sidewalk maintenance
    5. 5. Principle 1. Create a comprehensive inventory of sidewalk conditions
    6. 6. . Georgia Tech is using a tablet to map, videotape and collect data. This will create a GIS-based inventory of sidewalk conditions
    7. 7. Principle 2. Use a points-based system to prioritize projects Score points for both pedestrian generators and deficiencies
    8. 8. Principle 3. Reduce maintenance costs Use a two-pronged approach of repair and replacement.
    9. 9. Allocate tax dollars only to the cost of plain sidewalks  Make plain sidewalks the default choice. Add  Assign costs for bricks or stamped hexagons to abutting property owners or associations
    10. 10. • Replacing trees with ones that match caliper of existing trees • Using historic sidewalk materials on top of a concrete base in historic districts Eliminate unfunded mandates Or allocate sufficient funding so they do not remain barriers to repairing sidewalks
    11. 11. The Americans with Disabilities Act trumps local ordinances. Photo by Dan Burden Public sidewalks are a program of the City that must be accessible to all users. Photo by Dan Burden
    12. 12. Principle 4: Amend the sidewalk ordinance § 138-103 The Commissioner of Public Works is authorized to inspect the sidewalks, . . . condemn promptly pavements on such sidewalks that are unsafe and unsuitable for public travel, and to cause repairs to be made in accordance with city law and to charge the cost of the repair to the abutting property owner. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------------------------
    13. 13. Enforcement of current sidewalk ordinance faces numerous barriers
    14. 14. Lack of community support The annual budget for sidewalk repairs enables Public Works to address less than 1 percent of the estimated $152 million backlog of broken sidewalks and curbs. Limited funding & staff
    15. 15. Atlanta has prioritized sidewalk maintenance so low for decades, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to restart a program funded by assessments from abutting property owners. Lack of community support for current sidewalk policy
    16. 16. Selective enforcement is inherently unjust.. “What is so frustrating is that there are so many blocks around Delaware where the city repaired the sidewalk at no cost to the residents. It is selective billing and that is simply unfair.” Edjuardo Julio
    17. 17. than to abutting property owners.Sidewalks are public assets that provide more benefits to the community at large than to abutting property owners.
    18. 18. Maintenance costs should be shared by all taxpayers, not just those whose property abuts sidewalks.
    19. 19. Sidewalks and curbs are often damaged by illegal parking, car wrecks, and other problems beyond the control of property owners.
    20. 20. Atlanta has a 22.4 % poverty rate. High poverty rate A program relying on property liens as a major funding source is not sustainable. 23 %
    21. 21. The longer we wait, the more it costs to fix Principle 5: Identify a funding source
    22. 22. Identify Funding: The City must identify a funding source that allows the City to re-assume responsibility for construction and maintenance of the sidewalk system.
    23. 23. A parking surcharge could pay for infrastructure repairs The City of Atlanta has estimated that if a $1 daily surcharge was levied on transactions for 200,000 parking spaces inside of the city, it would generate $75.9 million in its first year of implementation
    24. 24. A bond referendum could help, but competition for funds will be fierce.
    25. 25. In 2011, 60% of Ann Arbor residents voted to fund a city-wide sidewalk repair program that replaced a system assigning financial responsibility for repairs to abutting property owners.
    26. 26. Impact of increasing the property tax rate by 1 mill and dedicating revenue to sidewalk maintenance  Increase revenue by $15 million / year.  Owner of property valued at $200,000 would pay $50 more in annual city taxes  Eliminate backlog of broken sidewalks in 10 years
    27. 27. If given the opportunity, would Atlanta residents vote the same as those in Ann Arbor?
    28. 28. The ADA will force cities to do what they should be doing anyway: maintain public infrastructure. Donald Shoup, Fixing Broken Sidewalks Or are lawsuits the only strategy that works?
    29. 29.