Fayetteville measure reminds property owners to keep sidewalks clear of obstructions

Staff photo

Fayetteville City Council members this week approved an ordinance that better defines the responsibilities of property owners to keep sidewalks clear of obstructions.

The idea was brought forth after a walking tour of the downtown area in which members of the Active Transportation Advisory Committee and the Transportation Committee observed several sidewalks that were blocked by vegetation or trash and recycling carts.

Pamphlet example from Austin, Texas

For years city law stated that it was the duty of property owners and occupants to keep sidewalks free from obstructions, but there were no specifics and no form of recourse.

The new language specifies a minimum clear space of 8 feet above the sidewalk and 2 feet back from the edge of sidewalk. It also gives city staff the ability to charge property owners for the costs incurred to clear vegetation or obstructions from the sidewalk if they are unwilling or unable to do so themselves.

Staff said the intent is to first educate people and to only use the financial recourse as a last resort. City documents indicate staff have been working on pamphlets that will be given to people if they see an obstruction issue.

Council member Matthew Petty asked about homes that have parallel parking in front of the sidewalks. He wanted to know if it was alright to put a trash or recycling bin in the gutter to ensure the collection trucks could still reach them. Staff said as long as bins don’t impede the flow of traffic on the sidewalks, it’s fine.

There was no public comment on the issue, and the item was passed unanimously.