City's sidewalk maintenance questioned | November 14, 2007 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - November 14, 2007

City's sidewalk maintenance questioned

Woman died following a fall caused by cracked sidewalk

by Joyce Tang

A tragic fall apparently caused by a cracked sidewalk has left one Palo Alto family in search of answers from the City of Palo Alto.

This story contains 1135 words.

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Editorial Intern Joyce Tang can be e-mailed at


Posted by Logical, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2007 at 10:30 am

The City has meter readers that walk most of the sidewalks monthly. Why can't they report sidewalk hazards?

Posted by Resident, a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 14, 2007 at 11:36 am

In our neighborhood the city has painted white spots on the sidewalk between which repairs are to be carried out sometime within the next year, so I have been told by a city employee I spotted with a spray paint can. We have some red and orange marks around too which correspond to water, gas and electricity. It seems to me that they know what needs fixing, just haven't fixed it yet.

Posted by jj, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 14, 2007 at 11:59 am

Because the city may have to pay them more to do additional work.

Posted by Taking responsibility, a resident of Ventura
on Nov 14, 2007 at 1:00 pm

While it is very sad for anyone to die after taking an evening walk, I must say that we are each responsible for avoiding hazards each day. It is expected that sidewalks are not always level, especially in our heavily canopied city. There is no way any jurisdiction can guarantee that all sidewalks will be smooth.

I took a bad spill on my bike after hitting a pothole I didn't see at night, but I would never dream of holding the City liable. I just needed a stronger bike light!

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2007 at 1:35 pm

I tend to agree with Taking. It would be wise for anyone, particularly someone elderly or who has problems walking, or eyesight problems, to take a flashlight with them when walking at night.

This story reminds me a little of the story of McDonalds being sued because their coffee is too hot. If a street is tree lined, it makes sense to expect tree roots.

Posted by janette, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 14, 2007 at 2:55 pm

I had a sidewalk fall some years ago in another neighborhood of Palo Alto, and wound up with damage to my teeth and chin. The small rises in the sidewalk that are enough to trip over are not necessarily apparent to someone who isn't walking with their head down. I thank God that the damage was not worse, having your head smack on concrete is beyond words.

This is such a common hazard and it takes awhile to develop that I think the city should run a check on the sidewalks say, once a year. It would not take that long.

Posted by Fireman, a resident of another community
on Nov 14, 2007 at 3:12 pm

This is the same story...The City has screwed up,lost the money it needed to fix the streets,side walks,sewers. Some of what is said above is true,however, if one counts up the money that has been mismanaged. Web Site and Paramedic Transport Engine Program,water rescue, Franks property tax and bonuses. And how many other programs and $$$$ You are talking a million dollars++++. How many streets and sidewalks could be fixed???
Lets look back at the sandbag scam.. The past Chief who is also in hot water for the So-Cal fires sent firefighters to protect the City Managers house.. While the Citizens had nothing.. I think many people are forgetting the money was there. It was mismanaged. Palo Alto is so great. That you can't even walk down the street with out risking your life??? The place is falling apart... Oh, butwe can't lower the flags nilly-willy.... Start to find out the truth one story at a time. Then add up the information. See the whole picture... They can check all they want, When will they be fixed. After someone falls and loses there life. Expensive sidewalks?? Maybe the city should buy the residents Helmets???

Posted by Where's Walter?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 14, 2007 at 11:14 pm

California code actually holds the adjacent property owner liable for the sidewalk. That may be why the City gets few complaints. People in Palo Alto probably don't know how good they have it. They may be afraid that if they complain, the City will make them pay for the repair. That is not the case here. As is the case for many things, Palo Alto is different.

My parents live in a more typical City. They are responsible for the cost of repairs, and they have been sued by pedestrians who tripped and fell. Fortunately their insurance has covered the claims (so far).

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