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Who is responsible for repairing damaged sidewalks?

If you live in the city of Oakland, California, you may wonder who is responsible for damage to the sidewalk in front of your home. According to the City of Oakland, local and state laws assign responsibility for the upkeep of sidewalks to you, the property owner. This means if the sidewalk in front of your home is damaged in any way, you must fix it. If someone were to fall and get injured because of the damaged sidewalk, he or she could sue you for medical bills and other associated costs. Essentially, the sidewalk becomes part of your premises liability.

It is important to note there is an exception to this general rule. If a city-owned tree causes damage to the sidewalk, then the city will become responsible for its repair. However, in order for this exception to be evoked, the tree must be an "official city tree." What is and what is not an official tree is determined by the city.

If your sidewalk is damaged, you may receive a notice from a city inspector that you must repair it within two weeks or at least begin repairs within this time. You can do the repairs yourself or hire a contractor. In some cases, you may need a permit to do the work. You may also hire a contractor from the city, who will bill you for the work when it is complete. Note that if you do not make the repairs within the time limit, the city will set up a contractor to do the repairs and bill you for it. You may have the chance to speak at a hearing regarding any objections you have to the repairs before this is done. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.


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