San Diego

City Paid Over $2.9 Million Last Year on Sidewalk Injuries

Public Records Show number of claims and payouts increased since 2017.

The City of San Diego paid $2.94 million last year to pedestrians injured on the city’s cracked and crumbling sidewalks.

Public records obtained by NBC 7 show the number of payouts increased from the previous year.

While the city paid $5.3 million in 2017, the vast majority, $4.85 million, was paid to one man that suffered major injuries after hitting a raised portion of the sidewalk while riding his bike in Del Cerro. In 2018 the city wrote checks to nearly 50 people for amounts ranging from $300 to $1.5 million for a total of $2.94 million.

On average, public records show the city paid $58,860 per legal claim.

The sidewalk settlements are likely to continue.

According to a recent memo from city staff, the city would have to spend close to $100 million to fix the current backlog of broken sidewalks, which at present, is estimated to be more than 80,000 sidewalks repairs citywide.

Since 2015, the city replaced and repaired 29,700 sidewalks. An additional 8,500 are planned for this coming year.

The city also asks property owners to chip in.

Current city policy requires the adjacent homeowner to pay for repairs in the case of “normal wear and tear.” The city is responsible in the case of broken water lines, lifting caused by street trees, and any shifts of the land underneath. The city also offers to pay half of the cost for repair with the property owner.

But that policy requires time and does very little to address the estimated backlog.

According to the city’s numbers, an average of 15-30 repairs are made under the cost-share program each year. That number increased last year to 44 repairs.

But a city spokesperson says the backlog is not as dire as the $100 million price suggests.

“That’s a rough estimate; however, as the sidewalk assessment that identified locations in need of repair didn’t determine who was responsible for the repairs, some of this cost is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner,” said spokesperson.

Added the city spokesperson, “Safety of residents, as well as ease of mobility, is the reason the City of San Diego has been proactive in the assessment, repair, and replacement of our sidewalks."

“City staffing has also increased and been specialized with the addition of two new engineers to identify, scope and plan locations for future repairs. Currently, the Transportation & Storm Water Department houses two 12-person concrete crews that perform sidewalk replacement, asphalt ramping and other concrete repairs throughout the City in addition to responding to community requests for sidewalk repair.”

In the meantime, the city continues to get sued to pay for injuries on broken sidewalks.

On July 23, Laura Campos became the latest person to sue the city for a sidewalk-related injury she suffered in October 2018 in San Ysidro, a community that has complained about a lack of sidewalks.

“The city owed [Campos] a duty to keep and maintain its sidewalks in a reasonably safe condition...Defendants breached that duty when it allowed a dangerous condition to persist on the sidewalk, without any attempt to warn or repair the dangerous condition,” reads the lawsuit.

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