San Diego

‘We Cannot Walk Safely': Residents Press City to Fix Hazardous Sidewalks

South and Central San Diego residents gathered with their City councilmember Wednesday, pressing the City to fix what they called dangerous and hazardous cracked sidewalks in their neighborhoods.  

"Sidewalks have often been forgotten," Councilmember David Alvarez said. "We are standing at what I would consider one of the worst sidewalk issues here, and this community actually has a sidewalk. There are a whole bunch of communities that don't have sidewalks. And that's also a problem."

At the press conference, Alvarez explained that, as it stands now, property owners are responsible for permanent repairs to damaged sidewalks and not the City. This means few sidewalks get repaired every year.

However, when a resident gets injured, the City is liable in court, Sherman said. The issue is a lose-lose situation, he said: it's costly to fix the issue, and costly to pay out the damages. 

"I am proposing that the city pay to repair all broken sidewalks and to build the missing sidewalks in our communities and not wait for someone to get hurt or injured before actually going out and repairing them," he said.

Sandra Martindelcampo, who fractured her arm after falling on a San Ysidro sidewalk, said she's now unable to go to work because of the injury. 

"Why do you guys walk through the street? Look at the sidewalks...and all the sidewalks where I live are terribly ugly," she said.

Sherman Heights resident Silvia Leon said the infrastructure in her neighborhood has remained unchanged for many, many years -- and she believes the residents living there have been short-changed. 

"We deserve more. We're the heart of San Diego," she said. "I think it's about time that the sidewalks and streets complement our beautiful Victorian homes."

She explained that the damaged sidewalks make it difficult to be active or walk with family.

"We cannot walk safely," Leon said. "I have a baby and when I walk on the sidewalks you should see me, it's funny. The stroller nearly looks like it's going to break. I have children that play. It's hazardous to their health."

Leon said the neighborhood always heard the same excuse: the money is not in the budget. 

"I think that for a long time eve been neglected. We have to fight a little bit more we have to struggle a little bit more," she said.

The proposal is an expensive one, Alvarez said. He estimated it would cost millions of dollars to fix, but said such money has already been spent on legal payments. He argued it would not be smart to wait. 

"But we've already paid out millions of damages and the sidewalks didn't get fixed," Alvarez said. "So I'd rather fix the problem and not have to pay the damages."

Councilmember Alvarez represents the Eight Council District, which includes neighborhoods like Barrio Logan, Logan Heights, Otay Mesa, San Ysidro and Sherman Heights.

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