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Appendix A: Model Sidewalk Inspection Policy

League of Minnesota Cities


The city of _______________, Minnesota has ___ miles of public sidewalks. Public sidewalks vary in age and in quality of condition. Not every mere inequality or irregularity in the surface of the sidewalk rises to the level of a defect. The city recognizes that some sidewalk conditions create unreasonable hazards for pedestrians and other sidewalk users.

The city has limited employee and financial resources and cannot reasonably replace all sidewalks needing replacement or repair in the same year the sidewalk is identified as needing replacement and repair. Sidewalk replacement and repair can be costly. Comprehensive sidewalk surveys are expensive and require the use of limited city personnel and other resources. Under appropriate circumstances, some or all of the cost of sidewalk replacement may be passed to the adjacent property owner.

Accordingly, the city and its Public Works Department must exercise both discretion and professional judgment in determining whether and when sidewalks need to be replaced or repaired. The city expects that its agents, employees, and city officials will exercise discretion in identifying conditions requiring replacement and repair, in the scheduling of replacement and repair and in establishing priorities for replacement and repair.

Sidewalk inspection procedures

The _________________ (Street Superintendent/Director of Public Works/City Engineer) shall establish procedures for regular sidewalk inspection. Those procedures will include:

  • An initial city wide sidewalk survey to be completed by ____________ (date)
  • A schedule for routine sidewalk inspections on a regular basis
  • Criteria for determining whether a particular sidewalk condition is in need of replacement or repair. Those criteria will include, but not necessarily be limited to, a deviation or difference in elevation greater than _________ (½, ¾, 1) inch, as determined at the time of inspection.

Sidewalk replacement and repair policy

Upon completion of the initial sidewalk survey, the ___________ (Street Superintendent/Director of Public Works/City Engineer) shall establish a replacement and repair schedule. This schedule is subject to modification based both on sidewalk conditions and the availability of resources for sidewalk replacement and repair.

The sidewalk replacement and repair schedule will:

  • Divide the city into sections or otherwise prioritize replacement of the sidewalks identified as needing replacement or repair so all sidewalks identified in the initial sidewalk survey as needing replacement or repair are replaced or repaired by _____________ (date).
  • Take into consideration and weigh the following factors:
    • Sidewalk location and amount of pedestrian traffic
    • Proximity of sidewalk identified as needing replacement or repair to other sidewalks also needing replacement or repair
    • The nature and severity of the condition needing replacement or repair
    • The city's budget for replacement or repair of sidewalks
    • Whether, or to what extent, the cost of repair can be recovered from adjacent property owners
    • Availability of employees, equipment, and other resources for sidewalk replacement or repair
    • Public safety
    • History of prior accidents or complaints
    • Schedules of independent contractors and work necessary to prepare bids and bid specifications if work is to be performed by independent contractors

Sidewalk maintenance policy

City employees will be responsible for removing snow from sidewalks that abut city-owned buildings or parking lots. Adjacent property owners, including other public entities, are responsible for removing snow and ice from sidewalks that abut their property (see City Ordinance No. _____). The city may, as a public service and for reasons of public safety, remove snow and ice from sidewalks. The ________________ (Street Superintendent/ Director of Public Works/City Engineer) will identify sidewalks from which the city will remove ice and snow.

Review and modification of policy

The City Council may modify or clarify this policy at any time. Where the city council has delegated responsibility or authority to any city employee or official for development or implementation of any portion of this policy, that employee or official shall have full authority to modify that portion of the policy at any time.

Review of policy

The _______________ (Street Superintendent/Director of Public Works/City Engineer) will keep on file comments and complaints received regarding this policy. The policy will be reviewed periodically. Any review will consider comments and complaints since the last review and any other factors affecting the policy or its implementation.

Effective date of policy

This policy shall be effective as of ___________ (date). Modifications of the policy shall be effective on the date said modifications are approved by city council resolution or the date city employee or official (with authority granted by the city council) has approved the policy modification