NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Tens of thousands of New York City homeowners will no longer have to foot the bill for sidewalk repairs if the cracks are caused by a city tree.
Mayor Bill de Blasio made the announcement in the Bronx on Tuesday, CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer says.
“Starting today, if a tree causes damage to the sidewalk, the City of New York will take responsibility,” he said.
Six years into his mayoralty and after constant complaints from homeowners furious about getting violations for broken sidewalks and being forced to reach into their own pockets to have the cracks repaired, the mayor has decided to right a wrong and fix a system he admits is broken.
“If you got an active violation … we’re going to go and take another look, and if our folks from the Parks Department and DOT say, yup, that’s caused by a city tree, then we’ll erase that violation,” de Blasio said.
The city says it will re-examine 50,000 tickets.
Officials also plan to fast-track repairs at 5,500 sites.
Gerald Hall, who lives on Barnes Avenue near 227th Street in the Bronx, says he’s been trying to get the city to fix his sidewalk for over three years. Tree roots have been causing it to dramatically buckle.
“It’s a hazard here,” Hall said. “There’s a lot of people tripping on the sidewalk there. A lot of people fall down. Elderly people, handicapped people, they fall all the time right there. That’s a real hazard.”
But while the city is atoning for being bad, don’t expect penance, in the form of the city actually fixing your sidewalk, to happen quickly.
“It will not happen overnight,” de Blasio said. “This is going to take time to catch up with this backlog, but immediately, we stop the pain for the homeowners.”
Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver says once the city gets a complaint of a cracked sidewalk, it hopes to inspect the property within 30 days, but there are no promises of when a repair crew will get there.
“We want to do it as soon as possible,” Silver said.
Officials say the plan is to fix 2,500 sidewalks every year, but do the math. At that rate, it could take 20 years to just re-mediate the backlog of 50,000 cases.
De Blasio will be long gone by that time, but who knows? Maybe by then, the mayor will be Dante de Blasio.