Concerns table bill to put sidewalk repair costs on cities, counties

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SANTA FE, N.M. – Private property owners are sometimes surprised to learn they’re on the hook for the cost of public sidewalk repairs and that’s the law. But, on Tuesday, a state lawmaker tried changing that.

New Mexico cities and counties hold property owners responsible for public sidewalks, so when they break, or buckle the cost is on you.

House Bill 24 basically calls for the repair of sidewalks to be the responsibility of the local government – be it the city or county,” said state Rep. Miguel Garcia.  

Garcia made a pitch to the House Transportation, Public Works and Capital Improvements Committee, along with one woman surprised to get stuck with a sidewalk repair bill.

Current state law allows local governments to issue notices to property owners to repair sidewalks in front of their properties with in a certain period of time. Costs often run in the thousands.

The responsibility and the cost often come as a surprise, but representatives of cities and counties across New Mexico said that’s the way it’s been done for decades.

“The City of Santa Fe has miles and miles of sidewalks and the fiscal impact, the potential cost to the City of Santa Fe is in the millions of dollars,” said J.D. Bullington, a Santa Fe city lobbyist,

Cities and counties lucked out, committee members had a number of concerns about the bill.

“In my opinion, this is a local ordinance issue, this isn’t a statewide bill,” said state Rep. Randall Pettigrew. 

The committee tabled HB 24, Garcia says he’s not giving up.

“I’ll abide the decision of the committee, but I’m still going to pursue this,” said Garcia. 

Track HB 24 during the legislative session.