Sidewalk Rules & Regulations

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For further detail on sidewalk requirements, please review Chapter 342 of the Ithaca City Code.

General Owner Responsibilities

Owners are responsible for keeping all areas between their property line and the curb in a safe condition and free of defects. This area includes sidewalks, driveways, walls, paved areas, lawn, steps, plants, hedges and vegetation, except city-owned street trees.  This responsibility comprises proper repair, replacement, and regular maintenance of the sidewalks and driveways; removal of debris and hazards; mowing and trimming; and leaf, snow, and ice removal. Owners may delegate duties to tenants or others, but retain primary responsibility.


 Owners are liable for injury or property damage related to condition of the area between their property line and the curb. Failure to comply with maintenance responsibilities can result in daily tickets and fines.

Sidewalks & Driveways

Sidewalks are to be concrete and a minimum of five feet wide.  Driveways are asphalt or concrete, except where variances are authorized by the Superintendent of Public Works.

Sidewalk Notice (Notice of Defect)

If an owner has failed to keep sidewalks, approaches or driveways in a safe condition and free of defects, the City may send a notice requiring an owner to construct or repair such areas.  Owners are required to perform work in conformity with rules and requirements with a valid street permit, within 60 days from the notice date, unless a longer period is specified. Width, grade and alignment requirements may be specified. If grades or alignments change, replacement of a slab or two at the adjoining property may be required to complete a suitable transition. Connections to adjacent sidewalk slabs shall be safe, accessible and provide a good appearance.

Sidewalk Repair by the City

The City may order the construction or repair to be made by the City at owner expense if the work is not completed by the 60-day deadline.  The City may demand or cause immediate repair if there is a significant public health or safety risk. Owners are charged for the cost of City work plus 25% for labor costs.

Snow Removal Responsibility

Owners are required to keep the full width of sidewalks clear of snow and ice except within 24 hours after the beginning of a snowfall.  "Sidewalk" includes pads adjacent to curbs and corner curb ramps. When snow and ice on any sidewalk is frozen so hard that it cannot reasonably be removed, it shall, within 24 hours after the beginning of a snowfall be strewn and kept strewn with ashes, sand, sawdust or other suitable material, so as to be no longer dangerous to life and limb. As soon as practical thereafter, the sidewalk shall be completely cleared of snow, ice and other materials strewn thereon. Failure to comply shall be punished by ticket and fine.  Each day that a violation continues shall be considered a separate offense.

Snow Removal by the City

Whenever any sidewalk is not kept free from snow and ice as required, the City may clear the sidewalk so that it is free from snow and ice at owner expense. The minimum charge is $50. Alternately, the charge may itemize actual labor equipment and materials charges if they exceed $50. If snow removal bills are not paid within 30 days, the cost shall be assessed against the property, added to its tax and become a lien against the property. Appeals must be made in writing to the Ithaca City Clerk within 45 days after the mailing of the bill to be decided by the Board of Public Works.

New Sidewalk Installation

Upon request, or on its own, the Board of Public Works may hold a public hearing and direct that new sidewalks and driveways be constructed on any street, either by contract or by the property owners, in accordance with requirements. Typically, owners are assessed for costs plus 25% if the City or a City contractor performs the work.

Permit Requirements

Construction and repair work, including concrete patching, requires a street permit from the Superintendent of Public Works. Permits currently cost $50, except permits pertaining to solely sidewalk work cost $25.  Work must be performed in accordance with general drawings and specifications issued by Office of City Engineer and any special conditions or requirements imposed, such as posting pedestrian detour signs. Contractors or owners may apply for permits.  Insurance is required, and additionally, worker's compensation documentation is required for contractor applicants. Violation of requirements can result in a daily penalty of up to $250 or imprisonment for up to 15 days or both. Work under a street tree may also require a tree permit from the City Forester.

Sidewalk/Driveway Assessments

Expenses incurred by the City plus a 25% overhead fee shall be billed to the property owner, due within 30 days. Alternately, a written request may be made to the City Chamberlain within 30 days of the billing to pay in five annual installments, plus interest. If any bill or installment is not paid by November 1 of each year, it becomes a lien against the property.

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