Sidewalk Program


What is Burlingame's current sidewalk repair program and how does it work?

Burlingame’s sidewalk repair program is based on the California Streets and Highway Code which states that the adjoining property owners are responsible for repairing the adjoining sidewalks. In recent years, the City has been able to fund sidewalk repairs to provide safe and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant sidewalks.

As part of the sidewalk repair program, the City performs an annual sidewalk inspection to identify tripping hazards and prioritizes a list of areas to be repaired based on severity. After the program area is determined, plans and specifications are prepared to solicit bids for construction.

For locations outside of the program area, city staff will patch sidewalk defects when identified or reported to the Department of Public Works. Temporary repairs will be provided until sidewalk replacement becomes available.    


Do I have the right to remove the tree that is damaging the sidewalk?

Trees located in the planter strip near the sidewalk are in the city right of way. Property owners should contact the Parks Division at 650-558-7330 and request that they be removed. The Parks Division would evaluate the request in accordance with the City policy for the removal and replacement of trees. Staff would evaluate the tree based on its health, future cost to the property owner, species impact on the neighborhood, and ADA compliance. Current City policy would potentially result in the denial of a request to remove it unless the tree is unhealthy or is an inappropriate tree species.. Appeals can be submitted to the Beautification Commission. 

Are the homeowners liable if someone is injured by a sidewalk tripping hazard?

Any sidewalk related injury should be referred to the City Attorney’s office and will be handled on a case by case basis depending on the circumstances.

Since the sidewalk damages are caused by street trees, why doesn't the City pay for those repairs?

As a Tree City USA, Burlingame highly regards tree preservation and protection of the urban forest. Although the trees are located in the street right of way, they are community property and contribute to the enhancement of the quality of life, as well as, promote property values. The City is the custodian for protecting, preserving, and maintaining these trees for the community. 

Although, Burlingame has limited funds, it does pay for all of the tree maintenance. In comparison, Millbrae requires property owners to pay for sidewalk repairs, as well as, tree maintenance.

Why does the City crew repairs the sidewalk with asphalt concrete patch instead of concrete?

Public Works Department staff repairs sidewalk tripping hazards with asphalt as quickly as possible once it is reported by a community member. The Public Works Department strives to protect public health and safety on Burlingame sidewalks.  Asphalt patches are temporary and will need to be replaced with concrete as a permanent fix.

Am I responsible, if a tree is damaged during the sidewalk repair?

Property owners should contact the Parks Division before beginning sidewalk work in an area near a tree. The City’s arborist would provide advice on how to perform the work safely without causing damage to the tree. The Parks Division would take into account the care that went into protecting the tree if it was damaged.

What should I do if I encounter tree roots under my sidewalk while doing repairs?

Property owners should contact the City’s arborist who will assist in identifying methods and techniques to perform the work and to slow down future tree root growth which could cause sidewalk problems.

Has the City considered alternative sidewalk solutions?

City staff is evaluating a new sidewalk material made of rubber recently introduced in the market. It is being used by several agencies on a trial basis to see how it performs when impacted by tree roots. The rubberized sidewalk is believed to allow more root growth and possibly prevent tripping hazards. The cost of the rubberized sidewalk is currently 3 to 5 times higher than a traditional concrete sidewalk. The City will continue to monitor market conditions before using this material.

Since large trees will continue to grow and cause ongoing sidewalk damage, can the City set a policy to replace these trees with less problematic younger trees?

The Parks Division has a tree replacement policy in place in the event a large tree meets the criteria for removal. Property owners may select a tree from the “Official City Street Tree” list. Most of these trees are proven to have less aggressive root systems. In addition, whenever possible the City will require meandering or curved sidewalks in an effort to increase the tree planting area for present and future trees. Property owners may install root barriers during sidewalk replacement to delay roots from encroaching into the sidewalk area.