OREGON CITY, Ore. – A sudden expense of thousands of dollars feels impossible for Irene Toth.
“We’re talking minimum three, four-thousand dollars for me,” said Toth. “For my neighbor down the street it’s about $20,000.”
Toth is one of dozens of homeowners in Oregon City who was told she must pay to fix sidewalks in front of her home after two complaints about tripping hazards.
“It’s very frustrating because all of us are on a very fixed income,” Toth said. “They’re all retired, disabled.”
The city doesn’t have the resources to go looking for yards that are not up to code. The complaints came from someone in a wheelchair and an elderly man who said he tripped while walking in the neighborhood.
The root of Toth’s problem appears to be a maple tree outgrowing the area it was planted in 20 years ago.
“Why should we be responsible for something the city didn’t monitor when it was done in the first place?” Toth said.
The city says a tripping hazard can be as small as a quarter of an inch. The crack in Toth’s sidewalk is taller than that.
Other neighbors have already started repairs.
Public Works Director John Lewis on Monday tried to address neighborhood concerns. He said it simply comes down to city code.
“It squarely puts it in the property owner’s hands,” he said.
Lewis said the cause of the damage is not so clear.
“There’s nothing in this neighborhood that I see that was necessarily a mistake on the developer’s part,” said Lewis.
In response to complaints, Oregon City Public Works agreed to give the neighborhood an extra six months to finish repairs. They are also discussing paying one permit fee for all the work.
Lewis said city commissioners will take a look at the sidewalk maintenance issue and consider charging all Oregon City homeowners annually.
“We’re just not going to take it laying down and let them walk all over us,” said Toth.
We went to Oregon City after we received a news tip. You can email us with a story at firstname.lastname@example.org.