Sidewalks, Planter Strips, Trees
Developers build most of the new sidewalks constructed within the City as part of their projects. The City typically only constructs new sidewalk with major road projects, facility construction, and grant funded pedestrian projects.
Sidewalk maintenance and repair is outlined in state law (RCW 35.68 and RCW 35.69). State law provides that the adjacent property owner is responsible for upkeep and reconstruction of sidewalks. The City requires that owners maintain their sidewalk, including the portion that runs through the driveway, free of displacements greater than ½-inch and cracks greater than ¾-inch. Property owners, or their contractors, are required to get a Right-Of-Way Permit to complete sidewalk repairs.
Property owners’ maintenance responsibilities include keeping sidewalks free of snow, leaves, and other obstructions, which might hinder safe passage.
The responsibility for maintenance, watering, and general upkeep of most planter strips within the City are the responsibility of the private property owner directly abutting the sidewalk abutting the planter strip or directly abutting the planter strip pursuant to BGMC 12.110.090. The abutting property owner, at their cost, must replace any dead trees, shrubs, or plants.
The City maintains planter strips that abut City owned property and center island medians. The City maintains planters along all arterial streets as follows:
- W/E Main Street
- N Parkway Avenue
- S Parkway Avenue (Main Street to S Eaton Boulevard)
- NE Grace Avenue
- SE Grace Avenue (E Main Street to SE Eaton Boulevard)
- NE 10th Street (NE Grace Avenue to East City Limits)
- SW/SE Eaton Boulevard
- SW 20th Avenue
The City also maintains planters along the following major collector classified streets:
- NW Onsdorff Boulevard (NW 25th Avenue to N Parkway Avenue)
- SW Scotton Way (SW 20th Avenue to S Parkway Avenue)
- SE Rasmussen Boulevard (SW 4th Avenue to SE Clark Avenue)
Shrubs, plants, and ground cover may be removed by a homeowner for planter strips for which they have maintenance responsibilities without a permit. Some type of covering, other than bare dirt, is required.
No tree shall be removed from a planter strip without a Right-Of-Way Permit from the Engineering Division. Removal of trees will only be allowed under the following circumstances:
- The tree is dead;
- The tree interferes with underground or overhead utilities;
- The tree impedes sight distance; or
- The tree has the ability to harm the life, health, or safety of the public.
If trees are permitted to be removed, they must be replaced with a tree from the City’s Approved Tree List unless not required through the permit.
For maximum coverage during street sweeping and other street maintenance activities, residents should trim low hanging branches and other vegetation so vehicles can get as close to the curb as possible.
All low-hanging material needs to be trimmed to provide 14-feet of vertical clearance from the top of the curb.
8-feet of clearance should be provided for the full width of the sidewalk for the safety of pedestrians.
Other information about trees can be found in the planter strip section above.