Right now, sidewalks are an unfunded mandate: homeowners are required to maintain them at their own expense. That wasn't a big issue for many years, because inspections were rare. But in 2004, the Center for Independent Living sued to force the city to fix sidewalk curb cuts that violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, and in 2005 the city began a comprehensive sidewalk inspection program. Since then, local homeowners have replaced 47,000 five-foot-square concrete "flags."
If a contractor does the work, Pirooz says, $130 per flag is a good price. At that rate, residents have already spent more than $6 million dollars fixing sidewalks. Pirooz says that the sidewalk millage is a good idea nonetheless. For a typical home, worth $214,000, Proposal 2 would cost about $13 per year. "It will take ten years before you have to pay [in taxes] what you'd have to pay [a contractor] for one sidewalk square," he points out.