The state of Virginia-Highland’s sidewalks from the March 2012 Virginia-Highland Voice (online edition)
Streetscape project – North Highland Avenue
Grinding sidewalks: an alternative to repair
Sidewalk Committee Presents Findings to the City
On February 14, 2013, reports from four sidewalk sub-committees were presented to members of City Council and City government. The presentations are attached. Peggy Berg, Chair of the VHCA Sidewalk Committee presented on Red Tape in the City’s sidewalk process and on Neighborhood Initiatives.
The sub-committees recommended a comprehensive approach to managing Atlanta’s sidewalks, including realistic funding.
The Committees reported that Atlanta’s approach of “Un-managed risk features poor management of the overall system, extreme risk of liability and negligence lawsuit loses and a kick the can down the road political strategy.” and notes that “Unfortunately for this administration, the can is now so rusted that kicking it down the road would be a breach of fiduciary responsibility for tax funds and gross negligence in terms of public safety.”
Peggy Berg, VHCA Board, presented for the sub-committees on red tape and neighborhood initiatives. Sidewalk Sub-Committee February 14 presentation final
Sally Flocks, President and CEO of PEDS, presented for the sub-committees on policy and funding: Sidewalk Task Force presentation-recommended reforms Sally Flocks
Funding assistance for property owners to improve sidewalks
On June 11, 2012, the VHCA Board reviewed the first VHCA Sidewalk Bundle program and voted to fund up to $15,000 for sidewalk improvements in the bundle. Plans are to develop future bundles in the neighborhood, if the St. Charles project is successful.
The funding program is for owners who require assistance to replace their sidewalk. The program contributes up to half of a property owner’s cost of replacing a sidewalk, as part of the bundle, up to $500 for a sidewalk segment. If a property has two segments (corner properties have a segment in front and a segment on the side) then the program will contribute up to $300 or 50% for the second segment.
Look for sidewalk improvements along St. Charles Ave. by the end of the year.
Alleys in Atlanta
When our neighborhood was originally platted, it included alleys running behind many of our houses. Some alleys were used for service access and/or utilities, while others were never actively opened. You can see the alleys on City plats and maps officially http://gis.atlantaga.gov, as well as Google maps unofficially. They appear as a narrow strip between properties. The alleys were generally 10 feet wide.
Here is the story on alleys.
- In the 1970s, Mayor Jackson and City Council abandoned all City alleys except 3 located downtown.
- The City does not have a good complete record of what alleys it used to own – which may be one reason that they abandoned them en masse. This is no fault of our City employees today; records were a bit less formal around the turn of the century.
- When abandoned, the alleys became the property of the adjoining properties, half to each property. For example, 5 feet of a standard 10 foot alley became the property of each adjoining house (or church or commercial establishment).
- The alleys then became the maintenance responsibility of the property owner.
- There is a restriction that access through the alleys had to be maintained by the property owner unless all the property owners adjoining the original alley agreed to make the alley impassible.
- Many alleys have been absorbed into the adjoining yards, fenced, and landscaped so they are no longer passable. This often happened by acquiescence rather than formal agreement meaning there is not a signed document, but since all the homeowners have taken the land they have effectively agreed.
- The property’s share of the alley is measured as part of the property for building permitting purposes, which is a significant benefit.
If you are on an alley, you may already maintain part within your garden. If not, maintenance is still the responsibility of the adjoining homeowner. In a neighborhood of valuable land and small lots, alley share is beneficial.