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Seattle Times business reporter Elizabeth Rhodes posts the answers to your real estate questions as they pop up during the week. Join this ongoing discussion, which also features reader reaction to real-estate articles appearing throughout The Times.

Home Forum, Seattle Times, P.O. Box 1845, Seattle, WA 98111

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October 10, 2008 4:00 PM

Wandering tree roots disturb sidewalk, threaten sewer line

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: Trees planted in our neighbor's parking strip are raising our sidewalk and starting to do the same to our driveway. We're concerned this could affect our sewer line. However the neighbor won't do anything about these trees because he says they're not on his property. So do we have any recourse?

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September 29, 2008 3:51 PM

Property line dispute has neighbors in stalemate

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: My neighbor has claimed about a two-foot strip of my property and erected "no trespassing" signs along it. He says I'll be sued if I don't respect this boundary. I've had a survey done, which shows that my original boundary line is correct.

However, this neighbor has removed the new survey markers and says he'll cut down the trees in the disputed area. I showed him our state law requiring him to get a surveyor to replace the markers. He says he won't do it. What agency can I contact to enforce these laws?

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July 10, 2008 7:00 AM

Contractor's damage has neighbor fuming

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: The contractor building town houses next door has undermined and damaged our fence. I've called and written to him twice. No response. How can I prevail upon him to restore our fence to its previous condition?

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June 2, 2008 3:56 PM

Readers respond to messy neighbor saga

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

A recent post, "messy homeowner has neighbors up in arms," drew response from readers who've dealt with similar situations. Here's how they handled this problem.

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May 27, 2008 11:37 AM

Steep hillside worries uphill neighbor

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: A shrub-covered bank at least two stories high separates my home from my neighbor's. Apparently the property line is near the top of the bank. Which owner is responsible for damages if there's a landslide? Is either responsible for putting in a retaining wall? I think the other house will soon be torn down and replaced. I'm concerned about what could happen then to the hillside.

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May 20, 2008 5:33 PM

Messy homeowner has neighbors up in arms

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: Most of our neighbors in Brier keep their houses up. The exception is the family next door. Their yard is full of junk, their front porch is falling down, they're raising chickens under a tarp in their backyard (the smell is horrendous) and rats from their yard come into ours. Several neighbors have tried talking to this family and been met with hostility. What are our options?

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May 13, 2008 2:35 PM

Overgrown easement impairs driveway access

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: We have a 15-foot driveway/utility easement with our neighbor. Large trees and bushes in the easement portion of that neighbor's yard are interfering with our ability to use this driveway. The neighbor won't trim them. Can we trim the bushes on the easement to preserve our ability to get to our house?

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March 26, 2008 11:00 AM

Driveway easement becomes parking space

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: An easement was established to allow the house next door to share the driveway of our town-home complex. The easement is supposed to be for vehicles to pull in and out, but the neighbors are now using the end of it as storage parking for a trailer. Since it's technically on our property, is there anything that can be done?

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March 20, 2008 3:00 PM

Neighbor wants compensation for nearby construction disruption

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: A large hospital tower is being erected across the street. For the next two years we'll be subjected to noise, dust and blocked streets. Views of the water and mountains will be eliminated. Our quality of life and property values will be substantially impacted. Is there a precedent to approach the hospital for compensation?

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March 3, 2008 7:00 PM

Fence issue concerns long-time homeowner

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: We've lived in our home 22 years and the fence has been here all that time. Now a new neighbor is disputing the property line. Do we have an easement because we've been here so long?

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February 28, 2008 9:30 AM

Potentially dangerous tree worries homeowner

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: My neighbor's tree is about 2 feet away from the fence line, and about 4 feet away from my house. The tree is about 25 feet high. I was asking my neighbor about cutting down the tree since it has the potential of falling down during a storm. Of course we'll split the price. However,my neighbor didn't agree. Could you tell me what to do since this tree may damage my house?

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February 27, 2008 10:55 AM

Neighbor wants to trim hedge

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: Over 35 years ago a previous owner planted a laurel hedge very close to the southern property line and over the years it has spread south maybe a foot or two. Do I have the right to continue to trim and remove ivy and morning glory from the whole hedge as I have done in the past?

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February 21, 2008 10:00 AM

Neighboring sewer-line work worries homeowner

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: The Seattle house next to mine was torn down and a new one is being built. The contractor has torn up my front sidewalk to connect the new home's sewer line to the line that goes from my home to the city line in the street. Is this legal? I was not consulted or asked to give any written or verbal consent.

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February 13, 2008 6:20 PM

Homeowner is concerned easement is being created

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: My rural, wooded neighborhood has a private driveway, a half-mile long, for the use of several neighbors. Branching off from this is my quarter-mile private driveway. Some neighbors have been using my driveway early in the morning as part of a circular walking path. This apparently has been going on for some time, although I didn't know it until recently. My property records don't mention this path. Should I be concerned that an unofficial easement is being created? Also, what's my liability if someone is injured while walking on my property?

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February 1, 2008 10:30 AM

Sex offender worries neighbor

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: We just got notice that a Level 2 sex offender has moved into a rental in our upscale neighborhood. The notice stated that this person has a long criminal history besides the sex offense, including theft and vehicle prowling. Can we give the rental's owner written notice that he'll be responsible if anything happens to us because of this tenant's actions? Do we have any other options, or must we live with this criminal in our neighborhood?

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January 29, 2008 3:40 PM

Creeping bamboo vexes neighbor

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: We moved into our house two years ago and replaced the front lawn with a Xeriscape garden (one that needs little extra water, once the plants are established). Now our spring ritual includes digging a three-foot trench along the edge of our property to remove our neighbor's invasive bamboo sprouts. Our neighbor agrees that the bamboo is a problem but has done nothing about it. Is there anything we can do to protect our property from this very persistent plant?

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January 17, 2008 9:30 AM

New neighbor has old one exasperated

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: The adult son of a deceased neighbor moved into her Seattle home and is becoming very difficult. He parks his numerous vehicles in front of other neighbors' houses for days and weeks on end. He purposely assaults plants in my planting strip while throwing a football. He's been very antagonistic when approached. What recourse do we have for dealing with this neighbor?

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December 14, 2007 10:25 AM

Dealing with neighbor's invading trees

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: Our neighbor has aspen trees planted near our fence on the property line. We are constantly battling the problem of aspen shoots/suckers that come up in our flower beds, lawn, etc. I have recently found them coming up along the foundation of the house as well. Our lawn is showing damage from these, and to say the least they are a nuisance to be constantly pulling up. The trees have aphids as well. We do not want to cause problems with the neighbor, but what are our legal rights in this matter?


A: The law allows you to cut off, at the property line, any part of a neighbor's tree that trespasses onto your property. But you have no legal standing to require your neighbor to cut down the tree/s.

Thus what you're doing now is the extent of your legal rights.

However, you can certainly talk to your neighbor about this situation. Perhaps he/she is also having problems with shoots, suckers and aphids from these aspens. Maybe he'd be open to taking them down and replacing them with less invasive trees. You could sweeten the deal by chipping in some money to do so.

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December 4, 2007 4:00 PM

Downed tree causes neighbor's concerns

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: During the big storm a 150-foot-tall tree on my neighbor's property fell onto mine. We're on the Olympic Peninsula. It whacked a couple of my trees pretty hard, then landed snug at the base of them, securing some root structure that might be critical to anchoring my trees to the hillside. I'm concerned that removing the fallen tree could harm my property. What can I do to keep my neighbor from removing it, short of buying the tree from her? I think she might want to sell it for the timber. Is there some period of time in which she needs to remove it before it's mine?

A: When a tree falls onto your property, you have a legal right to cut it back to the property line. That's what nationally known tree expert Victor Merullo suggests you do. Then wait to see what your neighbor does.

"Unless the other party requests to take it back, it's abandoned property," says Merullo, an attorney in Ohio. And your neighbor must make that request. Otherwise coming onto your land to haul away the tree is considered trespassing.

Further, your neighbor must ask within a reasonable amount of time. What's reasonable?

There's no set amount of time, but Merullo says that in general a couple of weeks is reasonable. (Obviously the timeline would be much shorter if the tree had damaged a home, which didn't happen in your case.)

As for your neighbor wanting the tree for its lumber value, Merullo says it's not a foregone conclusion it has monetary value. "If one tree falls and other trees stand, there's some indication this tree may have been a hazardous tree."

That means it could be diseased (something an arborist could diagnose). It also means the neighbor is responsible for any damage that tree does to your property.

As cordially as possible, inform your neighbor that the tree has potentially destabilized your property, and if this is so, the neighbor could owe you.

Then tell your neighbor that in exchange for leaving the tree in place you won't ask for any damages or clean up costs, and you'll be responsible for whatever happens next.

For more about trees and storms, read my colleague Diana Wurn's story following last's years devastating storms.


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October 24, 2007 9:00 AM

When trees overhang sidewalks

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: I live in a section of Kirkland that's generally well-kept. However some homeowners let trees hang over sidewalks, or let their shrubs block sidewalks, so you have to move out into the street to avoid the branches. Are the homeowners liable if you injure your eye while walking at night? Is there a law that says you must keep your shrubs from blocking a sidewalk?

A: If you're injured by someone's property while walking on the public right of way, you could well have a case against the homeowner. Indeed, getting injured by an overhanging branch would be akin to tripping over a bike left on the sidewalk, presuming the municipality prohibits such obstructions. Both would be considered negligence.

So what's the city of Kirkland's position on overhanging greenery? This is where the Internet comes in handy. Like many local cities, Kirkland has put its laws and regulations online.

And like many governmental sites, it has a search function so citizens with questions like yours can easily find the answers. (For those without computers at home, Internet access also is available on computers at public libraries, which are also likely to have printed versions of local laws.)

Thanks to the efficiency of search engines you don't even have to know the precise name of the local laws. Type in Kirkland city laws. Or Kirkland city code. Or Kirkland laws. Up pops "Codes and Laws of Kirkland" which leads to Kirkland's Municipal Code. That's what you want.

Then type sidewalks into the Kirkland site's search function, and here's part of what you get:
19.04.010 Obstructions in right-of-way.

"It is a simple crime for any person to drop, deposit, leave or permit to be deposited upon a street or sidewalk or within other portions of the public right-of-way any object, structure, construction material, equipment or other natural or artificial thing which obstructs or tends to obstruct vehicles or persons traveling thereon.

"Such a deposit is a public nuisance. As an alternative to, or in addition to, issuance of a citation for violation of this section, the city may take such action as may be necessary to abate the nuisance. Whenever the nuisance poses a present danger, the city has the authority to cause its immediate removal.

"Any person violating this section shall be liable to the city for the costs of the removal of the nuisance."


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October 1, 2007 4:14 PM

Failing retaining wall vexes neighbor

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: My neighbor's retaining wall of railroad ties has deteriorated in places and allowed ties and soil to encroach onto my property. Several requests over the last three or four years to fix this problem have been ignored. What are my options?

A: Yours is one of several recent questions from readers concerned about neighbors either failing to maintain existing retaining walls or building new ones that appear to be insufficient to do the job.

Seattle attorney Brian Lawler, of Lawler Burroughs & Baker, gives general advice for dealing with these situations.

Legally speaking, you may have a case of trespass or nuisance. So one option is to retain a lawyer to explore a legal resolution. That could culminate in a court order compelling the neighbor to stop the trespass. But Lawler doesn't recommend this option unless you cannot resolve the situation in a less adversarial way. There are several possible steps you can take.

First, he recommends you get a survey of the boundary between yourself and your neighbor. "People have very strong ideas about where their boundaries are, and they are often wrong," he says. They should "get the survey, otherwise they may find themselves guilty of trespass."

If your neighbor is currently building what appears to be a substandard wall, call your city or county building department. Often permits are needed, and if your neighbor was required to get one and didn't, or isn't building up to snuff, the local code enforcement folks may resolve that.

Once you're confident that an existing problematic retaining wall is your neighbor's, call your county's dispute resolution service. They offer advice and mediation for resolving neighborhood disputes, and many do so for free. (A statewide list of county mediation programs is available at www.resolutionwa.org.)

With your permission, a mediator will call your neighbor to request a meeting between the three of you. This puts your neighbor on notice, in a non-confrontational way, that you are serious about resolving this situation and willing to work with them.

"Sometimes the mediator is tonic on the water and can smooth out otherwise heated communications and get them flowing back and forth," Lawler notes.

If this approach doesn't work, then write your neighbor a polite but firm letter explaining that their retaining wall is encroaching on your property and you're worried about damage. Politely let the neighbor understand that if they're aware of the potential for damage and fail to remedy it, their homeowner's insurance will not pay for any resulting damage.

If your neighbor still doesn't act, contact an attorney.

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August 30, 2007 6:00 AM

When neighbors complain about your noise

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: We've lived in our neighborhood for three years. A little over a year ago new neighbors moved in behind us. They complained of noise when we left our lovebirds' cage in our outdoor gazebo during nice weather, so after their first complaint we no longer do that. Since then they've complained repeatedly about our water fountain, which is about 8 feet from the property line. It's not loud, and other neighbors say they aren't bothered. What rights do we have? Must we turn off our fountain to make these neighbors happy?


A: Lovebirds are small parrots. While they may vocalize, they're not as loud as large parrots or some wild birds, crows being one example.

Many people enjoy bird sounds and also find the sound of running water restful and natural. So it "seems a little unusual" that your neighbors are complaining about both, says Andrew Kidde, co-manager of the Bellevue Neighborhood Mediation Program. It's his job is to mediate neighborhood and other disputes, and noise is a frequent issue.

To him, birds and water are "the quintessential lovely poetic sounds," but Kidde is quick to say "sound issues are very tricky. It does seem there's a tremendous range of noise sensitivity out there."

From a strictly legal standpoint, your neighbors cannot force you to turn off your fountain unless it's so loud it violates your community's noise ordinance. That's not likely.

So this leaves you trying to work out a neighborly accommodation. Kidde says the best way to accomplish that is by making friends with these neighbors, trying to understand where their concern is coming from, and giving them a chance to get to know you.

"Little annoyances are more easily borne if you know the other person and have some kind of relationship with them," he says. "That's often true among neighbors. So it might be worth making some effort to make some sort of friendly overture."

If this helps you understand their viewpoint, maybe a compromise can be worked out, such as moving the fountain or adding baffling if it's the sound of the pump, rather than the water, that's annoying them.

So how do you broach the subject to these neighbors? Here's what Kidde would encourage you to say:

"We're trying to enjoy our backyard, and while we don't want to upset you, we'd like to find a balance where we both can enjoy our yards. But it is a balance. So there may be some things you will have to make some concessions on as well."


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August 13, 2007 10:20 AM

Coping with neighbor's intruding trees

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: Our neighbors are planting trees five feet from our foundation that will grow to have large root systems and overhang our roof. It's so blatantly obvious that these trees will be a problem that guests routinely comment on it, although we don't point it out to them. Can we require our neighbors to remove the trees or replace them with a less invasive variety? If they refuse, are they then legally required to inform potential buyers that they may be financially responsible for major repairs to our home, since it is a foreseeable problem?


A: You cannot force your neighbors to remove these trees, says Seattle attorney Karen Willie. But you don't have to put up with the roots and branches damaging your property. Washington courts have ruled that when they overlap a property line they're trespassing. That gives you the legal right to nip branches and the roots at the property line.

However thinking strictly in legal terms is probably not the best approach, Willie says.

"You don't need legal problems -- especially with neighborhood stuff because you don't want a stomach ache when you come home," she says.

That's why Willie suggests you work with these neighbors to find out what their goal was in planting the trees. If they want a privacy shield, there are other trees that don't have huge root balls or branch out. (You can find them at www.arborday.org)

Willie suggests you either talk directly with your neighbor or write a cordial letter asking to discuss these trees and your concerns about them. A community dispute resolution center can assist you if you want help making this contact. (Most counties provide such help for free. Go to www.resolutionwa.org for statewide links to county mediation services.)

If your neighbors refuse to work with you, hire an attorney to write them a letter. It will put them on notice that their trees are causing you property damage or are likely to do so -- and their insurance company won't cover this damage if they know about the situation and decline to remedy it.

As for whether these neighbors would need to inform potential buyers of their house about the trees' potential to damage yours, the answer strictly speaking is no. Homeowners aren't required to disclose the obvious. And since your guests already are commenting about this tree situation, it's as obvious as broken window. That wouldn't have to be disclosed either.

However real estate attorneys generally advise sellers to disclose obvious problems. Their rationale: sellers don't get sued for what they disclose. They get sued for what they don't disclose.

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July 20, 2007 6:00 AM

Making a community gated

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: I am the owner of a private road that leads to a cul-de-sac where some neighbors and I live. The neighbors' access is via the private-road easement. Can I legally place a gate at the private-road access, and turn our cul-de-sac into more of a private, gated community?


A: What you have here is both a legal and a social situation. Legally speaking, Washington case law says "an owner of a property may reasonably regulate that property so long as it doesn't interfere with the reasonable use of the easement by the easement owner," says attorney Tom Peterson of Socius Law Group in Seattle.

As your neighbors are the easement owners, you must be careful not to interfere with their reasonable use, unless you take steps to assure that doesn't happen.

Peterson says this could mean having a gate that opens electronically so your neighbors don't have to get out of their cars to open it. It could mean some sort of intercom system so guests could be announce themselves and gain entry.

And it could mean running this past your local fire department and post office to see how having such a gate might affect delivery of their services.

At this point, the most important thing, Peterson says, is to be upfront with your neighbors about this idea.

"My advice over and over and over again is, work with your neighbors. Keep attempting to negotiate until you get an agreement. Don't do something unilaterally that the neighbors oppose because it just isn't worth it," he says, particularly if there's any possibility it could dissolve into an expensive lawsuit.

If you and your neighbors work out the kinks and OK the gate, you should then have an attorney draft an agreement and have that legally recorded.

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July 18, 2007 10:51 AM

Dealing with too-tall tree

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Q: When I bought my house 10 years ago, the neighbor's tree was almost mature. In the years that we were neighbors, they happily agreed to let me have it professionally trimmed to keep it below the view of Lake Washington. When they moved, the new owner allowed me to trim it once, then I was told, "We have had our last conversation about that tree."

It now eclipses our view completely when its leafed out, and it's still growing.
It's my opinion that my neighbor has essentially stolen my view. I contend that he is welcome to his tree, but I think he should have to compensate me for the serious loss in value that my home has now sustained because of it.

Do I have any rights to compensation for my stolen view?

A: You have no rights to any compensation, nor to have the tree removed. That's because there are no local laws protecting views.

Some communities have written covenants that do protect views. Those generally are planned communities with homeowners associations, and the covenants are created by the developer at the time the community is built. Your neighborhood has no such covenant. Thus homeowners there can plant view-blocking trees, build view-blocking additions. This is the way it is in most neighborhoods.

Your neighbor said he/she would no longer discuss this tree. However I wouldn't necessarily interpret this as no discussion at all.

Consider writing a cordial letter offering to remove the tree and buy and plant a replacement tree of their choice -- so long as it was a type that didn't grow too tall.

The National Arbor Day Foundation www.arborday.org has a tree guide that can help with selection.
In a perfect world, your neighbor would be neighborly, and you wouldn't have to go to the expense of removing and replacing a tree.

But the world isn't perfect and going this route -- if it will work -- is probably cheaper than enduring the financial hit a lost view will cost you.

Plus it will provide some insurance that you won't once face this issue again should the neighboring house be sold.


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July 12, 2007 10:15 AM

Another comment on sidewalks

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

A reader named Adam has added this comment regarding the sidewalk story that ran Sunday

A good addition to the article would have been a citation of city municipal code that specified that adjacent owners were responsible for city walks, or not. It has been a long time since I looked that one up. Your article implied that most, if not all sidewalks are on the owners' properties in perhaps an easement to the city or other jurisdiction. If a walk is on owner's property, it would nearly always be entirely their responsibility to maintain. However, much city sidewalks are indeed within the city's right-of-way, putting the walk under public ownership, as is the case in many older neighborhoods such as West Seattle, Magnolia, Queen Anne, Madrona, Capitol Hill, and other early developed areas of the City of Seattle. It would be an interesting follow-up to highlight the differences and locations where the jurisdiction is actually responsible for their own right-of-way improvements. Or where jurisdictions have codified, perhaps without adequate notice, costly maintenance requirements of the public property upon the adjacent property owners. That would be an interesting read for many. Related subjects are planting strips and street trees.

That's an interesting observation, Adam, about adding a citation to the city municipal code to the article. The Times circulates widely in King and Snohomish counties so you're talking about a lot of municipalities. That's why we don't add this type of information. Ditto for highlighting the differences and locations where the jurisdiction is actually responsible for their own right-of-way improvements. That said, it would make a terrific big two-county color graphic in The Times, wouldn't it?
One question for you Adam: are you sure that sidewalks in older Seattle neighborhoods are under public ownership? In my research I didn't find that to be true.
ER

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July 10, 2007 4:00 PM

A sidewalk question

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

A reader named Geoff wonders:

If I get hit by a car in the area where the sidewalk should be, is the property owner responsible, or the driver who hits me? I am a resident of the Pinehurst neighborhood where there are few sidewalks. As a pedestrian and a metro commuter, its rather annoying sharing the same space as cars as I stroll down 15th to the bus stop.


Geoff, There's no law that says every street must have a sidewalk, so I don't see how the property owner, where you were hit, would be responsible in any way. The owner wasn't acting illegally by not having a sidewalk. However, the driver was acting illegally by hitting you. So the driver would be at fault.
ER

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July 10, 2007 10:49 AM

More sidewalk comments

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Comments on Sunday's story about sidewalks continue to roll in.
Here's one from a reader named Sally:

I grew up in the Broadview area and remember...I think it was the mid '50s...my parents getting together with other neighbors to stop road paving and not add sidewalks. They won and to this day, there are no sidewalks.
Now as an adult, I live in the Greenwood area and purchased the property to build my dream house for one reason: because there were no sidewalks.
A few years ago, a group, without the knowledge of most in the area, attempted to have sidewalks installed. I went to one of the meetings and voiced my opinion. As you stated in your article, these people had no idea that they would be liable for maintaining a sidewalk in front of their house, which included, keeping the snow and ice clear, slippery leaves off and making any necessary repairs not IF but WHEN they were needed -- not to mention leaving yourself wide open for a lawsuit if someone fell.
On my own time and expense I canvassed the neighborhood and let them know that a handful of people were trying to do to our neighborhood. 'We' succeeded at that point.
If they want to have a sidewalk in front of their home, then don't buy a house that does not have one. Go to an area that does. I found out that several of these sidewalk pushers were not from this area. So to them I say, this is Greenwood, leave it alone or go back to your own area.

From Erin :
I read your article with interest, as like so many others, we have tree roots making a mess of our Montlake sidewalk. Does the city offer a referral list of contractors to do such work? That has been an impediment -- not knowing where to begin looking, or under what heading. Many thanks for any suggestions you can make.

Erin, try your question with the city's Department of Transportation at 206-684-7623.

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July 9, 2007 2:35 PM

Sidewalk comments

Posted by Elizabeth Rhodes

Sunday's cover story on sidewalks generated numerous reader comments and questions. Here's a sampling.


From Larry:

My mother, an able 84 years old, recently twice fell as a result of sidewalk irregularities in the Green Lake neighborhood, once fracturing her arm so badly that it requires replacement of one of her lower arm bones. Of the old school, she didn't bring a case against the city, although I feel she probably had reason to. Our taxes should pay for the regular maintenance of the sidewalks and for irregularities directly related to city of Seattle negligence. The homeowner should, however, be responsible for damages caused by inappropriate trees in parking strips or other sidewalk problems related to their negligence.


From Roselee:

If street trees are not provided adequate space for proper root growth and nourishment, you can expect damaged sidewalks and diseased trees and a lot of excessive overhead to keep maintaining poorly conceived plans. How often do street trees fail? The $66 million that was squandered to `promote, plan, and resolve' the viaduct replacement, would have been much better invested/utilized to correct all the bad planning and maintenance that seems to be the debacle of our city government.

From Pat:

Now find out how much CO2 is released in replacing a sidewalk. Cement is made by firing calcium carbonate. The fire produces its own CO2. The calcium carbonate releases CO2 to become calcium oxide. Chopping up and carrying away the old concrete is done with oil-fired trucks and tools. City trees cause increase CO2. You've seen the plumes coming from the cement plants along the Duwamish.

From Paula:

I was pleased to see the issue of who is responsible for sidewalks in Seattle. However, I was deeply disappointed that you did not touch on the real problem that makes it difficult for homeowners to repair their sidewalks. Why is it so expensive to repair four feet of sidewalk? Estimates of $2,000-$4,000 are typical. Is it because the City of Seattle will only allow approved contractors who then gouge citizens when they are required to repair sidewalks? If the City of Seattle wants homeowners to be responsible for sidewalks why do they not set up a process that allows other contractors to be do repairs? There is no reason to pay $1,000 a linear foot for concrete.

Paula, Seattle's Department of Transportation can answer your questions. Call its Customer Service Line, 206-684-7623. ER.


From Brook:

If the sidewalk is in fact private property, how much leeway does the landowner have in determining whether or not it is unsafe for travel or what amount of use can the sidewalk be put to as long as the sidewalk is safe from hazards? Could I make a personal determination that the sidewalk is unsafe for use and poses and immediate threat to public safety and shut down the sidewalk ... perhaps forever if the cause was not apparent? Could I permanently adhere religious/personal or commercial messages on the sidewalk as long as it was still a safe means to traverse?

Those are all good questions, Brook. Perhaps Seattle's Department of Transportation can give you some answers. ER

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