Comment of the Day: Who’s Supposed To Fix Your Wonky Sidewalk

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHO’S SUPPOSED TO FIX YOUR WONKY SIDEWALK Drawing of Broken Sidewalk“When I was a Super Neighborhood President, I learned all about sidewalks. In general, they are the responsibility of the adjacent property owners — UNLESS they are adjacent to or on a heavily traveled route to a school. Then the City of Houston will build them as part of their Safe Sidewalk Program (SSP). They also have a deal where if PWE digs up a sidewalk or driveway curb cut for any reason, they will replace it — like juancarlos said. But that’s kind of a given. (If they didn’t, they’d be real douches). That being the case, if Montrose residents are begging the City for better sidewalks, they’re probably barking up the wrong tree. I wonder if it would be better to get together with commercial and multifamily owners in the area, and lobby the Management District to do it. The Montrose District has funding, unlike the Civic Clubs and Super Neighborhoods, and they also have the project management skill to get this sort of thing done. And if I’m a business or apartment owner who pays an assessment, I want something in return; a new sidewalk for my customers would be nice.” [ZAW, commenting on Replacing a Texas City H-E-B with an H-E-B; Would You Like Taller Billboards?] Illustration: Lulu

18 Comment

  • Great comment. Commercial owners pay a lot to the Montrose District (oh, try to not pay it, I tried, got sued). The “sad” fact is most (or a lot? some? much of?) the MMD budget is legal fees to fight the owners that want to get rid of the MMD. I don’t know how much the MMD has left after their legal fees are paid (with money, ironically, that comes from people trying to sue them to dissolve).
    But yeah, a good use of MMD money would be new sidewalks. They have their meetings every month at the Montrose Center. I bet if people showed up and put that request on the agenda it would at least be considered. And I’d also guess that something that’s very PUBLIC and VISIBLE would give the MMD a lot of good press. Something they could use.
    But, it’s easier to call 311 so I don’t see the issue being fixed anytime soon :(

  • Good luck with the safe sidewalk program. We tried to do this in the 5th ward for our residents and the city sent back a note saying “We will come by to survey this sidewalk in the next 6 months and if it is considered a bad sidewalk, we will add it to our CIP list and should be constructed in the next 4 to 5 years.” Its almost as bad as Comcast.

  • I noticed on the MMD website that they are actually requesting that people sign the petition. I assume many of the professionals associated with, or contracted by, the MMD are aware of the City of Houston’s policies regarding sidewalks–so it seems to me that they are actually just “stirring the pot” over at the MMD on this issue rather than offering practical solutions for those who live, work, and/or play in Montrose.

  • Does anyone know what the Montrose Management District actually DOES that benefits the commercial property owners who pay their assessments?

  • Wait, are Montrose residents crying that they can’t fix their own sidewalks? Maybe the city should head over to River Oaks and repave some driveways while we’re at it. Kind of hard to buy the crocodile tears of people in half million dollar houses saying they can’t handle basic maintenance.

  • I know the MMD pays for street sweeping for the districts bike lanes. And I while back I think they were credited with putting the heart shaped bike racks up in front of a couple of businesses.

  • Great Comment of the Day!

    It seems ZAW’s experience is typical, unfortunately. It just seems so counterproductive to have busted up sidewalks in your most walkable neighborhoods simply because people refuse or can’t afford to fix the sidewalks in front of their house. I’m all for a slight increase in property tax to pay for the C of H to fix ALL cracked up sidewalks. It’s dangerous to walk on the street in neighborhood’s like Montrose, but on some steets you have to do that or break your neck on cracked up and root lifted sidewalks. On a related note, if you really want to live dangerously try walking the sidewalks in the Garden District of New Orleans.

  • Without knowing the specifics of the Montrose Management District’s budget or service plan (I could probably fairly quickly get it though), I will say that the design and engineering for sidewalks, and associated community outreach, is an appropriate role for a management district and one that is probably within fiscal possibility. However, unless the district covers a major activity center or is partnered with a TIRZ over the same area, it is unlikely to have the resources to actually build them.

    Which would leave the area with two possibilities: either have a private fundraising effort (the district could create a 501c(3) to aid this if it wanted), form a POA to do it, or just keep begging the City – keeping mind that the City, outside of TIRZs, is trying very very hard to avoid paying for sidewalks outside the conditions that have already been mentioned in the other Swamplot post.

  • Me personally, as a protest against pedestrianism, I would remove my sidewalk (after all my property is all the way to the curb and I pay taxes for it) and plant the thickest on thorniest cacti money can buy.

  • Hear, hear, Shannon. We all use and benefit from safe sidewalks, collectively.

  • If you live in an older neighborhood you do decide to be a good citizen and fix your sidewalks PLEASE get the variance that allows you to make the new sidewalks the same width as the old sidewalks. The sidewalks in my neighborhood are beginning to look exceedingly stupid going from 3.5 to 4 feet and back again from house to house.

  • This is the exact same issue I am having with my alley in Riverside Terrace. The City says it’s my responsibility to maintain (i.e. mow) it, but won’t let me pave it without a $10k engineering drawing and drainage plan for the entire alley/block. They also refuse to act as a liaison for the multiple abutting property owners to unite with a single resolution. Meanwhile it just gets overgrown and used by thieves, while it’s effectively useless as a driveway for the homeowners abutting it.

  • Commonsense: this site would be so dull without you. Gus should pay you.
    I don’t mean that as a “here! Here!” to all of what you say, only that I always get a laugh.

  • @Cody: if it’s anything like the Management District I worked with, a big chunk of their budget is actually spent on safety and security: Harris County Deputy fees in particular. I can’t speak to the specifics of the Montrose District, though.
    @LocalPlanner: is there any map showing the borders of the TIRZs? I didn’t have time to look very closely, but I couldn’t find one. I don’t know that Montrose has a TIRZ. Midtown does.

  • @ all of the previous solutions/ suggestions. The COH could assist the various stakeholders and get everybody on the same page and roll out infrastructure improvements on a block by block / neighborhood by neighborhood basis. I.E. : the property owner pays for the sidewalk repair / the City approves the request / the contractors work WITH the property owner(s) ; and the fricking MMD gets a feather in its cap & some undeserved kudos for basically doing NOTHING except assessing “fees” on commercial property owners with out that whole fascist scheme (which was NEVER approved by the voters. And Clyde Wynn, Kathy Hubbard ( the mayor’s wife ) Michael Grover,et al @ MMD are all democrats. And they got their good “friend” Ellen Cohen to ram this through the Texas Legislature . Another fricking politician!!! No wonder people are over the MMD and the COH ,etc.

  • Local Planner, why don’t you work for the city? I think I love your logic.

  • @ LOcal Planner. Please come to the next Hyde Park Community meeting. Usually the first Monday of the month at Rudyard’s, upstairs at 6.

  • I appreciate the invite folks, but I’m unavailable at that time, and Montrose locals should have no problem getting hold of the management district’s service plan as it is a public document. Hawes Hill Calderon is the contractual administrator, so you could contact them. Remember that they’re beholden only to commercial property owners (including apartments and residential rental properties, since they are income-producing), so trying to promote the use of their resources on streets with only owner-occupied homes would be an uphill fight. If they have service plan items and budget for categories like “Planning” or “Engineering” etc. then there could be opportunities.

    @ZAW: No, there is no TIRZ over most of Montrose. You can find a map of TIRZ’s on the City’s website at

    The City has instituted some sort of program to help communities outside of TIRZs get sidewalks – I think it’s meant to help ease the design and engineering cost burden. I don’t think the capital costs are subsidized though.

    Any general commitment of the City to start fixing or building sidewalks outside of the limited instances where they already do so would be a major, major policy change that would likely occur only with immense public pressure from across the voter base. It would be as big a hurdle as the “rain tax” (drainage fee) was, so please understand what you’re asking for. Not that it wouldn’t be worth it…