Safe, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods are a priority for our community.  An important component of this is the City's sidewalk repair program, developed to provide for the maintenance of sidewalks within Iowa City. Iowa State Code 364.12(d) and City Code 16-1C-3(c) provides the City of Iowa City the ability to require that the maintenance and repair of public sidewalks be the responsibility of the adjoining property owner.

Inspection frequency

For the purposes of this program, Iowa City is divided into ten geographical areas. Each year, the sidewalks in one of those ten areas are thoroughly inspected in accordance with the criteria established by the City Engineer to determine if sidewalk repairs are necessary. See the sidewalk inspection program map. Only sidewalks are inspected. The parkway, driveway approaches, water stop boxes located outside of the sidewalk, etc. are not inspected as part of the program.

In addition, sidewalks are inspected outside of the geographical area if a complaint is received on the condition of a sidewalk.

Inspection criteria

A damaged sidewalk with bright pink markings spray painted on the walk to indicate damage.
The inspector marks pink arrows on sidewalk squares which meet one or more of the following criteria:
  • The sidewalk is displaced with a vertical edge of 1" or more
  • The sidewalk is depressed or raised more than 3” from the normal line of grade at any place, or ponds water, or has a drainage way formed into the surface
  • The sidewalk has cracked into four or more pieces or is missing a piece greater than four square inches.
  • The sidewalk has spalled over 50 percent of the surface
  • The sidewalk has horizontal separations equal to or greater than 1" within the square or greater than 1” at the sidewalk joints
  • The cross slope of the sidewalk exceeds more than 1" per foot. 

The inspector reports deficiencies to the homeowner on the sidewalk inspection report.

Repair process

Property owners adjacent to sidewalks that are marked for repair are notified of their responsibility to repair the sidewalk through a notification letter that is sent to the owner of record as listed at the Iowa City Assessor’s Office. 

Along with the notification letter, a copy of the sidewalk inspection report and a sidewalk repair specification detail sheet is mailed to the property owner. A May 15 or September 15 deadline for the completion of the repair work is given to the property owner. The date given is dependent upon the date the sidewalk was marked for repair and allows for a minimum of one month for the completion of the repairs.

An earlier deadline may be given dependent upon the severity of the condition of the sidewalk.

The notification letter serves as the property owner’s permit; no other paperwork or fee is required.

A re-inspection of the sidewalks marked for repair is made after the deadline date. Satisfactory repairs are noted and no further action is necessary. However, if the repair work is unsatisfactory, the adjoining property owner is notified of such. If no attempt was made to repair the sidewalk, or if the unsatisfactory repairs were not corrected, a letter is sent to the owner notifying them that the City will be taking charge of the repair work.

The City then arranges for the completion of the repair work to the sidewalks. The adjoining property owner is invoiced for all construction costs plus a $25 administrative fee per property. If the invoice remains unpaid, the costs are then assessed against the property.

City responsibilities

Overwidth sidewalks - If the sidewalk is 8 feet in width, the City will share in the costs to repair the sidewalk. The City will be responsible for one-half the costs to repair the sidewalk. If the property owner is repairing the sidewalk, they must receive approval from the City prior to commencement of repairs. If the City repairs the 8-foot sidewalk, the property owner will be invoiced one-half of the construction costs plus a $25 administrative fee. 

However, if the damage to the sidewalk can be directly attributable to the adjoining property owner’s actions (i.e. a home construction or landscaping project), the property owner will be responsible for the full 8’ width.

City causes - If the damage to the sidewalk is caused by a City owned item, i.e. a water main valve (not a service valve), a sewer manhole located within the sidewalk, or a tree located with the parkway, the City will take responsibility for the repair of the sidewalk directly as long as the damage is directly attributable to the item. Just because a City-owned item is present does not automatically mean that the item is the cause of the damage. Each situation will be evaluated individually by City staff.

Curb ramps - The City is responsible for the maintenance and repair of curb ramps across public streets.

For more information, call 319-356-5140.