Medford residents fight City Hall over the costs of sidewalk repairs

MEDFORD — Susan Liebzeit doesn't want to fight City Hall, but the Medford resident thinks its time to change the law requiring homeowners pay to repair sidewalks abutting their properties.

Liebzeit appeared Thursday before the Medford City Council to plead her case, and was rewarded with a 90-day extension to pay to fix the one-and-a-half inch offset that has raised on a section of her sidewalk on South Holly Street.

"At this time, it is really bad for our community with so many people unemployed that they pay to fix the sidewalks," Liebzeit said.

The estimated cost to fix the raised section of sidewalk is between $300 and $600, Liebzeit said. She recently has returned to work part time after being laid off from her previous job in the insurance business.

"If I have to fix it I will, but I feel it's unfair at a time like this," she said.

The council received two additional complaints Tuesday from property owners arguing that they should not be required to pay for sidewalk repairs.

The council granted a 90-day extension to a property owner in the 2900 block of Seckel Street.

Medford Public Works Director Cory Crebbin announced the city would repair a raised sidewalk in the 3000 block of El Dorado Drive after it was discovered a sewer line installed in 1979 was responsible for the damage.

The council and Medford Mayor Gary Wheeler said they understood why Liebzeit would be upset for repairing a stretch of property heavily used by the public.

Wheeler said he was forced to repair his sidewalk after someone drove on it.

"I am sympathetic, but we're all in the same boat," he said.

Councilman Al Densmore told the assembly he is concerned that as the city's urban forest grows older more people will come forward with sidewalk problems caused by expanding tree roots.

Sidewalks have been a hot topic in Medford after a Central Point contractor filed complaints with the city about sidewalk problems while at the same time publicizing its concrete business to the homeowners it was turning in.

City Councilman Bob Strosser described the move by Superior Concrete as "predatory."

Liebzeit said she wants the council to consider overturning the law leaving property owners on the hook for sidewalk repairs.

"The city has been very nice, and I don't blame them for upholding a law," she said. "But now's the time to see if this is hurting our community and do something about it."

Liebzeit supports codes such as those in Grants Pass, which require the city and the property owner to split the cost of sidewalk repairs.

She plans to put together a petition to present to the council in hopes of giving property owners a much-needed break in the tough economy.

"We don't have control over who uses a sidewalk," she said. "They are public places."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471 or e-mail

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