Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Heastie announced on a press release today that the City will no longer issue violations to homeowners for sidewalk damage caused by City trees. The City will also ramp up sidewalk repairs under the Trees and Sidewalks program to address 5,500 priority sites over the next three years.
“We’re not just fixing broken sidewalks – we’re fixing a broken system,” said Mayor de Blasio. “We tripled funding for tree related sidewalk repair, but homeowners were still on the hook for problems they didn’t create. As a homeowner, I know how frustrating that is. Now, if a street tree causes damage, we’re taking care of it.”
“This has been a huge quality of life concern for my constituents who have invested their savings in purchasing a home, only to be hit with this liability through no fault of their own. The problems associated with these trees became very apparent as I have been knocking on doors and visiting with constituents,” said Carl E. Heastie, Speaker of the New York State Assembly. “I am glad that the Mayor de Blasio has recognized this issue and together we have developed a solution to take the burden off these homeowners.”
The City will stop imposing liens on one, two and three family properties that have sidewalk damage caused solely by City trees. DOT and the Parks Department will still inspect for dangerous sidewalk conditions, but the City, not the homeowner, will be responsible for fixing them if they are exclusively tree related.
DOT will review the 50,000 existing notices of violation to determine which were caused exclusively by street trees and cancel the lien for any that meets the criteria. If the homeowner of the qualifying property is selling or refinancing their home, the City will expedite this re-evaluation.
“My office has been flooded with complaints from home owners in my district who unfairly received violations for lifted sidewalks which stemmed from city owned trees,” said Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein. “I am pleased that Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Heastie have found a resolution to this vexing issue which will take the burden off property owners in this city. Finally resolving this issue is a boon for homeowners across the city.”