Sidewalk repair in Portland is complaint-based. But no one complained about Bell's sidewalk in Southeast Portland. Instead, someone complained about the sidewalk elsewhere on the street. But PBOT’s policy is, once it gets a complaint, it inspects the entire block-face to see if anywhere else is a problem. Bell said the fact that no one complained about his sidewalk makes it even more frustrating.
“It's a disappointing system. We're all dealing to stay compliant within this “half-inch” marker that isn't a reasonable standard because sidewalks inherently have half inch gaps all over.”
That “half-inch” marker that Bell is talking about is the PBOT standard. If a sidewalk has a half-inch gap, lip or dip, the city considers it a code violation. But when PBOT fixed it, it also billed Bell for work that wasn't even on his property.
“They did go beyond the property lines, billed me for it until I did point out to them that they had made this mistake, then they reduced the bill a sort of random amount.”
In addition, PBOT also required Bell to replace the cracked curbs along his sidewalks. And that would include shutting down lanes of traffic, hiring flaggers and jackhammering down more than a foot deep into the streets. But when he questioned the inspectors, they decided the curbs were adequate.
“They changed their minds after they came out and did my sidewalks. They changed their minds that the curbs were no longer an issue. They called it a ‘field decision’ that was made and it wasn't necessary.”