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Group submits signatures to get publicly-funded sidewalk repairs on ballot

Denver Streets Partnership wants the city — not private property owners — to be responsible for paying for sidewalk repairs.

DENVER — A push to make Denver’s sidewalks safer for people who walk through the city may be on the ballot this November. 

Currently, property owners are responsible for paying for repairs. Voters could have the chance to change that and publicly fund the repairs.

Denver Streets Partnership submitted more than 19,000 signatures in support of getting the initiative on the ballot this November. They need 9,000 to be approved.

If passed, the measure would change the way sidewalks around the city are repaired and maintained.

"We just got tired of waiting. We felt it was time to just go directly to the voters and let them decide whether sidewalks should be a priority," said Jill Locantore, Director of the Denver Streets Partnership. "Denver could be an incredibly walkable city."

Right now, it's up to the people who own the land adjacent to the sidewalks to pay for the repairs. That means a lot of sidewalks aren’t fixed if people don’t want to pay for them.

"The current system is really inequitable," Locantore said. "We all suffer from having bad sidewalks in our neighborhood, but particularly if you’re a person with a disability, an older adult, a parent with children and especially lower-income households that depend on walking to get to transit and other daily destinations."

If the initiative makes it onto the ballot and voters approve it, the repairs would be publicly funded through a small fee paid by property owners every year.

"We treat sidewalks differently than other basic infrastructure," Locantore said. "Whereas our property taxes pay for paving the roads and maintaining the stormwater system, we have always said that sidewalks are the responsibility of the adjacent property owner."

Denver wouldn’t be the first city in Colorado to publicly fund sidewalk repairs. The folks at Denver Streets Partnership have looked to places like Englewood to base their model around. Englewood has a voluntary fee that homeowners can choose to pay to fund sidewalk repairs there.

RELATED: Denver’s new rental property fee likely won’t crack like the sidewalk repair program

RELATED: Denver Streets Partnership trying to get publicly funded sidewalks on the ballot

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