Clear and Accessible Sidewalks
The residents of North Berkeley, the City of Berkeley Parks and Recreation Department, and the Commission on Disability ask that all property owners be aware of their responsibilities if plants at the front of a property block people from using the sidewalk. According the Berkeley Municipal Code, plantings that originate on private property or the planting strip* and intrude into the public right-of-way, are a nuisance and the responsibility of the property owner to abate.
12.44.050 Nuisance growths--Designated--Prohibited.
No tree, shrub or plant shall be allowed or permitted on private property, or partially on private property and public property, which . . . prevents or impairs the free and unencumbered use of such streets or sidewalks for vehicular or pedestrian traffic; or which has become so diseased or weakened so as to be dangerous to persons using such streets or sidewalks.
Any tree, shrub or plant in violation of this section is declared to be a nuisance. (Ord. 4420-NS (part), 1969: Ord. 3380-NS § 5, 1954)
Use of the sidewalks is an important part of community life, and obstructing of the sidewalk may create an impossible and dangerous barrier to all people, especially those who have mobility or vision impairments. The District 5 Office encourages all property owenrs to keep trees and shrubbery along the front of their property pruned and away from the sidewalk. Overgrown plantings may create a hazardous situation for pedestrians by forcing them to use the streets.
The statement above is available as a Sidewalk Courtesy Notice in pdf form for printing and distributing by hand.
*To report a City tree that needs pruning, call the Parks Division Field Office, Forestry Unit at (510) 981-6660 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org