Legislation passed by the Assembly on Monday would prohibit cities that currently pay for sidewalk repair to shift that burden onto homeowners without a majority vote of the public.
The Assembly vote was 48-9, with support split evenly among Democrats and Republicans.
Democratic Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes proposed the bill in response to proposals in Los Angeles to shift sidewalk repair responsibility from the city to homeowners, or to require repairs as a condition of a house sale.
Most local governments do not accept responsibility for sidewalk repair. AB 2231 would apply only to cities that passed an ordinance years ago to accept that fiscal burden. The bill would not allow repeal without a majority vote of the public.
Los Angeles adopted an ordinance in 1974 making the city responsible for sidewalks, but it now faces the prospect of massive costs to do the work. Almost half its sidewalks are in some state of disrepair, according to a legislative analysis of AB 2231.
Fuentes, of Los Angeles, contends that local governments often plant the trees that cause significant cracks or breaks in sidewalks. If a city council promised to maintain walkways, it should do so unless the voters decide otherwise, Fuentes says.
Opponents include the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties. They argue that local governments are strapped for cash and that walkways will remain in disrepair unless alternative funding sources can be found.
Besides Los Angeles, cities that could be affected by AB 2231 include Oakland, Berkeley, Half Moon Bay, Placentia, Burlingame and Redlands, according to Fuentes.
AB 2231 now goes to the Senate.