City doesn't police icy sidewalks

I understand that sidewalks are the adjoining property owners' responsibility. What about keeping sidewalks clear of snow and ice? Are they liable to be sued for accidents and would they get a citation? Is the city responsible for accidents on city roads that aren't maintained properly?

— Ronda, Medford

The simple answer to your question, Ronda, is that you can just about sue anybody for anything.

We checked with Medford Public Works Director Cory Crebbin. Under city code, the property owner indemnifies the city against any damages resulting from the sidewalks.

However, the city doesn't go out and cite a property owner if there is snow or ice on a sidewalk. Crebbin said he's heard people say it's better to leave the snow on sidewalks so people realize they should walk with caution. Other people say the sidewalks should be cleared.

"I'm not going to say anybody's liable," he said. Discussions about liability are the domain of lawyers, Crebbin said.

For as long as there's been a city of Medford, the sidewalks have been the responsibility of the property owner.

"In the minutes of council meetings in the late 1800s, I saw that the city inspected the boardwalks and instructed the property owners to pound the nails down that were protruding," Crebbin said.

Crebbin said the city is not responsible for snow or ice that accumulates on roads, though the city does make every effort to deal with it.

Recently the sand distributed on the roadways hasn't been pushed into the ice because the temperatures have been so cold. "We've been sanding over and over again, and the rock just gets pushed off," he said.

The city has kept a portion of McAndrews Road closed because the ice has been so dangerous. He said the problem isn't for drivers going up McAndrews, but for drivers coming down. "Once you start into an uncontrolled descent, there is not much that can stop a vehicle," he said.

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