Medford resident concerned with sidewalk cracks from tree root system

MEDFORD, Ore. – A concerned Medford resident is asking that the city remove trees next to a sidewalk because it’s become a public hazard.

Rodeo Ray has lived in the neighborhood on West 4th Street and Rose Avenue for over 20 years. But he says trees planted by the city, near his home have root systems cracking the concrete, making it unstable.

Ray said that multiple people have tripped on the sidewalk, including a little girl on a scooter. He said he’s attended city council meetings asking for the city’s help, but he said they aren’t taking responsibility.

Just because they have a thing on the books going, ‘hey, if anything happens on the sidewalk and it’s in front of your house or by your house you’re responsible.’ Well wait a minute, I didn’t plant them trees there. How is it my responsibility? I don’t even own it.

Ray said he was told by officials that he can’t tamper with the trees because it’s city property. We reached out to the city of Medford, they sent us this statement:

This matter was heard by City Council at the May 16, 2024 Council meeting.  Medford Municipal Code 3.010 provides that property owners to maintain the sidewalks abutting their property in a safe condition.  The sidewalk at issue had heaved, creating a trip hazard, and after a complaint was made to the City, the property owner received a notice regarding the sidewalk.

In such cases, if the property owner cannot afford to fix the sidewalk, the City can fix the sidewalk and either lien the property (to recover the expense when the property eventually sells) or enter into a payment plan with the property owner.

In this case, Mr. Ray, the property owner’s tenant, argued on behalf of the property owner that the City should not be responsible because the sidewalk likely was being pushed up by tree roots, and the property owner did not plant the tree.  Ultimately, the fact that a tree in the right-of-way is shifting a sidewalk over time does not change the operation of Medford Municipal Code 3.010.

After hearing from both City staff and Mr. Ray, City Council denied the property owner’s appeal and directed staff to fix the sidewalk and lien the property, so the cost to fix the sidewalk would eventually be reimbursed but would not come out of the pocket of either the property owner or Mr. Ray.

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Maximus Osburn is a reporter for NBC5 News. He studied at California State University-Northridge, graduating with a degree in Broadcasting. Maximus is an avid martial arts enthusiast and combat sports fan. He even traveled to Thailand to train with martial arts experts. Maximus loves movies, nature, and doing things outside his comfort zone, like swimming in sub-freezing lakes in the winter.
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