Opinion polling for the city’s proposed $800 million infrastructure bond shows that 72% of people would be more likely to vote yes if it included a city-funded sidewalk program that shifted the financial burden off of homeowners. This is second only to improving the condition and safety of the city’s existing streets and bridges.
Current city policy makes property owners responsible for maintaining adjacent sidewalks. If they can’t fix it, the city will do it and send them a bill. A homeowner with a corner lot could end up with a $10,000 lien on their property, whether their home is worth $30,000 or $3 million. For most Kansas Citians, that math simply does not work.
Infrastructure, especially transportation, is a platform for bigger civic interests like the economy, health, innovation, mobility, food access, and social equity. Sidewalks are one of the basic building blocks of that civic platform.
Cities across the country are finding that when they include sidewalks and a clear vision for mobility, they have success winning voter approval for big investments in infrastructure. The list of winning multi-modal elections includes Oklahoma City, Atlanta, Seattle, and Oakland – just to name a few.
Using the infrastructure bond to make a significant investment in the city’s $1 billion sidewalk backlog is the right thing to do. It’s also the winning thing to do.