Planning & Development

Press Release

City Amends Ordinance to Establish Fee In Lieu of Sidewalk Construction

January 26, 2023 -- City Council voted January 25 to adopt Sidewalk Ordinance amendments that give property owners and developers another option to comply with the City’s existing sidewalk ordinance requirements, while still advancing the City’s goals to create a safe, comfortable, and accessible sidewalk network for all Houstonians.

The amendments establish the option for property owners and developers to opt out of constructing the required sidewalk and instead pay a Fee in Lieu of Sidewalk Construction for qualifying properties that meet certain criteria such as homes in neighborhoods without existing sidewalks. These fees will be collected for a Sidewalk Fund, which will be used to construct sidewalks that extend the sidewalk network to key destinations.

The ordinance amendments will go into effect March 1, 2023, and will apply to new residential building permit applicants and applicants previously approved for a sidewalk construction deferral.

“We recognize that not all parts of our city were built the same way,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “This balances our goals for multi-modal transportation with the needs of pedestrians across the city who want and need sidewalks, and with the desires of property owners whose neighborhoods were designed without sidewalks and would prefer to remain that way.”

Seventeen Sidewalk Service Areas have been established to collect the Fee in Lieu of Sidewalk Construction and to allocate sidewalk projects within each area. The funds will be divided in a 70/30 split between building sidewalks in the area the fee was collected in, and a city-wide network based on need. This allocation will help to promote complete sidewalk network equitably throughout the city. The Sidewalk Fund will be managed by the Planning and Development Department and implemented by Houston Public Works.

The amendments aim to overcome challenges with the implementation of the Sidewalk Ordinance 2020-684, that went into effect on October 1, 2020, and help achieve the goals of Plan Houston, Resilient Houston, Houston Climate Action Plan, Complete Streets, and Vision Zero.

“We looked at the previous ordinance and heard our customers. Simply put, if you are building or rebuilding in a neighborhood that doesn’t have sidewalks, we’re not going to build an unconnected segment of sidewalk that does not support Houstonians’ needs,” said Planning and Development Director Margaret Wallace Brown. “However, it is important to build out our sidewalk network, and this new fund will help make that possible.

For full details, visit the Sidewalk Ordinance Amendment Website. You can read the Sidewalk Ordinance Amendment FAQ’s here.  View a sidewalk ordinance presentation and view the Sidewalk Service Area map.