Sidewalks + Your Projects

C3 Building Solutions   •   May, 2021

by Roxanne Plasencia

picture of sidewalk

Sidewalks: How Your Projects May be Affected

As of October 1, 2020, the Planning and Development Department for the City of Houston began reviewing and enforcing sidewalk widths as defined by the Walkable Places Plan (WPP) and Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) initiative. Adoption of the WPP and TOD has resulted in modifications to the sidewalk standards. The goal is to enhance our city’s walkability and improve pedestrians’ safety throughout Houston’s neighborhoods. 

So what does this mean? 

It means that no person or entity may seek approval for a building permit or certificate of occupancy or other construction permit without first obtaining approval of a sidewalk plan [in accordance with the requirements of section 40-553 of the Houston Code of Ordinance.] Under these requirements, sidewalk widths will vary from 5’ to 10;’ with a safety buffer of at least 4’. To read more about the sidewalk requirements please check out the Houston Code of Ordinances Ch 40 Article XXII.

Safety + Additional Concerns

At C3, we believe the safety of our citizens comes first. However, this change has brought resistance from clients as a result of project delays. The significant difference is sidewalks are now required to be in every neighborhood. In the past, they were only required in communities with existing sidewalks.

The concern with this initiative is that places the safety of the sidewalks on the homeowners and businesses seeking a permit. While we believe the safety of our sidewalks is important, we don’t believe this burden should be on the permit seekers.

If you feel strongly against this new initiative, please reach out to your council member to voice your concerns. It is an option to apply for a Sidewalk Modification. You will be required to submit a completed application form, an HCAD record of the property, a complete site plan showing the location of the proposed sidewalk, and payment. The application fee is $1144 and is non-refundable. The Planning and Development Department reviews applications in collaboration with the Office of City Engineers and the Mayor’s Office of Disabilities.

Plans + Resources

C3 Building Solutions is currently partnering with local Houston Organizations to repair existing sidewalks in the Houston Heights area, please contact us if you would like more information.

If you require assistance with applying for a Sidewalk Modification or have questions about how this may affect your project, call us now at 713-369-0925 or send us an inquiry.

Additional resources:

Sidewalk Requirements FAQ

Houston Code of Ordinances – Sidewalks

To take a more in-depth look at this subject, check out Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths by Angie Schmitt.