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Getting to the root of the problem

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Posted: Sunday, November 23, 2008 10:00 pm

When people pass Natalie Vice's house, they do not stop to admire all the improvements she and her husband have made to their home in last three years.

Instead, people stop to inspect the dark bluish-purple rubber sidewalk underneath their feet at the corner of Elm and Hutchins streets.

"We own this property, water the grass and keep everything nice," Vice said. "And then they put that in."

The city of Lodi installed the sidewalk in the front of Vice's house to protect the roots of a large city-owned maple tree. Lodi used $8,225 in taxpayer money for the project, city spokesman Jeff Hood said.

If the city had replaced the sidewalk with normal concrete, extensive root surgery would have been necessary, which would have led to the tree's removal.

Lodi personnel always look for a way to save trees when possible, Hood said. The main advantage of the rubber sidewalk is it allows the tree roots to expand without cracking. Also, it is a lot thinner, so the city does not have to dig down as far and cut into the tree's roots, he said.

The city is already using the rubber to prevent root damage in two other locations - 412 E. Walnut St. and 223 Olive Court.

While Vice understands the city's position on not removing the tree, she said the sidewalk is still an eyesore. She is worried about it lowering the value of her home because she has three different types of sidewalk bordering her property.

Statesman Realty owner Larry Underhill didn't comment on how the sidewalk will affect the value of this particular house, but he did say the realtors' philosophy is that people make a decision about a home before they get out of the car. He said anything out of the ordinary might discourage potential buyers.

During the Nov. 5 City Council meeting, Natalie's husband, Tony, voiced concerns about unevenness, roots growing over the edge and liability for the rubber sidewalk.

If a person injures themselves on the rubber sidewalk because of a design defect, it is the city's responsibility, City Attorney Steve Schwabauer said. However, if a third party contributes to the injury, he or she would be liable. For instance, if someone tampered with the tree and it resulted in an injury, that person would be responsible.

Tony Vice said the city will also cut a grid pattern in the concrete next to the rubber to make the sidewalks match and fix some scuff marks. He said he is happy about the compromise to keep the rubber but fix the concrete.

"We worked together to make sure we are not wasting the taxpayers' money," he said.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com

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  • posted at 5:54 am on Wed, Nov 26, 2008.


    midtowner, actually I own 2, and again...it is a sidewalk..... get over it..

  • posted at 1:08 pm on Mon, Nov 24, 2008.


    if the trees roots continue to grow, they will push that stupid rubber sidewalk up, you still will have that triping problm.

  • posted at 1:06 pm on Mon, Nov 24, 2008.


    educator has the right idea, there is a machine that will cut the roots uplifting the sidewalk, it won`t kill the tree when they are removed, then new cement is added problem solved and a lot less than 8 grand. If all else fails, cut down the tree before it falls on someones car or house, get a stump grinder to remove the stump and start over with a new tree.

  • posted at 8:08 am on Mon, Nov 24, 2008.


    Hey Robb: if you owned a home, which I doubt you do, you would want it to appear well kept, if you have any pride. I know the homeowners personally and they have invested a lot of time and money into making their home look beautiful. The sidewalk is similar to putting hubcaps on a Ferrari, looks awful.

  • posted at 7:52 am on Mon, Nov 24, 2008.


    I don't see why the rubber sidewalk isn't gray to match most existing sidewalks. Other than the purple color, I think this is a good solution.

  • posted at 7:48 am on Mon, Nov 24, 2008.


    It's a sidewalk, Get Over It!Like it matters....

  • posted at 5:17 am on Mon, Nov 24, 2008.


    I'm glad the old tree was saved. I'm also glad that my small children will have a safe sidewalk to walk on when we go downtown to catch a movie. I am also glad that many elderly residents in this neighborhood will also be able to walk down the street safely without a fear of falling and tripping. Please with this being the week of Thanksgiving be thankful that you have a beautiful home to live in and the means to maintain it and count your blessings. I'm sure many would trade an ugly sidewalk to be where you are.

  • posted at 3:23 am on Mon, Nov 24, 2008.


    If they try to sell the house, I wonder if the listing agent will disclose the defect or the fact that there was an article about the defect in the LNS? I know our honest Realtors will most likely disclose this? Just like they will disclose information about houses for sale in the blighted Redevelopment area. The RDA boundaries were selected to circumscribe the east side blight. Hhm?

  • posted at 3:18 am on Mon, Nov 24, 2008.


    Perhaps Lodi is doing something wrong, My friend owns a home in Downtown stockton where all the bungalos and such are. They have a Recycled rubber sidewalk that the city installed there and while it is slightly darker it is not deep purple is like a purplish grey, but maybe it has faded? it is also cut to match the style of the sidewalk in the neighborhood. Its a great Idea to save the older trees which bring shade, reduce the need for air conditioning, bring great amounts of oxygen and beauty to a neighbrhood that just cant be replaced by a new tree or trees for 20 or more years. Give it a chance, it will work.

  • posted at 2:39 am on Mon, Nov 24, 2008.


    1. Cut down old tree.2. Replace sidewalk.3. Plant new tree.Easy solution that wouldn't cost $8000. Also would have prevented further damage to sidewalk for many many years. Too bad our society lives in fear of enviro-fanaticism.

  • posted at 1:12 am on Mon, Nov 24, 2008.


    LNS it would have been nice if a picture had accompanied this story.

  • posted at 12:48 am on Mon, Nov 24, 2008.


    The sidewalk in front of the Vice's home is hideous! The fact that the C.O.L. spent over $8K is absolutley ridiculous! Tony and Natalie have made dramatic improvements to their beautiful home and to have an ugly sidewalk in front is a disgrace.



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