Action Alert: closing dangerous sidewalk gaps

UPDATE: The agenda for the April 23 Council meeting is now posted with this issue as Agenda Item #19. View the amendment language here. Want to speak to Council about the amendments immediately prior to the vote? Register to speak here.

We sent the following action alert to our members on Monday, April 16:

On Monday, April 23, the Charlotte City Council will vote on amendments to the sidewalk ordinance that would ensure quality sidewalks are built when land is redeveloped.

Twenty-seven pedestrians were killed walking along and trying to cross City streets in 2017. This is the highest number ever in Charlotte. We simply can’t afford to continue to build without sidewalks!

I urge you to contact your Charlotte City Council members today to affirm your support for closing two critical loopholes that allow redevelopment to occur without quality sidewalks being built.

In 2017, City Council unanimously passed Charlotte WALKS, the City’s first pedestrian plan. The executive summary states that “Charlotte will be a city of streets and neighborhoods where people love to walk. Charlotte will provide a pedestrian experience that is safe, useful, and inviting.”

In order to effectively implement this plan, city staff identified two loopholes in the City Code that need to be closed. The Charlotte WALKS plan identified those two loopholes as a big problem for pedestrians, and we’re trying hard to fix them. Adopting the Charlotte WALKS plan was very important. This is a big opportunity to put the plan into action.

One loophole currently allows developers to NOT build sidewalks around their sites with phased construction. In other words, if a building is constructed over a long timeframe, say years, builders are not required to put in safe six-foot sidewalks.

The second loophole has to do with fixing substandard back-of-curb sidewalks on thoroughfares (i.e., sidewalks that provide no buffer between fast-moving cars and pedestrians). The loophole allows these substandard sidewalks to remain in place even when a development project completely demolishes, regrades, and rebuilds a site. Developers are not required to support that substantial redevelopment with adequate sidewalks and planting strips that comply with Charlotte’s current standards.

When you combine those two loopholes with Charlotte’s frenetic pace of development, the result is lots of major projects with missing or crummy sidewalk infrastructure. That is why fixing those two loopholes are the top two action items in Council’s unanimously adopted Charlotte WALKS plan.

Sustain Charlotte and numerous community advocates spoke in support of these sidewalk amendments in November 2017. City staff have met with the development community 6 times over the past 2 years, including a recent meeting with affordable housing developers to ensure these amendments don’t create any additional costs for affordable housing projects

With the median Charlotte household spending 22% of their income on transportation, having more affordable housing that’s accessible by bike, public transit, and on foot is a win-win situation for Charlotte. All people deserve safe and connected sidewalks throughout the city, and the need is highest where people rely on walking most.

Because the extent to which Charlotte’s sidewalk network will reach completion over the coming years will be determined in a matter of days, and you can make a difference — if you act now.

Please let those who represent YOU know today that completing our network of safe sidewalks is important.

If the link above does not work for you, just copy and paste these emails:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Thank you in advance for speaking up,

Shannon Binns
Founder + Executive Director
Sustain Charlotte

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