Streets, sidewalks, trails, and alleys are for everyone’s use as part of the right of way (ROW). Obstructions of these passages limit accessibility and block the view of traffic signs, signals, vehicles, and cyclists. Trimming vegetation and removing obstacles including cars, dockless vehicles, and waste carts that obstruct the right of way enhance neighborhood safety.
Did you know that both the City of Austin and property owners have a shared responsibility in maintaining the right of way?
The City is responsible for repairs and maintenance in select right of ways, in areas like public roads, alleys, sidewalks, multi-use trails, and public trees. When notified, the City will prune or remove trees that pose a hazard to the public, such as dead, diseased, low-hanging limbs or limbs downed by storms. Crews and qualified contractors also perform routine mowing of medians and prune public trees along selected routes.
Property Owner Responsibility
Property owners are responsible for maintaining private trees and all other vegetation in the right of way next to their property. It is a violation of City Code (10-5-21 and 6-3-21) to neglect overgrown vegetation and private trees that obstruct the right of way. Furthermore, the City of Austin Sidewalk Plan and ADA Transition Plan identifies overgrown vegetation and private trees as accessibility barriers for people with disabilities and therefore non-compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to City Ordinance 14-9, residents are required to keep the right of way clear of cars, dockless vehicles, waste carts, and other obstacles that inhibit safe pedestrian use of streets and sidewalks.
Use the following guidelines to help keep your right of way clear:
- Sidewalks: Limbs and vegetation must be trimmed back from the edge of and at least eight feet above.
- Streets/Alleys: Limbs and vegetation must be trimmed back from the curb and at least 14 feet above.
- Grass and Weeds: Maintain grass and weeds at a maximum height of 12 inches throughout property and to the edge of the street or alley.
- Corners: Vegetation within ten feet from the curb should be kept at a height of two feet.
- Fire Hydrants: Remove trees or plants within five feet.
- General: Trim or remove vegetation blocking signal lights, traffic, and pedestrian signs.
Do you have questions about right of way vegetation maintenance? Learn more on our Right of Way Maintenance FAQ Page.