SAN DIEGO — San Diego City Council voted 5 to 3 Monday afternoon to begin a sidewalk program to reduce the cost of city permits in hopes of enticing homeowners to complete repairs on damaged sidewalks.

According to the city, there’s more than 85,000 sidewalks in need of repair, which is estimated to cost $238 million, but city officials said some of that responsibility is on the homeowner, not the city.

“I understand that addressing sidewalks has remained a complicated puzzle,” Councilmember Kent Lee said during Monday’s meeting. “Today is a positive first step.”

The city said it has already spent millions of dollars in injury payouts and now hope cutting permit fees for homeowners will help cut down on the backlog of sidewalk repairs and cut down on lawsuits. The city said it’s paid an average of $46,000 per claim in the last 10 fiscal years.

According to the city, a state law states homeowners are responsible for damage to sidewalks in front of their homes.

The city said it will be responsible for sidewalks damaged by heat expansion, trees within the right of way, damage from utility work, or if it’s on city-owned property. But, the city said under state law, homeowners are responsible for normal sidewalk wear and tear or damage caused by private trees.

“Per California Streets and Highways Code Sections 5610-5629, property owners are responsible for the repair of sidewalks in front of their property, even though it is within City right-of-way,” the city said. “The City performs temporary asphalt ramping of all known sidewalk-related issues, regardless of maintenance responsibility, but the property owner is responsible for permanent repairs for conditions not included in Council Policy 200-12, including old and deteriorated sidewalks or damage caused by a private tree.”

“It is state law, at the same time the city doesn’t have to be in the way,” said Councilmember Marni Von Wilpert, who alluded to the thousands of dollars typically needed for permitting.

The city said they plan to send notice of responsibilities to homeowners this winter, and the “fee holiday” will be in place through 2026.