Private Property and Public Right of Way Info

A Property Owner's Responsibility

Streets and sidewalks are for the public's use. They add value to private property by providing access to the property and a way to get to other places in the city.

When a property is developed, the property owners dedicate part of the land as "public” right-of-way for streets, sidewalks, utilities, landscaping and additional public uses.

What some property owners do not realize is that they are responsible for maintaining the part of the right-of-way adjacent to their property, including the sidewalks, planting strips and the roadway shoulder if unimproved. Property owners may also be responsible for maintaining unpaved alleys next to their property.


Property owners are responsible for maintaining the sidewalks adjacent to their property. They must make certain that snow, ice, leaves, fruit and other hazards do not pose a danger to pedestrians. They must also repair cracks, trip hazards and other damage.

If a property owner installs a new concrete sidewalk, the owner or the contractor must obtain a Miscellaneous Construction Permit from the City of Ashland Public Works Department. This will ensure the walkway meets the City's current standards, including wheelchair ramps at street corners and proper drainage of the sidewalk area.


Property owners are responsible for providing a temporary or permanent driveway so that vehicles do not drive over and damage sidewalks, planting strips or curbs. The construction of driveways requires a Miscellaneous Construction Permit, issued by the Public Works Department and additionally approved by the Planning Department. Regulations regarding the placement of driveways are found in “A Handbook for Planning and Designing Streets” available from Planning Department or online.

Streets and Alleys

The City of Ashland Street Department maintains public roadways that are open for travel. The department maintains them to the level they have been improved. The department does not maintain areas that were dedicated for streets, but were never improved and opened for travel. Property owners are responsible for any unopened street areas next to their property. Additionally they do not apply dust suppressant to unpaved streets. (We do however allow homeowners to apply for a Dust Suppressant Permit through the Public Works Department.)

Property owners must also maintain unpaved or unopened private alleys, and alleys not paved to City standards. The Street Department does not perform preventative maintenance on alleys. The department responds to requests for spot repairs on a case by case basis after evaluating necessity of the repair for public safety and for public access. Shared driveways and flag lots access maintenance is also the property owner’s responsibility.

Safe Use of Street Areas

Construction in, on, under or above a public right of way or public utility easement requires an Encroachment Permit. A street area includes sidewalks, alleys, planting strips and public utility easements. Examples of construction which may require an encroachment permit are buildings roof overhangs, stairways, retaining walls, landscape structures and trees. Use of street areas for other activities such as block parties and sidewalk cafes also requires a special permit. For more information call 488-5587.

Street Trees

Street trees that were planted by the City will be maintained by the City. All other trees are to be maintained to approved arboricultural standards by the abutting property owner.

In most cases, trees interfering with vehicle or street sign visibility must be trimmed by the property owner. All trees must be maintained to provide 8 feet of clearance above sidewalks and 14 feet above roadways. Contact Ashland Electric Department at 488-5357 if tree limbs are near power lines or street lighting. The Electric Department will determine if the tree needs to be pruned.

Complaints about tree overgrowth on private property should be reported to Code Compliance at 488-5305. Tree planting, pruning and tree removal in public rights-of-way requires a no-charge Tree Permit obtained at the Planning Department. Call 488-5305 for more information.

More Info and Phone Numbers

Permit information for work on private property – Building Department 488-5309
Permit information for street right of ways – Engineering Department 488-5347
Traffic Safety Concerns – Scott Fleury, Traffic Safety Liaison 488-5347
Utility Notification Center (Locates) – 800-332-2344


Tree removal / planting permits – Planning Department 488-5305

Frequently Asked Questions

For answers to many commonly asked questions regarding the public right of way, check out the Public Works FAQ section.

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