Archive for Monday, December 15, 2008

Reasonable move

For a town that only has a handful of significant snowfalls each year, Lawrence sure is upset about snowy sidewalks.

December 15, 2008

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It’s hard to satisfy everyone, but Lawrence city commissioners have come up with a reasonable and more enforceable way to encourage homeowners to keep their sidewalks free of ice and snow.

Several weeks ago, the complaint being heard around Lawrence was that the snow removal ordinance, which included a five-day grace period, was too lenient. Now the gripe is that the new ordinance, which requires property owners to remove snow within 48 hours, is too hard on people who have trouble getting their sidewalks clear.

It’s not easy being a city official.

The new process actually has a number of advantages over the old ordinance, which was so cumbersome that it was virtually unenforceable. Under the old system, the city had to identify a violation, then send a letter to the property owner, who had another five days to clean the sidewalk before facing a possible $20 fine. It’s a rare occurrence for snow and ice to last more than five days in Lawrence.

Under the new ordinance, the snowstorm itself serves as notice. Residents are expected to have their sidewalks cleared within 24 hours of the end of the storm; after 48 hours they could be subject to a $20 fine, with an additional $61 in municipal court costs.

It’s unlikely the ordinance will be vigorously enforced, because it will be done mostly on a complaint basis and inspectors are being instructed to exercise “good judgment” for people who may be unable to shovel their own walks or when city plows push snow from the street onto sidewalks. Hopefully, that “judgment” won’t lead to another ordinance that is on the books but not enforced like the city’s fireworks ban. At least, when a significant violation occurs, the city has a better ordinance to deal with it.

Keeping sidewalks clear is a valid city safety issue, and a legitimate expectation for property owners. Those who can’t or don’t want to shovel can contact the city for assistance, talk to local youngsters who want to make some money or take advantage of some of the entrepreneurs who already are circulating fliers in some parts of Lawrence selling their snow-removal services.

It’s an unusual winter in Lawrence that creates the need to shovel more than two or three times a year. It’s unfortunate that being neighborly isn’t enough to take care of this issue, but lacking that kind of civic spirit, the city’s new enforcement policy is a reasonable step.

Comments

Nikki May 6 years, 5 months ago

Solomon, I've seen kids do that. I never have cash on me though. My complaint about the ordinance isn't that I am against it. I really think we should clear the walks. However, I get frustrated that I have to have it done, but the city doesn't. My kids walk home from school many days and they walk past a park. The side walks around that park is usually the worst part on their walk.

grimpeur 6 years, 5 months ago

They could better spend the effort ticketing the cars parked across sidewalks. Year round. No complaint needed.

BigPrune 6 years, 5 months ago

It would be great to be a multi-millionaire who could direct my working poor employees outside to clear the sidewalk. I might even pay attention and yell at them from time to time if they miss a spot. That would be the life. I might even write about it if I owned a newspaper.

Tony Kisner 6 years, 5 months ago

"because it will be done mostly on a complaint basis and inspectors are being instructed to exercise “good judgment”"This is my argument against this new ordinance “good judgment” or construed as “arbitrary judgment” so now the cops have to decide what is clear and what is not. I can here the complaints now, hey what about these other guys!What constitutes a snow fall? 1/16 of an inch, 1 inch, 6 inches? The judge/cop ruling - "I know snow when I see it"

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 years, 5 months ago

This is really noteworthy, that it may be difficult to enforce this new "Elect me again" stupidity. There are many ordnances on the books that are hardly ever enforced, the fireworks ban is mostly ignored, the standing water nuisance has been roundly ignored for years with the mosquito- ridden swamp that exists around 31st street (sometimes refered to humorously as the "sacred, not-to-be disturbed "wetlands"") Face it, we are saddled with commissioners who run for office with no qualification requirement whatsoever except that they can print the most yard signs, who do not represent any area of the city, and who simply ignore major problems they are not qualified to deal with, refering them to the city manager to sweep under the carpet. This is what we get with this notably flawed form of city government, 5 citizens with their own personal agendas, and no sense of what is good for the community and certainly no stomach to deal with major problems with the city itself.

Laura Wilson 6 years, 5 months ago

I've seen NO youngsters out looking to shovel or mow since around 1980! I'd be happy to pay a neighbor kid to shovel, but I never even see them playing outside in the summer!Due to work schedule I can really only shovel on the weekends or if I'm stuck at home due to heavy snowfall, so I guess I'll just get fined.That said, can I turn around and fine the City for not clearing every street in 48 hours? Because half the time they don't ever get to mine.

Compy 6 years, 5 months ago

Frozen precipitation DOES stay on the ground longer than five days in Lawrence. Especially on sidewalks which were covered in snow which is packed to ice by pedestrians, creating a hazard in your yard. This is the fact the people who don't walk anywhere (a healthy and sustainable choice) don't understand, and, thus, don't think they should be responsible citizens when they have their own gripes to gripe about. Instead I suppose they will pool their efforts into spying on the City and the Commission.Grab a shovel, Lawrence, and shut up. OR move to Massachussettes, where they know how to bear the weather, and play ball.

Chris Ogle 6 years, 5 months ago

I went outside to get the morning paper, and busted my butt on the ice. Talk about incentive.

akuna 6 years, 5 months ago

Personally, I welcome this change. I live within walking distance to KU and the heavily used sidewalks that lead to KU are very rarely shoveled. The lack of shoveling is unfortunate and not at all neighborly. I always shovel my walk. It takes me all of 5 minutes to do so. I consider it a common courtesy for the children, students, and parents that walk to school.Does anyone know what phone number to call to issue a complaint? The number will be put in my speed dial. BTW, ladyoneill, I very rarely see adults outside working, gardening, and/or lounging. Children take their cues from us adults (esp. parents). More people need to get outside period, but there is no TV, and you have to acclimate to the non-conditioned air of the outdoors.Thanks Commish for the great change.

Leslie Swearingen 6 years, 5 months ago

I would be deeply insulted if someone asked my grandson who is eleven to shovel a sidewalk for a dollar. I only go outside when I have to, that's why I keep the rent paid. This is 2008, so just wake up and accept the reality of today.

Confrontation 6 years, 5 months ago

Most kids today would rather stay inside and play video games. Actual work is just too darn hard!

classclown 6 years, 5 months ago

I will do it exactly 47 hours after the snow falls each time. And if it happens to snow again before I get to it? That's a 47 hour extension right there.

Scott Drummond 6 years, 5 months ago

"My complaint about the ordinance isn't that I am against it. I really think we should clear the walks. However, I get frustrated that I have to have it done, but the city doesn't. My kids walk home from school many days and they walk past a park. The side walks around that park is usually the worst part on their walk."You may thank all those who have successfully railed against the payment of taxes to support such services. Isn't it it grand living in a community where the most selfish among us control?!

Leslie Swearingen 6 years, 5 months ago

I do not believe you people. Okay, for one thing you can put down freeze salt which will keep the sidewalk from needing to be shoveled in the first place. Second, I say let kids be kids, they have time enough ahead of them to work. Third there are many constructive things you can do indoors. My grandchilren have ambition to do well in school and get good jobs, indoors, and increase the GNP which is good for all of us. My grandchildren are not being raised to do manuel labor.Shoveling a walk, so easy a caveman could do it.

staff04 6 years, 5 months ago

While I don't live in Lawrence, I will return someday when I start a family--so, I'll say it again:When I own the sidewalk, I'll shovel it. Until then, maintain your own property. I'll challenge it to the point that the city loses interest, fines or none. I might be willing to concede shoveling the sidewalk when the city starts building and repairing my driveway...

Deja Coffin 6 years, 5 months ago

What about the elderly who can barely afford to pay house taxes and medication, who shovels their walks? Or the disabled?

Scott Drummond 6 years, 5 months ago

"When I own the sidewalk, I'll shovel it. Until then, maintain your own property. I'll challenge it to the point that the city loses interest, fines or none. I might be willing to concede shoveling the sidewalk when the city starts building and repairing my driveway…"Please, please promise that you'll live in west Lawrence with the rest of your "neighbors."

notajayhawk 6 years, 5 months ago

"It’s unlikely the ordinance will be vigorously enforced, because it will be done mostly on a complaint basis and inspectors are being instructed to exercise “good judgment” for people who may be unable to shovel their own walks or when city plows push snow from the street onto sidewalks."As a couple of others have mentioned, doesn't that constitute selective enforcement? Can you really even enforce an ordinance when you're on public record saying inspectors have been instructed to use "judgment?"****Confrontation (Anonymous) says… "Most kids today would rather stay inside and play video games."Maybe when they come out with that shovel attachment for the Wii handset...

BigPrune 6 years, 5 months ago

John Doe died today of a massive coronary as he was shoveling his walk. He was 85 years old. He expressed concern to his wife of 60 years about getting fined if he didn't get it done. He was a life long resident. Wife Jane survives at the home, a son, John Jr., of Anchorage, Alaska, and 55 grand children, and 200 great grand children. Services are pending.

budwhysir 6 years, 5 months ago

So, they want me to shovel my sidewalk eh? My wife has been on me to mow the yard, paint the house, take out the trash, fix the car, take the kids to school, do the dishes, listen to her more, take her on vacation, make more money, spend less time at the bar, be smarter, loose weight, have better friends, and most importantly, pay attention to what my city wants done. All of which I plan on doing right after I start listening

ksyellowrocker 6 years, 5 months ago

It would, also, be nice if the neighbors across the street, with no sidewalks, would help us shovel the sidewalk! Thankfully, my husband just hops on his John Deere at 5 am and plows the sidewalk from corner to corner.

Leslie Swearingen 6 years, 5 months ago

I love the way bad spelling is only noticed when someone is mad at the poster. We all raise our families according to our individual values, lets just leave it at that. I was making a joke with the caveman remark, maybe I should have put in, ha, ha. Ever seen one of the Gieco commercials?

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