Archive for Thursday, December 25, 2008

City’s new shoveling ordinance in effect

Vacationing homeowners risk ticket if sidewalks aren’t cleared of snow

A Lawrence resident clears the snow from his sidewalk in front of his home in this 2008 photo.

A Lawrence resident clears the snow from his sidewalk in front of his home in this 2008 photo.

December 25, 2008

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Greg Burg clears the snow from the sidewalk Wednesday in front of his home at 1603 Mass. Lawrence residents now face a new city ordinance that requires homeowners to clear snow and ice off sidewalks within 48 hours or risk getting a ticket. The new rule eliminates the former five-day grace period.

Greg Burg clears the snow from the sidewalk Wednesday in front of his home at 1603 Mass. Lawrence residents now face a new city ordinance that requires homeowners to clear snow and ice off sidewalks within 48 hours or risk getting a ticket. The new rule eliminates the former five-day grace period.

Steve Ellsworth clears snow Wednesday from the sidewalk in front of his home along Massachusetts Street. Lawrence residents now face a new city ordinance that requires home owners to clear snow and ice off sidewalks within 48 hours or risk getting a ticket. The new rule eliminates the former five-day grace period.

Steve Ellsworth clears snow Wednesday from the sidewalk in front of his home along Massachusetts Street. Lawrence residents now face a new city ordinance that requires home owners to clear snow and ice off sidewalks within 48 hours or risk getting a ticket. The new rule eliminates the former five-day grace period.

Hey neighbor, good buddy, good pal, my favorite guy on the block.

Yeah, I’m going to be out of town this week. Could you let the dog out? Great.

And oh, by the way, if it snows, could you shovel my sidewalk?

Yeah, you might want to start practicing your delivery on that one. In fact, there may be many Lawrence residents who wish they would have had that conversation before they left for their holiday travels this week.

Lawrence’s new, more aggressive snow-removal policy is now in effect, which means folks who left before the Christmas Eve snowfall may be in violation by the time they return home.

How many — if any — tickets the city will hand out this first time around is unknown, but City Hall leaders are saying that simply telling the city you weren’t at home won’t be an acceptable excuse for not clearing the snow from your sidewalks.

“You still own the property and are responsible for taking care of it, even while you are gone,” said Jonathan Douglass, assistant to the city manager.

Here’s a reminder of the new snow-shoveling policy that commissioners approved earlier this month: Property owners have 48 hours following the end of a snowfall or ice event to clear their sidewalks. That’s actually 24 hours longer than the old ordinance. But here’s the key difference — the city no longer will give an automatic warning to folks who failed to clear their sidewalks. The old ordinance automatically gave folks an extra five days to clear their sidewalks before they were subject to a ticket. Now, if the sidewalk isn’t cleared within 48 hours, you could get a ticket at any time.

And unlike the old ordinance — which resulted in tickets about as often as July days result in snow — city leaders say they will start issuing tickets. The fine is $20. The ordinance will still be enforced on a complaint basis, rather than by city employees out looking for violators.

“I think it would be a very good idea, particularly where there will be a lot of pedestrian traffic, to make arrangements ahead of time,” Commissioner Sue Hack said. “I know it will be a burden for somebody, but getting those sidewalks cleared will make it safer for pedestrians.”

Some landscape companies may be interested in such jobs, but some may not, said Chas Benton, who heads up the snow-shoveling efforts for Lawrence Landscape. He said his company primarily only does snow shoveling for commercial customers or residential customers who have Lawrence Landscape handle all their maintenance needs.

Benton said smaller one- or two-man yard mowing operations may be a better bet. Or, he said, there’s always the option of turning to a neighborhood kid.

“There are always kids around willing to make money,” Benton said. “The trick is you just have to find them.”

As for prices, who knows? There’s the whole supply-and-demand thing, and the city may have just done its part to spur demand.

“I would think for a normal sidewalk, maybe $15 to $20,” Benton said. “I know it is not as cheap as it used to be.”

The city also reminds people that there is a volunteer program that provides free snow-shoveling services to elderly and disabled people. It is run by Douglas County Senior Services and is always looking for more volunteers.

Thus far, City Hall leaders haven’t heard many comments about how residents will find someone to clear their sidewalks. Most of the comments have been about the hot topic of snowplows throwing snow on an already shoveled sidewalk.

Hack said commissioners have long said property owners who have that happen won’t be subject to the fine.

“It is easy to tell the difference between fallen snow and snow that got put there by a snow plow,” she said.

Comments

sun45kiss 6 years, 4 months ago

another one of big brothers controlling tools, along with making money. All this stuff about water bottles, gas, water usage, smoking.......going green.....it's all about controlling of the people.

Staci Dark Simpson 6 years, 4 months ago

Oh good grief. Another reason I am glad I don't live in Lawrence. Why does it matter? You have to walk thru snow anyway whenever you go somewhere. If you are walking you should be wearing boots or sneakers anyway. Geez next you'll be told when to take a poo.

KLATTU 6 years, 4 months ago

"...another one of big brothers controlling tools..."Or it could be looked at as one of the responsibilities of being part of a community. It is too bad that laws have to be made to enforce behavior that should be a given. Instead of thinking of it as an intrusion by big brother possibly you could shovel your walk just because it would make your neighbors think you aren't a completely worthless pain in the ass all the time?

conservative 6 years, 4 months ago

The city managed to spread a few grains of sand on my street but haven't cleared it. Does that work for my sidewalks? Can i throw a cupful of sand out there and consider it good until the city plows my hill? Oh and yes I did clear my sidewalk, just hate that the city doesn't hold itself to the same standard as the citizens.

gccs14r 6 years, 4 months ago

You could set a good example for your neighbors and shovel your part of the street. If each of you did that for one man-hour apiece, it would be done already and you'd have a much cleaner street than you'd have if the plow went through.

justforfun 6 years, 4 months ago

Who's to say that someone is not just gonna be a pain in the a$$ and drive around (better yet ride the MT) calling the city to complain about unshoveld walks? I mean why not, the city bans all kinds of things so why not ban them from sitting on their butts saying" wow this ordinance is cool" Flood the phone lines people!!! Oh yea is there going to be a official stop watch put on LJW when the commisioners deem the snow to have stopped and there is no more on the way for 48 hrs??

BigPrune 6 years, 4 months ago

The People's Republic of Lawrence. Wouldn't it be funny if City Commissioners and City staff had city employees shoveling off their personal sidewalks?

Leslie Swearingen 6 years, 4 months ago

spacystaci8 , since you asked, here is the official poo schedule. MWF 9:30am and 6:30pm, TT,S, 10::45am and 4:36pm. Sunday, don't. This schedule may be subject to revisement and if you wish to poo at a different time, submit your reason in writing, and it will be duly reviewed and a decision mailed back to you, usually within two weeks. More or less.

Sigmund 6 years, 4 months ago

I made a deal with my neighbors, give me $50 and I promise won't turn them in all winter. Now if the City would just split the take with me I'd drive around and turn in thousands of Citizens.Every time a new idiotic rule and I think it can't get worse and then I am always surprised. Vote them all out and repeat until the average IQ on the City Commission reaches room temperature.

justforfun 6 years, 4 months ago

MultiLOL I like that one!! "Or better, plan it so people who 'did' shovel knowingly get complaints, but when someone comes to check or give the citation, they say the shoveled it at the last minute." Just go down all the streets call in all houses shoveled or not! Too funny !!!

cfdxprt 6 years, 4 months ago

Does the rule apply for the city also? I walk almost everywhere, and by far the most dangerous stretch that I encounter is the city's responsibility for shoveling. It'd be nice if they could follow their own rules, or they could pay the fine to me.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 years, 4 months ago

And why is anyone surprised? These morons on the city commission have presented themselves as incompetant dolts for a long time now. This stupid ordnance which pits neighbor against neighbor is yet another example of the feckless jerks that we have elected. Due to the structure of the city government, which in Lawrence is no effective structure at all, They are not responsible for any given area of the city. They dangle on the string of the city manager and as a result, this is the kind of "government" we get. This is nothing more than a ploy to raise money for a city who's national anthem is "we is broke, We needs MONEY". Lew Perkins would be proud of these minions, he would gladly have them on his staff of money-grubbing associates. Past miserable performance of these useless turkeys is clear indicator of the lack of expertise and knowledge. They are elected on the basis of an incredibly indifferent citizenry that does not bother to vote and whoever can buy the most yard signs. This is what we get, Lawrence, for our indifference and this is what we deserve, the most disgusting, low, incompetant group of ntiwits that has ever populated a civic body anywhere, and I have lived in several places. I have never seen such stupidity and ignorance in the combined assembly of 5 people anywhere, hands down.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 years, 4 months ago

Northtown, read the posts and the article. Your neighbor turns you in then the Gestapo shows up. This is the form that is extablished by the city to allow neighbors to be at each other's throat. Except in the case of the Haskell Swamp, which has been an open violation of city ordnances for years. There the frogs and mosquitos get to thrive exempt from the city's nuisance ordnance. Makes sense, eh, in light of the incompetance we suffer at city hall.

justforfun 6 years, 4 months ago

Seriously who is gonna determine the official end of the 48 hr period or the start???????

classclown 6 years, 4 months ago

Everybody should call in and report houses on streets that don't have sidewalks.

Haiku_Cuckoo 6 years, 4 months ago

It's a shame that the city needs to create an ordinance in order to get people off their lazy butts to do what they should be doing anyway. Shovel your walk, fatso! Don't make pedestrians risk falling on your sidewalk because of your laziness. I shovel my walk and that of my elderly neighbor, plus I put down rock salt, so the "shoveling makes the bricks slippery" excuse just doesn't cut it. Try being responsible human beings and good neighbors for a change.

Buggie7 6 years, 4 months ago

City said I cant remove the sidewalk, that its their property. In the article says if you are away its still your property. Im confused. lol as usual. If its my property then Im removing it. If its thiers then they can fine themselves and stay off my grass!

John Hamm 6 years, 4 months ago

Easy to tell the lazy people in this bunch of posts!Actually folks I think it's about time and I hope I slip on one of your unshoveled sidewalks. Oh I'll have a field day with you and your insurance.........

classclown 6 years, 4 months ago

OonlyBonly (Anonymous) says…Easy to tell the lazy people in this bunch of posts!Actually folks I think it's about time and I hope I slip on one of your unshoveled sidewalks. Oh I'll have a field day with you and your insurance………===========================How do you know that if you "slip" on someone's sidewalk that they won't go out and finish the job and then just toss your carcass into the street?"Oh my gosh! He was crossing the street and then slipped and split his head open!"

RKLOG 6 years, 4 months ago

OonlyBonly (Anonymous) says…"Easy to tell the lazy people in this bunch of posts!Actually folks I think it's about time and I hope I slip on one of your unshoveled sidewalks. Oh I'll have a field day with you and your insurance………"Go ahead and slip, I could use the laugh.

Jim Phillips 6 years, 4 months ago

"Haiku_Cuckoo (Anonymous) says… It's a shame that the city needs to create an ordinance in order to get people off their lazy butts to do what they should be doing anyway. Shovel your walk, fatso! Don't make pedestrians risk falling on your sidewalk because of your laziness. I shovel my walk and that of my elderly neighbor, plus I put down rock salt, so the “shoveling makes the bricks slippery” excuse just doesn't cut it. Try being responsible human beings and good neighbors for a change."Rock salt? Isn't that the same stuff they put on the streets? The stuff that causes the roads to deteriorate to the point we have potholes big enough to swallow semis? So we put the rock salt down and watch the sidewalk deteriorate making them just as dangerous as having snow on them? And then I have to pay for the City replacing the sidewalk. (Hark! I think I just uncovered the master plan! All the sidewalks in the City will have to be replaced at the expense of each home owner!)The late owner of Comet Corporation once told me he loved people putting salt on concrete. It kept him in business.And what happens when there is sleet or ice under the snow to begin with? I shovel the snow and someone comes by, slips, and falls? Who gets sued. me or the City?

Shardwurm 6 years, 4 months ago

"Easy to tell the lazy people in this bunch of posts!Actually folks I think it's about time and I hope I slip on one of your unshoveled sidewalks."Heaven forbid I'm out of town visiting relatives over the holiday.

MrMister 6 years, 4 months ago

I just spent the last week delivering Christmas presents to many of your homes. To those who shovel I say thank-you. But I will also say that anyone who has a downspout that drains across your sidewalk, a little sand and some salt will do wonders. By the way, shoveling the snow is not enough. If you don't do anything to prevent a thin layer of ice from forming where you just shoveled, it is more dangerous than not shoveling and can result in a larger judgement should it be determined that your actions made the situation worse. Remember shoveling the walks is not for those of us who get around without difficulty. it is for those who require assistance. How would you feel if you grandmother came to your house and broke her hip because you felt too put out to shovel?

Jim Phillips 6 years, 4 months ago

Certain things are inevitable. One of them is treacherous sidewalks in the winter, whether shoveled or not. If you haven't figured that out yet, you shouldn't be out by yourself anyway. Even in Lawrence, there is as much responsibility for the walker to be careful as there is for the homeowner to do all that is reasonable to ensure someone does not get injured on his property due to the homeowner's negligence. Just because a sidewalk looks clear does not mean it is.

Judgesmails 6 years, 4 months ago

Let's see if the city can shovel all the sidewalks they are responsible for ! (if any)If not, please call 911 and file a report.How frickin stupid....what a waste.Sounds about right for this town....

snazzo 6 years, 4 months ago

Yes, its funny how some of you say poor sidewalks are inevitable in winter. However, I park on a side street and walk down to a public building for work. The first block is residential, and was ridiculously treacherous. It had gotten to be several inches of ice and refrozen slush. Even the snow in the grass by the sidewalk was slick, since everyone seemed to have walked on that instead for a safer alternative. Then I got to the second, city block. It was perfectly fine. No slick spots. Perfectly dry. I've already slipped and fell on one private drive downtown. Luckily nothing was broken. However, I'd have to say that the individuals who are saying the city government is fascist, should really consider the possibility of someone being truly injured from falling on their walk. I'm talking about a minimum $50,000 settlement. Do your research. A little neighborly care is a lot less painful than a lawsuit. The city wouldn't have to even impose this ordinance if you would all do your fair share.

George_Braziller 6 years, 4 months ago

So what happens if the property owner happens to be in the hospital at the time because of an emergency (or just died)? Do they or their estate get fined as well? You don't exactly plan in advance for either of those events.

Bladerunner 6 years, 4 months ago

Im thinking of buying one of those snow making machines. Each night Im gonna bury the sidewalks of all the city commsioners in about a foot of snow. We see how soon they get tired of their own stupidity.

BigPrune 6 years, 4 months ago

Is the volunteer brigade the same group that volunteered to pull weeds in our parks? If it is, after a year, there won't be anyone who will volunteer to clean off sidewalks, just as there doesn't seem to be anyone who pulls weeds when it's warm.

jafs 6 years, 4 months ago

The problem is the question of whether sidewalks are private property or city property.If they are private property, then homeowners should be able to restrict access to cut down on traffic, wear and tear, etc.If they are city property and public access, then the city should be responsible for their maintenance/replacement.

Leslie Swearingen 6 years, 4 months ago

What is all this with fatso? Is this the only group of people left to be bigoted against without recrimination? I have a nicely rounded bottom which is not going to be used to shovel walks. Did that come out the way I meant it? Anyhoo, on a list of a million things, sidewalks are on the very bottom, right below, right below get Quark to give away free booze.

Sigmund 6 years, 4 months ago

brutas61 (Anonymous) says… "Only in Lawrence. The socialist capital of kansas!"I think you meant Totalitarian not Socialist. From each according to ability, to each according to their needs would have the able bodied and wealthier citizens forced to remove, or pay to remove, the snow off state owned sidewalks. On the other hand, Totalitarianism is a political systems where a state regulates nearly every aspect of public and private life including control over the economy and is characterized by restriction of criticism especially favored personality cults.Now comrade citizen, please to tell us which of your neighbors voted against the our great leader Barack Obama and blasphemes his prophet Al Gore's gospel of global warming and refuses to do their duty cleaning off the peoples sidewalks.

Jim Phillips 6 years, 4 months ago

The City will tell you, the homeowner, that the sidewalk is your responsibility. However, on most residential streets, the City owns the property for 30 feet on either side of the center of the roadway. Since most residential streets are 25 or 30 feet wide, the City owns 15 to 17.5 feet on the property owners side of the edge of the roadway. This means the sidewalks are on City property.Now, I really don't mind shoveling the snow off the walk, I usually do. I used to salt the walk until I found out the salt destroys the sidewalk over time. I really can't afford to pay for a new sidewalk, especially when I also have to pay to have my sewer dug up and repaired. That one cost me $4K a few years ago. So the City got their sewer fixed at my expense. See the pattern?Go ahead and salt "your" sidewalk. Look what the salt does to the streets. Don't squawk when the City sends you a bill to replace "your" sidewalk. And since I'm responsible for the care and maintenance of "my" sidewalk, pay heed to the No Trespassing signs on either side of "my" property in the winter.

GardenMomma 6 years, 4 months ago

Can I get the city to fix the tree lawn they plowed up when they plowed the snow off my street?In pushing the snow off the street the driver plowed up about three feet of dirt off my tree lawn. Granted nothing was growing there anymore because last year they plowed up all the sand and salt onto it and killed everything. Now it's just sandy dirt and weeds.

bearded_gnome 6 years, 4 months ago

sidewalks are safer unshoveled. It's a shame that the city needs to create an ordinance in order to get people off their lazy butts to do what they should be doing anyway. Shovel yourwalk, fatso! Don't make pedestrians risk falling on your sidewalk because of your laziness. I shovel my walk and that of my elderly neighbor, plus I putdown rock salt, so the “shoveling makes the bricks slippery” excuse just doesn't cut it. Try being responsible human beings and good neighbors for a change.salt burns dogs' paws. and if you're a greenie wheenie, salt is bad for the environment too. many times I've seen cleared sidewalks rapidly become ice deathtraps and you have to walk next to them to avoid the ice. it doesn't take much, maybe some direct sun or a brief moment when the temp goes above 32F/0C then freezes again. when you clear the sidewalk, you leave a nice flat surface for ice to form. and yes I think this ordinance is complaint driven again; that's worked so well in dealing with broken sidewalks. some broken sidewalks are in fact safer with two inches of snow on them, since they haven't been repaired going nback to Jimmy Carter's administration!

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