On the street
No, because not all seniors are capable.
They say you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. But who knows whether either will get people to shovel snow from their sidewalks.
City commissioners, though, may be ready to try the kinder-gentler approach to dealing with the longtime problem of getting sidewalks quickly cleared of snow.
Commissioners at their meeting Tuesday evening will consider a staff proposal that would eliminate the $20 fine for not clearing a sidewalk within 24 hours of a snow or ice storm. Instead, people who are the subject of sidewalk complaints would come home to an informational door hangar that talks about the importance of keeping sidewalks clear.
"I think people like to do the right thing," said Jonathan Douglass, the assistant to the city manager who has been working to develop new sidewalk options. "Sometimes they just need to be reminded that people are depending on the sidewalks."
The city hasn't prosecuted people under the current city code because it often takes about a week for the city to do all the paperwork and follow the necessary procedures to mail a citation to a person for not having their sidewalk cleared. By then, the snow or ice usually has melted.
"It is, frankly, not worth the staff time and resources of the Development Services Department, the Prosecutor's Office and the Municipal Court to prosecute sidewalk snow and ice removal violations, even at elevated fine levels," Douglass wrote in a memo to commissioners.
The door hangar program would allow city inspectors to deliver an informational sheet as soon as a complaint is received.
The idea isn't popular with everyone, though. City Commissioner Boog Highberger said he thought taking the fine provision off the books was a "step backward."
"I certainly don't want the city to be jack-booted thugs, but other cities manage to keep their sidewalks clear in the winter," Highberger said.
He said he supported creating a new program that would allow the city to remove snow from sidewalks and charge property owners for the service.
"I'm so sick of driving up Ninth Street two or three days after a snowfall and still seeing people slog through it," Highberger said.
But staff members have said they can't recommend such a program because it likely would create administrative workloads that the city can't handle without adding help.
Highberger, though, said he would be willing to have the city try the program on a limited basis. He suggested only sidewalks along major arterial streets or near bus stops would be subject to being cleared by the city. He said the door-hangar program could be used for other areas of the city.
Commissioners have debated the subject before. In March, commissioners decided not to take any action to increase the fine, but did ask staff members to come up with ways to stress the importance of keeping the sidewalks clear.