Archive for Monday, November 10, 2008

City to remind residents about clearing snow from sidewalks

Commissioners may eliminate $20 fine

When the snow starts to fall, Lawrence residents may get an extra reminder to shovel their sidewalks.

November 10, 2008


On the street

Do you think there should be a penalty for not shoveling your sidewalk after it snows?

No, because not all seniors are capable.

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Reader poll
How long should property owners have to remove snow from their sidewalk?

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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.


Buggie7 9 years, 6 months ago

I agree with the post above. If the city owns it they can clean it. They seem to only own it when it is to their convienience. If they dont own it then I would take the darn thing out as well.

dontcallmedan 9 years, 6 months ago

Snow shoveling is good exercise. It gives you an immediate sense of accomplishment and I don't mind doing it. Take the shovel to the walk of a neighbor in need, the little old lady who can't, the person who is sick. When I was a lad, there were armies of youth out shoveling trying to make a few bucks. We should encourage that.Just a suggestion--get out there and shovel before the snow get stomped down. It's way easier.

classclown 9 years, 6 months ago

The solution is simple. Ban snow. This is Lawrence after all.

N_Trenched 9 years, 6 months ago

Why doesn't the city shift the responsibility to those who use the sidewalks. Either require them to shovel or wear appropriate footwear. If the city owns the sidewalk, it is their issue. If they say I own the sidewalk, I'll rip it out...I didn't want one in my yard in the first place.

Ragingbear 9 years, 6 months ago

Do we get to send the city notices when they fail to shovel high traffic city areas? Oh, and Commissioners, there is a group that plans on going out this winter and checking to see if your personal streets are being the first ones plowed. There were streets that were never plowed last winter. We are not going to stand for it any longer.

Justin Roberts 9 years, 6 months ago

My street only has sidewalks on one side of the street. I am being discriminated against because I own a home with a sidewalk in front of it :)~

tir 9 years, 6 months ago

I live in Oread, and I shovel my sidewalk, but the vast majority of the sidewalks in that neighborhood never get cleared because they're rentals and the landlords and property management companies don't give a hoot about "doing the right thing". They won't clear their walks of snow, ice, or mud--lots of Oread sidewalks are slathered in slimy mud whenever it rains. Hanging nice little reminders on the doorknobs of rental houses is simply not going to change the way they behave. The city needs to get tougher, not softer, on this issue, particularly in neighborhoods where rental units make up the majority of the housing.

Christine Anderson 9 years, 6 months ago

Ha,ha,ha...Sorry folks, but Lawrence does NOT have "real" winter, and therefore, does NOT have real snow!Been down here 26 years, and the only time there was enough snow to satisfy me was when I spent a year in Garden City.Ice storms, on the other hand, eastern Ks does rather well.

George_Braziller 9 years, 6 months ago

I try to shovel my brick sidewalks but if there is a heavy, wet and icy snow that's sometimes almost impossible.

somebodynew 9 years, 6 months ago

I'd like to fine the City for their miserable efforts year after year on street plowing. Their whole philosophy is off, and they need to bring in someone who has dealt with large volumes of snow to revamp their thinking.

Roundman 9 years, 6 months ago

I would like to see fairness on this side walk issue. If sidewalk is only on one side of street , Make even number house clear on even years. On odd number years have odd number houses do the clearing. That spilts work or cost of clearing side walks.

Puff_Dragon 9 years, 6 months ago

I also agree. I have a corner lot and people love to walk the pets around this area but they leave the 'fertilizer' and their drink cups and everything else in my yard with no consideration. Does the city think I'm going to go break my back or buy a snow blower to accomodate a bunch of apartment dwellers that don't care about the nieghbors? Isn't gonna' happen here so just hang the notice on my door.

Ray Miller 9 years, 6 months ago

If the city can demand that I do the maintenance work on their sidewalk, I should be able to demand that they clear my driveway.

Aiko 9 years, 6 months ago

What about when the snow removal crew push snow and ice in front of my driveway leaving a 2-3 foot wall?

cgb 9 years, 6 months ago

I clean my sidewalk and the city snow plow then throws ice/snow on the walk and it is impossible to remove. If they expect us to clean the sidewalk they need a better method that does not cover the walk when they plow the streets.

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