Archive for Thursday, December 9, 2010

City officials remind residents that violating Lawrence’s snow shoveling ordinance could be costly

December 9, 2010, 12:00 a.m. Updated December 9, 2010, 11:06 a.m.


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With a chance of snow showers predicted for this weekend, City Hall leaders are reminding Lawrence residents to dust off their snow shovels.

City officials are warning Lawrence residents that the city’s snow shoveling ordinance is in force. Among the details of the ordinance:

• Property owners are required to clear public sidewalks adjacent to their property of snow and ice within 48 hours of a winter storm.

• The city measures the 48-hour period from the time snow stops falling during a storm.

• Shoveling is the preferred method to clear a sidewalk, but the ordinance does make provisions for people to spread sand on icy areas that are difficult to clear.

The city won’t necessarily act as snow shoveling cops by driving through neighborhoods looking for violations. Instead, they’ll respond to complaints from residents. But city inspectors previously have issued tickets to neighboring properties where a complaint has been filed.

People can call in a complaint at 832-7700 or they can submit one online at

Fines of $20 per day can be assessed for violating the ordinance, plus violators must pay Municipal Court costs of $52.

Last year, the ordinance — when the city was hit with 43 inches of snow — created a stir. The city issued more than 700 tickets during the season, said Megan Gilliland, the city’s director of communications.

City leaders also are reminding people that the snow shoveling ordinance creates a need for volunteers for the Safe Winter Walkways Program. The program signs up healthy individuals to shovel sidewalks for the elderly and others who can not do so on their own. People can sign up to volunteer for the program at


Maddy Griffin 7 years ago

Property OWNERS? What about all the rental units in this town?

kernal 7 years ago

Does this apply to just property owners or does it include property residents such as renters?

Laura Wilson 7 years ago

Check your lease. Some landlords require tenants to do lawn care and snow removal.

kernal 7 years ago

I'm referring to the city's code. No matter what a lease says, it all comes down to the code.

Matt Torres 7 years ago

Yes, but if you sign a lease for a rental home that explicitly states the tenant is repsonsible for clearing the sidewalk in front of the home and the city comes around looking for who to hold responsible for the sidewalk, the owner (your landlord) of that home can point to a concrete lease agreement you signed saying you would take care of it.

parrothead8 7 years ago

The property owner is the one who will receive the fine. If the lease says that the tenant is responsible for lawn care, snow removal, etc., then the cost of the fine will typically be passed on to the tenant by the property owner.

Matt Torres 7 years ago

"It shall be unlawful for the property owner of record of property immediately adjacent to a public sidewalk on public right-of-way to fail to remove from the sidewalk, within forty-eight (48) hours of the cessation of accumulation of snow or ice on the sidewalk, any snow or ice accumulated on such sidewalk or obstructing such sidewalk."

The owner of record is responsible. I assume this simply means whoever's name is on the deed for the property. So, if it's an apartment building, it'd be the company that rents them out. If a rental house, it'd be the landlord. Seems fairly clear.

gatekeeper 7 years ago

You don't understand basic contracts. If you sign a lease that says you are responsible for the care of the yard, sidewalks, etc.... that trumps the city code. If your lease says this, the landlord passed that duty on to you and you signed a contract saying you accepted that responsibility and the landlord is off the hook. It's pretty simple.

Steve Miller 7 years ago

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kernal 7 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Steve Miller 7 years ago

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yankeevet 7 years ago

Just too expensive to own a home in this town..............

mcmandy 7 years ago

It doesn't cost me anything to shovel my sidewalk........

pizzapete 7 years ago

Just be glad the city isn't making us rent proper snow shovels from them, yet.

seriouscat 7 years ago

Good! Shovel the stupid snow people!

candyapplered 7 years ago

This seems too me kind of like its unconstitutunal. Does anyone know what the statue is on record about who owns the sidewalk. It seems like the city made the sidewalk and they own the sidewalk so they should do the upkeep on the sidewalk. But its different in every state and within every city what they do or don't do. It seems arbritary.

gatekeeper 7 years ago

The city law is if you have a sidewalk on your land you are responsible for the upkeep of said sidewalk.

How much extra in taxes would you like to pay to have the city clear every single sidewalk? Isn't it easier to just not complain and get off your hiney and grab a shovel, get some exercise and shovel the darned sidewalk?

It's not unconstitutional and it's common law in most cities.

jafs 7 years ago

It may not be unconstitutional and common in many cities, but I think it's wrong.

If the sidewalk is private property, then I can limit access, and thus limit wear and tear on it, lowering my costs of maintaining it.

If it's public property, I can't do that.

This policy holds it to be public property, but that I am responsible for maintaining it - shoveling snow isn't too hard or expensive, but other kinds of maintenance may be - concrete repair, for example.

gatekeeper 7 years ago

Once again I'll say - how much extra in taxes are you willing to pay to have the city maintain the sidewalks?

I have a corner lot. When I bought it, I knew I would be responsible for a large sidewalk on each side.

Don't want to deal with sidewalks, buy a house that doesn't have one in front of it.

The things people will whine about.

jafs 7 years ago

How much will it cost?

The fact is that there is, and should be, a distinction between public and private property, and different approaches should apply to them.

pace 7 years ago

the city does not own most sidewalks. They are owned and usually paid for by land owners. Some sidewalks are required through the permitting process. Others are required to be built later. It is the property owners responsibility to maintain their sidewalk, keep them in shape. . Lawrence uses community development funds or stimulus funds to do it for most residents. It isn't in the constitution that you don't have to obey other laws and regulations that are passed by elected or appointed officials.

jafs 7 years ago

If the sidewalk in front of my house is private property, then I should be able to restrict access to it - I believe that is not the case.

Where does one get this money if one needs to repair the sidewalk? As far as I understand it, it is the personal responsibility of the property owner.

I believe that I do not, in fact, own the sidewalks in front of the house I own, that they are city property.

pace 7 years ago

I am sorry, It is hard to understand easement or zoning regulation. The city or government has easement rights affecting some of your privately owned property. The difference between easement and city owned property, is for me I have to mow the easement. I have even had an encounter with a city employee that didn't understand easement over ownership. I may be wrong. I was taught this at my Daddy's knee.

jafs 7 years ago

So they get the right to use them, and have the public use them, and the private property owner gets stuck with the responsibility to maintain them.

gatekeeper 7 years ago

whine whine whine. Need some cheese?

jafs 7 years ago


Send me a nice wheel of sharp Cheddar for X-mas.


booyalab 7 years ago

I empathize with your point, but I think the problem lies not with the inadequate distinction made but with the nature of public property. If sidewalks were privatized, you could decide whether someone could access it and that would limit the people who could sue you. (which is a whole other can of worms)

lily 7 years ago

And who will cite the city for all the city-owned sidewalks that don't get cleared?

pace 7 years ago

Now that is interesting. If a complaint to the City about city owned sidewalks is not responded to then the City Commissioners should be notified. The city has a reputation of trying to work with people, not known for sidewalk cleaning to be their top priority in enforcement. Might be harder near the schools. I don't remember about the sidewalks downtown but I think the stores are responsible for the sidewalks in front of their space.

ferrislives 7 years ago

Here's a "what if" for the heck of it: What if I put posts and yellow tape blocking access to the sidewalk in front of my house because of ice caused by a bad storm, lets say because I hurt my leg and cannot shovel immediately? Could I do that? How long could it stay? Just curious.

pace 7 years ago

You would be breaking the law , committing fraud and probably increase your chances of being fined. Shovel the snow and if you have the physical ability, shovel some extra. There are easement regulations. I don't care if you don't like sidewalks, I don't care if you don't like clean water, I don't care if you don't like the Spanish inquisition. Shovel your sidewalk or hire someone. Kids need to go to school, people should be able to walk in their own neighborhood, You might consider it like a marriage, you make certain commitments established by law and regulation when you marry, no one spells them out, One usually learns the fine details in divorce or bankruptcy court. Same when you own incorporated or unincorporated property.

ferrislives 7 years ago

What specific law would that break pace?

By the way, you don't need to go off about it. I was raising a real question on something that I wouldn't do. I'm just curious as to how far local enforcement would go in such a case, which is unclear to me after reading the snow and ice removal section of the code enforcement. The fact that someone can sprinkle sand over an area instead of removing the snow just goes to show that they can't go too far with the ordinance.

beeshlii 7 years ago

won't work, hire someone to shovel your sidewalk. i'm available what is your ph#. i call you on first and every snow.

Janet Lowther 7 years ago

This ordinance should be repealed.

After all, what are you supposed to do with all those barely there brick sidewalks?

There is no visible pavement for about half of my alleged sidewalk.

kernal 7 years ago

You can file a complaint about that as well, according to the Code.

kernal 7 years ago

I don't have sidewalks, just a long, long driveway. :P

pace 7 years ago

for the record, while I support clearing sidewalks of snow in a timely manner. I HATE snow, hate clearing sidewalks, can't do it any more and have trouble finding a person to shovel the snow within my budget. I really hate snow shoveling.

homechanger 7 years ago

i know someone who shovels cheap.

somedude20 7 years ago

Does this mean the city has to eat the cost of them clearing the car from their sidewalk on the bridge to North Lawrence?

purplesage 7 years ago

This is a really stupid, though no doubt well-intended, law. Of course apartment buildings ought to clear walks, drives, etc. And so should able-bodied single-family residence dwellers do the same.

There seriously needs to some kind of exemption from this over-reachng governmental policy for the disabled and elderly and others too poor to pay either to clear their walk or the fine for not doing so.

pace 7 years ago

I think it is a reasonable regulation. It is part of owning property in town. A hit and miss sidewalk doesn't work to well for kids going to school. We often will take a walk to the store rather than drive on icy streets. To be fair my husband walks almost everywhere all the time. We have a lot of pedestrians in our neighborhood. I use to shovele some elderly and impaired person's walks, can't really do that any more. I do not advocate a government program to shovel snow. It is hard enough to keep the programs for those that are hungry or even decent schools running.

tkmoore 7 years ago

If a complaint to the City about city owned sidewalks is not responded to then the City Commissioners should be notified. LOL. The city has a reputation of trying to work with people,LOL not known for sidewalk cleaning to be their top priority in enforcement. Their top priority is to hand out tickets not cleaning up their back yard first. What a joke

beeshlii 7 years ago

just built a huge porch outside your house.

Jeremiah Jefferson 7 years ago

Id like to remind city officials that they can pound sand. Come on my property and you will get dealt with. Bunch of yuppie desk jokeys.

gatekeeper 7 years ago

I hope this is a joke. If it's not, you really need to get out more.

I seriously have about 70 feet of sidewalk and have no problem maintaining it. Heck, I've been out shoveling snow while pregnant when my husband was out of town and shoveled for my elderly neighbor too. If a pregnant woman can shovel so can all the rest of you lazy people.

And those of us that actually exercise and walk our dogs use sidewalks every day, along with all the kids that walk to school.

Chelsea Kapfer 6 years, 12 months ago

is it hard to be better than everybody else?

Kris_H 7 years ago

i'm in Topeka but similar ordinance, all the same problems. I can't shovel my own snow any more and finding someone to do it that I can afford AND can get ahold of in a timely way is a real problem. How about a city-wide registry of people able/wiling to shovel snow, what they charge, what part of town they're in, etc.? Would that be too difficult in this digital age?

Just trying to think outside the snow fence a little...

Amy Heeter 7 years ago

Try calling a local boys scout troop. I think threy will be able to assist you.

pace 7 years ago

That is a great idea. I remember the senior citizens center use to have a list. That was back in the day though. Liabilty, litigation and insurance issues might of changed that.

Amy Heeter 7 years ago

Please people if you have a walk shovel it. If you have a elderly or disabled neighbor shovel theirs. If you need help ask.

pace 7 years ago

Thanks to the people who shovel their sidewalks and help others. If you have a teenager buy him or her a good snow shovel and an ice scrapper,good gloves. Instruct them in cold weather layering clothing. Encourage them to figure out how long an area would take , factoring amount of snow ,temperature and humidity. I am able to pay about $12. an hour. This is a nice chance to show kids that money can be made and how to develop a business plan. I was so proud of a little girl that did my sidewalk for a couple of years, she was smart, she was careful and later found out she did one older couple in modest circumstances for half price.

ferrislives 7 years ago

My kid shovels our driveway and sidewalk, so we're good.

beeshlii 7 years ago

@ferrislives-that is the best answer.

cozy 7 years ago

So what do I do about the Idiots across the street that push their driveway snow across the street to in front of my house and by my mailbox (Who can I report this to?) that the city will push in front of my driveway so I cant get out...? This happened last year.

There has to be some rule against reckless snow removal. You know what I mean- someone cant just leave a mound in the street... or push the mound it to the other side of the street still in the way. Why cant they just push it to the sides of the driveway like any normal person?!

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