Letters to the Editor

Bad ordinance

January 15, 2010


To the editor:

I believe the city of Lawrence should rescind its snow-shoveling ordinance. Here are the reasons why.

That it infringes on our personal liberty is obvious. That is perhaps an unfashionable concern in Lawrence these days, but some of us still care.

It substitutes a sweeping judgment by city commissioners that overrides all the particular judgments that individual homeowners could have made as to the advisability of shoveling or not, in their circumstances.

One can walk through snow relatively safely; it is walking on ice that’s dangerous. I’ve been reluctant to shovel snow off the sidewalk in front of my residence because, due to drainage, it will often shortly afterward become covered with ice. That is much more dangerous and much more difficult to remove and keep off.

For people who have brick or broken or irregular sidewalks, it could be even harder to keep them clean and ice-free.

Where sidewalks are city property, the city should be responsible for cleaning them.

Speaking of which, the city (or private contractor) has not done a good job of cleaning city streets and parking lots during this snowstorm. Snow has been piled up so high at some points as to make it difficult to see oncoming traffic when one is attempting to enter the street.

Those who vote for repeal of this ordinance will be the ones who will get my vote.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

"One can walk through snow relatively safely; it is walking on ice that’s dangerous."

Yes, but un-shoveled snow that gets repeatedly walked upon soon becomes an ice sheet. And in areas that do get shoveled, even incompletely, any ice that forms will melt sooner than completely un-shoveled areas.

Still, the current ordinance isn't adequate. If the goal is to get sidewalks cleared, the city needs a much more comprehensive policy that helps those who need it find help in clearing their walks. Perhaps an additional fee of $1 or $2 a month on the water/sewer bill to help finance a snow-clearing program is necessary-- and direct all proceeds from fines to this program as well.

Chris Ogle 8 years, 4 months ago

"Perhaps an additional fee of $1 or $2 a month on the water/sewer bill to help finance a snow-clearing program.."

Great idea Bozo.... and in addition to the additional fee, those "rich people" should pay double what the rest of us pay. Brilliant Bozo strikes again.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

"and in addition to the additional fee, those “rich people” should pay double what the rest of us pay."

If the city had an income tax, I'd agree with you. But they don't. However, I do think that any snow removal program should include help for those who are elderly or disabled and low-income get help in cleaning their walks.

"Brilliant Bozo strikes again. "

I assume you're being sarcastic. While I won't claim "brilliance," I'm curious why you are such a defender of the wealthy? Do you think they are incapable of defending themselves-- those poor, helpless rich people? Or are you wealthy yourself, and now that you got yours, screw the rest?

hopeful1 8 years, 4 months ago

A few years ago, I would have agreed with the writer of this letter. But since then, I have watched countless school children slipping on the refrozen snowpack on their way to school. The worst case was a child in a wheelchair--I kid you not-- literally spinning his wheels, and stuck in the frozen mess trying to get to school. It was horrible. Since then, I have been much more dutiful about clearing my own snow, and much more frustrated with those who don't.

It would be nice if personal responsiblity alone took care of the problem, but (in many cases) it doesn't. Ordinances are written when individual responsiblity (or compassion, or reason) fail. If there were fewer failures of individual responsibilty (or compassion, or reason), perhaps we would see fewer ordinances enacted.

Chris Ogle 8 years, 4 months ago

" While I won't claim “brilliance"..."

See Boz, we can agree....... sometimes.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

Those refusing to clean sidewalks infringe on many the use of city right of way such as:

  • taxpayers who cannot drive
  • senior citizens
  • children walking to school who are not from two or three car families
  • cyclists

From personal experience is it easier to drive heavier objects over snow than walking through snow. People with disabilities or in wheel chairs simply cannot navigate through snow.

It would please me if the city would clean primary streets and sidewalks first.

City staff armed with mini bobcats and snow blowers could do walks well. It would be a good way to create jobs in the city. Why not have temporary winter help like we have temporary summer help? Sure citizens can help keep costs down by doing their own.

Driving over streets slowly plus sand and salt allows for safe passage. Plowing neighborhood streets blocks in cars, covers cleaned off sidewalks and prevents access to driveways.

I am stunned at the level of requests involving streets and wanting the government to do it all. That's pure and unadulterated socialism.

gl0ck0wn3r 8 years, 4 months ago

"merrill (Anonymous) says…I am stunned at the level of requests involving streets and wanting the government to do it all. That's pure and unadulterated socialism."

Surely you are being ironic. If not, you have the worst sense of self-awareness I've ever encountered.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

"See Boz, we can agree……. sometimes."

Clearly, you had nothing of substance to contribute to the subject at hand. Perhaps you should do a little self-reflection as to why you feel the need for the personal attack.

jafs 8 years, 4 months ago

I still feel that if the sidewalks are public property and the public is allowed free access to them, then cleaning them should be the city's responsibility.

If they are private and I can restrict access, then it makes sense for them to be my responsibility.

Chris Ogle 8 years, 4 months ago

Sorry Bozo, please don't take it personal.

BorderRuffian 8 years, 4 months ago

Personally, it my opinion that Curran Douglass is simply too lazy to remove the snow from the sidewalks in front of his house, and could care less for the safety of his fellow citizens. Shame on you Mr. Douglass!

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 8 years, 4 months ago

I agree, a $72 fine is ridiculous. If whomever drives around and takes note that sidewalks haven't been cleared would get off their butt and help people not physically able to do it, instead of fining them, it would be a better use of tax dollars. Not to mention the moral thing to do. I'm so glad I don't live in Lawrence. Thank you, Lynn

conservative 8 years, 4 months ago

Lynn after having read several of your posts i'm really glad you don't live here either. In almost none of the cases where i have seen unshovelled sidewalks have the driveways also been snow covered. The owners just don't care. It is not that hard to clear them. It took a little elbow grease and a little salt after the initial snow at christmas, but every snow since then has been a light powder that took only minutes to clear from my sidewalks

Phil Minkin 8 years, 4 months ago

According to Mr. Douglass's BS logic, maybe the city should not clean the streets, because the snow is easier to drive on. Does he clean the sidewalks or stairs from his door to the side walk. As for the "personal liberty" argument--there are some things one does to live in a civilized society like wearing clothes, not spitting in public, playing loud music etc. Just admit you are lazy with no regard for your fellow citizens,

Thinking_Out_Loud 8 years, 4 months ago

Gee, xbusguy, how did you expect just_another_bozo_on_this_bus NOT to take that personally?

mr_right_wing 8 years, 4 months ago

Curran obviously has never tried to walk down an unshoveled sidewalk with about a foot of snow on it. It is too bad we need this ordinance as well as the lawn-mowing ordinance; but apparently there are those homeowners (and I'm postivie it's a minority of them) who just refuse to take basic responsibility. If you don't like to shovel, if you like to let your grass grow as tall as you, move out to the country.

budwhysir 8 years, 4 months ago

I vote that we elect anyone who can develop a subject that all can complain about. Here is what I know. Here is how I look at it, if I feel it advisable to shovel my walk and that conditions warrant it, I will. If you take a walk or go for a run, I feel you are capable of encountering any obstacle you might come across such as rough terrain, snow, ice, dogs, bobcats, dragons, or even part of the cast from the Wizzard of OZ. If you think you might run into an area that might be too icy to pass, dont rely on me to come bail ya out, call for a city bus or if conditions are real bad, waive down the nearest snow plow, those guys are out working during ANY type of weather.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

"Here is how I look at it, if I feel it advisable to shovel my walk and that conditions warrant it, I will."

And if you want to dig a hole where the sidewalk used to be, plant some sharp spikes in the bottom of it, and camouflage it, that's well within your "rights," too, I suppose.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 4 months ago

Here's a proposal for a sidewalk-shoveling ordinance.

Hire a city-wide crew of shovelers. Every time it snows, send them out to clear the walks-- including intersections between sidewalks and the plowed snow from the streets. This would be a good opportunity for teenagers, the homeless and the unemployed. Or even someone who just wanted to get paid for getting a good workout.

Here's how I would finance it.

Charge each household an extra buck a month on their water/sewer bills. When the crew comes to your block, if your walk hasn't been cleared, it'll cost you $10 for residences, $20 for businesses, to have it shoveled by the city shoveler. Give the low-income elderly and disabled a break on that.

Disclaimer-- the particular numbers above, buck a month, 10 bucks a yard, etc. are guesses. The walks need to get cleared every bit as much as the streets, and it'll cost what it costs.

budwhysir 8 years, 4 months ago

Bozo, glad to see you read my posts,

"here is a proposal for sidewalk shoveling ordinance:" This layout sounds exactly like an employment program that mirrors the same one used for plowing streets, this crew might be called city employees

"here is how I would finance it" you should run for city council, this plan sounds just like taxation.

repaste 8 years, 4 months ago

All side walks are not equal, think snow routes, having 6th street sidewalks still unusable now while joggers are having tickets written for lightly traveled side steets is a joke. People are even now struggling over mounds with grocery sacks because they have to, not because they want to go for a run. Prioritize and get it done, bunch of crazy people around here, sociopaths!

Jason Bowers-Chaika 8 years, 4 months ago

Just an idea, instead of washing cop cars, persons who are working off fines could opt to shovel snow for those in need.

BorderRuffian 8 years, 4 months ago

so far, the only person who has a good idea here is gayokay who thinks persons working off fines could shovel the walks. My only problem with the suggestion is that I would make it mandatory. The same with those in jail - why should they sit there on their butts watching tv in the warmth, eating three squares a day (all of which we pay a premium price for), while senior citizens and others struggle to deal with a snow the likes of which we haven't seen for years? Follow the philosophy of that sheriff in Arizona who dresses them in pink underwear, takes away their undeserved privileges, and MAKES THEM WORK!

And make Curran get out his snow shovel and LEAD THEM.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 4 months ago

If so many drivers are not happy with the street cleaning schedule we must stop building more streets in the new housing projects. A tax dollar saving idea.

Cars and developers expect a lot from government.

Why? Because city hall has been laying off workers in spite of the fact that they keep expanding the miles of roads.

Bring back the laid off workers and boost our economy instead of expanding our tax bills with more and more miles of socialistic roads to maintain.

Thanks again for not plowing our road again. We can use our transportation and driveways = doing just fine = saving those tax dollars.

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