Letters to the Editor

Unpaid labor

January 21, 2010


To the editor:

It is exceedingly unfair for the city to demand that select homeowners work as unpaid city employees. To require some individuals to be responsible for physically difficult chores to maintain public access is inequitable and punitive.

The clear sidewalk ordinance was enacted without regard to the age, physical limitations or income of those it would affect. Many elders on fixed incomes have a very difficult time just meeting their own needs, especially during severe weather. If they are unable to perform the task or to pay someone else to do it in a timely manner, they are fined. That is wrong.

Bless the volunteers, but I tried several days in a row to get put on the list of seniors needing help and found the Senior Services office closed, due to inclement weather, and their mailbox was full.

Taxpayers should not be treated as indentured servants. The city commissioners might consider determining the cost of such work if performed by city workers and then give the homeowners a tax break for the public service they are required to provide.


Charles Bloss 7 years, 1 month ago

Topeka does not fine people who fail to clean their sidewalks, they simply leave a door hanger asking them to do it. Elderly people many times cannot clean their sidewalks, and certainly cannot afford someone to do it. So someone paid by the taxpayer to ride around looking for sidewalks that have not been cleaned is a waste of money and time. Government has become far to obtrusive in our lives already. I don't have a sidewalk, I live in the county, but I do not think this practice is fair to any citizen, especially elderly ones. Thank you, Lynn

Kirk Larson 7 years, 1 month ago

Of course, you could always not mow your lawn and see what reaction that gets.

grimpeur 7 years, 1 month ago

Yes, it's too bad that such ordinances are needed.

But it's clear that they are, indeed, needed.

gccs14r 7 years, 1 month ago

If you are incapable of maintaining your property, whether for health or financial reasons, it may be time to consider moving into a place that has maintenance staff.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

The problem is that they're not "our" sidewalks. They are in fact open to the public.

This creates wear and tear and other issues that would not exist if we could restrict access.

If they are public, then the city should clear them.

If they are private, then I can restrict access and cut down on wear and tear.

George Lippencott 7 years, 1 month ago

grimpeur (Anonymous) says…

Help me here 150 tickets and more than 5 thousand properties. Can we ever get any better??

progccs14r (Anonymous) says…

So when I become limited in my physical strength you would throw me out of my home because you want me to shovel your property?? Morally bankrupt!

George Lippencott 7 years, 1 month ago

consumer1 (Anonymous) says… And what wre you doing to be a good citicen??

Stuart Evans 7 years, 1 month ago

remember the oldern days when the neighborhood kids would go door to door and shovel your walk for $5 or $10. Of course now, most kids aren't allowed out of mommy's sight, because everybody thinks their neighbors are perverts. or the kids are just too busy playing Wii Snowshoveling, to actually go outside.

gccs14r 7 years, 1 month ago

Maintain your property or don't, but if you don't, expect a visit from the City. Doesn't matter if it's the sidewalk, the lawn, or the roof. If you want to live in a blighted landscape without rules, move somewhere else.

Tammy Yergey 7 years, 1 month ago

How about this... if the city needs to clear the side walks, then let's RAISE TAXES so we have enough money to do so! That way the taxpayers don't have to do it themselves. Good idea!!!!

George Lippencott 7 years, 1 month ago

consumer1 (Anonymous) says…

I commend you. My story is similar so why are we fighting?

George Lippencott 7 years, 1 month ago

consumer1 (Anonymous) says…

And I am 67 in less than perfect shape. Do you shovel your own property or just help others as you should.

GardenMomma 7 years, 1 month ago

Enough already with the whining about the snow shoveling ordinance!

George Lippencott 7 years, 1 month ago

Number_1_Grandma (Anonymous) says…


See my new blog

BigPrune 7 years, 1 month ago

Since Lawrence is shrinking in population why did our city fathers decide to enact this ordinance? Just wondering, why wasn't it required when Lawrence was bigger? Does it have something to do with the M-T Bus?

John Hamm 7 years, 1 month ago

Anti-shoveling trolls are alive and well at the LJ-W

Matt Needham 7 years, 1 month ago

If someone (of any age) falls and breaks a bone on the slab of ice created by un-shovelled sidewalks do they sue the property owner or the city?

Kirk Larson 7 years, 1 month ago

I am happy to help my needful neighbors. The ones who aren't irritating curmudgeons. Hmm?

boot2009 7 years, 1 month ago

It is only "my" sidewalk when it comes to shoveling snow or repairing damage...the rest of the time it is "everyone's" sidewalk.

I have no problem doing it and help others frequently...

But I think that the point is valid that the homeowner should be free to shovel or not shovel. My house, my sidewalk, my decision. I'm not required to make other people's lives easier by making mine more difficult.

George Lippencott 7 years, 1 month ago

rukus (Anonymous) says…

Get those old people. Your presumption is that homeowners are rich. Perhaps some are. Some are also cash poor with a low mortage. There biggest bill is the their property tax.

So, if I don't want to shovel off your peoperty I should move regardless of the market conditions, or many other factors?

You know the people I deal with have been almost unifomily civic minded and helpful as we try to be in return. I also remind you that the strict requirement by the city occured long after I bought my home.

I just can not help wondering how many of you that complain do similar physical services for the city. Or could you be representative of the many who do little, demand much and whine about it all the time!!

Rex Russell 7 years, 1 month ago

Made some good money when I was a kid shoveling. Mom said I couldn't charge something specific. Just offer to shovel it and whatever they pay you is fine. A lot of older single ladies and old couples. They didn't have much. Once in a while you might make 10 bucks. They were thankful and I made a little candy and pop money when I was 10. Learned about hard work and did neighborly deeds too. Miss that begone era.

poppygirl 7 years, 1 month ago

If the sidewalk is "mine" only when it requires maintenance, then I choose to remove the sidewalk completely and live maintenance free !

gccs14r 7 years, 1 month ago

"f the sidewalk is “mine” only when it requires maintenance, then I choose to remove the sidewalk completely and live maintenance free !"

That's not your choice. It's on your property (which typically extends to the middle of the street, but it's a City easement and subject to City regulations. It's the same set of rules that dictates whether you can plant anything along the curb line or put up a fence. For that matter, look up the rules regarding the kind of fencing you're allowed to install and its maximum height. Those rules extend to your back yard, too.

George Lippencott 7 years, 1 month ago

gccs14r (Anonymous) says…

Do you own property?? Mine does not even extend to the sidewalk. Perhaps some extend to the middle of the street though I doubt it.

Be careful. The city says things and does things to placate the masses that are not necessarily legal. It costs a lot of money to challenge them so they hope no one will take them there. That hardly makes what they are doing right!

George Lippencott 7 years, 1 month ago

rukus (Anonymous) says…

The issue is not whether I can pay for it but your moral and legal right to demand that I do so

George Lippencott 7 years, 1 month ago

rukus (Anonymous) says…

99% of them can afford snow removal; they choose not to make it a priority.

And just who are these 99%?? Everyone around here does their snow the best they can - and they do it themselves - and they help their neighbors.

gccs14r 7 years, 1 month ago

My legal description says I'm 63x101 feet. I'll have to measure to see where that ends up. I did poke around the property info on the Appraiser's site and it does look like official property extents stop at the curbline in Lawrence.

George Lippencott 7 years, 1 month ago

gccs14r (Anonymous) says…

An dmy platt clearly shows the sidewalk is not on my property.

gccs14r 7 years, 1 month ago

Really. You can tell that from the county's map? All I could see was a stick outline of the road. If the sidewalk next to/in front of your place is not on your property, then you could probably contest the ticket.

George Lippencott 7 years, 1 month ago

gccs14r (Anonymous) says…

You just don't want to accept this. Like many people I had a surveyor stake the property lines. When it showed how far the city owned into what I though I owned I checked the platt - from the realator - and verified the stakes.

George Lippencott 7 years, 1 month ago

gccs14r (Anonymous) says…

What ticket?? I shovel my walk - always have. Sometimes my neighbors help and some times I help them.

consumer1 (Anonymous) says…

Thanks, but did it within the city rules - actually did it four times. I have a machine. It had trouble with the amount of snow but we got it done.

yoornotmee 7 years, 1 month ago

I'm so glad there's not a sidewalk in front of my house :)

George Lippencott 7 years ago

yoornotmee (Anonymous) says…

Careful, in order to satisfy the masses they may make you shovel across the street.

yoornotmee 5 years, 7 months ago

Ha, no worries - there's no sidewalk there either! :D

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