Archive for Saturday, January 5, 2013

Some Lawrence sidewalks remain snowbound despite $20 fines

January 5, 2013


Some Lawrence sidewalks remained snowbound Saturday, despite a city ordinance that levies fines of $20 per day against property owners for failing to clear them.

One example could be found Saturday on a walkway between the intersection of Vantuyl and Oak Tree drives and Quail Run School. The path had been partly cleared where it ran near two homes, but it was completely covered as it led through school property, even after hours of thaw.

Neighborhood resident Leann Johnson discovered that while taking her usual morning walk Friday and said she didn't know whether to make a complaint or not.

According to the ordinance, all property owners started risking fines if their sidewalks weren't cleared by 8 a.m. Thursday. The ordinance allows 48 hours from the end of a snowfall until the fines kick in.

The city does not actively patrol for properties that are out of compliance, according to Brian Jimenez, the city's code enforcement manager. But residents can file a complaint about a sidewalk by calling 832-7700. Or they can use the city's online code enforcement reporting system.

The ordinance requires property owners to clear the sidewalk of snow and ice so that it is passable for pedestrians. If ice is difficult to remove, sand may be spread over the ice to avoid a citation.

If found in violation, property owners are sent a notice of violation through the mail and will have the opportunity to contest the violation in Lawrence Municipal Court. The standard fine for violating the ordinance is $20, plus $60 in court costs.


blindrabbit 5 years, 4 months ago

See the need to clean sidewalks but, answer for many will be spreading of salt instead of shovelling and scraping! Probaly not a good outcome for water quality if we all adopt this solution.

Jean Robart 5 years, 4 months ago

the article says sand can be applied, not salt

irvan moore 5 years, 4 months ago

when we were walking our dog this morning along Mass street we had to deal with a few sidewalks that hadn't been cleared, if that's the worst thing that happens to me today it's going to be a good day

Jason Graham 5 years, 4 months ago

Agreed. I was out for a jog at the same time and since there was snow still on the ground, I made sure I was prepared to walk through it.

Dan Stohs 5 years, 4 months ago

I don't agree with the ordinance. If someone doesn't want to slip and fall on the sidewalk, then just walk in the grass area where it's not been scraped. Simple as that. Don't punish people for something they can't control, like the weather.

Dan Stohs 5 years, 4 months ago

Also, I think the city should be responsible for the sidewalks considering it is city property.

George_Braziller 5 years, 4 months ago

Sidewalks may be on city property but property owners are (and always have been) responsible for maintaining them. No different than the lawn between the sidewalk and the street. Legally belongs to the city but you're still responsible for mowing the grass.

Don't do it and they will for you and send a bill.

ebyrdstarr 5 years, 4 months ago

So as a taxpayer, are you prepared to foot the bill for all the equipment and personnel the city would have to provide to clear all the sidewalks?

John Hamm 5 years, 4 months ago

Sidewalks are part of the home owner's property.

parrothead8 5 years, 4 months ago

They aren't being "punished" for the fact that it snowed, but because they are failing to follow an ordinance that every informed property owner should know about. If we all chose simply to not follow every ordinance we disagreed with, we'd have a pretty ineffective society.

chocolateplease 5 years, 4 months ago

I doubt the ordinance is enforced for small patches of snow here and there, and I agree that we can walk on the grass sometimes. But if the snow is deep, the "just walk in the grass area" is not practical at all, especially if you're walking a small dog. It's just the civil thing to do, to clear a path so that pedestrians can walk without risking a fall.

hedshrinker 5 years, 4 months ago

uh, not every place HAS a grassy area, and if there IS one, it may be under deep snow. yes, noone controls the weather, but we all share the responsibility to deal with safety issues related to the consequences of weather.

Alceste 5 years, 4 months ago

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

Dan Stohs 5 years, 4 months ago

I wonder if Leann Johnson has ever heard of "karma".

Bob Forer 5 years, 4 months ago

I am sure she has. Doesn't sound like she made a complaint, and at least she had the guts to let the LJW know he identity. Perhaps she is trying a form of gentle persuasion with her neighbors.

Liberty275 5 years, 4 months ago

Busy at work. Anyway, I don't, nor will I, shovel snow.

lunacydetector 5 years, 4 months ago

'The city does not actively patrol for properties that are out of compliance,'......yeah, right. just as the city claimed a couple of years ago that everyone knew an 'adjustment fee' was the exact same thing as a late fee on their water bill

hedshrinker 5 years, 4 months ago

uh, you might change yr mind about the priority of protecting city residents fr slipping when you fall on someone's sidewalk and suffer a fractured hip/wrist, etc b/c the owner was too self-absorbed to fulfill basic civil responsibilities. In spite of physical infirmities, I always shovel,salt,clear debris obstructing public areas, etc. I know you are all about the intrusions of government into your life, but gov't steps in when people are unwilling to tend to the basics of community living,. From what I see of libertarian philosophy on this site, it would be a grim world if you had yr way, leaving most twisting in the wind.

Nathan Anderson 5 years, 4 months ago

Over the last few years, the energy used for all the belly aching from ljw posters on this issue is enough to shovel every sidewalk in the city for the next 20 years. Good gawd. If you don't want to take care of property, don't own any. Problem solved.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 4 months ago

With all these people drawing welfare checks, unemployment and the like, why don't we assign them areas to shovel....heck...they are getting paid for doing absoutly nothing while fines are given to people who are at work, or otherwise do not have time to shovel.

Just a thought.

hedshrinker 5 years, 4 months ago

wow, your clairvoyance about how all the untreated walks belong to people engaged in gainful employment or are too busy doing other admirable things is amazing! why is not fulfilling a basic tenet of home ownership or residence not seen as a normal expectation?

SnakeFist 5 years, 4 months ago

I've noticed that the LJW reporters seem to like reporting on this issue, but I'm not sure why. Are they in favor of the ordinance and want to keep hammering on the lack of compliance to stir up the city government to increase fines, or are they against the ordinance and want to keep hammering on the threat of fines to stir up public discontent? I'm guessing the former. It certainly can't be because its a huge new story.

Jean Robart 5 years, 4 months ago

maybe this is an ordinance that in actuality has no teeth.

3up3down 5 years, 4 months ago

Hummm, let me see. 30 feet from center of street to each side is considered "City" right of way. Oh geeee, the sidewalk is in that 30' boundary. Let the City take care of it!!!

John Hamm 5 years, 4 months ago

But that "right of way" is on the homeowner's property. Just as utility (power, telephone) right of way - they have access but you own.

blindrabbit 5 years, 4 months ago

City should have issued snow shovels along with the new trash cans.

patkindle 5 years, 4 months ago

the city passed the sidewalk law to appease the chosen few. it is a shame the people of lawrence are unable to walk on eneven ground

hedshrinker 5 years, 4 months ago

not everyone is as sure-footed and able-bodied as you apparently we should just stay locked in our houses and not be able to go anywhere?

friendlyjhawk 5 years, 4 months ago

:Lawrence, town of righteous tattletails and finger pointers. Also people that aren't smart enough to stay away from unshoveled walks or all the "little" taxes and impositions placed on residents all in the name of safety. No personal responsibility to the posters or walkers either.

Jean Robart 5 years, 4 months ago

It is not a matter of being smart enough to stay away from uncleared sidewalk. It is about people who live here need to be aware of the city ordinance regarding sidewalk clearing. This is not a town of tattletales and fingerpointers (do you include yourself in that group?). It is a city of people who respect authority that is put in place by THEIR votes for city offices. If you don't like the law, then get involved and change it. You obviously do not care about people who are elderly or handicapped and MUST NOT wield aq snow shovel or CANNOT wield one. Please try to have some compassion for someone who is less able-bodied than you are.

KUinAussie 5 years, 4 months ago

and people say australia is a nanny state... sigh!

Water 5 years, 4 months ago

I'd like to recommend Lawrencians drive all of their vehicles onto the sidewalk when they hear there is a chance of snow. When it stops snowing they can drive away exposing the clean dry sidewalk underneath and leaving the snow police no reason to ticket us.....

John Hamm 5 years, 4 months ago

It's illegal - thanks to the US Government (Americans with Disability Act) to block a sidewalk with an automobile or other means. Sidewalks must be passable to those using wheelchairs and electric motorized transport.

Paul Silkiner 5 years, 4 months ago

OMG............IT'S THE END OF TIMES!!

OMG............IT'S THE END OF TIMES!!

OMG............IT'S THE END OF TIMES!! by Paul Silkiner

OMG............IT'S THE END OF TIMES!!

OMG............IT'S THE END OF TIMES!! by Paul Silkiner

Maddy Griffin 5 years, 4 months ago

I know I saw flurries early Saturday morning. Doesn't that reset the 48 hour clock? So what's up with this article?

weeslicket 5 years, 4 months 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. If ice has accumulated of such character as to make removal thereof impossible, the sprinkling or placement of sand thereon within the time specified for removal in such a manner as to make such sidewalk safe for travel of pedestrians shall be deemed compliance with the provisions of this section. (Ord. 7456, Ord. 8324)

i got about 1 inch of snow, which "removed itself" within the 48 hours.

didn't this code use to include something like a 2 inch minimum for snowfall before removal was requirred? will fines now be levied after a "dusting"? when codes are this subjective, then they really aren't codes.

Matt Schwartz 5 years, 4 months ago

Everyone that has a car expects the streets to be clean. Why is not reasonable then to have the sidewalks clear also(by the homeowner). Do your part people and clean your walks. You should not have to have the city tell you to do that.

Bryan Mayes 5 years, 4 months ago

So if I get home from vacation (that started before the snow, and will end after it), there damn well better not be a ticket in my mailbox. If one of my neighbors had the opportunity to complain about my un-shoveled 12 ft of sidewalk, but not take 3 minutes to remedy the problem knowing I'm out of town, I will be irate. Snitches get stitches...

Austin Bergstrom 5 years, 4 months ago

might say something about you if your neighbors wouldn't take the 5 minutes to shovel such a small sidewalk knowing you were out of town!

hedshrinker 5 years, 4 months ago

I can see why somebody might not be inclined to help you..."snitches get stitches"????? my neighbors also aren't really cued into my vacation/work schedule...lucky you,BTW, you GET a vacation

Jean Robart 5 years, 4 months ago

my, you work fast on clearing snow, don't you? Try walking from 6th and Iowa to KU after an ice storm. It can be done, but isn't worth the risk of falling on the sidewalk, or being hit by a car to walk on the road because the ice is too thick.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 4 months ago

Shoveling snow can be a hassle we all know this. Many times a 24 inch push broom can speed up the process followed by some easier shoveling. What a find. Too bad this discovery was not realized 50 years ago.

Some folks do not own cars and/or do not drive.

On the other hand many types of individuals need to walk as a means of maintaing their health such as our senior citizens. Their hearts need the exercise. And if they fall and fracture a joint that creates big problems. Fractures and bruises do not heal as quickly once the body moves into the golden age arena.

Senior citizens should not necessarily be shoveling snow = heart attacks.

Then we have our wheel chair travelers who most certainly would appreciate a clear path instead of sitting inside day after day waiting for warm temps to clear the snow and ice(from melted snow).

While we cannot be fined our walkway and driveway still get cleared for our own comfort. Then again we never know who might drop by for a visit.

How much money would the city need to clear sidewalks throughout the community? As well as replacing as necessary? Mr. Dave Corliss would you care to approach we taxpayers on this matter? If you should....thanks in advance.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 4 months ago

Brian Jimenez, the city's code enforcement manager has been under staffed from day one. His office likely needs at least 4 additional workers in order for this office to meet taxpayer demands.

Keeping an enforcement arm understaffed is a back door method to deregulation. If nothing else the LPD could call in blocks that need attention and leave the exact addresses to code enforcement.

The city commission claims city hall cannot afford necessary staffing to enforce the codes and ordinances. Yet when commissioners want to accomplishment a desire tax dollars always seem to surface. Go figure.

Yet as a taxpayer I find code enforcement a quite necessary evil. How many want to buy a new house in Lawrence knowing code enforcement cannot meet demands?

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 4 months ago

There are some homes in Lawrence that do not have a sidewalk in front. I think they'd be the better value.

Michele Dillon 5 years, 4 months ago

Perhaps some of you can you the energy you have complaining to help those who are unable to shovel and sign up for the Safe Winter walkways program through Douglas County Senior Center.

Irenaku 5 years, 4 months ago

hehe..Quail Run know some of the west Lawrencians are watching and waiting for the outlier in their BH&G neighborhood who does not shovel the sidewalk! Sorry, I just had to laugh at this one...

juma 5 years, 4 months ago

Some years back in a small Western Kansas town that had the same draconian laws and fines and the same citizen backlash about snow on the sidewalk got the problem solved. After one large snow/ice storm and the fines being levied the local paper published pictures of the sidewalks of the City Manager and Director of Public Works; covered in snow. End result, law rescinded! Maybe the LJW should do some town tours with a camera?

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