Archive for Sunday, October 23, 2016

City moves forward with plan to make residents pay for sidewalk repair

East Lawrence resident John Bodle is pictured with a sidewalk along Rhode Island Street on Friday, Oct. 21, 2016. Bodle believes that sidewalk repair should be paid by the city through property taxes rather than by individuals.

East Lawrence resident John Bodle is pictured with a sidewalk along Rhode Island Street on Friday, Oct. 21, 2016. Bodle believes that sidewalk repair should be paid by the city through property taxes rather than by individuals.

October 23, 2016


The disrepair of some sidewalks in Lawrence is no secret, and the city is moving forward with a plan to enforce an ordinance requiring that property owners maintain them.

“It’s really been an accumulation of neglect,” City Manager Tom Markus said at the City Commission’s most recent meeting. “We’ve let this go on for way too long, and so now we have the proverbial elephant sidewalk, and trying to take that one bit at a time is a difficult challenge for us. But, like most things, you’ve got to start some time.”

The city estimates there is approximately $9.4 million in sidewalk deficiencies in the city, made up of about $6.1 million in sidewalk repairs and $3.3 million in sidewalk ramps required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. While the city is responsible for installing the ramps, sidewalk repairs are the responsibility of property owners.

For decades, the city has had an ordinance requiring that residents maintain sidewalks on their property — replacing them when sections break or become uneven — but it has not been widely enforced. Inspections have been done on a complaint-basis, and notices asking residents to fix their sidewalks were not followed up on. Still, there was about 60 percent compliance, and Markus told commissioners more enforcement could make a significant difference.

“I think you’ll find that that 60 percent number will grow if they understand that we’re serious about following up and making sure that these improvements are made,” Markus said. He noted that landlords own about 55 percent of residential properties in Lawrence.

But repairs can be costly, and individual property owners are already expressing concerns. The city has estimated that replacing a sidewalk that is 5 feet across costs about $6 per square foot. That means a sidewalk that is 40 feet long would cost well more than $1,000 to replace.

Putting procedures and staff in place to enforce the ordinance is part of an implementation plan created by city staff, which was presented to commissioners Oct. 18. The plan outlines the actions recommended by staff to accomplish requests made by the Pedestrian-Bicycle Issues Task Force in its final report, which the commission received in May. The plan said staff looked at several options to deal with sidewalk repair, but operated “with the understanding that creating a new sales tax or property tax was unpopular.” Staff noted repair costs could be unaffordable for some families, and that a deferral option is being evaluated.

Undue burden

The task force didn’t propose a solution for handling sidewalk repairs, but said the issue needed to be discussed and a new maintenance program put in place by 2017.

That discussion has begun, and some task force members don’t agree with the city’s plan for addressing the problem. Bonnie Uffman said she thinks requiring property owners to pay for repairs puts a disproportionate burden on those with lower income, and that repairs should be the responsibility of the city.

“To me, the equity issue is mind-boggling,” Uffman said. “To me, that’s just wrong.”

Some property owners agree, saying that they see sidewalks as public infrastructure no different from city streets. John Bodle lives in East Lawrence, which like many of the city’s older neighborhoods is lined with sidewalks on both sides of the street. Many of those sidewalks are deteriorating, and Bodle said that he doesn’t see sidewalks as serving an individualized benefit.

“I think that should be an expense shared by all of us,” Bodle said.

“I get precious little benefit out of this 50 feet of sidewalk,” Bodle said, gesturing to the sidewalk running in front of his home. “I get every bit as much benefit out of the next 50 feet, 100 feet and so forth of sidewalk. When I want to walk downtown, I have to walk across all these sidewalks, and that benefit is for all of us.”

However, the city may be limited in what it can do, said City Commissioner Matthew Herbert. Herbert said that state law defines sidewalks as part of the individual’s property, and that he sees the current city ordinance as in line with that statute, as well as being fair for those who have already complied with the ordinance. Still, Herbert said he understood the argument that sidewalks should be considered public infrastructure.

“I completely get that, I think the city manager completely gets that; it’s a logical argument,” Herbert said. “The problem is we’re dealing with a state law that says differently, and we’re also dealing with $9 million worth of sidewalks in the community that are in need of repair.”

Other options

Other reactions to the city’s plan are more nuanced. Marilyn Hull, chair of the task force, said they found that other solutions wouldn’t work in Lawrence. For instance, the creation of a sidewalk utility fee was evaluated, but it was determined that it would only be legal by Kansas statute if property owners voluntarily opted in.

Hull said she realized that enforcing the current ordinance may not be very popular with residents, but that city-supported repair would be expensive for the taxpayer.

“It’s really important for the entire community to have good sidewalks for everyone,” Hull said. “In the past, the sidewalk ordinance has not been uniformly enforced, so there is a need for something to happen. We looked at other communities and didn’t come up with a program that would work for Lawrence.”

Part of the reason for that is the scope of the repairs. Herbert said that because the sidewalks are in such widespread disrepair, an opt-in program would not work to generate the millions of dollars needed. He also said that in other cities it was found that property owners would only opt-in until their sidewalk was repaired.

“The problem is that those policies never really work,” Herbert said. “What ends up happening is, people who have sidewalks in disrepair opt in until they get their sidewalk repaired by the city, and then at some point they opt out, because their liabilities have now been covered.”

Deferring costs

The city’s implementation plan includes a program for regular sidewalk inspections, as well as ideas to minimize the financial impact for low-income property owners.

City staff proposed that property owners be given the option to contract with the city to complete the repairs, which would be less expensive than doing so privately. Staff is also evaluating the idea of a deferral program in which the city would pay the upfront costs of repair and a lien would be placed on the property. The city would be reimbursed for the sidewalk repair and the lien paid off once the property was sold.

While a proposal for a deferral program has not been formalized, Vice Mayor Leslie Soden said they need to figure out some way to help with the financial burden of sidewalk repairs. Soden said she thought that could be through deferral or setting up a grant program, perhaps similar to the income-based weatherization grants offered through the city.

“It is important to start enforcing the sidewalk policy, but we do understand that there are financial challenges for a lot of property owners,” Soden said. “And so the city is looking at offering ways to help with the financial impact.”

Bodle, though, said he thought the idea of a deferral program does not address the issue, but instead “sidesteps it.”

“It allows us to ignore the immediacy of it,” Bodle said. “It allows the cash-poor homeowner — and there are many, especially here in East Lawrence — to not want to fight with the city about it, because, ‘Oh, I don’t have to pay for it now.’”

Uffman also didn’t think deferral was a good solution, noting that for those with low income, their home could be their only asset and deferral only delays the financial burden.

As a task force member who studied the topic, Uffman said she realized there were many issues to be dealt with in order come up with a solution. Still, Uffman said she thought city planning staff could come up with something better than the deferral plan.

“If there were easy answers the task force would have come up with it — I would know the answer,” Uffman said. “They’re not easy answers, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need a better answer.”

The city’s implementation plan will go to the newly created Transportation Commission for review, which will also make recommendations. Both sets of recommendations will return to the City Commission at an upcoming meeting for further review.


Bob Summers 1 year, 7 months ago

People in government own you. What makes you think you can disobey them?

Pay up.

Kevin Kelly 1 year, 7 months ago

And the City will do their part for infrastructure and fix our crumbled, barely there curb the neighbors and I have been asking about for years? We didn't need a non ADA compliant sidewalk installed with GAP money, we need curbs. City hypocrisy.

Kevin Millikan 1 year, 7 months ago

better watch what you'll be getting billed for that next..

Lori Lampe 1 year, 7 months ago

If, as Mr. Herbert says, "state law defines sidewalks as part of the individual's property," can I remove the sidewalk from my property? I won't need to repair it, and I won't need to shovel it every winter. Can I put up a "no trespassing" sign to keep people from walking on this part of my property? I live on a corner and have sidewalks on two sides of my home. While half of my neighbors (those on the other side of the street) don't have sidewalks, the other half have only a short stretch in front of their homes to maintain. I, on the other hand, have at least 350 linear feet of sidewalk. I agree with Ms. Uffman that "the equity issue is mind-boggling."

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 7 months ago

What would it cost the city to repair the sidewalks? We have been paying taxes for the city to put in trails all over, why can't some of that money be used to repair the sidewalks? And could we have afforded to fix the sidewalks, if we hadn't given away a bunch of tax money to certain developers?

Bob Summers 1 year, 7 months ago

This is but one small example of government masterminds inability to manage your money they take from productive people.

....and Liberals want them to take more from you.

Truth to power.

Dustin Morris 1 year, 7 months ago

Owning a home in Lawrence just became less affordable. Unless you are a landlord.

Wayne Kerr 1 year, 7 months ago

I find it hard to believe that the city claims they don't have the resources to pay for the repairs but they go on to say they'll do the repairs and just charge us for them at a later date? It sounds to me like the city is just trying to get out of paying the bill. Who installed the sidewalks in the first place? Certainly not the homeowners. Why are homeowners resposible for maintaining something they didn't put there? Lori Lampe brings up a good point, if the sidewalk is the homeowner's property, can the homeowner just remove the sidewalk instead of repairing it?

This inability of the city to pay for basic infrastructure repairs is a direct result of the city giving tax breaks, tax abatements, and special sales tax districts to developers. Wasn't it a special tax district that enabled the city to come up with the 25 million they used to fund the new recreation center? What if we recinded all the special tax districts we've given to developers for five years or so until we had the money to repair our sidewalks? Or what if we gave homeowners a tax break to help them pay for sidewalk repairs? I pay around $3,000 in property tax on my home every year. I have lived here about 20 years, so I've caughed up around $60,000 so far. And the city doesn't have money left over to fix the $2,000-$3,000 sidewalk they put in my yard? Why can't I get a tax break and instead of paying $3,000 in property taxes next year and I'll spend that money on "my sidewalk" and send you all a recipt to write off the expense I owe you? If tax breaks are good for the overall economic growth of our city why should homeowners be left out?

RJ Johnson 1 year, 7 months ago

I've lived in several cities in Kansas over the years and they all require the property owner to maintain the sidewalks. In addition to being a city ordinance and a state law.

Get used to it, it is part of being a property owner in Kansas!

Rich Noever 1 year, 7 months ago

Overland Park residents do not pay for sidewalks so your statement is false. Since the city can't afford it, then the cost of sidewalks should be the responsibility of every resident, not just the people who have sidewalks. Most homeowners who have sidewalks never use them.

Jerome Bradley 1 year, 7 months ago

It is state law that it is the property owners responsibility to fix the sidewalks KS-12-1808.

If a property owner doesn't pay it, it can be levied through property taxes KS-12-1810 to pay for it.

Sometimes HOA's will take residents dues and use it to fix sidewalks. Might check into that if you are in one.

Some cities will cover the costs of sidewalks, but not Lawrence. If you do not like it, start gathering enough support to change the way the City handles sidewalks :) you are your government, just have to get out and get support to change it :)

Wayne Lee 1 year, 7 months ago

Olathe use to have a program that repaired sidewalks for home owners. The liability became an issue for them though. If they fixed it, the city crews, the city was or could be held liable if the sidewalk sunk, raised up or cracked. They put it in and any changes would be their fault. Add a small amount to the water bill every month. Have legal write up a agreement with the home owner to release all liability to the city. Upon inspection of the completed work, it could then be paid for. Everybody pays for the curbs,streets,parks etc. Everybody should pay for the sidewalks. The owner has to insure it so they should have help paying for it.

Jennifer Harrison 1 year, 7 months ago

Well, I have never done any concrete work before in my life, but if the city wants a 61 yr old woman laying concrete, then I suppose they get what they get. I figure a couple of bags of Quikcrete will do some patch work.

David Holroyd 1 year, 7 months ago

Typical response from Mr. Herbert after mile of sidewalks are poured on Bob Billings toward Wakarusa...Who paid for that? Mr. Fritzel? The Alvamar corporation, the defunct group? The homeowners tucked down below Bob Billings? From what I understand, NOT!

And the city has used the gap program to build sidewalks around city schools, when those walks should be funded from the School budgets!

Why are some areas in town devoid of walks? Would Mr. Heckler put a walk in front of his house? NO,,of course not..he would have to shovel it and first of all build it.

When is Mr. Simons going to put sidewalks around his property and extend them to the city park south of his house, which is used for parking for his private parties.

Would the Journal World provide in the press , in detail, the amount paid for walks along Bob Billings and WHO paid the bill? I am not expecting as much since the Journal World won't even ask KU Endowment why they are partners in a parking lot with a private developer.

Mr.Kelley,,,,you think maybe the taxpayers are footing the bill for sidewalk construction along 19th? Just asking!

Kevin Kelly 1 year, 7 months ago

South side of 19th St has utility poles or there would have been more Central District encroachment on those homes. When the city "fixes" 19th St (destroyed by Central District construction trucks), I am guessing the sidewalks on the south neighborhood side will remain the same with no improvement. KU is probably paying for the north sidewalk (if there is room in their 80 acres for the sidewalk). City is probably stuck making the 19th St street improvements just like that waterline that the City paid for down Ousdahl KU needs for their dorms. LOTS of money being spent by the City around the KU Central District project that is "for our own good" or "needed to be done anyway". A summary of who paid for what starting with the waterline down Ousdahl and to include projects past, current, and pending by the City related to the KU Central District and 19th St would be a nice informative article in the Journal World?

Clara Westphal 1 year, 7 months ago

Having a sidewalk is a curse. Having moved here from the country, I didn't think about the sidewalk being such trouble or I would have bought property that didn't have one. People walk their dogs and let them stop in your yard. Kids ride their bikes in your drive and on your lawn. Sidewalks have to be shoveled in the winter.

I paid over $700 to have two slabs replaced and a small drain under a walk replaced. The crew that did the work said the city put in too small a drain to be under a walk and that was why it collapsed.

If I had to pay for my sidewalk repairs, I should not have to pay for someone else to have their walk fixed.

If the city wants sidewalks repaired, they can start with the city owned walks on the north side of Dad Perry Park. More than one person has tripped and fell there.

David Klamet 1 year, 7 months ago

Cleary the homeowners most likely to have sidewalks needing repair are those least likely to be able to afford it, those in older homes in less affluent parts of the city-- unless the homeowners are landlords.

The trend is away from home ownership. This helps nudge things a little more.

One can argue that this an existing ordinance, but it is one that only applies to so some homes. Everyone benefits from sidewalks, but only some have to provide and maintain them?

Am I the only one who thinks local government's first responsibility is to provide basic services and infrastructure? Clearly, the focus is now on providing attention-getting facilities. The dull, every-day responsibilities get no respect.

Tim Foley 1 year, 7 months ago

Some of the sidewalks wouldn't need repair If the streets didn't flood due to poor drainage and collapsed curbs, salt trucks and plows throwing things on the walks causing them to decay, and city maintenance vehicles parking on them.

Judy J Romero 1 year, 7 months ago

If city damaged sidewalk while taking down a tree, I am responsible for fixing the sidewalk. Doesn't sound right to me.

Zoe Flowers 1 year, 7 months ago

I know of a couple of homeowners that have made the city fix the sidewalk after they caused damage doing work. The homeowner needs to contact the city immediately to report the damage. I would also advise taking pictures of repair work done. Keep records if the repair doesn't last. My dad was able to make them come back after a couple of years and fix it again when it didn't last.

Mary Lee Norris 1 year, 7 months ago

Great points. Going forward, if you know the city will be working in the vicinity, it wouldn't hurt to take a few "before" pictures of your sidewalk and landscaping. Then if they cause damage, you can present them with dated before and after shots, giving them little wiggle room to try to say it was damaged before they showed up.

Jerome Bradley 1 year, 7 months ago

Also if tree roots, from a tree within the right of way only, damages a sidewalk they should fix it, same if you have a slump where infrastructure goes under it.

People have to be proactive about it though

Brock Masters 1 year, 7 months ago

You have to maintain the sidewalk because it is your property but you can't stop pedestrians from using it. In the words of Spock, it is illogical. A private citizen should not have to provide public infrastructure.

Mike Riner 1 year, 7 months ago

So, you mean I can't charge a TOLL for everyone who uses MY sidewalk in order to raise funds for REPAIRS? Well damn!

Michael Kort 1 year, 7 months ago

In most cities that I have lived in the back edge of the sidewalk towards the house is considered to the property line .

Still, they made you shovel it .

When living in OP, they repaired the sidewalk twice in different spots no charge .

Maybe instead of building pointless roundabouts in the middle of Walkarusa on the public dime, the city should get busy fixing sidewalks .

I read at one time a discussion of a futter trail that I think was 10' wide by many miles long to go from Rock Chalk Park around Lawrence, which I thought was insane because who would shovel it, remove any ice in winter, police it and fix it as it broke and it all would be done for what cost ? to the citizens so deer could move about with a pathway or for the pleasure of a few trail walkers .

Come down off cloud nine and do something basic for the home owners and the renters who will ultimately pay for the landlords sidewalks .?


Dustyn Polk 1 year, 7 months ago

we can afford new curbs every few months, and can afford to pay for the mistakes made requiring them to be torn out and put back in again, but we can't afford to pour flat slabs of concrete...

Sounds like it is time for some gravel...

Michael Kort 1 year, 7 months ago

Speaking of the 25 Million ( without a public vote ) that went to Rock Chaulk Park, had the city kept just 9 Mlkion of that 25 to use for fixing sidewalks, they could have still given Rock Chaulk Park 16 million and............well, we wouldn't be having this discussion !

So I hope that the city gets it that people then reed about the proposed 10' trail walk to around town to nowhere that doesn't get you to the bus, to work, to shopping, or to exercise around your immediate neighborhood without driving to it ( for all people's city wide ) but seems to simply be proposed for the wonderlust of building a monument to whatever ? and then they hear about having to pay to repair their own or the landlords sidewalk on their dime ?

brent flanders 1 year, 7 months ago

First, in many areas of Lawrence only one side of the street has a sidewalk, so they're responsible while the property across the street is not.

So, a sidewalk on a person's property is a public right-of-way...whether or not the property owner wants this pathway on their property...correct?

Yet, if an individual should trip, fall or have an is the property owner's responsibility...really?

Did the property owner install or ask for a sidewalk to be placed in front of their property?

This a city/zone issue should be their responsibility, not the property owners.

Is that logic too simple to understand?

Michael Kort 1 year, 7 months ago

I shoveled snow ( lived on the wrong side of the street that had the side walk and an area mailbox pad in the parkway for maybe 30 homes ) for 23 years in OP .

Never had anyone say thanks for being stupid and fronting a sidewalk that I shoveled or snowblowered, for their convenience and saftey,......but then i was never sued for someone else's injury either .

Do not own a home or rent where you are responsible for a side walk out front .

Simply buy on the side of the street with no side walk and post your land as no trespassing or whatever to keep fools from falling down on your property and suing you .

Mike Green 1 year, 7 months ago

The right of way extends from the center of the street to either side, regardless of sidewalk. Typically 17.5 - 37.5 ft from center of road is public right of way, dog walking, walkers, cyclists, sunbathers are all allowed use.

Tony Peterson 1 year, 7 months ago

It's never made any sense to me that in residential areas the homeowner is required to build and maintain the sidewalk in front of their houses even though they don't own the land it's on. My property line ends at the edge of the sidewalk. Once I step off of my porch and walk three paces to the sidewalk I'm standing on land that's part of the City easement.

Sidewalks aren't any different than streets because they're part of the public use transportation grid.

Calvin Anders 1 year, 7 months ago

Well, we can't vote out the City Manager. But instead of Mr. Markus, we can vote out the members of the City Commission who supported this measure. If this is the kind of unpleasantness we can expect from Mr. Markus, I think we need to make clear to those running that it's time for a new City Manager and a new City Commission. We have to remember that this the kind of government by tone deaf indifference that we can expect from this group. I realize elections are a while away but let's keep this stupid action in mind when they do roll around.

Michelle Reynolds 1 year, 7 months ago

So does this mean all the homeowners in the older neighborhoods need to pull up and rebuild their brick side walks also? They do gal under the same regulations?

Rochelle Valverde 1 year, 7 months ago


Good question. Brick sidewalks are included in the ordinance. The implementation plan created by city staff states: "Property owners with brick sidewalks would have the option of replacing with brick or concrete." The applicable section of the existing ordinance is as follows:

"No owner of any property having a sidewalk adjacent thereto shall permit any plank, brick, stone or segment of such sidewalk to be raised above the established level of such sidewalk more than one-half (1/2) inch, in any manner which might catch the foot of a pedestrian, or to permit any holes or depressions to occur in the sidewalk in which a pedestrian might step or catch their foot in a manner to cause injury. (Code 1979,16-106)"


Tony Peterson 1 year, 7 months ago

The ordinance might say that but there are conflicts within the ordinances. I own a listed property on the local historic registry and it's in a designated historic district. Don't want to and can't replace the brick sidewalk with concrete.

If they're brick they have to remain brick.

Zoe Flowers 1 year, 7 months ago

If you decide to go back with cement, the city will send you a letter saying the bricks belong to the city and you must deliver them to their brick storage area out on Wakarusa at your cost even though there is no proof that the city paid for those bricks when they were put in. There is nothing in any city ordinance about ownership of the bricks so I assume some city official just decided it was a rule without going through the proper official procedures.

Bob Summers 1 year, 7 months ago

Why are the homeowners not charging a toll to use their sidewalk?

This sounds like an excellent money maker for the elderly.

Bob Summers 1 year, 7 months ago

You're killing me Robert!

Thanks for the laugh!

You're the best!!

Bob Forer 1 year, 7 months ago

My, my. You are so pleased with yourself. You must be very special.

Bob Summers 1 year, 7 months ago

heh check out the 4 hour, 8 minutes ago post by Robert.

Not many are there.

Bob Summers 1 year, 7 months ago

Ah yes. The boys in IT have ferreted out Forer and the new 'Bob Summers' are using the same server and are within reasonable IP data points to be one and the same.

Nice try Forer.

Stuart Evans 1 year, 7 months ago

It is utterly ridiculous that residents are required to relinquish a slice of their property for the sole purpose of allowing other people through access. On top of that, you are then required to fully maintain and repair this access, even if you never personally use it. There is no uniformity, outside of the brand new developments, and if you insist on homeowners rebuilding their own walks, they'll look like crap in no time. The city is asking for a continuation of the hodge-podge sidewalks scattered across this town. And I do mean scattered, because there are some places where no sidewalk exists at all..

Sidewalks and paths are an integral part of our community transportation, and we should utilize our tax dollars accordingly. Put the cost of sidewalks into your road budget, and invest a portion of your construction budget for maintenance and reconstruction.

Bob Summers 1 year, 7 months ago

I think an Arts corridor is the answer.

April Baker 1 year, 7 months ago

Glad to know that the incompetent contractors that built the sidewalks in the first place aren't getting stuck with this bill... It's best that the families trying to get by pay for this.

In the future I'll give my vote to any city commissioner that agrees to stand against any idea Mr. Markus dreams up.

Richard Quinlan 1 year, 7 months ago

Call the wambulance..If you own property you are required to maintain it , plain and simple. This myth that the city should maintain your walkways perpetrated by the gimme crap for free crowd is ridiculous. If you own a home it will cost you extra dollars to keep it in repair. Grow up.

April Baker 1 year, 7 months ago

My property taxes indicate that I very much don't get anything for free from the city. I can't speak for everyone, but my frustration in particular arises from the fact that I pay significantly for city services via my property tax and I'm often left feeling as though they do not hold up their end of the bargain.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 7 months ago

Excuse me, Richard. Maybe you don't pay taxes, but the rest of us do so it is not free stuff. You need to educate yourself, get a job, and start paying taxes. Are you one of the developers who don't have to pay taxes?

Wayne Kerr 1 year, 7 months ago

The reason our sidewalk are in such disrepair is because the city has left the maintenance of them to home and apartment owners. So leaving the responsibility of sidewalk repair the way it is won't solve anything. Instead the city is going to have an incomplete and haphazard sidewalk grid where every homeowner or apartment complex has its own unique or non-uniform construction. For example, Mr. Jones might decide he wants to use bricks for his sidewalk. Mr. Smith might want to us the limestone rocks he's collected out of his yard. Mrs. Green might think it would be wonderful to use recycled coca cola bottles for her sidewalk, while Mr. Brown next door might be inspired to use his marble collection to complete his sidewalk, etc. If the city wants to have uniform sidewalks that are safe and walkable the city needs to be the one to maintain them. Otherwise it's just going to be business as usual and nothing is going to get done.

Richard Quinlan 1 year, 7 months ago

Your property taxes deliver your water , streets , police , fire , etc , not the maintenance of your property. Sidewalks have to meet code and be safe surfaces , your argumentis invalid.

April Baker 1 year, 7 months ago

Hmm... I'm assuming you're a renter... We'll see how you feel when your rent goes up? What's that? No sidewalks on your property... Your landlord could probably just displace the cost by adding the expense of another property onto yours... I mean... That's what I'll be doing with my rentals ;)

Amy Varoli Elliott 1 year, 7 months ago

And what if you sidewalk is taking extra damage because the city has not properly maintained their streets? Water and ice will kill a sidewalk if left sitting and not draining properly. I know I have started to document all calls and the condition of my driveway because the city says it will be 3-4 years because they can fix the roads, meanwhile the potholes are right next to my driveway and spreading.

Doug Larson 1 year, 7 months ago

The solution is simple...we just rebuild the sidewalks and make Mexico pay for it!!

Richard Quinlan 1 year, 7 months ago

the city has never paid for private walks , what makes you think youre entitled to tax money because you won't maintain your own property ? You're using your property for income yet you feel the city should subsidize you. Come on . Will you share your proceeds with the city when you sell out ?

April Baker 1 year, 7 months ago

You misunderstood me. I will pay nothing, because in the end I will pass on my expense to my renters, even the ones without sidewalks. Why should I pay? Heck, I'll even hire my family contractor at a cut rate, do some fancy accounting and we'll take a tax break for pro bono work. baddabing.

David Holroyd 1 year, 7 months ago

  1. The sidewalks are NOT on private property! They are on the public right of way!

  2. Sawtooth curbs downtown are a WPA 21st century job program. The city has not the brains yet to figure out that a straight curb needs less repair and makes for the street to be cleaned.

  3. MR. MARKUS, the fellow commissioners, Amyx, Herbert, Soden, Larsen (where are the walks on her street?) and Mr. Boley...are unable to work with the Chamber of Commerce to get jobs, they can only sign documents supporting black lives and quite frankly have accomplished little in their first 100 days..SO sidewalks is going to be their fame to claim.

Maybe the owners of the supposed "bad" walks should do a sit in! That seems to work...

Mr. Quinlan are you so certain about the city not paying for private walks? If so, can you cite examples of private walks not paid for? OR did you mean the city does not pay for sidewalks on private property? You see, the current sidewalks are NOT on private property. Check your surveyor stakes.

Since the walks are on public right of way, the city should maintain them if currently existing and if the city builds the city did on BOB BILLINGS to "assist" the po folks living downhill from Bob Billings and to enhance the Fritzel project in Alvamar.

Don't count on the Journal World to investigate.....the paper has not yet revealed why KU Endowment partnered with HERE.

What does it take to be a partner with Endowment? Mr. Markus should know, after all, when he first arrived on the scene he said KU would be working with HERE for a solution.

Mr. Quinlan, again, if the walks are private, then who paid for the sidewalks on 27th street that Momma Bear wanted? It sure wasn't Momma Bear nor the homeowners who got them smack dab in their front yard. Hope a big snow comes this fall and they can clean them several times after the city snow plows cover up the first job.

Is the city going to advertise for an new job opening? Director of Sidewalk Maintenance. If so, the first complaint should be about the parking lots downtown and the walks around them and the lots as well.
What say Mr. Markus and Mr Herbert take a "walk on the wild side" and examine the public assets i.e. parking lots. All so poorly maintained...why aren't the commissioners being good stewards of public assets?

Mark Jakubauskas 1 year, 7 months ago

The equity and fairness issues are indeed stunning. Most of the sidewalks - especially older sidewalks in need of repair - will be on the east side of town. Given the demographics of Lawrence, it means that sidewalk repair costs will fall disproportionately upon lower-income, elderly, and minority populations.

Could the city - acting on behalf of a developer or developers - use the cost of sidewalk repair as a stick to induce a low-income, minority, or elderly homeowner to sell out ? Could the costs of sidewalk replacement be used as an inducement by the city to push "undesirables" out of their homes to make way for gentrification ?

Furthermore, the insistence that the homeowner repair the sidewalk will without question lead to sidewalks rebuilt with thin, quickie concrete mixed from a bag, rather than a properly poured and finished sidewalk done by a reputable concrete company.

Will the city require those homeowners in the city who do not have sidewalks on their property - think much of Lawrence west of Iowa - to install sidewalks ?

Phil Glasgow 1 year, 7 months ago

I am glad I don't have a sidewalk. Come to think of it, I don't have a curb or a stormwater sewer either . I am supposed to maintain my ditch at my expense. If curbs and stormwater drains are also on private property (as some of the above posts assert) I don't understand why property owners aren't required to maintain those as well. Seems like we may be throwing out the baby with the stormwater here.
Wait! If the property extends to the middle of the road, property owners should maintain the streets as well! We would have tons of money left over for bike paths and trails in West Lawrence then!

Richard Quinlan 1 year, 7 months ago

The welfare mentality in Lawrence is stunning. This same mentality is against any redevelopment of the decaying neighborhoods.

Bruce Bertsch 1 year, 7 months ago

Everyone seems to be forgetting that this is STATE law. Its not something that the City Manager or the Commissioners cooked up. You want it changed, take it up with the fine folks serving in the legislature in Topeka. As it is now, you are responsible for the sidewalk. This should not be a surprise if you have owned property in Kansas. Just because some cities have chosen to absorb the cost, doesn't mean they have to.

Bonnie Uffman 1 year, 7 months ago

Mr. Bertsch, it my understanding that this is untrue. You might check city commissioner Matthew Herbert's facebook page for more info concerning this.

April Baker 1 year, 7 months ago

I have a real question. I see that one option of payment is to have it added onto the tax bill and let the city fix it, suppose I didn't want to wait to get a notice for the city is the option available for me to contact the city to have them fix it and bill me through property taxes? I would take advantage of this option immediately.

Doug Larson 1 year, 7 months ago

From the state website: 12-1808. Repairs by owner or city; notice; special assessments; payment from general fund or general improvement fund, when. It shall be the duty of the owner of the abutting property to keep the sidewalk in repair, but in cities of the third class no formality shall be required for the repairing of a sidewalk by the city and such repairs may be made without notice to the abutting property owner; and in cities of the first and second class the city engineer, or city clerk, may, after giving five days' notice to the owner or his or her agent, if known, of the necessity therefor, and without notice if the lot or piece of land is unoccupied, make all necessary repairs at any time. Repairs may be made by force account or by contract and an account of the cost thereof shall be kept and reported to the governing body. The city shall by ordinance levy a special assessment against the lot or piece of land abutting on the sidewalk so repaired for the cost of repairs, and if the abutting property owner does not pay the assessment within thirty days, upon the city clerk mailing to the owner or his or her agent, if known, a printed or written notice of the amount of such repairs, the full amount shall be certified by the city clerk to the county clerk to be put on the tax rolls for collection like other taxes. The temporary financing of repairs may be borne by the city out of the fund for maintaining streets or out of the general fund or general improvement fund. In cities of the first class having a population of more than sixty thousand and less than ninety thousand, the cost of repairing sidewalks may, in the discretion of the governing body, be paid from the general improvement fund of the city when the costs of such repairs do not exceed three thousand dollars in any one calendar year, and no assessment shall be levied.

Bob Kocour 1 year, 7 months ago

Is it possible for the city to repair the sidewalks and add a special assessment tax on the property for the work to paid out over 7 to 10 years?

Michael Kort 1 year, 7 months ago


Frankly, this law make no sense !

Have bad laws not become the law before and then been changed ?

Just because it is a state law doesn't mean that it should be a law, as it imposes an unfair burden on some individuals that others don't share equally, for the service of "the so assumed to be public good ?" ( which is not really GOOD if it is imposed on a few, socially, as a burden that others don't share )

Forcing a home owner to pay for maintaining a public walking space, that is in front of but not on their own property, is probably illegal in one way or the other and frankly immoral because it is other "special" people imposing that burden on others ( exclusively of themself ) and giving themselves a pass and pat on their own backs as "users of others, who aren't paying anything for the services of others" .

Michael Kort 1 year, 7 months ago

Geeee, maybe if their is a fire hydrant infront of your house should you have to maintain it in working order for the whole block ?

Or if their should be a street light infront of your home you should be responsible when a bulb burns out to go way up in the air and fix it for your neighbors ?

Live on a corner lot with a stop light........if a car runs it over should you fix it for the public at your expense ?

Maybe only people with odd numbered addresses should have to pay property taxes ?

So who couldn't write an arbitrary law that serves the interests of some and penalizes others base on some preference or another ?

Kevin Kelly 1 year, 7 months ago

We need to establish a sister city in Colorado, their cities are beautifully maintained. Maybe it's time for an educational, economical visit by some local and state politicians to learn the secret?

Gene Douglas 1 year, 7 months ago

The secret, Kevin, is called, in a slang term, "weed" or to the more sophisticated "maryjane"

Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 year, 7 months ago

Wow, an I ever late getting in here!!

You want to fix the sidewalks??


Case closed.

Stuart Evans 1 year, 6 months ago

roundabouts are a proven safety enhancement over 4 way stops. Additionally, by not forcing a full stop/start, you save gasoline.

Tom Weiss 1 year, 7 months ago

 Why is it so hard for public officials and politicians to understand that sidewalks are a public good used by everyone, or at least available to be used by everyone.  The fact that a sidewalk happens to be located on my property or anyone else's property is irrelevant.  Politicians and city managers have gotten this wrong from day one.  They claim that it raises the value of their property and expect the individual property owner to pay for building the sidewalk and maintain it.  The fact is, as Mr. Bodie stated in the article, the benefits of each property owner's sidewalk go to others.  I get no benefit from a sidewalk on my property, I want a sidewalk that allows me to walk some place else.  And that is true for every property owner.  None of us has a self interest in building or maintaining a sidewalk on our property, but we want everyone else to build and maintain a sidewalk on their  property.  So without any government action, we would have too few sidewalks  maybe none.

 The government realizes this and chooses to force people to build and pay for something (the sidewalks) that the government should have built and paid for.  And somehow they have decided that some properties should have sidewalks - paid for by those owners - while those who live across the street need not build sidewalks on their property, so don't pay for any sidewalks even those across the street that they will use.  How stupid is that?

   Having screwed this up years or decades ago, now they run around in circles trying to figure out how to cope.  When will some city manager, city commissioner, or any politician step  up and correct this situation.  Scrap the stupid state law (or tell Kobach where to put it), and finance sidewalks in the same way they finance other government services.  Tax everyone and fund the building and maintenance of all sidewalks.

Zoe Flowers 1 year, 7 months ago

Just so you guys know, when a sidewalk complaint is turned in, they inspect the entire block and make all property owners on that block fix their sidewalk. Know of one guy that thought he was sticking it to his neighbor by filing a complaint and ended up having to pay to fix his own sidewalk, karma.

Carol Bowen 1 year, 7 months ago

Tom, I agree with your statement, however, it's not really a local decision. Paying for sidewalks is state law. In fact, almost all states have the same law. Many cities have their policies on their websites, if you want to read them. Lawrence has hesitated enforcing the law for all the reasons above. After decades of deferred sidewalk maintenance and repair, the city has miles of missing sidewalks and repairs.

The city faces serious liability issues for not enforcing the law. We would have to change state law. I'll bet legal ramifications have forced states to burden property owners. I'm all for changing the law at the state level. Liability attorneys would be part of the mix.

Tom Weiss 1 year, 7 months ago

That was one of my points. It is time for some politician to take the lead and change the state law.

Bonnie Uffman 1 year, 7 months ago

I'm not buying that it is a state law. There are communities in Kansas in which the city assumes responsibility for sidewalks, just as it does for other parts of the infrastructure.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 7 months ago

There are some landlords that will not maintain residential living quarters much less the sidewalk. Some of these landlords are insiders. We as pedestrians do not need to walk through their slums but as pedestrians we must walk on the sidewalks.

I say let's use some existing tax dollars and dedicate a sum from that source to keep sidewalks in working order. I am suggesting dedication of 10% of the 1994-95 sales tax once and for all. This can be applied to maintenance and construction of shared use paths as well. This would help a great deal in the safe travel to school objective.

Lawrence MUST take care of existing resources. As a taxpayer I feel it is in the best interest of our fair city to maintain pedestrian travel. The cost of maintaining safe pedestrian/bikeways will never ever come close to what is spent maintaining fossil fuel travel. Let's just do it!

The fact is so many of us do make use of sidewalks not on our property so why not dedicate OUR tax dollars from an existing source?

Dedicating 10% of the 1994-95 sales tax leaves 90% to parks and rec which is not too shabby. This sales tax was never dedicated to any special endeavor. 10% of this money benefits taxpayers throughout Lawrence,Kansas. Worthwhile I say.

Kristine Matlock 1 year, 6 months ago

No one should fix their sidewalks until the city fixes the ones they own. They need to take a look at the terrible sidewalk in front of Lyon's Park. They just slapped down some crappy asphalt and called it good. There are huge cracks, pot holes, it's totally uneven and anyone in a wheel chair would be challenged to use it. Anyone that gets in trouble with the city needs to go around and take pics of all the bad sidewalks the city is in charge of and fight fixing anything until the city leads by example.

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