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Should the city fine property owners $50 for not clearing snow from their sidewalks?

Asked at Hy-Vee, 3504 Clinton Parkway on December 3, 2008

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Photo of Dave Kingsley

“No, I don’t think they should. … Some people can’t afford it, they’re disabled and can’t get out to clean them. … We should all pitch in and help our neighbors.”

Photo of John Johannes

“No, because I want to go clean it with my big snow blower.”

Photo of Bev Hyde

“No, because the disabled and the elderly, that’s an imposition on them, and it’s just not fair.”

Photo of Kathy Wilson

“I think there should be a fine. I’m not sure what the amount should be, but I think it’s important in neighborhoods to keep the sidewalks clear for people for safety sake.”

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Richard Heckler 9 years, 1 month ago

For those who find snow shovels a pain in the butt try using a stiff push broom and a scoop shovel. If a person doesn't mind a little snow on their bodies a leaf blower can help. Yep young children would probably like to be a part of this clean up detail.Who knows maybe one day science will not allow snow to fall on streets or walks.

countrygirl 9 years, 1 month ago

Get off your lazy butts and go clean off your sidewalk. That way little kids don't have to walk through the snow to get to school. It's the right thing to and cheaper than getting sued after someone falls in front of your house.

jonas_opines 9 years, 1 month ago

Haha! Stiff brooms! If there's a way to distinguish between the elderly/disabled houses and the others. . . . maybe. I think we should just require all sidewalk pedestrians to carry shovels, and shovel their own way through the walks. After all, then the work is being done by those who are actually the ones benefiting from the work.

Jay Bird 9 years, 1 month ago

If you want my sidewalk cleared, do it yourself. When the fine City of Larryville can keep the roads clear and pot hole free, I'll start to worry about the condition of the sidewalk. Sue me if you fall, I double dog dare you.

beawolf 9 years, 1 month ago

As posted earlier:Sorry folks, this ordinance will be be dropped as soon as it's challenged in court. The sidewalks are owned by the city, it is their responsibility to keep clear. Private homeowners are under no obligation to maintain city owned property. If this were the case, the city could pass an ordinance that requires you to plow the street in front of your home, or repair cracks in the sidewalk or replace light fixtures or etc. etc. If my elderly father dropped dead of a heart attack because he was mandated to clear the sidewalk, I'd sue the city for a lot more than they would ever collect from fines.That said, here is nothing to stop them from taxing you to provide this service.The downtown situation is different (not sure about Lawrence) but most communities require sidewalk maintenance (as well as liability) as part of the right to do business.

Deja Coffin 9 years, 1 month ago

Didn't we have this OTS question before, is this deja vu? I think that they should not have a fine for people to shovel their sidewalks but the city should go out and salt it for them just like the roads. Maybe that would create work for city workers who get laid off in the winter. Do some city workers get laid off in the winter?

salad 9 years, 1 month ago

After thinking about this for a while, I'm against fines; it's a bad idea and just pits people against govt. without solving the problem. What they SHOULD do is hire a crew to clear city sidewalks starting at a resonable hour, and just charge the properties that didn't clear their sidewalks. Make it like $20/property and include the charges with their trash bill. Pay for service works, fines don't.

jonas_opines 9 years, 1 month ago

"Sue me if you fall, I double dog dare you."Where do you live? We wouldn't want to get the wrong house.

Bradley Kemp 9 years, 1 month ago

The city does not own sidewalks in residential areas. The sidewalks are installed on private property and anything permanently installed on private property belongs to whoever owns the land.The city has a right-of-way to that property, but if the city owned the property, it wouldn't need a right-of-way.

Jay Bird 9 years, 1 month ago

Jonas-Sue everyone. It's the Lawrence way. The city needs to find a way to pay for the round-abouts somehow. I don't own the sidewalk, don't use the sidewalk, and therefore will not be cleaning the sidewalk. I will be the house that is toasty warm with the heat coming off of all the coal I'll be getting for christmas. Bah HumbugJust kidding,Happy Holidays

jonas_opines 9 years, 1 month ago

"I will be the house that is toasty warm with the heat coming off of all the coal I'll be getting for christmas."Getting the cancer too, it sounds like.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 1 month ago

How many hot biscuits would it take to melt the snow off 10 square feet of sidewalk?

sgtwolverine 9 years, 1 month ago

No ... I think the city should just clear the sidewalks itself and dump the snow in the offender's driveway. I bet that would get it cleared pretty quickly.

disgustedagain 9 years, 1 month ago

A $20 fine would be one thing. But a whopping $60 plus for court costs??? This is so unfair to the elderly and the infirm who probably can't afford to HIRE someone or they would be doing so! To start enforcing this fine in the first year of a bad recession is appalling.The people available to hire for snow removal charge outrageous prices because they know they have you at their mercy. I, for one, would love to be able to afford to hire someone every time it snows. But it's just me and my bad back out there in the dark. Sometimes I don't get it all done. salad's proposal is excellent: "hire a crew to clear city sidewalks starting at a reasonable hour, and just charge the properties that didn't clear their sidewalks. Make it like $20/property and include the charges with their trash bill." This would work great AND would take care of the snow removal price gouging. Fines are just unfair for many reasons. I'd rather pay higher taxes, then everyone would be paying their fair share "to keep our sidewalks safe." But oh the outcry from the self-righteous house owners without sidewalks and from physically fit owners if they had to pay for my sidewalk! And just once could you parents avoid the tiresome "my children" argument: children are resilient! and more likely to get hurt when you take them sledding. In my experience as a child, walking on snow was safer than walking on semi-frozen, "cleared" slush. And I never complain about having to pay for your child's education, so step up to the plate and agree to pay for sidewalk cleaning for the elderly!

Jay Bird 9 years, 1 month ago

How would you tell the sidewalk snow from the snow that the city plows up into the end of your drive when they get arouond to plowing off your street? I need a jeep just to get out.Snap - I don't think butter will help the snow melt. Now some hot salty sausage gravy. now that might get the job done and the salt will help keep it from freezing over. Just food for thought.

flux 9 years, 1 month ago

Lavender grower, what kind of job is that?

Flap Doodle 9 years, 1 month ago

Maybe they could make public candy caning an alternate punishment.

nobody1793 9 years, 1 month ago

So if one does a half-arsed job of shoveling, does one get fined $25? What about an unshovelable layer of ice underneath said snow? Is there a $10 fine for not salting after you shovel? It can be just as slick, ya know. Or maybe just $5 if you use sand instead? Does the clock start ticking at the start or the end of the snowfall? What if it snows, then stops, then starts again--does that restart the clock? Can I shovel the first snow first, and come back for the new snow?

Catzilla 9 years, 1 month ago

Nobody walks in the Midwest anyway so why bother? And people who do walk will have the footwear for whatever terrain they come upon.

honestone 9 years, 1 month ago

last year I shoveled the entire sidewalk...i live on a main the time I came back two hours later the city plows had not only covered up my freshly shoveled sidewalk but they trapped me in my driveway too. When it froze that night the walks stayed that way until the melt 3 or 4 days later.

jumpin_catfish 9 years, 1 month ago

I'm fine with a fine, these are tough economic times so govt. must find a way to make things tougher for some folks..........Upon reflection....I don't really care.

been_there 9 years, 1 month ago

Hey, how about using those flame throwers they use to burn weeds and grass in the ditches along country roads. That could be fun, solves the ice underneath problem too.

CrazyDiamond 9 years, 1 month ago

I'm guessing that if the only sidewalks that were NOT cleared of snow & ice were the ones belonging to the elderly & disabled, we would not be having this discussion.

Christine Anderson 9 years, 1 month ago

Hey people, I just have to say it. In the 26 years I've lived down here in Ks, only in Garden City did I see enough snow to merit shoveling. I have yet to see enough snow here in Lawrence to make this an issue worth fussing over.Face it, I just can't get more than three inches at a time! (Boo, hoo, I miss Wi)

purplesage 9 years, 1 month ago

Only after they get all the streets clear.Just kidding. Of course not. What an innane idea.

kiddofriendy 9 years, 1 month ago

I can see it now. Everyone that hates thy neighbor will call the city to report the violation. Now the city will have to hire extra help just to answer the phone!

beawolf 9 years, 1 month ago

Beawolf,I am pretty sure the sidewalks may be owned by the city/eminent domain. But, I am also pretty sure city statute states it is the homeowners responsibility to maintain the sidewalks. Which includes keeping them free of debris and snow. Might want to check the laws before you find out the hard way. Confucious says, ” better cook duck than to eat duck raw”.I've lived in other communities where the city owned the sidewalks and the right of way for a path or driveway was granted to the homeowner, so I assumed the same was true for Lawrence. So, if you are correct, I could remove the sidewalk in front of my house and replace it with grass?

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