Tami Tremblay, KTVB.com - November 17, 2014
Like many small and medium-sized towns throughout the winter weather regions of the U. S., my hometown takes a semi-voluntary approach to keeping sidewalks and curb cuts clear of ice and snow. Property owners are required by law to shovel and sand any pedestrian pathways on or adjacent to their properties. They have two or three days after every snowfall or "ice event" to clear their sidewalks, or the City can, theoretically, clear the path itself and bill you for it.
In practice, the ordinance has little effect, other than to trigger a brief annual spasm of moral judgement on those lazy property owners who don't shovel. The sidewalks don't get cleared, everyone morally disapproves, and disabled people slide, stumble, or stay put for four months.
Sidewalk snow removal policy would make a great example for a political science class explaining how liberals / progressives and conservatives respond to community problems:
The liberal / progressive view:
- It is quite possible to keep sidewalks clear and passable for all pedestrians for most of the time during harsh winters. We do it pretty well for streets, and it's one of local government's highest priorities, so it should be done for sidewalks, too.
- It's doable for streets because local government uses tax revenues to pay for people and equipment to get the job done effectively and efficiently, for everyone.
- Sidewalks are public infrastructure which should be maintained in an organized, deliberate, publicly-funded way.
- Snow and ice come with the territory. If you live where winters are harsh, you learn to deal with it or you move.
- We should be cutting back on government spending, not adding whole new repsonsibilies and costs, like clearing sidewalks. We plow roads because if we don't, commerce would cease, and because we've always done it and we're used to it.
- The real problem here is that people these days are lazy and don't care about their neighbors. In the old days, people cleared their sidewalks instead of sitting on their butts playing video games!
That’s what it all sounds like to me anyway.