City Council has spent about 6 months working with staff, citizens and the Council members to come up with ways to inspire property owners and renters to crawl out of bed the morning after a late night lake effect snow storm to shovel off their sidewalks — all in the name of civic pride. That doesn’t sound so challenging in these 70 degree, happy to be alive, bright sunny days but try 10 degrees, dark skies and blustery on for size and see how quicky your neighbors bound out of bed to do their civic duty. That’s human nature but the trouble is clear sidewalks matter in our City — they matter to folks that don’t have transportation and those folks tend to be the very folks that our social conscience says we need to look out for — the elderly, the disabled, and school kids. Here’s the latest proposal prepared by a couple of Council members that will be discussed in Council’s Committee session this evening.
The following proposal represents the latest evolution of ideas that came out of the volunteer citizens committee on sidewalk snow clearing. It’s worth stating that this is a compromise proposal that 2 Council members plan to propose to the full Council as good first steps. Like many things in the political arena, it’s tough to get 100% consensus and it is the art of compromise that actually gets things done.
SIDEWALK POLICY PROPOSAL
To: Mayor Fender and Kent City Council
From: Council Members Shaffer and Hawksley
Date: September 10.2009
Background: Per recent committee discussions, and including a meeting with City Manager Ruller, Community Development Director Locke and Service Director Roberts, we would propose the following policy changes. These changes all work towards an approach to improve the safety and welfare for pedestrians after significant snow events. While they are intended to provide a comprehensive approach, they can be discussed and voted on separately.
- Change current code section 521.16(b) from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction. This will remove enforcement of the section from the police department and place it under discretion of city manager. This will allow city staff, primarily in service and community development or other appropriate person to issue a citation to ticket those who by their actions obstruct the right of way. It may be necessary to include language including sidewalks.
- Authorize administration to flesh out details for a license program for snow plow operators.. Mr Roberts indicated that he still believes this could be a soft touch approach that would gain the most improvement for least resources. This motion would authorize Mr. Roberts to provide a specific proposal for consideration at the earliest possible time. (This is different than a previous motion to adopt an unspecified license program)
- Authorize administration to flesh out details for subscription service for sidewalk clearing. Mr. Roberts and Mr. Locke believe this would be a way to provide citizens with the information they need to hire someone to plow their walks/drives. This motion would authorize the administration to provide a specific proposal for consideration at the earliest possible time.
- Authorize the administration to develop a good neighbor educational campaign. There have been various things discussed, including door hangers, encouraging volunteers, working with Service learning at KSU, providing readily available de-icer, shovels for rent, etc.
- Authorize the administration to include $50,000 in the snow removal budget to hire private contractors to help move snow that city plows have piled in various critical locations. This allows discretion and application of resources in most effective way without additional hiring or over-time. Critical locations would be the large mounds at intersections that turn to icebergs.