Sunday, March 8, 2009
How NOT To Clear Snowy Sidewalks In North Minneapolis
With warm spring weather almost certain to arrive in Minnesota by, oh, mid-May, this post may come a little late in the meteorological game, but oh well. One of the many spin-off impacts of the mortgage crisis can be seen in winter, when numerous vacant houses are left with no responsible person to clear the snow from the sidewalks, as required by a Minneapolis City Ordinance...
Twenty-four hours after the last snow storm ended, I walked around part of North Minneapolis and found a bunch of vacant lots where sidewalk snow shoveling hadn't taken place since, oh, I'm thinking about 2007. I must have made about five calls to 311 on vacant lots and boarded houses.
Of course, making 311 calls wasn't the PURPOSE of my walk. In fact, I was just going to the grocery store. But I don't JUST walk to the grocery store or JUST drive to my friend's house. If I'm out and about for any significant period of time, a trail of official paperwork is sure to follow.
Why did the slumlord get a letter from the city? Why did graffiti get abated by a work crew? Why did a group of ten minors out after curfew get a visit from a squad car? Because John Hoff said to himself, "Huh, I really need to go buy a 2 liter bottle of Dr. Pepper."
The photo at the bottom shows "where the sidewalk ends." Well, not really. I"m sure there's sidewalk under there somewhere. At the top, here is an illustration of improper sidewalk-clearing technique. Note how the cleared area is precisely the width of a snow shovel. Just to be clear on this point: sidewalks are MUCH WIDER.
However, I don't make 311 calls over "badly cleared" sidewalks. The way I see it, I'll prioritize and go after the "big fish." I'll turn a blind eye to somebody who at least made an effort. But, yeah, then I'll take a picture and put it on my blog and say: I hope that half-assed shoveling job wasn't how sonny-boy earned his allowance.