Naturally: Beacon Hill group sues to stop historically inaccurate handicap ramps

The Globe reports the Beacon Hill Civic Association filed suit yesterday against the handicap access ramps the city started installing, also yesterday.

The group alleges the ramps don't fit in with the historic nature of the august neighborhood, that there are alternative designs that are less icky and that the city failed to get OKs from the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission, the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Mayor Walsh's office contends the city has been reaching out to Beacon Hill for more than two years and that people in wheelchairs and the visually impaired deserve the same access to Beacon Hill sidewalks as they do to sidewalks in the Back Bay, South End and Bay Village historic districts, where the city has been installing ramps without lawsuits.

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    Ramped up dispute puts them on the wrong side

    ..of history.

    I really need to once more explore the brick canyons imposed on this little dim dumbo drumlin.

    But the migrations of shorebirds and trails along the Neponset mouth answer me more satisfactorily.

    November will be perfect.

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    Beacon Hill already has ramps

    By on

    This is about the materials, not access. Newbie Mayor Walsh simply wants to check the box so he can unlock all those sweet Federal funds and Beacon Hill is an easy target politically and the media of course helps him out with all this nonsense.
    No other major tourist area in Boston has concrete ramps and yellow plastic bump plates. Go look at the brand new Rose Kennedy Greenway, or pretty much any street crossing on the Freedom Trail, or any crossing downtown.
    This is political grandstanding for Federal dollars, nothing more, nothing less, and reprehensible. Why are our politicians so transparent and embarrassing?

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    Why are our politicians so transparent and embarrassing?

    Well Mr Crown, it's because they are trying to communicate with comparably transparent and embarrassing constituents.

    Now don't you have a bank heist to attend to?

    Also too, is pointing out other half-assed non compliant locales a useful ploy?

    What if it is some reprehensible scheme to bring the whole patchwork mess into something more uniform?

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    Crown is right and you are wrong

    By on

    It's grandstanding to get federal dollars. This is NOT about handicapped access. No one has nor has ever been against handicapped access. I am floored at how many people have just jumped on this as if it were only about the poor individuals who need ramps. These same individuals won't get very far on those sidewalks. Hell, I walk under my own steam and I avoid the sidewalks. So stop complaining about citizens who you think are selfish or pearl clutching people or whatever. People who live on Beacon Hill have been good stewards of the area and they're trying to keep it nice. And they are willing to help pay for an alternative. So why rip them?

    You avoid those sidewalks

    By on

    You avoid those sidewalks perhaps because they are paved in brick (on Beacon Hill)? Not very smooth or good at preventing trips or falls, huh?

    Why are our politicians so

    By on

    Why are our politicians so transparent?

    Many think transparency in government is a good thing.

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    Transparency in actions would

    By on

    Transparency in actions would be. Transparency in motives is a different thing entirely. Sadly it's always the latter.

    "The 1%" are actually... not wrong?

    By on

    I'm always one to scoff at the excesses of the wannabe-Brahmin who live on Mt. Horam as much as anyone, but... their requests don't seem too absurd in this case. I work in Longwood, and in a hub of hospitals and a much higher percentage of people with mobility and vision issues, they seem to get along fine with brick red cuts:
    http://bit.ly/1sYAcC8
    and dark gray cuts:
    http://bit.ly/1yvHHkI
    Instead of the yellow ones used elsewhere.

    But maybe Longwood is a froo-froo place full of doctors and their BMWs and they don't like the yellow ones either. Well, I take the train from Ruggles, and it seems that Roxbury, the MBTA, and Northeastern are also fine with gray cuts:
    http://bit.ly/1q8oQI3

    But maybe Children's Hospital is an exception, what about BMC? Gray cuts there too.
    http://bit.ly/1AdI3z3
    Moving up Mass Ave tells a similar story on one of the busier roads:
    http://bit.ly/1sVhLzh

    Even directly adjacent to Back Bay Station, they use both brick red:
    http://bit.ly/1AdIv0r
    and gray pads:
    http://bit.ly/1oMkb20

    This seems not to be a big deal for the entire rest of the city. Why is it a problem here? I don't live in Beacon Hill, will likely never live in Beacon Hill, and don't particularly care about the people who do. But the neighborhood is indeed a historic artifact for the city and the country. I watched with my own eyes abroad as they used a machine similar to this to lay a brand-new brick road in order to to preserve the character and class of the area, and thought sadly about the lazy, ugly, pothole-ridden asphalt patches we do in layers and layers here in America (often over the original cobblestones in cities like Boston and Worcester). And the BH NIMBYs aren't even asking for that. This whole thing is crazy. I can only assume we have a surplus of the yellow pads and don't want to order more of the other ones.

    Eat the rich, but can't we keep our city nice while doing so?

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    And will the world suddenly end

    By on

    if we force the elitists on Beacon Hill to accept a standard that is used everywhere else in the City? I seriously doubt it. Especially when the issue here is - gasp - asethetics, which is both subjective and indicative of a very shallow mindset.

    Capitulating to the demands of a minority sets a very bad precedent. ANd tha't is the reason the City is fighting this.

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    And will the world suddenly end

    If we force the elitists in City Hall to obey the law, and obtain the necessary approvals before undertaking the project?

    Allowing a city administration to violate the law sets a very bad precedent. And that is the reason why the people affected are fighting this.

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    That's a really great use of street view.

    And it does provide a sense of how haphazard it is.

    It leaves the question of whether this is just an initial sortie that signals a citywide effort because of big Fed money and lots of contractors to fatten like woodchucks in advance of some off season torpor.

    Or is it just the city trying to wrap this chest pounding display linger up?

    It would be cool to go out and make a photo inventory of the melange of ramp types.

    Google plus has things like Fire Hydrant Friday but I don't imagine a lot of photographers would get pumped for Sidewalk Ramp Saturday.

    Meanwhile, back at the Trimountain...

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    I think the issue isn't the

    By on

    I think the issue isn't the color, as much as the concrete and plastic. They want brick and granite.

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    Brick red cuts, as you call

    By on

    Brick red cuts, as you call them, were proposed by the city "terra cotta" ramps vs the yellow, but rejected by BH residents.

    Thank you for pointing out where the city has been inconsistent and needs to upgrade or colorize the ramp somehow. DPW isn't perfect. But they have a hi-vis standard and alternative NOW.

    Also, the brick machine is nice, but I have seen no brick paved surfaces in the Northeast that survive winters with countless freeze-thaw cycles without getting uneven, and not really all that accessible!!!

    Paving Perfection?

    By on

    I have seen no REGULAR paved surfaces survive winters here, and I would suspect the Dutch, Swedes, and Norwegians may have some familiarity with dramatic freeze-thaw cycles... at the very least, replacing a patch of cracked bricks would probably be more effective than a blister-like patch over patch over patch over patch...

    It's a frickin' hill

    No other major tourist area in Boston has concrete ramps and yellow plastic bump plates. Go look at the brand new Rose Kennedy Greenway, or pretty much any street crossing on the Freedom Trail, or any crossing downtown.

    None of those things are steep inclined planes. I imagine that wheelchair + hill = necessity for the most flagrant safety devices available.

    Far be it for me to stick up

    By on

    Far be it for me to stick up for government decisions, but.....
    your right, nowhere else in all of Boston.
    https://maps.google.com/maps?q=soley+st,+02129&hl=en&ll=42.375555,-71.06...
    Yes, thats the freedom trail. Yes thats the Bunker Hill Monument. Yes those are concrete ramps.

    Or how about here, where they took away brick sidewalks for the concrete ramps.
    https://maps.google.com/maps?q=winthrop+warren+02129&hl=en&ll=42.373796,...

    or here at a little place called Old North Church:
    https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Freedom+Trail,+Boston,+MA&hl=en&ll=42.366...

    So that would be 3 in a one mile walk. Im sure there are more. Is there anything in Beacon Hill (other than the State House) that is more of a tourist attraction than Bunker Hill and Old North Church?

    Instead of wasting the money suing the city, how about you and your neighbors use that money to upgrade yourselves to the 'better' materials on your own. and quit yo bitchin'!

    Counter-sue for the Civil

    By on

    Counter-sue for the Civil Rights violation and use the award to pay for even more compliant ramps throughout the city.

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    Nice try

    But the neighborhood does not oppose ramps, it opposes the materials that Walsh wants to use (which were, by the way, rejected twice by the mayor's own appointed architecture commission, but he just steamrolled ahead anyhow.

    This is bullshit grandstanding.

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    BS Grnadstanding indeed

    By on

    Not by the CIty, but by the elitist folk on Beacon Hill who are unwilling to accept the COMMONLY USED standards for these ramps on a totally subjective principle.

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    Please check the history.

    It's not the "elitist folk on Beacon Hill" who refused to accept the ramps as proposed by the city, it was the city's own Architecture Commission. That's not a bunch of NIMBY busybodies, it's a governmental body established by the state legislature whose members are in part appointed by the mayor.

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    Yeah...nice camoflauge

    By on

    You keep mentioning that it's the BHAC and "not a bunch of NIMBYs"...so let's evaluate that claim.

    The BHAC is a 10 person commission.

    Currently there are 2 vacancies...so now we're talking about 8 people. 4 of those are holdovers and should either be renewed or replaced. Another one hasn't even been sworn in yet. So, really, there are 3 active members in good standing on a 10 person commission. Your commission is a very flimsy wall to be standing behind.

    Let's examine the members.

    Mary Fichtner lives in Beacon Hill.
    Susan Knack-Brown lives in Beacon Hill.
    Martha McNamara lives in Beacon Hill.
    Joel Pierce lives in Beacon Hill.
    Annlinea Terranova lives in Beacon Hill.

    So, 5 of the 8 people are Beacon Hill residents. And those are just the ones that I could state definitively and easily from some Google and phone book searches.

    So, stow the "BHAC" is "independent", etc. subterfuge to the conversation.

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    Congratulations on

    Congratulations on establishing that they live there but it doesn't say anything about their decision making process or tries to establish that it's a conspiracy of cronyism.

    What are you on about?

    By on

    It directly contradicts the claims of the post to which it is a reply.

    That's all it is a response to. It has nothing to do with cronyism or that they make poor decisions. In response to him saying they are "appointed by the mayor" or "not the elitist folks on Beacon Hill" or "not a bunch of NIMBYs" or just "some governmental body", he's full of crap. At least half of them ARE from Beacon Hill and not just some Mayor-appointed governmental body...as if they are some wholly impartial body isolated from the desires of the neighborhood in some way.

    Saying "it wasn't the BHCA, it was the BHAC!" is about as pointless as it gets...but it was a veil that he was trying to hide behind.

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    And your point being?

    Wouldn't you expect the city to appoint people who have some connection to a neighborhood to the architectural board for that neighborhood?

    Classic

    By on

    Of course I would. That's why I felt it was worth my time to actually investigate it!

    The question you've ignored and attempted to throw back on me is why you thought that declaring them a "government group" and "not a bunch of NIMBYs" was valid. You were the one trying to make a dismissive point about others' arguments using "Walsh's own commission" as a source for why he's outrageous to go against the will of the neighborhood.

    Your argument is posed as him versus them and he is wrong. You then declare that someone on HIS side of the fence (the architecture commission HE appointed) disagrees with his assessments and decisions, thus attempting to undermine his position. But the sappers are actually in large majority from the other side of the fence! Of course they're going to disagree with his assessment that they are wrong to continue to fight this!

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    how's this for "historically inappropriate materials"

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    "The plaintiffs seek to prohibit the City from reconstructing or altering the sidewalks and streetscape in the historic district using historically inappropriate materials and designs."

    Have they not noticed the asphalt streets? Surely those "altered the streetscape" with "historically inappropriate materials".

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    Restore Cobblestones!!!

    If it was good enough for Crusher Murray, it's good enough for the likes of these wanna be Brahmans

    It might take a few weeks after forever, but it'll be a perfect chore for ambitious contractors when times are tough.

    May the brick canyon walls ring with the jackhammers of liberty!

    .

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    oh good

    By on

    So we can get rid of electric, telephone, and cable television lines also.

    Depending on how far back we want to go 'historically' we could remove the gas lights also.

    Lets get rid of the cars also.

    Don't forget about mulch used in planters too.

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    Stay Classy, Walsh

    Had the city gone with its own architecture commission's recommendations (that's a city body, not a bunch of self-appointed neighbors, by the way) the ramps would have been in and done 2 years ago.

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    And, as I said, good luck to 'em...

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    Per Adamg:

    "Mayor Walsh's office contends the city has been reaching out to Beacon Hill for more than two years and that people in wheelchairs and the visually impaired deserve the same access to Beacon Hill sidewalks as they do to sidewalks in the Back Bay, South End and Bay Village historic districts, where the city has been installing ramps without lawsuits."

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    Blah blah blah

    By on

    The historic district will suffer palpable and irreparable diminution of its historic character.

    Raze it all and restore the pasture.

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    What if your handicapped and

    By on

    What if your handicapped and wheelchair bound , and you decide to visit Acorn street and find absolutely no wheelchair ramps on street corners, of course you will demand and make a request to the city of boston, and what does the city of boston do, they install handicap ramps on each corner of Beacon hill, this is the right thing to do, being that thousands of tourist each year visit Beacon hill, and a fraction of these tourist are wheelchair bound. But, that person that owns that $2million Joy street condo thinks the ramps ruin the beauty of an old historic looking neighborhood, There are more significant things to spend Boston tax paying dollars such as sheltering the homeless, but having Boston tax paying residents paying to remove handicap ramps in beacon hill is a slap in the face to all boston residents.

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    No one except this lady:

    By on

    One warned it could lead tourists to stay away from one of the nation's premier attractions. "The terrible problem is, we are, if not the most important, certainly one of the most important tourist attractions in this country. and we have worked for the last 50 years to enhance that tourist attraction" and now the city wants to blow that all by installing ramps with concrete framing, she said."I must say that the idea that we would care about a few federal dollars to fix our potholes and jeopardize this unique historic district in the United States of America, I don't think there's any comparison," she continued, adding a better solution for her husband - who is in a wheelchair - and others would be dedicated handicapped lanes, similar to the bike lanes that the city has striped on roads in other neighborhoods. (emphasis mine)

    http://www.universalhub.com/2014/battle-over-handicap-accessibility-beac...

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    Did she speak for the neighborhood?

    Did she speak for the neighborhood in any sort of official or representative capacity? Was it the sense that people from the neighborhood who were in attendance at the meeting approved of her statements, or was there evidence that many people from the neighborhood sort of groaned, rolled their eyes, and shrunk into their seats as she spoke?

    Language Etiquette

    By on

    The term "wheelchair bound" is really offensive and factually incorrect. No one is "bound" to their wheelchair. Appropriate language is "wheelchair user" or "person that uses a wheelchair."

    Language Etiquette

    What is the appropriate term for someone who uses a wheelchair by necessity, because they are unable to walk, or unable to walk very far, or who, as a result of a disability, is more or less required to use a wheelchair if he or she wants to get around? In particular, what is the term for someone who uses a wheelchair but, because of his or her disability, is more or less unable to get out of the wheelchair without assistance?

    Why stop there?

    I demand that the Back Bay fill which was STOLEN from its rightful place where Downtown crossing now is be restored. This city used to have lots of hills, not just Beacon Hill and I think this inequity needs to be addressed now.

    #restorethehills

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    I will never understand

    why rich people think they know better than everyone about everything, and also somehow deserve exceptions to the rules by which everyone else plays. "We found a prettier, (maybe) better, more expensive solution! We'll pay for it!" Sure, yeah, okay! Will you also pay for the upkeep when it turns out not to be better? Why are you not wiling to go with ESTABLISHED MATERIALS & METHODS THAT MAKE CITY STREETS SAFER FOR THE DISABLED?

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    You haven't been following the story

    why rich people think they know better than everyone about everything, and also somehow deserve exceptions to the rules by which everyone else plays.

    Good question, Why is it that Walsh thinks he knows better than everyone about everything, and somehow deserves exceptions to the rules by which everyone else plays?

    In this case, the rules, well established by law, are that that changes to the streetscape need to be approved by the Architectural Commission (duly established by the legislature; several members are Walsh's own appointees) and by the state Historical Commission. The architectural commission has twice rejected Walsh's proposed materials, and Walsh hasn't even bothered to go to the state Historical Commission.

    In fact, "Play by the rules" is exactly what the neighborhood is going to court to get Walsh to do.

    Why are you not wiling to go with ESTABLISHED MATERIALS & METHODS THAT MAKE CITY STREETS SAFER FOR THE DISABLED?

    The neighborhood would be delighted to use the ESTABLISHED MATERIALS AND METHODS that have been successfully used in all sorts of neighborhoods all across the country.

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    You do mean the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission as

    By on

    "In December, members of the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission voted down the city’s proposal to install pedestrian ramps and tactile warning strips in the neighborhood. They held that the ramps and yellow plastic strips would affect the Colonial character of the streets."

    And

    "However, after a team from the city’s Inspection Services Department concluded this week that the neighborhood is unsafe for people with disabilities, Mayor Walsh said he has the authority to overturn the Architectural Commission’s December decision."

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2014/07/18/beacon-hill-ge...

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    Saying it's so don't make it so.

    However, after a team from the city’s Inspection Services Department concluded this week that the neighborhood is unsafe for people with disabilities, Mayor Walsh said he has the authority to overturn the Architectural Commission’s December decision.

    Walsh is making an unsubstantiated claim that he has some particular authority, a statement that may or may not be true. The courts will sort it out.

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    Obey!

    Shut up and comply like everyone else.

    I'll bet you're absolutely adorable in your swastika armband.

    And now I know how Joan of Arc felt ...

    Yes, because pretending that you have a pristine historic neighborhood when you also have street parking, and being told that you can't have exactly what you want to make it look like Epcot would is equivalent to living in Nazi Germany.

    Oh the Martyrdom!

    I'll let The Smiths take it from here:

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    He is

    The commission can be overridden, and it was.

    Period.

    As my father used to say "you know where you can find sympathy - its in the dictionary between shit and syphilis".

    Stop throwing tantrums and maybe take a nice, calming, educational trip to Portland, Maine, where similar renovations are underway?

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    Let me quote you

    The commission can be overridden, and it was.

    Period.

    Cite, please.
    Also what about the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the State Executive Office of Environmental and Energy Affairs?

    Enabling Legislation of the

    Enabling Legislation of the Beacon Hill Historical Commission (Chapter 616 of the Acts of 1955, and as amended) states:

    Section 9: Exclusions
    Nothing in this act shall be construed to prevent any ordinary maintenance or repair of an exterior architectural feature now or hereafter in the historic Beacon Hill district which involves no change in design, material, color, or outward appearance thereof; nor shall anything in this act be construed to prevent the construction, reconstruction, alteration, or demolition of any such feature which the building commissioner shall certify is required by the public safety because of an unsafe of dangerous condition.

    The ISD commissioner is the building commissioner and he did certify this condition, which overrides the commission.

    The definition of "exterior architectural feature" refers to that of a "structure." I assume the parties have up until now agreed these ramps are structures under the act, otherwise the commission would not have jurisdiction in the first place as far as I can tell. But I have not read the suit so not 100% sure.

    http://www.cityofboston.gov/landmarks/historic/beaconhill.asp - Enabling Legislation available here

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    The court can decide

    I'd guess that one of the issues on which the case turns will be whether or not ISD certifying the ramps that Walsh wants to build (as opposed to the ramps that the Architecture Commission would approve) are in any way "required by the public safety by an unsafe or dangerous condition."

    I assume so. I do not know

    I assume so. I do not know anything about prior precedent or case law on this (if any exists) so don't know if prior mayors have done this and/or what the result was. I'd like to read the initial complaint if an electronic copy ever surfaces.

    "Overridden," yes. After

    By on

    "Overridden," yes. After over two years of playing by the rules, Walsh suddenly decides it's a "public safety issue" and he can do whatever he wants. Interesting timing. Clock must be ticking on those Federal funds.

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    Beacon hill residents hire a

    By on

    Beacon hill residents hire a lawyer to stop construction of handicap ramps, they say according to a law that was enacted in 1776 , so this so called historic law should apply to all historic parts of boston, an example Webster street East Boston is a historic district, are residents entitled to get brick sidewalks and cobblestone walkways, they should be. Most of boston Real Estate taxes are poured into maintaing expensive brick repairs on the sidewalks of beacon hill and Charlestown, when it comes to fixing a cracked sidewalk in East Boston the city uses asphalt and they walk away for the next 10 years.The wealthy of Beacon hill do not like the idea of using yellow rubbery looking mats for ramps, they want instead (Theresa Heinz approved) fancy expensive looking brick, who's going to pay for the expensive brick, the Dorchester taxpaying homeowner who is struggling with 4 kids that's who.

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    You're batting a .000

    Beacon hill residents hire a lawyer to stop construction of handicap ramps,

    Wrong, they hired a lawyer to force the city to go through the approval process, laid out by law, for changing the streetscape. The neighborhood wants handicap access and handicap ramps, just not the ones that Walsh seems determined to ram down their throats.

    they say according to a law that was enacted in 1776

    Wrong, 1955

    , so this so called historic law should apply to all historic parts of boston, an example Webster street East Boston is a historic district

    Wrong. If you read the applicable laws, different standards apply in different places.

    Most of boston Real Estate taxes are poured into maintaing expensive brick repairs on the sidewalks of beacon hill and Charlestown,

    Wrong. At 36%, the largest item by far in the budget is schools. PWD and BTD together (which include, among other things, all road maintenance and repair, sidewalk repair, etc, of which brick sidewalks are a tiny fraction) comes in at 5.2% of the budget

    when it comes to fixing a cracked sidewalk in East Boston the city uses asphalt and they walk away for the next 10 years.

    Pretty much the same as they do in Beacon Hill, by the way.

    The wealthy of Beacon hill do not like the idea of using yellow rubbery looking mats for ramps,

    Wrong. Most of the people who are most active in this particular issue are not particularly wealthy, in fact the very wealthy do not tend to get involved in local community issues.

    they want instead (Theresa Heinz approved) fancy expensive looking brick,

    Do you have any evidence that Theresa Heinz is involved in any way?

    who's going to pay for the expensive brick, the Dorchester taxpaying homeowner who is struggling with 4 kids that's who.

    Wrong. A group of neighbors have stepped up to volunteer to pay for the upgrade.

    looks like you're batting a .000

    Your saying Mayor Walsh

    By on

    Your saying Mayor Walsh proposed a plan on what type of material should be used for the ramp, same type of material that is used throughout boston, but residents of beacon hill want an alternative, well the alrernative is your ramp's should look like the rest of boston's ramp's, It's like saying for example Beacon hill does not want filthy garbage trucks roaming on their streets, residents want to have their trucks paved in gold, city of boston says screw you beacon hill you better accept our dirty trucks, beacon hill hires a lawyer and files a law suite againts city of boston because of beacon hill's selfish demands!!

    That's a horrendous analogy

    That's not at all what happened.

    What happened is that the legislature passed a law saying that in the designated historic districts, various restrictions applied and various approvals had to be obtained in order to make any structural changes to anything.

    What happened next is that the city wanted to change the ramps, and started to obtain the approvals required by the legislature, and got shot down.

    What happened next is that a group of BH residents researched alternatives -- things that had been used in other historic districts in other cities -- things that had proved to be safe, cost-effective, durable, and that gained the approval of both the historical and the ADA interests, and presented those to the city for consideration.

    What happened next is that the city basically stonewalled.

    What happened next is that Walsh said, in effect, "screw the approvals, screw the law, and screw the people, I'm going ahead with what I want to do. "
    What happened next is that the neighbors sued to force the city to follow its own rules.

    I don't see where you're getting "gold plated garbage trucks" or "selfish demands" from any of that.

    And, your argument "The ramps in BH ought to look like the ramps in the rest of the city," is just not very well thought through. The entire point of a legally protected historic district is that it isn't going to look just like the rest of the city. It doesn't have the same sidewalk paving material, it doesn't have the same street lamps, it doesn't have the same rules for what you can and can't do to the outside of your house. The residents all live by the rules, often at their own expense and inconvenience. I don't see what's "selfish" about asking the city to do the same. In fact, it's the opposite of selfish, it's called giving up your own time and energy and money to be a good steward of a streetscape that's going to be around long after we're all moved away or dead.

    Oh FFS!

    By on

    Are you really implying that installing ramps to comply with ADA regulations to assist folks with disabilities is the *same* as Nazis rounding up and killing thousands upon thousands of Jewish, homosexuals, Romani, and people with disabilities?

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    Not at all.

    Are you really implying that installing ramps to comply with ADA regulations to assist folks with disabilities is the *same* as Nazis rounding up and killing thousands upon thousands of Jewish, homosexuals, Romani, and people with disabilities?

    Not at all. Not even close. My comment had nothing at all to do with ramps, it had everything to do with the "shut up and comply" attitude.

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    "I'll bet your absolutely adorable in your swastika armband"

    By on

    You wrote it. You could edit it (and if you do, please note for the sake of people reading further on that you edited it out.)

    They're ramps. And sidewalks. If you were at a movie theatre, I was having a loud conversation on my phone in front of you, and you noted that the rule is that cellphones aren't allowed, would your response also be appropriate were I to say it to you?

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    "Shut up and obey"

    "Shut up and obey" is a general attitude toward the relationship between people and government; it's one to which I take extreme exception. I'll stand by the swastika armband comment, which, as I've explained, is not about ramps

    So, you want anarchy and litigation?

    By on

    Beacon Hill should somehow be exempt from the Americans with Disability Act because following it would be akin to following the Nuremberg Laws? Or conversely, any time someone thinks that it is okay to smoke in a daycare center, they can refer to anyone who objects as fascists. Or perhaps when chemical plants in West Virginia get attacked for polluting water supplies, we can just call out those jackbooted thugs from the EPA for what they really are.

    No, it is not about ramps. It is about comparing people who think the law, perhaps any law, should be followed to Nazis.

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    Strawman.

    Beacon Hill should somehow be exempt from the Americans with Disability Act

    Nobody opposes ramps. At least nobody sane or with any legitimacy to represent the neighborhood. The neighborhood groups, BHCA, etc. support ramps, and have gone to the effort to do their homework, canvass different cities with historic neighborhoods, find out what has worked and what has not, have identified workable solutions that are ADA compliant and more durable than what the city wants, and have even offered to pay for the small difference in initial cost.

    No, it is not about ramps. It is about comparing people who think the law, perhaps any law, should be followed to Nazis.

    No, it's about comparing people whose response to a group of citizens trying to force the government to obey its own laws is "Shut up and comply", to Nazis. And I think the comparison is entirely apt.

    Okay, let's try this

    By on

    So, you want us to just go along with what the group suing wants and say nothing. Well, in Europe in the 1930s there was a group of people who just went along with what a vocal minority wanted.

    Or,

    All you little Eichmans on Beacon Hill think you can do whatever you want.

    Yes, both statements are wrong, and I honestly don't believe them, not only because I think there's a middle ground in this issue, but mainly because THIS ISSUE IS NOT WORTH COMPARING PEOPLE TO NAZIS ABOUT.

    Are you really this thick about the Nazi analogy thing?

    The Nazi analogy thing

    The Nazi analogy thing is not about ramps.

    It's about the phrase "shut up and comply" being hurled at someone who legitimately, working within the system, opposes the actions of what they perceive to be an imperious governmental agency that has forgotten that it works for the people.

    "Shut up and comply" is the language of a brownshirt. Doesn't matter if we're talking about something as big as genocide or as small as dog licenses. People whose reaction to legitimate, well-reasoned dissent with which they don't happen to agree is "shut up and comply," are decidedly un-American

    I don't think you quite get our issue

    By on

    Yes, this is in response to your response of 9:55 PM, else this chain would end up being 3 letters per line.

    Look, hate the City for what they are doing. That's fine. What's not fine is tarring your opponents as Nazis.

    Heck, as I slammed you above, all you had to say in response is that you want the City to shut up and follow the law, too, which is to work with the historic district people. But no, you went base.

    You know when you can compare people to nazis. When they are anti-semitic. When they think ethnic cleansing is cool. When they think that their opposition, be it political, social, or whatever, should be arrested and locked away for their thoughts or for their background. Heck, I would even take that nazism would be an okay charge for people who think that their nation needs more living space. And of course, one should call neo-nazis nazis, but that is obvious.

    There are lots of laws. They should be followed. There are laws I don't like and would like to see changed. I would never imply that someone is a nazi because they want to see a law carried out that I oppose.

    And yes, the law that you got so upset is the Americans with Disabilities Act, but that is besides the point. And it detracts from points that you have made on this thread that are pretty well constructed.

    So, all I am saying is that you made yourself look bad with the swastika thing.

    No it's not.

    By on

    You are the one talking nonsense, TrickyCanyon. And why are you so against tax paying citizens having a say in what goes on in their neighborhood? They have cared for this neighborhood and they want to retain its character. Why should you care? They're willing to make up the cost of the materials. No one is elitist or uncaring. That's just made up and provides nothing but clickbait for trolls. They mayor is trying to ramrod something without a discussion to get some federal dollars. I'm amazed at all the people who post here who are so happy to take the side of run amok government versus voting, tax paying citizens. Who, by the way, are not all rich. And not all white.

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    It's property value Kabuki.

    The Trimountain is more vulnerable than the other platinum locales because it predates space layouts that work with our sense of space.

    The only way the bagholders who bought these antiquated sub par dumps at the market top can hope to fend off value decline is by screeching about how the city's very soul is at stake.

    It is a pretty neat trick, invoke the hallowed rubric of historicity to deflect from the more practical issue that many of the places are minor abominations.

    The scent of Mary Curtis's arthritis lineament yet lingers in old walls like a menthol fog.

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    Let Part time Beacon Hill

    By on

    Let Part time Beacon Hill resident John Kerry pick up the tab, after all he has enough $ to buy East Boston..

    City to help Beacon Hill maintain historic accuracy

    By on

    In order to help the Beacon Hill residents concerned over the recent attempt to install handicapped ramps with "unapproved" materials, Mayor Walsh announced a new initiative Wednesday.

    By the beginning of next week, Walsh has empowered the Department of Public Works to tow all cars in Beacon Hill, install bollards at all street entrances, and take down all traffic control devices installed after 1955.

    Unfortunately, this will reduce the ability for residents to receive emergency services. As such, residents are requested to constable their own area of the city, sign up for rotating shifts on the bucket brigade for fighting fires, and every resident is to keep their own jar of leeches to stem an injury until paramedics can run a two-man cot to their doorway to carry them to the ambulance that will be parked just outside of Beacon Hill.

    Said Mayor Walsh: "I'm just looking out for their best interests. I never realized how important it was for them to stay in the 1820's."

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    Oh come on.

    There are lots of laws on the books. The mayor, like everyone else, is required to follow all of them.

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    I don't get it

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    The BHCA has proposed a fully compliant alternative that they will pay for. It's more expensive AND more aesthetically pleasing. Why does anyone care if they put in what they want as long as they pay for it. The opposition and demagoguery on the other side of this is simply baffling. They only thing I can see is people are jealous of their money. Why would anyone in their right mind object to someone VOLUNTARILY saving the taxpayer a few million dollars to install a fully compliant alternative?

    And Kaz - all the neighborhood associations in the historic districts have to strike a fine line between maintaining historic character and modern life. We get it. We live here too (along with our many elderly and disabled family and neighbors). This doesn't rise to that level - not even close - because you can have both which is what we seek whenever possible. Beacon Hill is going to win this lawsuit because the alternatives comply and there is literally a negative cost to the taxpayers. I like Walsh - but he's going to come out on the bottom on this one as he will ultimately get blamed for the delay under his watch.

    Is it the sounds of the wheels or the music that keeps you from hearing that message on the "just bash the rich" bandwagon?

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    You're right except for one thing

    I like Walsh - but he's going to come out on the bottom on this one as he will ultimately get blamed for the delay under his watch.

    It's not going to stick to Walsh any more than the big, costly cock-up over the reconstruction of the Copley Sq. subway portal stuck to the pig-headed MBTA.

    The politics of identity and class are going to trump reason here, and the residents will eat the blame for the delay.

    Do you have a cite to where

    Do you have a cite to where the Beacon Hill Civic Association has stated it will pay for the more expensive materials it is seeking? I feel like I have not seen that mentioned. I do not see it listed on the BHCA web page in their statement about their objections.

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    Still looking

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    My recollection is that a local reporter originally told me this (when I also complained about Beacon Hill trying to be special, noting that the Back Bay and South End had already agreed to terra cotta plastic). I changed my mind after that. I think I saw it somewhere in writing as well - but can't find it - I'll keep looking.

    However, it's possible the offer was dropped. Based on other things I've read, the plastic strips cost $300. The original granite they had proposed was $600 (total extra cost of $75k over 250 strips - knowing Beacon Hill - they could raise that in a cake sale). In the meantime, they've dropped the request for granite and gone with concrete pavers - which cost $150 - or half the plastic strips along with brick sidewalks (which even the city says will be installed in some corners depending on the dimensions). So maybe now that they are saving the city $40k to begin with, they don't see the need to offer to pay for anything.

    I think what has been

    By on

    I think what has been forgotten is that the DPW said they believe the granite to be vulnerable to cracking when used as a ramp, not helped by our winters here. This spawned its own strain of Godwin-approaching arguments on UHub.

    BHAC has said it worked in other cities. The city has said it doesn't want to pay for replacement of cracked granite, even if Beacon Hill residents pay for the initial cost and installation of granite. AND set a PRECEDENT. I kind of dislike the precedent argument though, even if I understand it. In general, it's used to shoot down a lot of good ideas on arrival.

    Yeah, this.

    By on

    I bet at the start of this there were residents who were opposing any ramps, but if this is the proposal that is on the table now, why not?

    Consequences:
    Beacon hill people -- they spend some money, they get ramps in whatever pretty color they desire.
    People who need disabled access -- they get access.
    City -- saves some money, doesn't get the satisfaction of forcing its way on a group of city residents who have been irritating it for some time.

    So if it really is just about that last point, then that is pretty petty, and should be something we all have a problem with.

    I think there are occasions when allowing the rich to opt out of a publicly provided service can dangerous (i.e. lead to underfunding of that service over the long-term) but I cant see that argument applying here.

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    Lawsuit???

    By on

    I'm pretty sure it would be more historically accurate to challenge Walsh to pistols at dawn.

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    They won't

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    I don't think you get "nicked" if you win. Based on the decision in the Back Bay v. MBTA case, if you propose a compliant/feasible alternative, sounds like you win. Wouldn't surprise me if the Hill gets their way without even going to court. If I were a judge (and I'm not - and not a lawyer), I wouldn't waste time on this. If the alternative is compliant and free to the city, why would a judge waste the court's time on this?

    Why bogus

    There's a pretty straightforward claim that Walsh has not followed the law. The neighbors are bringing suit to force him to comply with the law. The neighbors might or might not be right, but it seems like exactly the sort of thing we ought to be asking the courts to adjudicate. What's your basis for calling the lawsuit "bogus"?

    What's With All The Hill Hate?

    By on

    I for one appreciate the diversity of our city and the historic charm of Beacon Hill. I don't claim to know enough about this situation to take sides like all of you experts, but I do feel like the anti-Hill prejudice isn't called for. I'll probably never afford to live in Beacon Hill and I'm disappointed that every sidewalk ramp in East Boston where I live is built to a different arbitrary standard, but I do like having a colonial neighborhood in our city to visit. Just as I like living in a diverse neighborhood made up of distinct cultures living side by side, I also like having distinct neighborhoods in my city, each with their own character.

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    It's the mentality of "I can

    It's the mentality of "I can't afford to live there, therefore all those that do live there are uneducated snob supervillan billionares who only received their wealth through their family and would rather watch anyone who makes under a million a year starve in the streets" classism while ignoring things like facts about the situation.

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    Unusual wealth inequality makes the peasants restive sire.

    The trimountain is just a bit of conceit that can sit there for all anyone really cares.

    It's a great dartboard though.

    The wealth inequality is a far more pressing matter because there is growing consensus that it is a rigged game with lots of rents and fees in strange places, banking fiascos, earning stagnation and so forth.

    Fixing it is easy... just roll tax rates back to the 1950s and that old time GOP prosperity will bounce back.

    I mean Eisenhower GOP, not the nutjob shills for rich assholes we have now.

    In some strange Orwellian somersault, the principle 'Takers' have contrived to gull the ever distracted public into thinking they are 'Makers'.

    Once the incentive is gone to hog huge useless piles while cheer-leading the pauperization of everyone else, it'll sort itself out nicely without pitchforks and torches.

    Nowhere near Chaucer but thanks.

    Here, the for dummies version.

    Rich assholes using insane amounts of leverage and political influence involving their money have contrived lots of breaks and welfare for themselves.

    The most prosperous period in my lifetime was when the income tax system confiscated lots of money beyond a certain limit and it reduced the incentive for hoarding and hogging.

    Income inequality is as severe as its ever been with stagnation for the many.

    So if we reset the rates to say even Nixon, it will fix a lot.

    Some honest wealthy people like Buffett try and point this out cause they figure it's a menace to a robust republic.

    But most are disgusting weasels wallowing in unprecedented avarice while being pathologically tone deaf to the consequences of their hogging.

    There.. is that better?

    Okay sure there are some rich

    Okay sure there are some rich assholes but throwing an entire diverse neighbourhood into that one untouchable Winthrop descendant boogieman stereotype doesn't help anyone. "we hate them for what they have, we're better because we don't" doesn't help anything and it would seem from posts on this subject that many folks can't get over it.

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    Rich folks

    By on

    The everyone on Beacon Hill is rich trope is tiring. I live on Beacon Hill and I am far from rich. It's just not accurate. And I too remember that Beacon Hill said it would pay for the cost overage of the ramps. So there should be no argument. Walsh just wants the dough. End of story.

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    I moved from the Back Bay

    I moved from the Back Bay where I lived all my life to Brighton to be closer to my new office. In the course of talking with the real estate agent, I found out you can get a very small apartment in BH for $240/m. Shared bathroom and kitchen but still,... $240. Not a roommate situation either!

    It will all sort out when

    the tax bracket is adjusted.

    Corporate welfare loopholes and regulatory considerations need to get reigned in.

    It isn't about a stupid little overrated drumlin but about the suffocation of an entire republic so a minuscule few can brag about a bunch of zeros.

    Really if the class could just go grub money with honest zeal and stop trying to game the system, there wouldn't be much reason to care, now would there?

    Hey Chris

    Hey Chris, here's a proposal.

    Each of us send a neutral party (say, Adam) our address, and evidence as to what percent of the housing units within 500 feet of our respective houses is subsidized low-income housing.

    And if the percentage of low-income housing is higher on my Beacon Hill street than on yours, you';ll send $200 to the bona-fide social services charity of my choice and forever shut up about beacon hill being entirely about wealth and privilege and the abuse thereof.

    And if the percentage of low-income housing on my block is lower than it is on yours, then I'll send $200 to the bona-fide social services charity of your choice, and forever refrain from calling you out for being an asshole.

    You seem to think I care

    about you calling me out.

    My god you all have delusions of significance I'm unable to share.

    You should at least work on your creativity as a garden variety call out seems a bit weak.

    But then, it might be a perfect fit.

    It gets back to what I've said before, you rubes place far too much innocent belief in the influence potential of a busy little blog.

    And I don't intend to slight Adam, ever.. when I say this.

    The change in media impact means that routine influence wielding exercises from the supine old media days are less effective.

    The true influence of UHub, if you could call it that, is how the whole array of constituents from lefty nutbags like me to growling old rightist goons like OFISHL show up and a kind of snapshot emerges.

    It is like data.

    And if any other influence obtains, it is because some cluster of simpaticos like the spiel.

    You wanna be influential.. come up with a more compelling dog and pony show.

    It is a hoot to watch all the bereft movers and shakers circle around these little nodes in the vain hope that they can win something.

    TL;DR

    I think what you said was, "No deal, I'm not taking the bet."

    Nobody on Beacon Hill should take it personally

    Beacon Hill hate. Southie hate. Roxbury hate. Charlestown hate. JP hate. Read through the comments any time a neighborhood issue comes up; There's plenty of hate to go around.

    Stupid, myopic, tribal bullshit is what it is.

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    Too right.

    By on

    Those people from {neighborhood} suck!

    Excellent comment. Thank you.

    By on

    Excellent comment. Thank you.
    I can't afford to live in Beacon Hill, nor would I want to for that matter. But I do regularly enjoy walking down Charles St., up Mt. Vernon and stopping in the used book shop and grabbing lunch in Beacon Hill and I appreciate that the residents have been able to retain its historical charm. If they didn't, I wouldn't go there. It's what makes Beacon Hill special. The only trouble I've ever seen someone have is an elderly gentleman with a walker fall on Charles St. because a bike chained to a light pole was sticking into the middle of the sidewalk. Of course, I don't live there so I don't see what happens day to day. I know I've seen people in wheelchairs in that neighborhood and I can't say I've seen anyone looking distraught or having trouble navigating that neighborhood's sidewalks.

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    Charles Street sidewalks are

    By on

    Charles Street sidewalks are very tiny for what they are expected to handle.

    It's sort of understandable when the sidewalks are on one of BH's small streets and there are historic space constraints. But Charles Street is not a small street. You can line up 5 cars side-by-side in the motorway. If Charles Street is supposed to be a preeminent shopping street in a historic neighborhood, it makes no sense to have tiny sidewalks. That strikes me as a decision that was made in the 1950s, treating Charles Street as a bypass rather than a neighborhood street. The fact that wheelchairs can barely get through, and that people are tripping and falling, is just the result of incredibly stupid design. It's senseless to fight over scraps of space when there is so much right-of-way available in the overengineered motorway.

    The next fight that the city should pick, after the ramps get resolved, is to do something about the tiny sidewalks on Charles Street and also on Bowdoin Street. There's no reason that Charles Street needs 3 travel lanes going in the same direction. That's highway-like design. If it were up to me, I'd restore two-way travel flow with a single lane in each direction. No reason for the one-way travel, it's just confusing. Then have parking/loading lanes. And widen the sidewalks up to a minimum of 10 feet each, more if possible. That's what a shopping street should look like.

    One of the reasons I have little sympathy for the BH residents is that I feel they are partially responsible for the ridiculous sidewalk situation on Charles Street and Bowdoin Street. If they claim to be a historic, walkable district, then those sidewalks should have been expanded years ago. The fact that they weren't tells me that the residents, many of whom are long-term, are full of bullshit. They don't actually care about people with disabilities, nor do they care about making it easier to walk. Maybe it is true, as Bob says, that it is all about the color and that's easily fixable. Or maybe there's something else going on here. I'm inclined to think the latter, again, because of the existing conditions on Charles and Bowdoin Streets.

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    BEACON HILL RAMPS

    By on

    I think we should replace the fire hydrant in front of the Kerry-Heinz mansion

    I'll have to ask my friends

    By on

    I'll have to ask my friends who are blind, but I don't understand the push to put the plastic bumps everywhere.

    People seem to have managed during all the decades when ramps were required but the bumps weren't. And the bumps get particularly ridiculous at driveways and in shopping center parking lots, when there's so many bump pads facing all directions that I, as a sighted person, have trouble figuring out what they mean.

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    The MBTA used to agree with you

    They didn't get why anyone expected them to put a bumpy strip at the edge of the platform, even though it is pretty cheap to do so. But then, on the very day the ADA went into effect, a blind woman tumbled off the platform at Davis Square T station and died as a result of her injuries.

    The MBTA didn't think that the small investment in tactile surfaces, mandated by the ADA, applied to them (or any of the ADA really - because people with disabilities were invisible to them). So the woman didn't know where the platform ended, fell, and died.

    The resulting lawsuit set them straight.

    The point here being that, yes, blind people do get around the city - but some stay home if they don't have a dog or a well-established route to travel for fear of walking down a ramp and out into traffic or other mishaps that could be easily avoided by proper infrastructural cues.

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    These are great!

    It's the place at its best, real actionable lore sharing.

    And these swells miss the broader point, at some point in our lives, all of us will need these features in our urban landscape.

    Is this really an argument

    By on

    This lawsuit, as well as one particular member in this discussion thread 20+ comments, prove that some people have too much time and money on their hands to make decisions.

    Maybe

    If you think the issue is ramps, you've completely lost the plot. What this is, is a tiny little skirmish in the overall battle to keep government accountable to the law and to the people.

    Is it a waste of time to complain about tiny, petty little examples of governmental misbehavior? Everyone needs to decide for him or her self.

    The average person has very little leverage in, say, getting the NSA to obey the law and stop spying on us, or getting the CIA to obey the law and stop torturing people, or getting the Department of the Treasury to obey the law and start reining in abuse by big banks. For the average person to put up a fuss over abuses of that scale is no more noticeable than a chicken fart in a hurricane.

    On the other hand, the average person has quite a bit of leverage in getting the meter maid to stop giving the coffee shop owner free parking in return for small bribes, or a mayor from giving his developer friends a sweetheart deal on some project, etc. Life is made up of small things, and if you don't stay after the little ones, the big ones are going to get completely out of control.

    Really? Come on..really??

    By on

    This is about keeping government in line now?

    Cut the horse shit, man. It hasn't taken two years of discussing and now finalizing this because the government is the one that has been out of control.

    I can only speak for myself

    I can only speak for myself.

    Personally, I don't really care about the aesthetics of the ramps; they could be purple fiberglass for all I ultimately care.

    But people who do care, people who are seeking no advantage for themselves (it's not like the ramps are going to change anyone's property values one way or the other,) but who take seriously the idea of being good stewards of a historic district, have put in the time and effort to gather data, to attend the meetings, to propose solutions that have been proven to work elsewhere, even to offer to pay the difference.

    That's not stupid NIMBY objection to stuff, it's meaningful, constructive civic engagement in search of a win-win solution that would work for everyone.

    And the city administration has taken the attitude of, "We're the government, we don't need to listen to mere citizens; it's our way or the highway. What's more, we're going to ignore the rules under which we're required to operate."

    More than anything else about this case, it's that attitude that offends the hell out of me. That's my motivation; it's why I'm contributing to the lawsuit.

    I know that not everyone believes in the 'broken windows' theory of law enforcement, but I believe it applies to government as much as well as to the public... if the people consistently keep government on its toes over the small stuff, then government is less likely to misbehave over the big stuff.

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    It's been repeatedly pointed

    By on

    It's been repeatedly pointed out to you that the mayor *did* follow the law as it relates to the local committee. You choose to ignore that and move the goalposts, asking about different committees. Fine, but that wasn't part of the issue between the mayor and the BH residents.

    Sincerely,
    Your Friendly Local Brownshirt