Boston seniors and disabled residents could be exempted from snow shoveling

The City Council tomorrow considers an ordinance proposed by Councilor Tito Jackson (Roxbury) that would exempt homeowners over 60 or who have disabilities from having to shovel their sidewalks after a snowstorm.

Shoveling can lead to serious health problems for the elderly and disabled, including respiratory illness, heart attacks, falls, broken bones and death. The current shoveling laws force elderly and disabled residents to choose
between being fined and health risks.

Jackson notes several other Massachusetts communities have passed similar exemptions.

If the council follows its usual practice, it will refer the proposal to a committee for a public hearing before actually voting on it.


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No, Tito, no.

" The current shoveling laws force elderly and disabled residents to choose
between being fined and health risks."

Um, how about calling on family or friends, or paying someone to do it for you?

We're talking about property OWNERS, not tenants or patients. If you own property you are required to maintain it. You don't have to install a new roof yourself, but if you don't want rain on your head, you call in a favor from your cousin the contractor or pay someone to do it.

Meanwhile, is Tito suggesting the city will step in and clear the sidewalks? Because they can't even take care of clearing city property properly. Now they're going to take on MORE responsibilty?

This is nothing more than poorly conceived pre-election pandering to the elderly. Sorry, Tito, the little old ladies in Dot and Southie still aren't going to vote for you.

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Voting is closed. 138

YES

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I agree 100% with you CopleyScott. Snow happens every year.. most of these folks would already have people who come and remove snow, because not only is it unsafe for the regular pedestrians, but it also is unsafe for those elderly and disabled folks. Most people already know this.

But I also want to add.. how much will this rule get abused? Sorry I see so many abuses of special rules/privileges for people with disabilities by people who are not disabled (usually by family and friends of people who are elderly/handicapped). Handicapped Placard are a prime example of abuse.

I can already see it now.. "But I'm disabled.. I don't have to shovel" And who's gonna doubt this person? Are we going to start asking for doctors notes or what not? (and like HC Placards, this can be easily manipulated). It's not really up to the city to decide who's exempt and who is not.. and even if they do.. I smell tons of lawsuits coming from this from people who were denied the ability but claim they are disabled.

Seriously, this is just a bad idea all around and ripe for abuse.

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Voting is closed. 78

Is this about exempting people from a $1500 fine?

Maybe they should re-think the penalty. One alternative is to set the penalty at the cost of hiring someone to do the shoveling. What is the cost to hire someone to shovel a 55' sidewalk (which the city owns) in front of our houses.

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Voting is closed. 7

I guarantee you it's cheaper

What is the cost to hire someone to shovel a 55' sidewalk (which the city owns) in front of our houses.

I guarantee you that hiring someone to shovel that sidewalk is going to be cheaper than having the city hire that someone and pass along to you in taxes the costs, including all sorts of administration and overhead.

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Voting is closed. 11

And that fine would not apply

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And that fine would not apply to anyone in the situation Tito Jackson is discussing, so I fail to see its relevance. Specifically, the $1500 fine would not apply to owners of buildings containing six or fewer residential units.

I don't think Jackson is fighting for rich white men that own 12 unit buildings.

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Voting is closed. 6

property owners DO NOT own

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property owners DO NOT own the public sidewalks. So the city is telling property owners to maintain PUBLIC property. By this logic then everyone in the city should be picking up a shovel and shovel city hall plaza.

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Voting is closed. 20

Actually, we do

property owners DO NOT own the public sidewalks.

umm... the public sidewalks are owned by the public, and the public is us.

So the city is telling property owners to maintain PUBLIC property.

Well, who else is going to pay to maintain it? The residents of Nairobi or Shenzhen?

By this logic then everyone in the city should be picking up a shovel and shovel city hall plaza.

We don't do it by picking up a shovel, we do it by picking up a pen and writing a check every April 15th, that pays for the people who shovel City Hall plaza.

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Voting is closed. 12

Reminds me of the Segway sidewalk ban, except for the "disabled"

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People with disabilities will not have to register their Segways with the city or obey the new ban on Segway use on sidewalks and plazas and in parks - but will have to carry proof of their disabilities and will not be allowed to ride more than two abreast.

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What a joke Tito Jackson is. Sidewalks that aren't shoveled are either dangerous or they're not, regardless of the age or condition of the homeowner. It reminds me of the absurd exception to the "no Segways on the sidewalk, except for the disabled" law in 2011. In other words, Segways are dangerous on the sidewalk except when driven by those perhaps least capable of operating them.

Maybe an exception to the new 25 mph speed limit is due for elderly and disabled who might be late for a doctor's appointment or prescription. Farce!

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Voting is closed. 39

Much better idea for this

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Much better idea for this solution, how about if the city temporary hires several hundred people or ( subcontractors) during major snow storms to shovel the elderly or the persons with disabilities sidewalk outside their homes, they will be charged a flat fee of $75 and have it billed on the homeowners next City of Boston real estate tax bill. Sounds fair.
1) the city collects addition revenue
Which will help pay for the snow shovelers

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Voting is closed. 26

Good idea

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Except that the City should hire people to shovel ALL sidewalks, not just those adjacent to elderly or disabled people. Fire all the ISD hacks and sell off all the needless fancy photo-ticket printing gear, and you'd have more than enough money to pay for it.

Public property should be maintained by the government instead of extorting labor from private citizens. And if the current system is so effective, then why we don't do the same for streets?

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Voting is closed. 9

Who is "the government?"

Public property should be maintained by the government instead of extorting labor from private citizens.

umm... the government is us. At the end of the day, all public property is maintained by private citizens, to the extent that we pay taxes.

And if the current system is so effective, then why we don't do the same for streets?

Streets are cleared by plows and other large mechanized equipment. There is an enormous economy of scale in centralizing it. Sidewalks, not so much so. After a snowstorm, clearing the sidewalks quickly and efficiently requires tens of thousands of people to work for one hour apiece, distributed all across the city. There's an enormous advantage to decentralizing that.

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The city of Boston already

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The city of Boston already has subcontractors to plow the city streets, use these same people to shovel these homes.

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Carry "proof of their

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Carry "proof of their disabilities" for a Segway? Is that the same kind of proof you need to bring a service animal into a restaurant?

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Voting is closed. 13

The purpose of laws is to

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The purpose of laws is to control people, followed by revenue generation. Anything else the politicians say is just justification and excuse-making. It's these kind of constant "exceptions" to laws supposedly justified by "safety" that make this most obvious.

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Voting is closed. 2

NO

The purpose of clearing the sidewalks is so you can WALK ON THEM. If you exempt some people, you defeat the entire purpose. It's bad enough in Roxbury as it is - every snowstorm I encounter this: walking down the (barely) cleared path that's only about 6" wide to begin with, then BOOM, I run into a dead-end of not-shoveled snow. So now I have to step knee deep into the snowbank to get to the road so I can walk down the street because the sidewalk is useless.

This idea is about as stupid as not towing cars on street cleaning days. If the cars are there, you can't clean the street and it defeats the entire purpose of street cleaning.

Use your head, Tito.

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Voting is closed. 74

This idea is about as stupid

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This idea is about as stupid as not towing cars on street cleaning days. If the cars are there, you can't clean the street and it defeats the entire purpose of street cleaning.

Except that it's far less stupid to to clean under a parked car using a leaf blower, Roomba, and broom than it is to tow a car halfway across town.

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Voting is closed. 9

In Worcester they tow cars

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In Worcester they tow cars for snow plowing. No reason it can't be done for street cleaning too.

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In Boston they tow cars too

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...on street cleaning days. I've seen it done routinely in Back Bay and South End on "3rd Wednesday of month" or whatever the little signs say. A mini convoy of tow trucks shows up with the street sweeping machine and they 'clean' the street in more ways than one.

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Voting is closed. 2

good i hope it passes

ill go slip and fall. city has deeper pockets than the home owners anyway.

this is simply to garner votes i'd wager. the idea offends me, however.

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Voting is closed. 20

Good luck with that.

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ill go slip and fall. city has deeper pockets than the home owners anyway.

Not quite. MGL Chapter 84 limits municipal tort liability as a result of defects on a public way to $5,000 and makes an exception for snow and ice in most cases (though some recent case law establishes an affirmative obligation for municipalities to keep their properties snow and ice free). Homeowners assume no liability (other than the potential for a code violation ticket) for injuries resulting from an uncleared publicly owned sidewalk.

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Voting is closed. 13

I was going to say...

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I was going to say that this idea sounds good to the homeowners on paper, but one slip and fall with an injury would change all that.

The injured party will sue the homeowner, not the city (or his or her insurance plan will sue the homeowner).

Homeowner's insurance rates will go up, and the insurance company will "strongly suggest" that the homeowner pay someone else to shovel and sand the sidewalks...in much the same way that the insurance companies strongly suggest basic maintenance like the above-mentoned repairs of leaky roofs...or repair and/or replacement of rickety and dangerous front steps.

I don't think anyone expects the elderly or disabled to literally shovel snow themselves...but anyone who has the financial means to own their own home and pay the associated property taxes and basic maintenance and upkeep on it can ALSO afford to pay someone else to shovel the sidewalks for them.

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Voting is closed. 16

Again....

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The injured party will sue the homeowner, not the city (or his or her insurance plan will sue the homeowner).

Homeowners aren't liable for injuries sustained on property they do not own (IE: the City owned sidewalk), regardless of who's responsible for clearing it.

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Voting is closed. 13

Nope

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A little late in the game here but nope nope nope.

I remember this discussion coming up right here on Uhub a few years ago and someone explained it similar to this:

Laws vary. However, there is a difference between owning the property and owning what is ON the property. For instance, a public road goes through my private property. I don't own the right to prevent other people from using that road, but I own the entire property that contains the road. This is called a public easement.

In many of the cities where I have wintered, the city owns the property to the edge of most public streets and has an easement over another 10 feet or so on either side. This is where people put sidewalks and planing or parking strips. The land is private, but the use is public. The public laws can dictate what you can or cannot do within their easement, such as planting trees, grass, paving, maintaining. In other cities, the entire width to the abutter's edge of the sidewalk is owned by the city.

The question of liability is complicated. For example, in some states there is an "act of god" exception to liability; if you didn't put the snow or ice there and didn't do anything to change it, you're not legally responsible for someone slipping and falling. The ordinance requiring you to shovel and sand it, however, would be introduced as "evidence of negligence". As you mentioned, if you don't own the sidewalk, didn't put it there and didn't want it there, why should you be held responsible for it?

Good question. Bottom line, if it's a city easement on your private property, then you ARE liable for negligent maintenance. However, if the sidewalk is "broken" or uneven, you must notify the city to make the repairs and they become liable if they don't. So, you say, "Why not notify the city that their sidewalk needs to be shoveled?" Answer: because the law says that's YOUR job, as your own little "tax" on being an abutter, rather than paying out of the general fund to have sidewalks plowed.

Some cities actually do that, as a public service. Also, some civic associations take up a collection and hire a contractor to keep the neighborhood sidewalks clean and clear.

Source: https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20130418085100AA9BXoi

Go ahead and flame me for the source, but it is an easement on your private property by the city. And pretty much explains why, you must shovel a "city easement" on your own property.

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Voting is closed. 9

OK Flaming you for the source

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Yahoo...or what amounts to Yahoo's wiki. I don't see a case cited or anything. Nope, nope nope.

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Voting is closed. 7

Nope

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Sidewalks, with exceedingly few exceptions, are within the publicly owned right of way. To prevent overly convoluted chains of title, the City does eminent domain takings when constructing sidewalks in places where there is not enough room on the public way for a sidewalk.

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Voting is closed. 4

Its going to be a race

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Its going to be a race between people with spectacularly bad ideas. Tito wanting snow filled sidewalks verse Marty trying to funnel taxpayer money and other resources to the 1% via the Olympics. There are plenty of smart people in this city, so why can't we get one to be mayor?

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Voting is closed. 17

Truly intelligent people

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typically do not become involved in politics. It is a shameful waste of their talents. No, it is the game for the glad-hander, bullshitter, well-connected goon class. ( See: Mahty.)
Dems had to essentially beg Liz Warren to run. Not having been a politician until her Senate run, she is now seeing how useless her talents are when applied to her current dysfunctional place of employment.

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Voting is closed. 12

i disagree, re: intelligent people not getting into politics

politics is a hugely broad term. lobbying is an aspect of politics. i might agree more in that intelligent people don't get into politics to consider the needs of the people that actually vote them into office.

dick cheney, for example, is probably one of the most incredibly shrewd, intelligent, and ultimately powerful people in modern history. i doubt at any point he was concerned for any interests other than the various corporate entities he worked with.

i've only provided a single example, but i don't consider him the exception by any means- as far as who he truly represents and what he is out to accomplish. he is exceptional in his profound success at it, probably. putin-esque, really.

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Voting is closed. 7

Yup, a genius that one.....

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"Cheney testified during his confirmation hearings in 1989 that he received deferments to finish a college career that lasted six years rather than four, owing to sub-par academic performance ...." -http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/chatterbox/2004/03/eliza...

"He attended Yale University, but by his own account had problems adjusting to the college, and failed out twice" -from the man's own memoir.

He was also busted for DUI twice. I'd say intelligence -wise he is on Marty's level. Being shrewd =/= being intelligent.

Also please don't tell me "he went to Yale, you need to be intelligent to get in there" No, you need connections to get in there. W went there too. Daddy got him in. A friend of mine who is one the biggest airheads I have ever met also got accepted into Yale for a doctorate chemistry program and washed out in a matter of months. He now upholsters yard furniture. I wish I was joking.

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Voting is closed. 6

Obviously councilor Jackson

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Obviously councilor Jackson doesn't do a lot of walking in his neighborhood, because if he did, he would never have thought of such a genius idea.

How about using his community organizing skills to come up with something more productive? Such as organizing (or expending; I believe I have read about such a thing already) a pool of neighborhood volunteer to take care of the shoveling for those who can't do it and can't afford to pay someone.

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Voting is closed. 23

What about Lazy-Americans, or

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What about Lazy-Americans, or People Who Just Don't Feel Like Shoveling? Shouldn't they get an exemption too? They can't help it if they were born that way.

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Voting is closed. 26

Last year

Didn't he try and get this passed last year? I feel like I remember an identical story around this time a year ago.

Also, is 60 really too old to snowblow/shovel the sidewalk? My father is 63 and attacks the sidewalk like a madman and will never accept any sort of help.

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Voting is closed. 28

Tito says shoveling can lead

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Tito says shoveling can lead to serious problems like falls and broken bones? Well what the hell does he think slipping on ice leads to? Even more falls and broken bones, obviously.

Just another example of pedestrians getting treated like garbage. The city is fine with going millions over budget on plowing streets because the spoiled drivers can't handle the slightest inconvenience. On the other hand pedestrians have to traverse two feet of snow and patches of ice because the city doesn't care about them and invests zero resources in making sure sidewalks are safe.

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Voting is closed. 49

Seniors and disabled residents need sidewalks cleared the most!

By exempting seniors and disabled residents from clearing sidewalks, you are directly impacting other seniors and disabled people who use the sidewalk! Most of us can trudge through a snowbank to get in the street to walk, or walk through the unshoveled sidewalk, but seniors and disabled people are exactly the people who have more difficulty moving to the street or walking through unshoveled snow.

Tito's plan forces all of us, but more importantly the mobility impaired among us, into the street or through the snow. This is absolutely irrational and irresponsible.

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Voting is closed. 41

Elderly and disable walk the streets too

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What about the elderly and disabled who need to use the sidewalks that are not shoveled? This makes no sense.This guy really irks me. How can he propose this without a part B, how to get the snow and ice removed from the exempted properties?
I do have sympathy for someone that may be unable to shovel and just because you are old or sick does not mean that one should have to leave their lifelong home and city. How about arranging for a pool of people willing to shovel at a set rate. Call City Hall and arrange it. There has got to be some people out there looking to make some extra money. How can he propose this without addressing how to get the snow and ice removed?

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Voting is closed. 12

There are also health hazards

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There are also health hazards in being stuck at home, including the chance of running out of groceries or medication. Unshoveled sidewalks can trap wheelchair users and other people with mobility impairments. Cold is also a health hazard, and unshoveled sidewalks slow everyone down, keeping them outside in the cold longer.

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Voting is closed. 13

Raise the fine

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On all the yuppies who don't own a shovel and take that revenue to pay somebody to shovel the senior's sidewalks.

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Voting is closed. 10

More bullshit grandstanding from Tito

If a property owner is so disabled that he cannot open his wallet, remove $25, and hand it to the kid who shovels walks in his neighborhood, then he probably already has a full-time assistant or caregiver who can take care of it for him.

And tell me again why the 62 year old guy who owns a nicely maintained $2 million house in Boston, another nice house in New Hampshire, and who qualifies for, and finishes respectably in, every year's Boston Marathon, should be entitled to this subsidy from the rest of us?

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Voting is closed. 16

City should do all snow clearing

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The city should take over clearing all sidewalks, just like they do with roads. These are public spaces, I see no reason homeowners should be responsible for them. And as we all know, the homeowners often don't do it or do a terrible job. Other cities around the country manage to clean their sidewalks without breaking the bank.

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Voting is closed. 7

Whoa!

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And as we all know, the homeowners often don't do it or do a terrible job.

I know NO SUCH THING. I'd say like 98% of homeowners clear their sidewalks and do a decent job of it. The system is far from broken. However, if suddenly 15% of homes don't have to shovel, THEN you've got a problem.

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Voting is closed. 10

Sweet

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My landlord, who is well-off financially and makes us do his shovelling, is over 60, so this should work in our favor.

But no, seriously, this is the dumbest idea. The lack of thought put into it is alarming.

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Just imagine

What hare-brained ideas he'd implement if he were mayor.

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Some people are more equal than others, eh.

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The justification for the compulsory shoveling law is that the public - especially disabled people - have to be able to use the sidewalks throughout the whole city.

So this puts the lie to that whole excuse: Apparently now, if a sidewalk is in front of some old person's house, you're not entitled to use it. Walk in the road.

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Voting is closed. 4