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Citizen complaint of the day: Mosaic of a property owner who doesn't shovel his sidewalk

Portrait of a property owner

Leo Buk Lhu owns a bit of the waterfront on Commercial Wharf in the North End. Adam Balsam collected the 70 complaints that have been filed through 311 since 2017 about the way the sidewalk there is never shoveled after snowstorms and used them to create a mosaic of Lhu:

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Comments

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Voting closed 29

He pays them ? Dude is probably loaded

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Voting closed 14

Then he can pay someone to shovel.

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Voting closed 18

:D

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Voting closed 10

The city has received for not clearing the sidewalk next to the park near my house.
Sometimes bos311 replies that it's been cleared, even if it hasn't.
They wont fine themselves but this guy needs a seriously big fine if he refuses to shovel.

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Voting closed 33

The city does! So not quite a direct comparison.

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Voting closed 12

You might want to read up on who's responsible for snow shoveling on sidewalks.

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Voting closed 112

in Cambridge, too. Using Commonwealth Connect app, see a problem, take photo and submit it...and some lackey in the DPW just closes it immediately as "fixed!".

One time I was trying to get the city to remove a damn shipping pallet that was pushed by a snowplow under a fence and wedged there, totally blocking the sidewalk.

I reported it and the guy closed it as "fixed" while I was sitting right there.

I went back and took a second photo and re-opened it, saying "uh, no, it's still there." Was closed again within ten minutes by the same guy, with the same cheeky "Fixed!" message.

It's clear those 311-style apps generate statistics on how many tickets are open versus closed, and how fast, so these guys are closing them left and right to improve their numbers, "the Wire Comp-Stat" style.

It didn't get fixed until I emailed ole tim toomey on his AOL address and asked him to get the guy to knock it off.

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Voting closed 7

I realize that this kind of negligence regarding shoveling and salting down their sidewalks, pathways to the property, and their front and back steps after a winter storm happens a lot in Cambridge. I always feel compelled to walk on the street, until I find some shoveled and salted sidewalk to walk on. It's disgusting that some people can be so irresponsible and don't give a shit.

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Voting closed 16

Certain places are a problem year after year. It's not that the city isn't ticketing, it's that the tickets don't shovel the snow.

The city should send sidewalk-clearing crews out when the 24 hours are up and bill the deadbeats enough to make a big profit on it.

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Voting closed 88

Somerville does something like that and it's apparently quite effective.

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Voting closed 11

The city should just plow all the sidewalks and bill everyone a small amount to cover the costs. Let's treat pedestrians like they're an actual priority.

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Voting closed 45

The city should seize his properties and give them to me, as I will have them shoveled. Let's treat me like I'm an actual priority.

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Voting closed 22

You'll spook the libertarians o_o

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Voting closed 15

Yes a thousand times. Sidewalks are essential; the city should take responsibility for them.

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Voting closed 18

For people making these kinds of suggestions, I'd like to hear about their logistical strategy for dispatching thousands of workers to clear every foot of Boston's 1600 miles of sidewalk on a few hours’ notice -along with an estimated budget.

Moreover, I don’t wish to pay more taxes to support property owners who are too lazy or to cheap to take care of their own shoveling. If you own real estate in Boston in 2019, you are not poor. Those who can’t do snow clearing themselves can pay someone of their choosing to do it; that’s one of the perks of a free market economy.

Our current system is working well for the most part, although better and harsher enforcement for scofflaws would be nice.

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Voting closed 33

This comes up every so often with people wanting to shift personal responsibility off to the city. If you want to hire someone to shovel and consider it part of your taxes, go ahead.

Sidewalks are essential which is why it's the responsibility of owners. It's part of the deal when living in the city, just like paying taxes. I've always had to shovel and while I don't enjoy the task I'm not going to sit around demanding that the same government which can't even shovel roads and town owned sidewalks effectively handle the private sidewalks too.

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Voting closed 16

Fine them then use that money to pay a crew to clear it.

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Voting closed 9

I'd like to hear about their logistical strategy for dispatching thousands of workers to clear every foot of Boston's 1600 miles of sidewalk on a few hours’ notice -along with an estimated budget.

There's a model in the logistical strategy of dispatching thousands of workers and millions of dollars of equipment to clear all of Boston's 802 miles of streets on a few hours' notice. There's even a budget for it. Not saying it's about to happen, but it's not a giant mystery.

Our current system is working well for the most part, although better and harsher enforcement for scofflaws would be nice.

The absentee landlord in the story would probably agree with the first part. Better, harsher enforcement might make a difference. Maybe.

Sidewalks are essential which is why it's the responsibility of owners.

There's a logical step missing there. Essential services are best provided by government. Do you advocate requiring property owners to maintain the street in front of their property? Will you turn out when there's a fire?

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Voting closed 20

In addition to there being an additional cost since more labor, energy, and equipment is needed, there is the issue of power lines, hydrants, signposts, and in some places meters. But let's leave the literal obstacles aside and ponder "what will it cost?"

I've seen the effort in towns outside of Boston, and I have seen how the municipalities in Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto, and I will say that people would be up in arms by the sloppy quality of municipal sidewalk snow removal.

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Voting closed 15

This may come as a shock, but shoveling is not the only way to clear sidewalks.

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Voting closed 5

How many workers? How much equipment? Would they be deployed during storms or only after them? What would the cost be?

I mean, if there is no cost at all, by all means they should do it. Then again, this past year I said that the T should build a subway tunnel down Washington Street from Forest Hills to the Dedham Mall. If money is no object, let's do that, too.

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Voting closed 13

There are models for that, too. Look to one of the cities that does it. Really not rocket science or the lost secrets of the Rosicrucians or something.

Now you're going to say those places are different so we can't use their lessons, because of Boston exceptionalism.

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Voting closed 7

Or heck, if you are so gung ho about this and know the models, why don't you run the model and show us the math?

Canadian cities do it, and they pay more in taxes. Newton does it, and their homeowners pay more in property tax than homeowners in Boston. How much are the taxes going up? Or should we just cut a city department to pay for it?

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Voting closed 16

I'm not the one who's apparently convinced it's impossible to predict how or how much it would cost for the city to clear sidewalks. Do your own homework.

And I'm not the one who's gung ho about the subject. Find a mirror, and you'll see him.

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Voting closed 2

And the status quo costs roughly $0.

You're the one suggesting the change, and since you cannot handle a simple question about cost, that shows that this idea is sketchy.

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Voting closed 11

I did not suggest that the city should take over clearing sidewalks. Somebody else did, then you wished they would explain how it could possibly be done, as though it were impossible. I just pointed out that it is done, so is not a mystery.

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Voting closed 10

You're the one who said that there are models and that they are easily found online, yet you cannot find them.

I do believe what you are doing is the definition of trolling.

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Voting closed 3

I didn't look for them, because I'm not mystified about how a city can clear sidewalks. You didn't look them up because you're automatically against anything that costs any money at all.

Your personal definitions of things are always creative.

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Voting closed 4

You think the proposal is okay because it will cost a certain amount of money that none of the proponents has even quantified. Meanwhile, I will not support this until I know the cost.

I mean, I thought Boston hosting the summer Olympics was worth looking into and that from a logistical perspective, we could have pulled it off, but I was at least curious how much it was going to cost and how it was going to be financed. I'm going to assume that back in 2015 you thought the same way, no?

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Voting closed 6

No, your "other words" are your words, not mine. You can leave off trying to put them in my mouth.

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Voting closed 7

So you have no opinion on the matter, but decided to say that it is easy to find out how much the proposal would cost. Moreover, you didn't provide information on how to find the information and acted amazed when asked where one can find such things. Again, what was the point other than to troll the discussion?

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Voting closed 2

There are really only two possibilities (three, if you count leaving the sidewalks un-cleared)

  1. Require me, the property owner, to either shovel the sidewalk in front of my property or hire someone to do it
  2. Collect additional taxes from me, pass it through about 6 layers of administration, contracting, and supervision, and use what's left to hire someone to shovel the sidewalk in front of my property.

I prefer #1. If you want to argue economy of scale, then get together with your neighbors and hire someone to do the whole block.

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Voting closed 17

Well said! Thanks.

Suggestion #1 is the best way to go, not only to protect everybody in the neighborhood, including oneself, but it's also the best way for a property owner to avoid getting involved in a major (and expensive) civil lawsuit if a person falls on that unshoveled and unsalted stretch of sidewalk by their property, gets injured, and decides to sue the property owner for negligence and for damages. Moreover, it doesn't matter if the property in question is residential or commercial.

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Voting closed 5

Mr Leo BUK Lhu owns 45,200 Square feet of Land assessed at $800k on Atlantic ave , Boston according to city of Boston assessing. if it’s private property why should it be shoveled he doesn’t own sidewalk.

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Voting closed 9

You should form a committee and fight to change them, but in the meantime, the law is pretty clear.

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Voting closed 30

wants you to shovel the City owned sidewalk in front of your house but the City doesn’t remove snow from City owned streets.

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Voting closed 9

The kid next door is a criminal so you should be one too.

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Voting closed 7

they're obligated to take some responsibility and shovel and salt down their piece of the sidewalk, the walkway, and the front and back steps to their property, whether the property is residential or commercial. Those who deliberately disobey the law deserve to be ticketed and fined.

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Voting closed 9

State law says that cities and towns MAY require abutters to remove snow from the sidewalk, but there is no state law requiring it. A number of towns do not require it.

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Voting closed 3

What these scofflaws regarding shoveling and salting down their sidewalks after a winter storm either fail to realize, or are willfully ignorant about is the fact that anybody who walks down that stretch of unshovelled and unsalted stretch of sidewalk by their property, falls, and gets injured, s/he could sue the scofflaw(s), big time, for negligence, whether the property is residential or commercial.

Moreover, in the event that such an event does happen, no homestead or whatever would protect the scofflaw(s), because a savvy attorney could get around that with little or no trouble.

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Voting closed 7

Unless it is a private sidewalk, this is not true.

http://masscases.com/cases/app/19/19massappct359.html

https://www.mass.gov/info-details/massachusetts-law-about-snow-and-ice

The town ordinance lets the town/city fine you. It does not create a duty to those passing along a sidewalk you don’t own.

People should be neighborly and shovel, but not because of a false understanding of liability.

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Voting closed 11

What's special about him? Why not castigate all the snow shoveling scofflaws?

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Voting closed 11

It does seem pretty clear, ya know? A person who lives/walks near there and who is directly affected, took the time and made the effort to research these complaints and compiled this creative expression of frustration. Do you want a mosaic made of some other scofflaw property owner? You have the tools to do that, so go for it!

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Voting closed 10

A few days late here, what w/ the holidays & such. Buk used to own, let's see, the Blue Diner, the Loading Zone, 150 South Street (he may still, not up to checking right now), he founded Asian American Bank, he had property near the Chinatown Y, he had...something going on with selling phone cards, can't remember the deets-- in short, he has money, and can pay someone to clear his damn sidewalk.

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Voting closed 8