Students living in the dorms and off-campus apartments should be thankful next time they walk outside to find their sidewalks in front of their buildings coated in snow and ice.
Although sidewalks lining the streets that run throughout Ann Arbor are public property, the city government requires its residents to make sure that the sidewalks in front of their homes free of ice and snow at all times.
If they don’t, they could be cited by the city and face a fine of up to $1,000.
City Councilman Leigh Greden (D-Ward 3) said citizens are required to clear off their own sidewalks because the city does’t have the money to do the job itself.
Greden said property taxes would have to be raised to cover the cost, which would likely anger Ann Arbor citizens who think property taxes are already high enough.
He added that there hasn’t been enough of a demand coming from residents to justify shifting the responsibility to the city.
Disabled or older residents who might struggle to clear off their own sidewalks can receive help from their neighbors in order to avoid getting fined, Greden said.
In order to help residents, the city also distributes free salt and sand from a city dispensary on Main Street.
The city is also lenient with its fines, Greden said. Residents are first given a warning and are only fined after repeated violations.
Kinesiology senior Mike Beel-Bates said his landlord does all of the shoveling in front of his apartment complex, which he says is comes included in his monthly rent.
And although students living in houses are supposed to clear off their own sidewalks, Beel-Bates said he’d never seen a single student do so in his four years at the University.
School of Music junior Brant Cox, however, thinks the requiring residents to clear their own sidewalks is ludicrous.
“If we can’t drink beer on a sidewalk during tailgating, why do we have to be accountable for snow?” he said.