Recently, the First Ward Alderman offered a proposal to give a tax break to people who, after neglecting their sidewalk and failing to maintain it, finally fixes it. Those people who have always maintained their sidewalk get nothing.
I think the proposal improperly rewards those who have neglected their property for substantial periods of time. It provides no reward for those who have always done the right thing.
However, the problem cited does need attention. There are numerous sidewalks which are extremely dangerous and need to be maintained. Unfortunately, the proposal does not get the job done. I am not going to simply criticize without presenting a solution. Therefore, I have a counter proposal to offer.
The law currently allows the city to issue a citation to people who do not maintain their sidewalk. That law should be enforced. However, a portion of the law needs to be amended. Many sidewalks have been damaged by the roots of trees that the city planted without the permission or consent of the property owners. It seems to me that if the city plants a tree and the roots dislodge the sidewalk, then the city has caused damage to private property and should be liable. Current law leaves the property owner liable. This should be changed.
Second, there are state and federal grants available to repair sidewalks. These should be aggressively sought after.