I have a feeling after people read this ‘My Voice’ letter yesterday in the Argus Leader, this lady’s driveway is pretty clean by now.

Her letter was about the how the ‘Scoop It’ program wasn’t working for her. A few things I will say before we throw the HelpLine under the bus. First off, I heard they do not let the prisoners out when it is too cold because they don’t dress them very warmly (the rumor is if they give them ‘too’ warm of clothes they will be tempted to escape. Not sure if I believe that, but I am sure liability issues arise if a prisoner volunteering for this program gets frostbite or injured due to the cold.

I am a 70-year-old lady with significant disabilities that require me to use a walker to get around. I’ve owned my own home for 21 years and was able to keep up with all of my yard work until just a few years ago, despite my own physical problems. I have a limited income that barely covers my expenses, but I pride myself in that I always have been able to manage with the assistance of a friend who has since moved.

My biggest problem is getting my driveway and sidewalks shoveled so that I can at least get out of my house and to the doctor and for groceries, etc.

Secondly, not to sound too harsh, but if you cannot manage your property and you are on a fixed income, maybe it is time to move to an apartment or an assisted living center.

But I do agree with her on one level, if you are going to promote a program to help the elderly who are choosing to stay in their homes, approve them for the program through an application process and threaten them with fines if they don’t scoop, you need to follow through with the program. I have heard several city councilors and the mayor tout the program for people who cannot take care of their property. But it kind of sounds like the program doesn’t work very well. I find it a little hard to believe that this is the only person who has experienced problems. It is evidenced in her letter, first they tell her it is too cold to scoop, then the mayor’s secretary tells her ‘tough luck’ then they continue to lie to her about when they are showing up. An isolated incident? Doubtful.

I take pride in scooping my sidewalk and driveway. I learned very quickly one year, if you skip a couple of times, you are playing catch up until spring (removing ice, etc.) and I’m sure many of these elderly people feel the same. But I have also believed that people shouldn’t be fined for not cleaning the (residential) sidewalk they are assessed for. Technically if it our responsibility to clean this sidewalk, and repair this sidewalk, we take ownership of it. And if we don’t have time to clean it, or have other physical impairments, the city shouldn’t be able to force us to do it. Why?

Well first, the city rarely takes care of all of their own property (but the skate board park parking lot is always sparkling clean 🙂 Secondly, I understand that people in wheelchairs, the blind and just regular Joe’s without cars are trying to get to work. But most of the routes these people take are emergency snow routes and main arterials, and yes, those sidewalks should be clean. But residential? That’s debatable. I also see a lot of businesses/apartment complexes getting off pretty easy with following the rules. About 4 years ago I used to go for a walk in the winter on my break at a place I worked at by the Western Mall, this corner lot that featured a business (that actually sold snowblowers & salt, ironically) never scooped the sidewalks, EVER! By the end of the winter there was literally about 8 inches of compacted snow and ice on the sidewalk surrounding the business. I won’t say who it is, but if you are going to hire someone to scoop your sidewalk make sure they ARE NOT wearing a RED shirt.

I find the city likes to pick and choose who they enforce ordinances on. It’s easy to beat up on a 70 year old disabled woman for code enforcement violations it’s a lot harder to pound at a retail chain or large apartment complex owner.

The irony in all this is that the city has the money (through a Federal Grant) to hire a shrink for the code enforcement office, but they just can’t get the resources together to help people with snow removal and tree trimming. Somebody needs their heads checked, that I agree with, but it’s not the residents of this community.


9 Thoughts on “Scoop it your frickin’ self

  1. DL: “Secondly, not to sound too harsh, but if you cannot manage your property and you are on a fixed income, maybe it is time to move to an apartment or an assisted living center.”

    It probably does sound harsh, but that is the reality. I know people develop a personal attachment to their homes and don’t want to give up the idea of homeownership or independent living, but let’s face it… there comes a point in our lives where we just can’t do everything ourselves. A person who has a physical limitation and cannot clean their own sidewalks and who lacks funds to pay others to do this for them should consider alternative living arrangements.

    As you said DL, it sounds harsh… but not as harsh as a South Dakota winter.

    As far as cleaning sidewalks in general, I still believe the city has the right, and perhaps even the duty to force people to clean them. I don’t know all of my neighbors, therefore I can never know if one of them is in a wheelchair and relies upon those sidewalks to get where they need to go. I also have no idea who needs to walk to the nearest bus stop, or which children need to walk to and from school – so it is very much a safety issue for those who don’t have the option of driving everywhere, and it is only fair that we do our best to minimize the risk of them falling, slipping, or getting stuck in the snow.

    I will agree that all property owners should be treated equally, so a business who brags about helping you find their products should do itself a favor and find a few shovels and bags of icemelt. In fact, those who are on snow routes or major arterial streets should be the first to be cited for failure to adequately clear their sidewalks. Of course in some cases it is the city’s fault when they plow the snow directly onto a sidewalk – so that gets messy in more ways than one.

  2. There is unequal treatment. I see it every year at the council meeting when people have to come up and explain why they should not have been fined. Amazingly, you never see a business owner in the line. Maybe they are fined and just pay the bill, not sure.

  3. I’ve always wondered why nobody complains about that section of 41st Street that the city owns around Cliff Avenue. That’s a sidewalk that kids use all the time to walk to school. Yet it will be days before anybody touches it.

    BTW, most business owners do clear their lots and sidewalks. It’s in their best interests. The problem areas are those that the city (again) is supposed to maintain, including 41st Strret.

  4. The key word here is ‘most’.

  5. When I USED to ride paratransit, going to and from work, four days a week, I noticed a lot of businesses, along 41st, between Louise and Western that never had their sidewalks cleaned. I guess what amazed me was the fact that when the people that were cleaning their parking lots were doing that, it wouldn’t have taken that much more time or gas to clean the sidewalks by the street that were level with the parking lots. There was the same problem along Louise. Now the other day, the daughter that lives with me told me she had stopped in the manager’s office and complained about the sidewalk that goes past the apartment complex having so much snow on it she had a hard time controlling her shopping cart. The manager told her that sidewalk was the city’s job, but I doubt it, because there is a parkway between the sidewalk and curb. Other years the sidewalk has always been cleared, by whoever was responsible for doing it. I do know last April we got a different management company, the owners out of MN.

  6. I do agree that when a person gets to where they can’t take care of their property it is time to move out of it. I have discussed this with several people in my “senior” age group and their concern, which is probably legitimate, they are afraid they won’t get enough selling their house to pay for rent in an apartment and that it will put them over income for subsidized housing. Plus in Sioux Falls there is a three to five year waiting list to get housing assistance. I do understand that concern. Something else I have also noticed is on a website that I go to occasionally is that there are quite a few elderly people(women mainly) that need quite extensive repairs to their homes and are on a fixed income and are wondering wear to find free help for the job. A lot of it is roof repair, to the point that the ceilings are falling in. I have often wondered why people let repairs get that bad. It is always the elderly person’s kids asking for this help. The same goes for schools, churches and other public buildings that are let to get in such bad repair that it gets to the point that they are beyond repair and all of sudden a whole new building is needed.

  7. One more thing, the active Generations is supposed to have volunteers that will help seniors with chores. I don’t know if that includes shoveling snow or not. I imagine it would depend on the number of younger volunteers that were willing and able to shovel or had snowblowers to do it with.

  8. So she wants her property taken care of but you think she is SOL. But you want snow gates cause you don’t think the snow drift is your responsibility.


    Gosh…. What is that word that explains your mentality on this issue???????? Hipi, hipo or Hipa something or other.

  9. pathloss on December 26, 2013 at 10:56 am said:

    At least she’s not homeless. The count has doubled. They’re SOL because the county is broke and Huether looks the other way.

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