Since you made some claims in the Postbulletin, I thought I would share what the actual conversation was. The bottom line is that you own property in Rochester, when you bought that property there was an obligation that you would be responsible and clear the sidewalks, you failed to do this and as such we cleared it for you at your expense.
Let’s run through your statements:
A little more than a month ago, I received a $40 fine and $150 contractor fee for failure to remove a half-inch of snow from my residential sidewalk. I contested this injustice to the best of my ability, but to no avail.
Nathan, You admitted many times that you violated the ordinance. Your fine and fees are not an injustice but exact justice. This picture shows how your neighbors cleared their sidewalk and you did not. This might not be a big deal unless you are a senior coming off hip surgery.
To me, this is no different than receiving a $190 ticket for going 2 mph over the posted speed limit and then stripping you of your rights to appear before a judge to make your appeal.
Not even police officers are granted this final authority, but apparently, RPW can function without higher accountability.
Funny thing Nathan, actually if you get a speeding ticket for under 10 MPH in Rochester you go through the exact same administrative fine process.
After research, I discovered that Rochester City Council member Michael Wojcik is the driving force behind this ordinance. I asked him, “Why not afford the decency of a warning to first-time offenders?” He stated that it would be a waste of taxpayers money to do so.
I have been one of many champions for this policy, but it passed with the support of the mayor and all but 1 council member.
As Nathan knows here is what I actually wrote:
I can not explain why one property was fined and another was not (perhaps it is the direction the inspector went through), however what happens to another property does not have an effect on your own. I do agree that this should be handled in a uniform manner. If a complaint had been lodged against a neighbors house or if the inspector saw it, it would have been inspected and dealt with in a fair manner.
The reason that we do not issue warnings is because we incur costs in enforcing our ordinances. This same cost is present whether we do fines or warnings. I do not feel it would be appropriate for other taxpayers to fund the expense of having inspectors deal with properties that are not complying with the rules. The fines are aimed at covering this city expense. We did our best as a community to highlight what the law is, but it has not changed since you bought your home. Ultimately it is the property owner who is responsible for knowing and obeying the laws.
Wojcik also claimed that 75 percent of Rochester residents were in complete support of his ordinance.
My communication with you is not intended to insight you but rather explain my position. I understand that we disagree on this. In terms of the people that have contacted me for or against this policy those in favor are running ahead about 4 to 1. If there was a way for us to give a warning without adding taxpayer cost I would do it, but because we incur cost I am committed to try to recoup that cost. I do thank you for writing, and I do understand your position.
I make no claim as to know what percentage of Rochester supports the policy. People contacting me are in favor of this policy by about a 4 to 1 margin. Not only is the statement incorrect, but the basic math is too (even if the rest of your statement was true, my math skills say that would be 80% :-))
I have a simple suggestion for you Mr. Allen, fulfill your civic duty and clear your sidewalk within 24 hours.
Most people who contact me are supportive of the safer walkways. Here is a note I received today:
I am a person who enjoys taking long walks in Rochester as a part of my program for staying physically fit. In the past, walking along our city sidewalks became quite the challenge when homeowners did not meet their responsibility of clearing their walk in a timely manner after a snow event. Some folks NEVER cleared their walks. In the past three weeks, in daily walks that covered 5 to 8 miles, I can say that I have encountered only one stretch of sidewalk that had not been cleared: about 30 yards long in front of a house that is up for sale and had no one is living there at this time. I say, “Good work” on the part of the city council for establishing and enforcing the present sidewalk clearing laws. Do not give in to the irresponsible few who fail to clear their sidewalk and then complain when they must meet the consequences.