COLUMBIA, 1/3/12 (Op Ed) -- Two sets of rules -- one for Central Columbia residents and another for Everyone Else -- have cropped up in a new proposal for sidewalk snow removal.
Called "more punitive" than the existing ordinance, central city property owners will have 48 hours to clear sidewalks after 2 inches of snow accumulate. If a property owner does not comply, the city will clear the sidewalk -- and bill the owner. Just what low-income housing residents need, eh?
City planner Rachel Bacon -- who steered a citizen commission involved in the proposal -- said the recommendations will probably go to the City Council at its Jan. 17 meeting. No mention in the rules why areas outside this central city "priority region" are not included, other than the vague notion that central city residents "use sidewalks more" than residents in other parts of town.
Which of course raises the question: What exactly are you strolling past on your cleared sidewalks when you walk by the decrepit Heibel-March building or dodge a bullet from a vehicle racing past a drug house? For those seeking answers, the implications seem to be that City Hall is seeking to make life harder and harder on central city residents and small business owners, presumably in the beginnings of a push to redevelop the area.
It's time for the heavy thumb of City Hall and its developer puppeteers to get off the backs of central city residents and property owners. We know they want our land, and we know they want it cheap. We should not make it this easy.
[Ed. Note: This writer lives in and owns property in the affected, central city regions.]