Suggestions to fight the unmitigated evil of new sidewalks in front of my house?

This may end up being moved to The Pit.

My wife and I just got a homeowners’ petition from the city yesterday regarding a recent request for the installation of new sidewalks on OUR side of the street (only). We live in an early 1970s neighborhood, well-established and maintained, with 1800-2200 square foot single-story and split-level homes. There are no sidewalks on either side of the street, but there are curbs and they are well-maintained and cleaned regularly.

The city is considering a 3-1/2’ setback for a 6’ sidewalk. That’s 20% of my front yard and driveway. We would be the only one of four parallel, through streets in the development to get a sidewalk.

I am definitely a cranky old man, so I’ll gladly point out why I vehemently oppose this: I don’t want to lose 20% of my yard. Since there’s no parking on my side of the street, I will lose the ability to park one more car in my driveway when guests are here. I’m going to end up with 100% of the dog waste from inconsiderate owners, since they will certainly flock to the sidewalk side…plus, it will be 10’ closer to the house, my cars, and my carport. It’s going to attract the cyclists, skateboarders, and eScooter users (even though our city makes it illegal to ride eScooters on the sidewalks). I lose control over 10’ of my property to EVERYBODY, since I can’t control who uses the sidewalk or what they do on it. (Bunch of kids hanging around under the streetlight late at night? Can’t do a thing about it if they’re on the sidewalk.) I presume I will need to clear the sidewalk of snow and ice as well, tripling the area I’m now responsible for. And I could go on at even more length.

Any suggestions? We are already doing some social media and plan to go around the neighborhood speaking individually with the other owners. We will, of course, return our petition voting against the idea, but it only takes 50% of the homeowners + 1 vote for it to be approved.

BTW, I know I’ll get some comments about how great sidewalks are. I agree that they are helpful to some people. If they are important to you, then buy a home in a neighborhood that has them. Don’t ruin my front yard because you want a sidewalk.

It’s a slippery slope until all streets are upgraded to have sidewalks.

If I understand correctly, the land isn’t yours, you’ve just been able to enjoy sole use of it for free until now. Would you prefer if they didn’t pave a walkway and people just wore a trail through the lawn?

Walkability raises property values.

The handicapped really benefit from sidewalks as well.

I had never considered the convenience of parking an extra car in the driveway. I would occasionally like to do that and I can’t, since it would block the sidewalk.
Have you been doing so regularly for many years? That seems like the kind of thing that might have legal merit.

As a corner-lot owner, with sidewalks, I would say that of all of the problems you listed the driveway and the snow maintenance are the most valid concerns. IMHO the others are nuisances, while shoveling an extra hundred yards of heavy snow will suck.
Maybe it’s because I don’t see great gangs of skateboarders or rude dog-walkers in my boring old neighborhood.

At least you will have less grass to mow!

The city does have the right to do this. If they didn’t, I would fight it on legal grounds. But it’s impractical to wear a trail through all of our yards due to our plantings. Also, whether there is a public right right of way or not, I can currently ask people to leave my yard or driveway. I will not be able to do that if they are on the sidewalk or on the 10’ of my driveway closest to the road.

The major crime around here, and there isn’t much, is car break-ins, theft from carports, and similar incidents. I really don’t want to increase the likelihood of this.

And taxes. We don’t care about an increase in value, but we do care about the taxes.

Yes, my wife has mobility issues herself. But we have a lovely paved road that does not allow parking on the street. It’s not a sidewalk, but it’s not downtown parking and traffic by any means.

My wife and I have two cars…one in the carport and one parked behind it. Currently, we can have two cars parked behind us in the driveway when we have guests. With a sidewalk, we can only have one car. Parking on the street is prohibited by ordinance and signage.

Of those four parallel, adjacent through-streets without sidewalks, does yours have more potential “swale space” than the others? If so, fighting it is probably futile, you’re better off thinking about fencing, hedges, trees and other landscaping solutions to mitigate as many of your issues as possible.

As for suggestions, OP, I think what you are already doing is the best approach. Go ahead and talk to your neighbors in person and persuade them that they don’t need this new nuisance.

And I share your view on this. Sidewalks make sense if there is substantial traffic on the road, but that is not the case in most suburban residential areas. In my neighborhood it is very unusual for two vehicles to pass by each other.

Families walk the neighborhood on the roads without any problems. Folks in wheelchairs now have a smooth ride along the roadway, but using sidewalks would require bumping up and down a ramp on every block(not a real problem, but less convenient than staying in the road).

No one in my neighborhood can walk to a store or school unless they are confirmed hikers, and even they would only require sidewalks outside the neighborhood on the main thoroughfares.

My house is my home, I like living here and it is not an investment like a Roth IRA. Increased property value only raises the tax base for the administrator-heavy school district. Lots of people want property values to go down. My heirs will get what they get :slight_smile:

The OP’s loss of driveway space is a big problem. And any labor savings from not mowing the sidewalk area would be more than offset by tripling the edging/weed-whacking footage(both edges of the sidewalk plus the existing curb). On my corner lot with 325’ of curb that alone would drive me crazy.

It does. In fact, there’s no doubt that it will be easier and cheaper to install the sidewalks on my side of the street, as opposed to the opposite side of the street (where all the streetlights are located).

But…there’s no requirement at all for a sidewalk. It’s just that a couple people requested the city consider it. If 16 of 30 homeowners vote against it, no sidewalk.

Then your best bet is not necessarily to fight the sidewalk, you’re better off trying to run up the budget for any such endeavor until everyone balks at the price. Insist on the city providing the landscaping, edging and shoveling of the sidewalk to the street. You already have curbing, that’s a lot of curb-cuts that will be necessary to accommodate the sidewalk. Flesh out the WHOLE budget as much as possible so that every little cost is included and none excluded.

Oh, and if all else seems to be failing, have a cheaper counterproposal. Is the street wide enough to accommodate a mixed-use pathway to be designated with stripes on one side? If not, it may still be cheaper to widen the road to accommodate one than to go with the sidewalk plan. You can sell it to bike riders as a better solution that will be used more than a pedestrian only sidewalk.

You can insist all you want. They won’t do it.

Can I ask the OP to clarify the actual ownership issue here?

Does your property (i.e., the land you actually own) currently extend all the way to the street? Or does it, as voltaire suggests, actually stop short of the road, with a road-side strip belonging to the city?

Because if the land next to the road belongs to the city, then you do not, in fact, currently have the right to “ask people to leave your yard or driveway” if they are on city property. Because they are not in your yard or driveway. If it is city land, then people can walk on it whether you want them to or not.

Many years ago in a real estate class, we learned that when you buy land in a city, you are not actually buying the land. You are buying certain rights to that land, which can be superseded by the city/county/state, such as a right-of-way. Depending on zoning there are ways you can and cannot use that land. In Denver, if there’s not a sidewalk, you have a perfect right to walk through the yard. Just the edge of the yard, and of course a lot of homeowners have plantings and constructions that make this impossible. But the basic supposition here is that pedestrians do not have to walk in the street. They have the right to walk through your yard to get out of the street.

I have a friend who grew up in a house on a busy street that got busier and busier. The deal was that the city could take up to 10 feet of frontage, which it did when the street was widened. And then it did it again, when the street was widened again. There is a point where they have to stop and just buy your property, or condemn it, but before that they can really mess it up.

Because of that busy street the neighborhood is still not very walkable, and it did not increase the property value although being in Denver, the property value did increase. But not in time for his family; they pretty much got shafted.

I know laws vary – around here, it is at least de facto legal to block the sidewalk with a parked vehicle where one’s driveway crosses the sidewalk. If there is a local law on the books against this practice, I’ve never seen it enforced. Parking across the sidewalk is very common for locals living in multi-car homes.

Is this something that actually is (aggressively?) enforced somewhere in the U.S.?

In many big cites, they will ticket any car blocking the sidewalk, especially (but not only) if it takes up enough of the sidewalk to make life difficult for wheelchair users and other people with disabilities.

People still do sometimes park with their cars completely blocking the sidewalk, though, and sometimes seem to get away with it. I’m constantly amazed that some people consider the sidewalk their own private property, to do with as they wish.