As with all do-gooder laws, the new Oak Park snow-shoveling law is rife with unintended consequences. Now all Oak Park homeowners can genuinely be afraid of lawsuits.
Imagine someone slipping in the snow in front of your house. Now the slippee has a bonafide legal leg (excuse the pun) to stand on. The homeowner was breaking the law! Now imagine a homeowner removing the snow within the 24-hour deadline, and, as most winter storms do, more snow is dropped later. How will the slippee know if he slipped on old snow or new snow?
I have lived in Oak Park for over 30 years, and I fastidiously remove the snow from the public walkways. Thirty years of observation has shown me that the only people I see walking in the snow after a storm are dog walkers. Now the dog walkers have revenge for the Oak Park poop laws. Drive around Oak Park and you will see, like on my block, that 99 percent of people shovel their snow after a storm. Who are the 1 percent? Are they evil? Are they lazy? Not likely. In fact, they are hard-working people, or people who are temporarily ill, or chronically ill, or aged, or permanently disabled (precisely the people the law was intended to help), or they are out of town. Imagine an old person on fixed income or a disabled person getting a $750 fine in the morning mail. Oak Parkers are frequent travelers. Imagine a family coming home from a much-needed winter vacation to one or more $750 fines to greet them.
We are adults, not children, and don’t appreciate being treated like children, with a hammer over our heads to shovel snow or wash behind our ears. It is a further travesty that the village will depend on informers and squealers to enforce the law. I’m betting that, when the squealer squeals to the cops, he/she won’t even be asked if the person is handicapped. What a great vehicle to get back at neighbors you’ve never liked, particularly the ones who have complained about your dog’s poop in their grass.
Some of us may even begin to think, since we are being whipped into maintaining the village sidewalks, that we must therefore legally own them, in which case it’s OK to barricade the sidewalk in front of a house to altogether avoid slippees from slipping.