GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — In an effort to make Greensboro more sidewalk accessible, city leaders and city attorneys have begun to clarify city ordinances that will make existing ordinances less vague when it comes to enforcement.
City council members have said that they have received complaints from people, several of who are handicapped. They say they have had difficulty getting around their neighbors and to places in the city due to people parking their vehicles on the sidewalk.
“A handicapped lady has to walk around and into the street just to get around. We spend millions of dollars putting in sidewalks so people can walk safely, and now we’re putting cars on them,” Sharon Hightower said.
During a work session meeting on Sept. 1, city council members discussed the addition of new language in City Ordinance 18.44 subsection (d).
In its current language, it states that it shall be unlawful for an individual to block a sidewalk. The city assistant attorney told council members that the language is too vague.
“If you can step around them and into the street and get around them, does that mean it’s unreasonable? If it is only six inches of passage, what does that mean? It does make it hard for me to advise police officers on what that means because it is very vague,” Andrea Harrell said.
The new language added will specify that “blocking” means that fewer than 36 inches of the public sidewalk is left open by the vehicle or other obstruction.
This will also include the entrances and exits to public buildings.
Council members said that this will restrict, in some manner, small businesses downtown that enjoy spontaneous sidewalk-style sales that would leave fewer than 36 inches of sidewalk uncovered.
However, those will still be doable with a special occasion style permit, which typically takes seven days.
While the city ordinance will not be new, it will make way for people to have their vehicles towed.
City leaders said the main focus will be on education, and that towing will be enforced if there are repeated violations after repeated warnings.