Citizen Editorial 6-20

On Monday June 10th the City Commission passed a new frontage standards ordinance that among other things, addressed sidewalk construction. This passed by a 2-1 vote as reported in the Journal. This has been an item that has been discussed for over a year and I would like to touch on some of the reasons that I supported this ordinance.

Before, the ordinance read that if you built a house on an in-fill lot that was located on the comprehensive sidewalk plan you were required to build a side walk in front of your home. The sidewalk requirement was a full curb, gutter, and to pave the ½of the road on your side of the street. You also had to include the stormwater requirement and also the cost of the survey and engineering was at the builder/homeowners expense. On an average 60’ lot this cost would be in the $6000.00 to $7000.00 range for each house built on an infill lot.

The new ordinance we passed changes this significantly. You are still required to pour a sidewalk without the curb and gutter, but the City pays for the rest. This includes the survey and grade staking, the stormwater portion, and you are only required to restore the existing street if you cut into it for water or sewer. The cost to the builder/homeowner is now reduced to around $2000.00, a very significant change. A very builder friendly compromise by the City.

During a number of staff presentations and commission discussions on this subject we heard not one person come forward and oppose this.

Another very strong reason that we took this on for the community was because of a grant the City received. The grant was titled Safe Routes to School. This is a grant to improve the sidewalks near Evergreen school downtown. The way the grant was awarded for sidewalks only , and the way our previous sidewalk standards were required , we would not have been able to get the most use out of the grant, due to lack of money in the budget. By modifying our standards we will get a lot more from the grant dollars towards the actual sidewalks. We all want safe walking routes for our children.

Finally to address this notion that this requirement will create “60’ chunks of sidewalks that will stand alone” and not connect to anything. This is very regressive thinking that has been around for too long and does nothing to improve the City of Shelton. Growth should pay its way. There are large portions of town that have less than desirable appearances and I believe sidewalks are a great place to begin an improvement as new homes are built. Sidewalks create safe places for children, appropriate places to park, and will create a sense of pride for a neighborhood. Where do you think the real estate term “curb appeal” comes from? I see this plan as a way to inspire neighbors to come together and perhaps get their whole block done and it will spread. I believe that when construction begins to rebound that this will be in demand, people want sidewalks, lets do it.

Mike Olsen,
Shelton, WA
City Commissioner

Posted June 20, 2013