New York City

NYC Makes Man Spend $6,000 to Fix Sidewalk, Promptly Plans to Rip it Up

Apparently, it's asking too much for two city bureaucracies to communicate with each other before threatening a private citizen.

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New York Parks and Rec Police

From the Department of You Can't Make This Stuff Up, Bronx resident Patrick Colletti is wondering what the hell he did to deserve the dystopian bureaucratic snafu he just encountered at the hands of two New York City agencies. 

Colletti told CBS2 News' Ali Bauman that he had been issued a summons by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and threatened with a fine if he didn't fix the cracks on the public sidewalks in front of his home earlier this year. So Colletti says he did his civic duty, in the form of over $6,000 spent on contractors and concrete, only to discover spray-painted markings on the fresh slab of sidewalk two weeks later.

The markings were put there by the Department of Parks and Recreation, denoting that the city intended to rip up that portion of the sidewalk to plant a new tree. Meanwhile, Colletti is left wondering if he's going to be reimbursed for the considerable pointless cost he incurred, though he shouldn't expect to find a sympathetic ear from the Parks Department, which told CBS2 through a spokesman that "all street trees are planted within the city-owned public right-of-way," which includes Colletti's doomed block of cement. 

Though government has been described by believers in central planning as "things we choose to do together," the Parks Department's admission that "There is no coordination between NYC Parks and DOT" suggests an update to the flowery cliche could be in order. Maybe something like "government is things it chooses to make you do and its agencies are under no obligation to do anything together."

Democratic city councilman Dennis Vacca — who has co-sponsored legislation trying to get relief for homeowners from the punitively good intentions of city tree-planters — said Colletti's predicament is "an example of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing." In 2013, Vacca told the Bronx Times, "Our city has so many empty tree pits, dead trees, and stumps that should be removed and replaced with new trees. If homeowners choose not to have a tree planted in front of their home, that should be their choice."

Vacca added, "If the city wants to plant more trees, which is a goal I support, we do not need to force homeowners to take one on their property when they do not want one."

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  1. *sighs, shakes head*

    Kafka was a piker.

    1. I often read the news and think that somewhere in whatever afterlife there may be, several dystopian authors are kicking themselves.

  2. Is that a common New York thing, being responsible for the public sidewalk in front of your home?

    1. That seems to be the case in the NYC/NJ area in general.

    2. If you aren’t forced to shovel snow off of and fix cracks in the sidewalks you don’t own, society will collapse! 😉

      1. When I lived in the burbs, we had to clear off our sidewalks after it snowed. The part of the sidewalk in front of city property never got shoveled.

        1. Comically, in my town they passed an ordnance that fined property owners $300.00 each day for not shoveling their property within 24 hours of the ending of a storm.

          Then someone pointed out that the town’s biggest offenders were the schools and other city properties.. Would the schools be fined too? Would the town properties have to ‘pay’ the fine as well?

          The ordnance immediately was repealed.

          Incidentally, the school thing is a big deal; apparently kids have nearly been hit by school buses turning into the parking lot because the mounds of pushed up by the plows reduces visibility and forces the kids to walk on the street because they can’t get to the sidewalk. :/

          1. That sounds more a bus driver problem than snow per-se.

            1. TALLER BUSES!

              1. Taller students — hold ’em back a few grades.

            2. Government employees all the way down.

        2. Exactly this here in Missoula, MT. Progs are a cancer and it’s everywhere now.

    3. Pretty sure it’s that way most places.

      1. That’s how it is in central Ohio, and in my town the sidewalks mysteriously dwindle out and disappear once you get out to the “nice” parts of town.

      2. Oh, maybe. I’ve mostly lived out in the paved road free woods. I’ve seen ordinances requiring people to clear debris and snow but making people pay to repair them sounded out of the ordinary to me. It might be less costly than just adding it to the property taxes, I just have no clue about it.

    4. Most cities, honestly.

    5. The sidewalk technically is part of the property, IIRC, but there’s essentially an easement for the public – you have to maintain it in at least reasonably decent condition, you can’t block it, etc.

      1. The easement means the government owns it. The demand that you maintain it means they claim to own the alleged homeowners.

        1. An easement does not mean the government owns it it means they have the right to use it.

        2. Anytime people ask why I categorically refuse to purchase property, I point to stories like this.

    6. It’s like one big HOA.

    7. Is that a common New York thing, being responsible for the public sidewalk in front of your home?

      No.

  3. …Bronx resident Patrick Colletti is wondering what the hell he did to deserve the dystopian bureaucratic snafu he just encountered at the hands of two New York City agencies.

    The answer is right there in the first two words. It was just his turn.

  4. He should sue but of course that would likely lead to more headaches. On second thought he should just let it go and try to keep his head down more often.

    1. I think more fitting would be for him to set up a toll-booth and charge pedestrians for walking on HIS sidewalk.

    2. “…So what I am going to do is piss and moan like an impotent jerk, and then bend over and take it up the tailpipe!”

      “You’ve been here before haven’t ya?”

  5. Colletti is left wondering if he’s going to be reimbursed for the considerable pointless cost he incurred

    *outright, prolonged laughter*

    1. Well, as an agent of the Parks service I can tell you that its definitely the city’s fault so they will reimburse you.

      As an agent of the city, I can tell you that its the Parks service’s fault so you need to file a claim with them.

  6. I can’t get the jackasses here in Tampa Bay to realize that their subsidy for rail does not cancel out the subsidy for roads. Get rid of both subsidies. Problem solved. Fucking central planners.

    1. its funny watching rail defenders throw that back in our faces – and they get so confused that it just banks out in their minds when we respond with ‘well, we didn’t ask for the road subsidy in the first place – so get rid of it too’.

      1. You might as well be speaking in Martian to invoke anything other than publicly funded roads. It is like talking about moving our currency to a unicorn horn standard. In their world, it is just nonsense.

      2. My argument is always “You guys hate that highways go through cities and were heavily subsidized and are plagued with problems, why in the world would you trust the same agencies to build a rail efficiently?”

  7. If its a city owned right of way then why would the homeowner need to pay to repair the sidewalk? Its city-owned and on city property.

    In my town, the sidewalk is a, whatchamacallit – where an agency appropriates certain rights to a plot of land, but not all and you technically still own it – and the sidewalks themselves are their problem. I still need to maintain the strip of land between the sidewalk and the curb but the rest of it is city controlled, thus city-maintained.

    If you want to control it, and you mandate that something is built on it, *you* should be the one to pay to maintain it. Otherwise don’t get involved and allow the individual homeowners to decide it they want a sidewalk in front of their house.

    I’m willing to be no because for most the sidewalk provides little benefit to the homeowner themselves and mostly benefits random people walking down the street. Which is why the city forces people to pay for it.

    1. where an agency appropriates certain rights to a plot of land, but not all and you technically still own it

      An easement?

      1. That is the correct term for what is described.

    2. If its a city owned right of way then why would the homeowner need to pay to repair the sidewalk? Its city-owned and on city property.

      Exactly. As I read the story, all I could think is “the fuck?”

      I didn’t personally build the thing and I also pay these things called taxes, that were used to build it originally. You might want to use those again to fix it.

  8. Can he paint FUCK THE CITY on his part of the sidewalk?

  9. This happened to a buddy of mine in Virginia, times 10. He was putting in an office building to house his business and rent to other professional services. The county insisted that he had to pay $250k to redo a big hunk of the road and add a turn lane. It was basically extortion in exchange for getting the building permit.

    Within a month of completing the thing, the County comes through and rips up the entire road and widens it, adding a couple of lanes.

    He said he might as well have taken out a loan for a quarter million bucks and just set it all on fire in the front yard.

    And no, they won’t be reimbursing him for the wasted money.

    1. how is that not a form of domestic terrorism?

      1. Because it’s not the use of a terror tactic to achieve a policy goal?

        “Utter fucking wasteful stupidity” and “terrorism” just aren’t synonyms yet.

    2. This is unfortunately all too common. In my experience most cities will use whatever leverage they have due to permits/zoning/ordinances to extort property owners “for the public benefit”. The fact that they can pass ordinances and then bless individuals with specific exemptions, usually as part of a quid pro quo deal, is a real problem.

    3. He’s one of those evul duhvelopers.

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  11. “city-owned”

    I think they’re using that term wrong; if it was really city-owned, the city’d be responsible for maintaining the goddamn sidewalk, and he wouldn’t be paying property tax on it.

    It’s a right-of-way easement on private property, that the city’s decided (with a law) lets them do any alterations they want for planting.

    But it’s not their property, for what zero effective difference it makes.

    1. The government is what we do together. By City Owned, you own it. Because you own it, you have to maintain it. Now pay us more taxes so we can maintain our crumbling infrastructure.

  12. I’m in the industry, and this is a pet peeve of mine: “cement” is not interchangeable with “concrete”. Cement is one of the components of concrete, but you could find cement in the wild without concrete (i.e. rubber cement). But you’ll never have concrete without cement in it.

    /off soap box, stop shaking fist at cloud

  13. he had been issued a summons by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and threatened with a fine if he didn’t fix the cracks on the public sidewalks in front of his home earlier this year

    To which he should have said, “I don’t own those sidewalks. I didn’t damage them. Y’all gotta fix it, not me.”

  14. These bureaucrats think the sun shines out of their asses, but they block the light with their heads.

  15. Don’t plant the tree.

  16. This sounds like the beginning of a really violent revenge movie.

    I’d buy a ticket.

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