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  1. #1
    Barwick11 is offline Member
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    City made repairs to my property without my consent, now billing me

    What is the name of your state? Michigan

    Ok, I don't know if I mentioned this here before, but here's the situation.

    The city where I live sent me a letter saying that I had to replace a portion of my sidewalk at my own expense, or their contractor will come in and replace it at my expense.

    I called them and the conversation went something like this:

    I don't want the sidewalk replaced, I think it's plenty safe, I'm not going to fix it, and do not come onto my property to fix it yourself because I am not going to pay for it.

    They said "too bad", we're going to do it, city ordinance says so.

    I say "I don't care what city ordinance says, you have no authority to come onto my property, 'fix' something, then charge me for it simply because somebody says so."

    "Sir, we sent you a letter..."

    "Ma'am, I don't care that you sent me a letter. Let's say I send my neighbor a letter saying 'man, your yard is freaking ugly, you need to plant some flowers and bushes in your yard, if you don't, I'm going to do it myself and send you the bill'. Can I then collect on that bill?"

    "Sir, that would be a little bit ridiculous..."

    "Exactly ma'am... that's my point"

    "Sir, city ordinance says we can do this..."

    "Ma'am, again, I don't care what it says, if city ordinance says that everyone in the city needs to have a pink roof, does that mean that the city can send everyone letters saying 'replace your roof with pink shingles or we'll have someone come onto your property and do the work, and we'll send you the bill', does that mean that we have to obey it?"

    "You're going to have to talk to someone else {click, transfers me to another person, I get his voicemail}"

    I'm telling them that I'm not going to pay it, and if they want to fix their sidewalk, they can fix it themselves. If it's my sidewalk, then I should be able to jackhammer that sucker up and get rid of it, because I don't have the time or extra money to shovel it, or maintain it, and don't want the liability of having someone on the sidewalk in case they fall.

    And so, what I'm curious about is first:
    [list][*]What type of lawyer (besides brave) do I need to take this case?[*]What sort of action is this? Is this a case against the city? They aren't charging me with anything so I'm presuming I'm going to be the plaintiff.[*]Since they did this to a couple dozen houses on our street (and plenty more on other streets), can this be a class-action suit against the city?[*]Does anyone know of any legal groups (probably a libertarian group) that has lawyers that fight against this specifically, and might have a fund behind them to subsidize their fees?[/list]
  2. #2
    EvilWizard is offline Member
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    I don't think you have a case. If you do a Google search on "Michigan", "sidewalk" "repair" and "owner" you will see that towns in Michigan do inspections of homeowner sidewalks and that the owners are the ones responsible for either a portion of the cost or the entire cost... What is the name of your town?

    In any case this looks like they were in the right to me.
  3. #3
    Barwick11 is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvilWizard
    I don't think you have a case. If you do a Google search on "Michigan", "sidewalk" "repair" and "owner" you will see that towns in Michigan do inspections of homeowner sidewalks and that the owners are the ones responsible for either a portion of the cost or the entire cost... What is the name of your town?

    In any case this looks like they were in the right to me.
    I know what they SAY, but it doesn't matter what THEY say, it matters what they are ALLOWED to do. I know tons of towns that do this, but that doesn't mean it's right. It amounts to involuntary servitude or confiscation of property.

    1) It's supposedly my property and I own it, yet I can't put up cones and signs saying "private property, do not trespass", nor can I simply tear it up down to the dirt and fill it in with grass, because they SAY I need to have it.
    2) I have to clean the sidewalk because if I don't, someone might get hurt
    3) Even if I clean the sidewalk and someone gets hurt, I'm still liable
    4) When the sidewalk gets a hairline crack in it, I have to pay to fix it, even though I don't want it in the first place.
    5) They require that I have it so that people can walk on it, yet they aren't going to take any responsibility to take care of it beyond "you fix it, or pay our guy to do it for you".

    What would happen if they tried this with the roads? "You must maintain the road up to the center of the road from your house, even if you never use it or don't want it".

    This is NO different than them saying "You need to have a dark gray roof to match the atmosphere we want in our city. Replace your roof immediately or we will send someone to do it and bill you".
  4. #4
    EvilWizard is offline Member
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    Lol involuntary servitude now thats funny!

    "Involuntary servitude is a United States legal and constitutional term for a person laboring against that person's will to benefit another, under some form of coercion."

    Its the town/county law and you live in that town/county. I have to wonder what will be your argument that this law is unfair/unconstitutional. Are you going to argue that they forced the you to have a sidewalk (which is a necessity for safety reasons)... Good luck on spending time and money on a losing argument.

    I don't want to pay my town, county and state taxes for having a vehicle, but I do because its the law where I chose to live.
  5. #5
    shell007 Guest
    Ok! continue fighting the "city ordinance" about not fixing your sidewalk.

    In the mean time...hope that no one falls and gets injured because then you will be wishing that you spent the small amount to fix it vs. the large lawsuit you will be facing if someone gets injured on "your sidewalk".

    Also......make sure you have/pay your homeowners insurance too.
  6. #6
    Barwick11 is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvilWizard
    Lol involuntary servitude now thats funny!

    "Involuntary servitude is a United States legal and constitutional term for a person laboring against that person's will to benefit another, under some form of coercion."

    Its the town/county law and you live in that town/county. I have to wonder what will be your argument that this law is unfair/unconstitutional. Are you going to argue that they forced the you to have a sidewalk (which is a necessity for safety reasons)... Good luck on spending time and money on a losing argument.

    I don't want to pay my town, county and state taxes for having a vehicle, but I do because its the law where I chose to live.
    Thank you for proving my point on involuntary servitude. If I do not own the sidewalk, then them forcing me to clean THEIR property is involuntary servitude. If I DO own the sidewalk, then they have no means to force me to do anything to my own property.

    This is EXACTLY the reason this country is where it's at. People just buy dead-nuts into the "well it's just that way" argument, assuming that because government does it, it must be legal. BULLCRAP.

    Roads are paid for by excise taxes. Ever hear of those? Those are explicitly allowed for. Those who use it also pay for it. If I don't ever use the sidewalk in front of my house, then why am I paying for it? Simply because I own the property? If it's for "safety reasons", then why are roads which also exist partially for "safety reasons" paid for by excise taxes, while sidewalks are paid for by the poor sucker who owns the property adjacent to the sidewalk?
  7. #7
    EvilWizard is offline Member
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    Funny I thought roads existed for transportation purposes...

    In what way did you labor to make this involuntary servitude? You didn't. Plus you probably legally own the sidewalk and the land it resides on and because it had been deemed a necessity to both have it and maintain it you are SOL.

    Please do battle this and spend a lot of money and time on it though. Then when you don't win you can whine and move to another country. Maybe Germany... No wait they require you to maintain sidewalks and roads in front of you house there so that wont work...
  8. #8
    Barwick11 is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvilWizard
    Funny I thought roads existed for transportation purposes...

    In what way did you labor to make this involuntary servitude? You didn't. Plus you probably legally own the sidewalk and the land it resides on and because it had been deemed a necessity to both have it and maintain it you are SOL.

    Please do battle this and spend a lot of money and time on it though. Then when you don't win you can whine and move to another country. Maybe Germany... No wait they require you to maintain sidewalks and roads in front of you house there so that wont work...
    If you read the freaking post I said it's either involuntary servitude (if they own it) or confiscation of property (my time and money) if I own the sidewalk.

    I DO legally own the sidewalk and the land it resides on. Therefore WHY does the city have the right to make a portion of MY property accessible to the public, let alone force me to build a "safe for the public to use" walkway? Nobody has answered any of these questions. THE question that needs to be answered for anything is "who says?" WHERE does government authority come to do the things I've asked? That is what is in question. I'm not disputing the wording of the ordinance and who it applies to, I'm disputing the fact that it even exists.

    Heck, why stop there, why not make everyone build and maintain a portion of railroad line for railcars on their tree lawn? Or why not make everyone maintain the sewage systems below the street on the property they own too?
  9. #9
    EvilWizard is offline Member
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    You are a moron. Its a safety issue. If you own a house and the house has become a safety issue guess what the city can do and who loses money on it... Welcome to the world of governance and law. I suggest you move into a mudhut in the desert where the big, bad government can leave you alone.
  10. #10
    Barwick11 is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvilWizard
    You are a moron. Its a safety issue. If you own a house and the house has become a safety issue guess what the city can do and who loses money on it... Welcome to the world of governance and law. I suggest you move into a mudhut in the desert where the big, bad government can leave you alone.
    Listen asshat, I'm about sick of listening to your pathetic "you are a moron" speech. Answer the ****ing questions I've answered and PROVE me to be a moron. Sidewalks are a "public benefit" issue, NOT a safety issue. NOBODY has the right to travel upon MY property, lest they are trespassing. But the city says they can and forces me to make it easy for them.

    I suggest if you want government that runs your life for you and protects you from yourself, move into a country with a socialist style form of government, not a country that has been hijacked by socialists to encroach upon our rights.
  11. #11
    EvilWizard is offline Member
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    Sidewalks are a public safety issue as it allows a path for pedestrians to use instead of having them walk on a road/street that vehicles use.

    Have fun paying the sidewalk repair costs again next year
  12. #12
    shell007 Guest
    Barwick11 wrote:

    Listen asshat, I'm about sick of listening to your pathetic "you are a moron" speech. Answer the ****ing questions I've answered and PROVE me to be a moron. Sidewalks are a "public benefit" issue, NOT a safety issue. NOBODY has the right to travel upon MY property, lest they are trespassing. But the city says they can and forces me to make it easy for them.

    I suggest if you want government that runs your life for you and protects you from yourself, move into a country with a socialist style form of government, not a country that has been hijacked by socialists to encroach upon our rights.
    Listen Barwick11: The posters have answered your legal question already about (6) times. If you want to continue arguing your point....TAKE YOUR ARGUMENT TO CITY COUNCIL AND FIGHT WITH THEM!

    You asked a question(s) and it was answered.
  13. #13
    You Are Guilty is offline Senior Member
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    I'm sure you will have no problem finding a lawyer to take this case. Shucks, if you lived in my city, I would jump at the chance. Figure this is going to take, at the absolute minimum, 60-70 hours, and that gets you nothing but the bare essentials (don't expect me to answer your calls or write you any status reports). I'd say a $25,000 retainer should cover it.

    Of course, if you want the Gold Package, I hope you have $40,000 laying around collecting dust.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tranquility
    Once you get to crazy land, it is only a guess on how to get out.
  14. #14
    matti422 is offline Member
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    Time and money aside (maybe you have the money and inclination to argue this, even if you will loose) - YES, it is your property. That is why you have to pay for repairs. The sidewalk is a public easement ("right of way"). That's why you don't get to take it away from the public by cones and no trespassing signs. It is up to local law as to who is responsible for maintaining safe passage in an easement, but some jurisdictions believe the easement users (the public in your case) are responsible for maintaining it. You can always go to court to argue to change the Michigan law. You'll probably need to go to the MI Supreme Court, so be prepared to spend way more than the cost of the sidewalk.
  15. #15
    Barwick11 is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by matti422
    Time and money aside (maybe you have the money and inclination to argue this, even if you will loose) - YES, it is your property. That is why you have to pay for repairs. The sidewalk is a public easement ("right of way"). That's why you don't get to take it away from the public by cones and no trespassing signs. It is up to local law as to who is responsible for maintaining safe passage in an easement, but some jurisdictions believe the easement users (the public in your case) are responsible for maintaining it. You can always go to court to argue to change the Michigan law. You'll probably need to go to the MI Supreme Court, so be prepared to spend way more than the cost of the sidewalk.
    Thank you. An answer that actually makes sense, explaining why cities think they can do what they do. Although I disagree with the assertions cities have made on this topic.

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