Who Controls the Sidewalks?

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Sturm College of Law


Sidewalks, Property law, Local government, Snow shoveling


In his forthcoming article, Sidewalk Government, Michael Pollack explores the nature and governance of sidewalks in the U.S. through both a property law and local government lens. While most of us have likely used a sidewalk to get from one place to another, we often don’t think about the many complex ways that localities govern these critical spaces.

When I moved to Maine over a decade ago, I was surprised to learn that I was personally responsible for shoveling snow off the sidewalk in front of my house. A few years later, the city expanded the boundaries of the downtown Business Improvement District (“BID”) to cover the other side of my street, after which my across-the-street neighbors no longer had to shovel; the BID did it for them.

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