Saturday, December 27, 2014

Private Property Owner Steaming Over Bus Stop Behavior

Dear Tazi:

Due to a problem with bullying (I do not know all the details) a local school bus stop was divided into two, with my front curb being the location of the new bus stop.  I have no problem completing my civic duty and making allowances for a school bus to pick up and drop off children in front of my house - I have even repaved my portion of the sidewalk, filling in cracks just to keep the children safe - but I do have a problem with unruly children running across my lawn and through my driveway on the way to and from the bus stop.

I have a large front lawn with only a few trees, which apparently children find irresistible for use as a makeshift football field.  I have asked the children - on several occasions - not to play on my lawn, that I am afraid that they will get hurt.  Tazi, I do not wish to be held legally responsible for any injuries.  Technically, these children are trespassing, but how do you explain that to an eight year old?  You don't.

This past fall, as one child was "going long" he slipped and fell on some wet leaves in my yard.  Thank goodness he landed on the lawn, but his head landed only inches from my driveway!  After coming to the child's aid and making sure he was okay, I lectured him about playing football on my lawn and told him that I would be calling the school about this behavior.  The child laughed at me and suggested I do just that.  It was then that I realized that I did not know the child's name, and that the school bus would be arriving after I had to leave for work.  This is another concern of mine - children left unattended in my yard when I am not home.

If I could, I would put up a small white picket fence with a gate at the edge of my property line, but local zoning laws prohibit fencing so close to the curb; a fence set eight feet back would look ridiculous, and would still allow a good portion of room for these children to play on my lawn, thus defeating the purpose of the fence and quite possibly adding a new hazard.

I do not know who these children are, so I cannot contact their parents about this issue.  I sincerely doubt that my city council will be able to do anything about it, and I am hesitant to call the police - in the end, these are just children looking to have some fun while waiting for their bus; I just do not want them to do it in a place where I am legally liable for any injuries!  Do you have any suggestions on how to solve this issue, Tazi?

Signed,
Not A Parent (Obviously)

Dear Not A Parent (Obviously):

Your concerns are valid ones.  My front yard has a school bus stop across the street from it; thankfully, the children are chaperoned by parents who see that they are well-behaved and respect the boundaries set forth by the neighboring property owners.  I can only imagine the nightmare that would occur if these parents were not so conscientious! PAWS UP to parents who do this!  ("")  ("")

Since you do not know the identity of the children in your yard - or the identity of their parents - I suggest that you contact your local school board.  It should be they who control the placement of school bus stops; if it is not, they will know who to contact regarding this matter.  Politely explain the situation and your concerns, as you have here, and emphasize your concerns over liability. The fact that a child narrowly escaped a serious head injury is cause for deep concern for all parties involved.

The School Board should have a list of addresses within the radius that the school bus stop in front of your house serves and a letter to parents can be sent to those addresses, explaining the situation and the responsibility that they bear, as parents, in teaching their children to respect the property of others.  If your community participates in the D.A.R.E. program, perhaps an associated officer (one that the children know and trust) can come and check on the children to make certain that they are following the rules, and enforce the rules if the children are disregarding them.

I highly doubt that it will come to this, but if these aforementioned steps do not solve the issue you may have to file a formal complaint, with your City Hall, against your School Board, stating that they have failed to enforce your rights as a private property owner and demanding that the school bus stop be moved elsewhere...thus making it somebody else's headache.

Snuggles,
Tazi

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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