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The period of vacations is over, and cities turn into hives again. Everybody runs his errands. And people seem not to care about summer terrace of cafes and restaurant. Moreover, it is logical that pedestrians also should not care about parking "for clients only". ForUm has tried to find out why, in defiance of common sense, city sidewalks are cluttered with terraces and unauthorized parking, and whether there is a chance to find justice.
Elimination of illiteracy
The dictionary says: a sidewalk, or pavement, footpath, footway, and sometimes platform, is a path along the side of a road. A sidewalk may accommodate moderate changes in grade (height) and is normally separated from the vehicular section by a curb.
The traffic rules say that a sidewalk is intended primary for use by pedestrians. Any other forms of traffic, except for vehicles of emergency response teams or communal repair services, as well as delivery vehicles, are prohibited.
The law of Ukraine "On community redevelopment" and the Code on administrative offence stipulate that economic entities must be brought to administrative responsibility for violation of the legislation in this sphere.
According to the planning regulations, the width of a sidewalk, free for pedestrians, must be no less than two meters. That's what the paper says, but how about real state of affairs?
And Kyiv is not alone to suffer from this problem. In many cities of Ukraine summer terraces of cafes and restaurants, as well as parking lots, occupy the biggest part of sidewalks, intended for pedestrians in the first place.
Order in a city is the business of local authorities: state control over observance of the legislation in the sphere of improvement of city territories is exercised by local state administrations, thus dismantling of summer terraces is regulated by the decision of local self-governments.
The question is whether Kyiv local authorities really want the city sidewalks that cluttered. It turns out not at all, and the chief city architect Serhiy Tselovalnyk admits the problem exists.
"In some places, where sidewalks are well developed, it is nice to have a summer café: people can shelter from the sun or rain and have a pause. And if it is rather complicated to dismantle terraces for the night and mount them again in the morning, for winter periods it is a must. Unfortunately, it is not observed, and I agree our sidewalks turn into a mess. However, we cannot do anything about it, as it is not our institution to issue licenses and permissions. Moreover, nobody adjusts the construction plans of such objects with us, which must be done considering that there might be engineering communications, networks, etc.," he said.
At the same time, the Kyiv Department of the city planning and preserving of natural environment - the one responsible for the control over observance of planning regulations by economic entities - told ForUm that they know about the problem and are fixing it. The first deputy director of the department Serhiy Romenski informed that the decree of the executive body of the Kyiv city council "On measures for organization of seasonal retail trade in Kyiv city in 2013" regulates the procedure of placement of open terraces near cafes and restaurants.
"Owners of temporary facilities for trade, household, social, cultural or other purpose must conclude a contract and obtain a license for course of business. Those who install open terraces without the permission will be held administratively liable," he said.
It turns out that the response protocol exists and has been working for years now. As ForUm learned from lawyer Andriy Kotyagin, a district city administration makes a decision to oblige the owner in question to dismantle illegally installed facility, and in case of non-observance of the decision the administrative commission of the district city administration decrees to hold the entrepreneur administratively liable. The maximum fine, provided by the law, makes 1700 hryvnias.
"Then comes the turn of court proceedings. Either the authorities appeal to court to oblige the owner to dismantle the facility, or the owner appeals to the district court to challenge the decision of the district administration. Studying of the case can take time, and considering that courts are overloaded with work and that summer is the period of vacations, it is not difficult to drag out the proceedings till autumn. Then the winter comes... and as a result, half a year rent for a city land plot costs the entrepreneur only 1700 hryvnias plus legal bills," Kotyagin explained.
As we can see, effective solutions of the problem are impossible without certain changes to the legislation, and Party of Regions deputy Volodymyr Vecherko, deputy chairman of the parliamentary committee on city planning, housing and regional policy, confirms this. He told ForUm that Ukrainian legislation does not have effective mechanisms to provide control over observance of the city planning norms and standards, stipulated by the law. Moreover, there is a problem of corruption in local self-government bodies, responsible for licensing. According to the politician, to solve this issue certain amendments to the legislation or even a separate legal act must be worked out and adopted.
The MP adds that the parliament should also consider strengthening of responsibility for administrative offence and to settle the issue regarding mobile trade, when sellers place their mobile stands or vehicles right on sidewalks.
"We intend to consider these problems in a single package. I believe at one of the coming sittings of the parliamentary committee we will discuss possible solutions at the legislative level," Vecherko assured.
As we see, Ukrainian active legislation regulates the problem in question only partially. But strengthening of responsibility and establishment of transparent and clear rule of licensing may indeed change the situation. Let's hope the order will be established, as it bothers not only running citizens, but also communal service workers, who must maintain the city somehow and be able to clean snow drifts in winter.