Who owns the parkway in Chicago?

Parkway 002

A regular reader writes:

Who owns the property between the sidewalk and the street in relation to dogs…?

Do residents of Chicago have the right to prohibit others from walking their dogs and let them eliminate on the lawn that’s between the sidewalk and the street? Who owns this property?

Of course this question just HAD to come up in the context of dog owner versus proud property owner.  It’s part of the eternal debate about where does one’s castle end and the public property begin in the Big City.

Technically, the City of Chicago owns the Parkway – the strip of land between the sidewalk and the street.

If you look carefully at the City Sidewalk and notice the little cross hairs etched into the sidewalk – sometimes highlighted in spray paint – the cross hairs mark the property boundary. 

In a cruel twist of irony, however, the City requires home owners to care for the land.  Owners can be fined for letting the grass grow too long or for the property to become overgrown with weeds.

Parkway 001

Of course, there are many examples of Chicago owners going to great lengths to (1) beautify the parkway in front of their home and (2) keep dogs from using the area as the public bathroom.

But in keeping to the spirit of living in the Big City (and therefore with lots of other people who invariably have pets. Or kids. Sometimes both) your guide puts forth the following Handy Etiquette Guide:

  • Pet owners CAN walk their dogs and allow the use of the parkway for going to the bathroom.
  • Pet owners SHOULD take care when walking their dogs by elaborately landscaped parkway sections and keep their dogs out of the planting beds.
  • Home owners CAN mark new grass, new sod, and grass seed by putting up temporary fencing, and the dog owners should respect the temporary boundary.  There is plenty of grassy parkway just a few feet farther down the sidewalk.
  • Families with kids CAN expect that their front yards should remain free of pet waste and that the kids can romp, play and roll in the grass without the worry of stepping in waste.
  • Therefore it follows that dog owners SHOULD keep dogs on the parkway side of the sidewalk.  Those long zippy leashes that allow dogs to run willy-nilly all over a 30 foot wide swath aren’t appropriate for city dog walking.
  • But parents SHOULD expect that any given stretch of parkway has been used as a dog walk area, and that the area might not be clean for kids romping and playing.
  • Home owners that really want to keep pets out of their front yards SHOULD erect fences rather than put up signs, fake lawn chemical signs or notices quoting city ordinances about picking up dog waste.  The notes are just silly.
  • In the case of particularly rude dog walkers that regularly patronize your parkway, the most appropriate revenge is the well-timed activation of a sprinkler. 
  • It is also permissible to scoop up the offending matter yourself and then follow the dog walker home and deposit the "deposit" on the offenders front porch. 

Are there any more additions?  Please comment or send your guides an email.

  1. Sanjiv Sarwate
    December 11, 2008 |
  2. December 11, 2008 |