Local school district has been using our driveway as a bus stop for months without our knowledge or consent - Concerns about property rights and liabilities

Local school district has been using our driveway as a bus stop for months without our knowledge or consent - Concerns about property rights and liabilities
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#1

tl;dr - Saga in which OP became highly upset for reasons that seem foolish now, vented, had a question or two, engaged in some thought-provoking discussion, eventually began to see some humor in the situation, and learned how to make crude renderings of a school bus, not necessarily to scale.

OP is somewhat embarrassed and regrets the anger shown at times and strives to do better in future. All posts by the OP will remain for posterity, education, and general entertainment purposes. Anyone entering this thread for the first time is strongly advised to prepare a healthy snack and do a bathroom run, not necessarily in that order.

It’s been a stressful few days. :rage:

We haven’t had a whole lot of snowfall this season, until recently. Thanks to the snowfall we’ve been having every few days over the last week, it’s become obvious that our driveway has been used for more than just our cars.

I went back and forth between phone calls to the school district, my insurance agent, the police, and speaking with a couple of parents over a few days.

The school district’s position is that they know nothing about our driveway being used as a school bus stop for the 7 AM pickup. They didn’t authorize it and didn’t believe it was happening.

The parents’ position is that their kids were at the usual pickup corner on the first day of school in late August. The bus driver drove right past them and stopped in front of our driveway and forced the kids to board the bus from our driveway. When questioned, he said (paraphrasing), “Because I said so, that’s the way it is, deal with it!” There is also an 8 AM pickup that remained at the usual corner. They didn’t know why their pickup location had changed, but not the later one. They admitted that the kids have been using our driveway since last August and they didn’t really like it either. They understood they were on private property. Why none of the parents called the school to report this, I have no idea. Why they didn’t come to me and tell me about it, I have no idea. They’ve gone through 2 more bus drivers and not one of them questioned why they were in my driveway instead of on the corner.

My position is that the school district doesn’t have the right to use our driveway as a bus stop without our permission. They caused people to trespass regularly (every school day) since August. I thought there might be potential liability issues involved, if someone were to get hurt. And believe me, the pattern of the footprints and what I’ve seen since last Thursday when I started recording via our admittedly old and crappy surveillance camera proves that some of the kids are doing things that could get them hurt while they’re in our driveway.

I told the school district that they were to cease using our driveway immediately and that I was going to record the 7 AM pickup on Thursday. Not surprisingly, on Thursday and Friday, the bus stopped at the corner, so I guess I made my point clear enough.

The district did call parents on Wednesday afternoon to tell them not to use our driveway anymore. They even accused the parents of deciding on their own to use our driveway. Some appear not to have gotten the message, or are disregarding it, which led to my phone call to the police.

The police dispatcher said that if kids continue to use our driveway, to give them a call and they’ll send an officer out to talk to them. They said it was legal for me to do it myself, but advised me to let them handle it. She asked me if they were on the apron. (I’m not sure why it matters if they’re on the apron or somewhere else on the driveway.) They don’t stay in one place anyway, which I did say.

When I told my husband about this - and he thinks I’m worrying too much about it - he told me that he shoveled 4 inches of snow from the driveway last week before work. The kids didn’t get out of the cars while he was shoveling. It meant that he was still home to see the school bus pull up in front of our driveway and board the kids from our driveway. In fact, he was ready to leave and couldn’t because of it. But, he didn’t mention it at the time. He thought the bus driver was trying to make it easier for the kids since he’d just finished clearing the driveway and the corner had 4 inches of snow. He didn’t know it was happening every day.

I don’t believe the saga is quite over yet, but hopefully it will be soon. What complicates matters is that our school district allows open enrollment and, in recent years, they’ve assigned these kids from outside the neighborhood to be picked up at our corners. Before, just the kids who lived on our street were picked up at our corner. My neighbor said that the parents just drop their kids off and take off. I saw that myself on the Friday recording, along with other reckless behaviors by these kids who don’t live around here. The other parents don’t know who they are or where they live.

Google has been my friend since yesterday, researching ordinances at the state and local level.

In my state, property owners aren’t liable for injuries to trespassers unless they do something to cause the injuries or create an artificial hazard that would cause an injury. That’s good news for us.

The school district violated state and local laws by stopping the school bus in front of our driveway. They effectively told people to trespass on our private property, which is just mind-boggling to me.

I’ve attached some pics of the area. As you can see, our driveway is 25 feet to the West of the NW corner, which is where the kids were standing on the first day of school. For years now, the school district has used either the NW or NE corners. The 8 AM pickup is using the NE corner this year. It doesn’t make sense for anyone to decide it’s better to make the kids walk 25 feet further to catch the bus all of a sudden.

But I am confused about something. (As if this whole thing hasn’t been confusing enough.)

Local ordinances require us to keep the sidewalks clear of snow and ice within a reasonable amount of time after a snowfall. However, we’re not required to keep our driveway clear of snow and ice, which would appear to support the fact that our driveway is private property and not public property.

However, technically, I think the driveway is the section that runs from the sidewalk to the house. The part that runs from the sidewalk to the street is the driveway approach or apron. When the police dispatcher asked if they were on the apron, I’m wondering if she was thinking that part was public access and not private property. I’m not really sure about that and all my Googling this weekend just generally talks about utility easements from the sidewalk to the street. Does anyone know if the approach/apron is considered public access?

Driveway1Driveway2


#2

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#3

The sidewalk continues across the driveway. How do you suppose someone walking on the sidewalk is to get from one side of the driveway to the other? That’s why it’s usually illegal to leave a car parked across the sidewalk portion of the “driveway”. (Of course that rarely stops people from doing so…)


#4

Bonus points for a classic FWF thread topic.


#5

I don’t see how it could be, as the ‘sidewalk strip’ or ‘parking strip’ or ‘devil strip’ or whatever it’s called in your area surely is not. Easy test, what would happen if you stopped cutting the grass in that strip ? The local government would make you cut it, or eventually cut it and send you the bill, proof enough that it’s not public access.

The sidewalk, even though it’s on your property, is the only public access. Don’t see how the part of the driveway between the sidewalk and the street, the “apron”, would be public access.

BTW gwraigty, good that you laid down a marker now, as nobody could claim later you have no standing as you allowed it to go on for so long.


#6

Nonsense. The sidewalk that goes through the driveway is supposed to be clear. You’ll get a ticket if someone calls in a complaint. You’re forcing wheelchairs and small children to run into the street where they don’t have visibility (since your SUV is there blocking view of the street as well as blocking their public sidewalk) in order to get by if you’re blocking it.

Just because you’re required to maintain something doesn’t mean it has no public access. In many areas you’re required to clear the sidewalk of snow, too.


#7

I’m confused as to why you would think the bus stopping in front of your house is illegal on any level? It’s no different than any other traffic on the road.

I’m also confused as to why you’re so against the bus stopping at your driveway, instead of at the corner of your property? It’s equally “on” your property either way.

So your complaint is actually about you not liking the idea of kids standing on your driveway instead of on your grass.

I dont think you have any legal standing. And even if you do, it’d be pretty petty to avail yourself of it. Unless they are blatantly and repeatedly breaching the barrier between the sidewalk and your home, just let it go.


#8

Just to clarify, the sidewalk is not “public property,” it’s private property with a public right-of-way / easement. I believe the title to your house should have a map identifying all easements and right-of-ways.

I suspect that the apron is included in the public right-of-way. If so, I don’t know whether that means you have to clean it or not, but it does mean you’d have no legal standing if the kids only used sidewalk and apron without ever stepping north of the sidewalk. If the kids or the bus are always in your way when you’re trying to leave, that may be a nuisance (in the legal sense), but IANAL.


#9

Your husband is correct.


#10

What does that have to do with kids waiting around in my driveway in the morning? I’m not talking about kids just passing through on the sidewalk. That’s what it’s for. :roll_eyes: I’m talking about our driveway having been designated the official school bus stop, instead of the corner where it has usually been. This led to our driveway being the destination, the place where kids are congregating and boarding the school bus. I’ve lived here for 21 years, so I know what the usual procedures are.

Maybe I wasn’t clear enough in my OP. Look at the intersection in the 2nd picture. There are 4 such intersections along the street running East-West. The school bus usually stops at each of the 4 intersections to pick up and drop off the kids who live on each street. Our intersection is the 3rd stop for morning pickup, as the bus approaches from the East.

Our development has cul-de-sacs. I’m on the NW corner of a cul-de-sac. The streets on either side of ours are also cul-de-sacs on the North side of the intersections. All the kids who live on the streets running North-South board the bus on the North side of their intersection, usually on either the NW corner or NE corner. The kids who live on the street West of ours board the bus on the NE corner of their intersection, which is the 4th stop before the bus reaches the main road to the West. No one is walking from that corner to our corner to board the bus. Even if they did, why should I care as long as they’re not congregating in our driveway and boarding from it?

There still appears to be some confusion. This morning, one kid came from our cul-de-sac, crossed the street running East-West, and stood on the SW corner for several minutes, and had to cross back to the NE corner to board the bus. Made no sense whatsoever, since the bus used the NW corner last Thurs. and Fri. :confounded: Not my concern though.


#11

Yes, there’s no doubt we’re responsible for the maintenance and repair of the sidewalks and grass on the tree lawns.

I certainly agree that the general public is allowed to use our sidewalk, but only for passing through.

These kids aren’t passing through. They’re staying there, potentially interfering with our means of exiting our driveway, as happened to my husband that one day. I don’t know exactly how many kids board the bus at our intersection, but it’s been as few as a half-dozen to as many as a dozen over the years. In warmer weather, the parents will walk down and wait with them sometimes, so that magnifies the number of people at the bus stop.

The purpose of a driveway approach/apron is to allow access to the driveway, from what I’ve read. That doesn’t sound to me like it’s for the general public to use for boarding buses.

I’m trying to be proactive from this point on and it’s darned hard not to feel like I’m being reactive, but it is what it is, I guess. Thanks. :slightly_smiling_face:


#12

I’m not saying that the sidewalk that crosses my driveway has no public access. Yes, people are allowed to walk on the sidewalk that crosses my driveway. And I know what you’re talking about with people who block their sidewalks. I see that all the time as well. :angry: We don’t do that, as you can see from my picture.

Do you maintain that half-a-dozen to a dozen people are allowed to be in my driveway every school day for up to 10 to 15 minutes waiting for a school bus, stand there continuously throughout that time, run up and down my driveway, and use it as their personal playground? They are not passing through on the sidewalk to get from one side to the other. They are entering my driveway and moving all around it as they please.


#13

No, I was replying to Friday’s post. Parking and blocking a driveway is also not legal, which it sounds like the bus was doing.

It’s unclear on the kids. Your yard and the driveway past the easement area is private property. If the kids block your driveway, that’s probably not allowed either. Enforcing such on kids might be challenging though. As could be getting a school bus to comply, but it sounds like they are trying to address it after you lodged the complaint.

Now, you did say that at least that one time there was lots of snow on the sidewalk on the corner of the street (also your property) and only your driveway was cleared. You are likely responsible to maintain that part of the sidewalk too and may be ticketed for not doing so, particularly now that the bus driver may have more motivation to report if they got in trouble (and should, if it ices and is hazardous for slipping). Although maybe your husband was in the process of doing so immediately after the driveway (I do not assume one way or the other).


#14

Yeah but she neglected to include the word ‘recourse’.


#15

Is that a fact? You didnt mention your city’s loitering statutes.


#16

This seems to be the only question I see in the post.

The answer will depend on your local / state laws specifically.

I’m guessing that yes your apron is public right of way. Probably why the police asked you about that, right?


#17

I’m still confused - how is “your driveway” any different than “the corner of your yard”? You want them to board at the intersection, which involves your property just as much as the driveway area.


#18

The kids shouldn’t be in your actual driveway. If they’re standing at the sidewalk or below then thats public right of way.

Are the kids doing you any harm? Are they being annoying? Blocking your use of the driveway? Or just trespassing?

What kind of “reckless” activity are they engaging in specifically? snow ball fights? Russian roulette?

Have you tried shaking your fist at them and yelling “get off my driveway you damn kids!!” I understand from stereotypes of angry grumpy old men that this is the standard response to children trespassing.


#19

You don’t seem to understand. This isn’t about the bus stopping in front of my house. This is about the bus blocking access to our driveway and potential liability issues.

The school bus had been stopping in the East-West road so that the length of the school bus completely blocked access into or out of our driveway. Why do you think I said that my husband couldn’t leave for work that one morning? I meant that in the most literal sense.

The trail of footprints down my driveway showed exactly where the door of the school bus was positioned for boarding. The school bus had our driveway blocked as a matter of regular boarding, plain and simple.

How would you like it if you needed to leave your driveway and couldn’t because someone had parked their vehicle in the street like in this image I found on Google:

Car blocking driveway

That’s what you can’t do. For obvious reasons. You cannot stop or park a vehicle so that it blocks access into or out of someone’s driveway.

State law says it in this way, bolding mine:

4511.68 Parking - prohibited acts.
(A) No person shall stand or park a trackless trolley or vehicle, except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic or to comply with sections 4511.01 to 4511.78, 4511.99, and 4513.01 to 4513.37 of the Revised Code, or while obeying the directions of a police officer or a traffic control device, in any of the following places:

(1) On a sidewalk, except as provided in division (B) of this section;

(2) In front of a public or private driveway;

Some might interpret it as being parked in back of our driveway, but the result is still the same.

See above about blocking access to our driveway while doing it.

The corner is public access. My driveway is private property. No trespassing on the corner vs. trespassing in my driveway. Extremely small chance (I’d hope) of getting sued if a kid gets hurt standing at a designated bus stop on a public access point vs. our private driveway. Potential liability, plain and simple. That’s why it’s important for me to make it extremely well-known that they’re not welcome to do this. Otherwise, they become invitees instead of trespassers, which makes us liable.

No. See above about blocking our driveway and potential liability issues.

I disagree. I’d rather be perceived as petty than be hit with a lawsuit because of some moronic kids who got hurt running and sliding on the snow in my driveway and into the street right towards a passing car. Yes, they are morons for doing that! Do you honestly think those kids would admit they were playing in the street? Nope. They’d tell their parents they were in our driveway when it happened. Convince me otherwise.

Yes, they were “blatantly and repeatedly breaching the barrier between the sidewalk” and our home. From my OP:

Do you want details. The footprints and skid/sliding marks have been in our driveway between the sidewalk and our home, on the sidewalk, and on the driveway apron. Large areas of snow have been trampled on and above the sidewalk area.

I have video of the 2 kids on Fri. on our driveway between the sidewalk and our home, on the sidewalk, on the driveway apron, running and sliding from our driveway into the street as a car was passing, back and forth across the street, up and down the length of the street, back into our driveway, stepping into the edge of the tree lawn directly abutting the edge of my driveway, running back into the street, etc.

And it really makes me angry to feel that I have to record what’s going on to try and protect us from liability. I don’t want to have to confront kids or their parents and tell them they don’t have permission to be there. I don’t want to have to bring the police into it. I don’t thrive on this, believe me.

I’m not a “Get off my lawn!” person. I don’t care if people pass through my property. But I wouldn’t let the neighbors set up and have a party in my backyard without permission either. Especially if they didn’t invite me. :grinning:


#20

Thank you for the clarification. I’m not sure that being a public right-of-way gives people the right to congregate there instead of passing through when it blocks ingress and egress of our property. I’m trying to find out.

They do step north of the sidewalk.