A shortcut like this (the original dirt steps), created organically by people just trying to save a few steps, can be very difficult to remove. The city would need to build a solid, unclimbable fence (maybe even a wall!) to prevent using the slippery shortcut.
I see this all the time on corner lots; a small shortcut forms, saving perhaps 8 steps. A rut just wide enough for single file walkers or bicyclers. Lawn owner attempt simple solutions (signage, porch-sitting-fist-shaking, simple post & rope fence), all to no success. For owners who really want it to stop, 6’+ high wrought iron fencing seems to work.
It’s easy to just put it down to laziness and lack of respect for other’s lawns. But there’s some sort of “Madness of Crowds” thing going on. I’ve always been freakishly cautious to not corner cut other’s lawns.
I’ve committed to not put up a fence if ever I own such a lot. Instead, I’d wait until the inevitable short cut is created and then make it into proper walkway, with paver stones, solar LED lights, and maybe even a couple of shrubbery for that nice two-level effect. Even though I’m pretty sure my nice walkway would lead to an even shorter shortcut (well, longer from a Pythagoras point of view), as the “crowd” seems to need to make shortcuts.
Props to the old guy for doing something. I’m half-convinced he knew his non-code-compliant stairs would shame the local gov’t to get a proper estimate and make the problem go away. Wouldn’t surprise me to find out he’s a construction contractor who knows how to play the game.
I may have thought about this too much…