ProJo reports that the City Council has made some updates to the sidewalk snow clearing regulations.
- In addition to the Police, Department of Public Works inspectors and supervisors can now issue citations.
- The time to clear the snow has increased. Previously snow had to be cleared within 4 hours after sunrise after the end of snow, now it is 8 hours.
- Fines now max out at $500.
- The appeals process to the Municipal Court has been made more clear.
I have several issues with all this. One, Councilman Narducci was quoted in the Journal saying, “Obviously the reason we’re doing this is because the police don’t do it.” I don’t know about anyone else, but when I don’t do my job I get a talking to, I might even get fired. My boss does not find someone else to do my job for me. I’m fine with having more people authorized to issue citations, and I understand the police have other priorities, but it should be in addition to the police, not because the police seem to can’t be bothered. Unshoveled sidewalks are a very serious public safety issue and should be a priority for the police.
There’s also this from the Journal:
Peter T. Gaynor, city director of emergency management, acknowledged, however, that the DPW is not yet ready to discharge its new duty. For the time being, he said, it’s still up to the police.
Oh great, so excuses are already being made for why this will continue to not be addressed.
The fines, they used to max out at $300. Really, I see no reason for the increase. If we had been issuing citations and collecting fines all along and the fines were proving ineffective, then perhaps they should need raising. But let’s just try actually writing some citations before we go raising the fine.
Length of time to clear, this is what is really chapping my ass. So let’s say, it is snowing on the solstice. The sun sets at 4:18pm and it stops snowing at 4:30pm. According to regulations, you have until 8 hours after sunrise to clear your sidewalk. The day after solstice the sun rises at 7:10am, meaning the sidewalk does not need to be cleared until 3:10pm. The sidewalk has been uncleared for almost 24 hours, and this is legal. If the streets went uncleared for 24 hours what exactly would happen? This is completely ridiculous.
Sidewalks should need to be cleared within a much more reasonable amount of time after the end of the storm, accounting of course for when it snows overnight, people shouldn’t be expected to wake in the middle of the night to clear snow, but it should be cleared in the morning. This is not unreasonable in the least.
In other sidewalk news, the city did make an effort with the Atwells overpass today:
That is a pile of salt on the sidewalk on the overpass. All across the sidewalk are similar piles of salt. Really, this is not going to be terribly efficient if we actually get snow tonight, the salt really needs to be spread across the whole sidewalk (you know, like they do on the roads). But whatever, it’s a start I guess.