In the District of Columbia, residents are required to shovel the snow off the sidewalk in front of their residence. As the city’s first major snowstorm of the year looms, city government had planned on cracking down on businesses and residents who don’t follow city protocol.
For the first time in decades the city was prepared to fine residents who didn’t clear their sidewalk within 24 hours after a storm has passed, as part of a city council bill passed in 2014. But fines may not be applied because D.C. government hasn’t printed formal notices alerting residents of the ordinance, according to NBC 4‘s Tom Sherwood.
The new city council bill replaces D.C. government’s policy on snow-shoveling that’s been on the books since 1922. The cities previous bill had been difficult to enforce because residents and businesses had eight daylight hours after a storm to shovel snow from the sidewalk in front of their dwelling or business. The city would eventually shovel the snow and have to sue the business or residence for the cost of the shoveling. And with such a cumbersome policy, the city had never filed a suit.
Even with the new policy, it’s still not full proof. It specifically states residents, property managers, and businesses have that eight hours window to clear their sidewalk of a minimum 36 inches width path in front of their establishment. A failure to do so will result in a $25 fine for D.C. residents and $150 fine for D.C. businesses; with a reprieve for senior citizens and residents with disabilities. Those residents can file in exemption.
Even if it’s senior citizens and those with disabilities are unable to shovel their sidewalks, the mayors office has instituted the Mayor’s Resident Snow Team who’s sole the task is to assist seniors and people with disabilities; volunteers will clear sidewalks and front walkways. The snow team boasts 2,000 people strong, according to Serve DC, the city’s volunteer organization.
District resident Cynthia House doesn’t see much need in changing the things.
“I can understand the city taking a stronger stance on the issue from a revenue angle, but this has been after years of debating it,” she said. “And it seems it might be all for naught if the city doesn’t go through the proper channels to do so.”
Wallace Cooley is glad to see the city being more gung-ho about snow removal. He said the issue is a dangerous one, and one where he’s called the city many times to complain about it.
“Shoveling off the sidewalks will make walking on them after the storm has come and gone safer,” he said. “It’ll be more pleasing to the eye to have D.C. Government take a strong stance here.”
The D.C. Department of Public Works has reported 1,214 residents have requested an exemption from having to shovel their sidewalk within that eight hour window.