What is the responsibility of people or businesses to shovel snow off sidewalks? After this storm, lots of places did not clear the snow, and walks were slick.
— Jon B., Medford
Jon, we figure the city of Medford could have greatly augmented its budget if it had sent officers to hand out tickets to people who did not shovel their sidewalks after last week's snowpocalypse. Because, indeed, it was a violation of the city's municipal code, and there were probably 10,000 or so offenses.
Here's what city Municipal Code 5.510 says:
"Ice and Snow Removal (1) An owner or occupant of property abutting a sidewalk shall remove snow accumulated upon the sidewalk, and shall make an ice-covered sidewalk safe by removing the ice or covering the ice with a suitable material allowing safe travel, within the first two hours of daylight following the snow accumulation or ice formation."
Cory Crebbin, the city's public works director, noted that 5.510 is in the police department section of the city's municipal code, so it would be up to officers to cite offending property owners. He said the failure to remove snow also could violate a separate ordinance that prohibits obstructions on sidewalks. Again, the property owner is responsible for removing or repairing any obstruction.
As for the lack of enforcement of 5.510, we suspect our local gendarmes were already quite busy enough dealing with other snow-related issues — and it might have taken the entire police force to write all the tickets that could have been handed out.
We'd be willing to take odds on the likelihood that people will get their walks shoveled within two hours after the next big snowfall. After all, you have to prioritize — and building an awesome snowman has to come first.
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