At Greater Greater Washington, David Alpert is displeased that the D.C. Council tabled a bill that would fine homeowners for not shoveling the sidewalks in front of their homes. As it stands now, shoveling is required by law—but that law isn’t very well enforced. Alpert writes:
Large numbers of DC residents have to get to work or school on foot and on transit after snowstorms, and unshoveled areas create serious safety hazards. Sidewalks are often completely impassable for people with disabilities or even just temporary injuries.
DC already has a law that residents and businesses have to clear their sidewalks, but it’s not enforceable. The government has clear the sidewalk and then sue individual violators to collect up to $25. This bill simply makes the penalty for violating this law a straightforward ticket and fine, just like in most cities including Arlington, Alexandria and Montgomery County.
Cheh made many changes to the bill during the last few months to cut the fines even further from the original proposal, put in exemptions for poor and elderly residents, and more. Property owners get a warning before having to pay any fine until the end of 2013.
It’s not clear if this law does enough to push the egregious violators, like the large parking lot in Mount Vernon Triangle, to actually take any action, but a majority of councilmembers have made clear that they don’t really care to do anything about those problems.
Generally, I agree that snow is a pain to walk through (and certainly impassable for some people), and a common sense law that’s not enforceable should be made enforceable. But what I’d really love to see is not just a sidewalk shoveling bill, but also a mandatory sidewalk salting/pet-friendly de-icing bill: Those shoveled-but-not-salted sidewalks can get real slippery, y’all. Am I the only person who ends up walking on the snow in order not to fall down?
Photo by tuchodi via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution Generic License 2.0