Keller @ Large: How Other Cities Deal With Those Who Don’t Shovel Snow

BOSTON (CBS) – The WBZ-TV weather team is all over what looks like the first significant storm of the winter Thursday night, and while it looks like Boston will be spared the worst of it, you know it’s just a matter of time until we get hit. And that forces us to once again confront a perennial wintertime issue around here – what to do about people who don’t bother to clear the sidewalk abutting their property?

Gov. Charlie Baker may act as early as Thursday on a bill that would allow Boston to boost fines for non-compliance with the city shoveling ordinance by commercial property owners from the current $300 to as much as $1,500.

Will that be enough to curb the disregard for others reflected in the failure to clear sidewalks, or the outright dumping of snow onto public property?

And what about residential property scofflaws, whose negligence drives schoolkids, the elderly and baby strollers into the streets, if they dare venture out at all?

Right now Boston only issues a $50 fine for a homeowner who doesn’t shovel. Compare that with Somerville, where a third offense can get you a $200 ticket, or Chicago, where the fines can range up to $500.

I like the way they handle things in Minneapolis, where folks who don’t shovel get a warning at first. If they haven’t cleaned up the mess after three days, a city crew comes and shovels it out and the property owner is billed for their time plus a fee, so the penalty is pegged to the size of the offense and the public hazard is promptly removed.

Maybe we could learn something from our friends in Minnesota. Sometimes, fines and even shame aren’t enough to get people to do the right thing.

More from Jon Keller
Comments

One Comment

  1. Bob Quinn says:

    Maybe the City of Boston should clear their own property and not force property owners to clear the city owned sidewalks.

  2. bees_knees_6 says:

    Many other cities do not have to deal with sidewalks being shoveled. People do what we did back in the day and what we do in my neighborhood now……shovel the sidewalk in front of our home. We also shovel fire hydrants and the sidewalks of anyone who is unable to shovel his or her own. It is called respect.

  3. @kelleratlarge you might be interested to know that Charlie Baker’s hometown of Swampscott does not make homeowners clear their sidewalks. The plow drivers people hire just pile it on the sidewalk.

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