A New Reason for D.C. to Write Tickets

DC Council considers fines for homeowners, businesses that don't clear sidewalks

By Tom Sherwood
|  Saturday, Feb 27, 2010  |  Updated 10:20 AM EDT
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Residents Air Complaints at Snow-Removal Hearing

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Residents Air Complaints at Snow-Removal Hearing

The DC Council held a public hearing on what went right and what went wrong during the duel blizzards of 2010.
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And you thought the $250 fine for parking on a snow emergency route was tough.

The D.C. Council now is considering new fines for homeowners and businesses that don't clear their public sidewalks after snowstorms. The fines for commericial properties would start at $250 and fines for homeowners would begin at $25.

David Alpert, who runs the GreaterGreaterWashington.Org Web site, said about half of the District's residents commute to work other than by automobile. He told the Council Friday that sidewalks are "necessary facilities during ... snowstorms."

The District overall got positive reviews for its reaction to the historic snowfalls of February, but many witnesses and Council members said sidewalks were a major problem for eveyone, especially seniors, the handicapped and children.

The city needs "greater mobility" on sidewalks and it should be a priority, said Cheryle Adams, a safety advocate for pedestrians.

Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells and Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh are proposing the sidewalk fines. Both said too many businesses and too many residents fail to respond to serious snowfalls. Wells said some Capitol Hill homewowners were taking pictures of their unshoveled sidewalk neighbors and posting the pictures on the Internet in hopes of shaming folks into shoveling.

Ward 4 Council member Murial Bowser and the other members agreed that the city needs to develop a better strategy to ensure that sidewalks are made passable.

"We need a strategic plan," Wells said. 

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