January 4, 2011
CHEH RE-INTRODUCES WINTER SIDEWALK SAFETY LEGISLATION
PEDESTRIAN SAFETY MEASURE WOULD AUTHORIZE DISTRICT TO ISSUE FINES WHO DO NOT CLEAR SIDEWALKS OF SNOW AND ICE
(Washington, DC) Councilmember Mary M. Cheh (Ward 3) and Councilmember Tommy Wells (Ward 6) introduced legislation at today’s legislative meeting that would improve pedestrian safety after snowfalls.
The Winter Sidewalk Safety Amendment Act of 2011 ( click to view) would provide the Mayor with the authority to issue $25 fines to residents and $250 fines to businesses who fail to clear sidewalks within 8 daylight hours after the end of snowfall. “Pedestrian safety should be a priority no matter what season it is,” said Cheh.
“Every year, though, the District wakes up during winter and rediscovers that the current scheme for enforcing sidewalk clearing is impractical and does not work.”
Currently, the District’s law imposes an obligation on property owners to clear snow and ice from their sidewalks within 8 daylight hours after the snow falls. If the property owner does not, the District must clear the sidewalk and then file a lawsuit against the owner to recover costs, though the amount of recovery is capped at $25.
“I look forward to working with the new Chairman of the Committee to move this bill,” said Cheh. “When residents—including children and seniors—walk outside, they should have a clear path on the sidewalk.”
Although the bill did not receive a vote in Committee on Public Works and Transportation in the last Council period, a report by the Council’s Office of Policy Analysis recommended that the Council “giv[e] ticketing authority to municipal workers who are outdoors and can see problems on site.” Other jurisdictions, including New York City, Alexandria, VA, and Frederick, MD, all impose fines on property owners who do not clear their sidewalks.