• DC Will Now Fine Scofflaws Who Don’t Shovel Their Sidewalk

    This winter people in Washington, D.C. who do not shovel snow from the sidewalk in front of their house will face fines.

    A bill passed by the D.C. Council last November updated the city’s almost 100-year-old law regarding snow removal and Friday the D.C. Department of Public Works announced its proposed regulations.

    According to the new law, residents and business owners in D.C. can be fined if they do not clear snow from public sidewalks within eight hours of a storm.

    The bill will allow the city to write $25 tickets to homeowners and $150 for businesses if snow is still covering the sidewalk 24 hours after a storm. Elderly and disabled people, however, are exempt under the new fines.

    Under the previous law, which had been on the books since 1922, the city was allowed to clear the sidewalks and then sue the property owner to recoup the cost. The problem, though, is that the city never saw any of that money.

    When the law was being discussed by the city council last year, the D.C. attorney general told members of the council that no one had ever been sued by the city to recover the cost of snow removal, The Washington Post reported.

    While the new law is set to take effect Oct. 1, the problem of enforceability seen with the old law will still be an issue.

    The police and public works officers who are charged with enforcing penalties on people who don’t clear their sidewalks would likely be busy after a heavy storm doing other things.

    Mayor Muriel Bowser, a city council member at the time the bill was being discussed opposed it for that very reason.

    “[The law would] spread resources thinner and not accomplish anything more,” she said at the time. “This is causing more of a problem than it’s meant to solve.”

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