At a City Council hearing on Tuesday City Councilor Sal LaMattina supported Mayor Martin Walsh’s initiative to levy stiff fines against commercial business owners who do not shovel outside their businesses or commercial properties following a snow storm.
The current fine for such a violation is $300 but Walsh wants to see them set as high as $1,500. Walsh filed the Home Rule Petition to raise the amount of fines that can be levied for snow infractions against property owners last week.
LaMattina said it is time to send a message.
“This was a historic winter,” said LaMattina. “But some did not pitch in and help the city’s efforts in removing snow. When a property owner does not shovel it impedes pedestrian traffic and is dangerous for children and the elderly. We have found that the $300 fine just isn’t sending the message but if we hit those who violate the snow removal ordinance where it hurts, their pockets, then maybe they will start receiving the message loud and clear.”
Under the petition, unpaid fines will be added to property tax bills if they go unpaid. If the state grants this authority, the Mayor will file an Ordinance updating the city’s snow fine structure. The potential change would consider both commercial and residential property owners.
“Illegally dumping snow onto public roads severely worsens an already challenging snow removal process, compounds our workload, raises our costs and increases safety risks for drivers,” said Walsh. “Failing to remove snow from a sidewalk puts lives at danger. It’s a problem for every pedestrian, but it is especially difficult for our children, for the disabled, and for the elderly to face deep, unshoveled sidewalks, and be forced to walk in the road. I urge state officials to move this legislation which grants us the authority to deter these violations, hold accountable those who are guilty, and recoup some of the added costs that these violations create. Snow clean up has to be a team and community effort, and we need to work together.”
The city’s snow regulations are very clear. Commercial entities and residents must not plow or shovel snow onto the roads at any point. They must remove snow, slush, and ice from sidewalks and curb ramps abutting your property within three hours of snowfall ending–or three hours from sunrise if snow falls overnight as required by law.
Also removal of snow, slush, and ice from the full paved width of the sidewalk and curb ramp or a minimum path of 42 inches wide in required. Narrow paths encumber carriages and wheelchairs, and properly cleared pathways ensure flow and safety of pedestrian traffic.
Owners must remove ice to bare pavement or make as level as possible and treat with sand, sawdust or similar material and clear any snow that may be blocking handicapped ramps, fire hydrants or catch basins.
A Home Rule Petition is necessary because cities and towns may only impose fines of not more than $300.00 unless special authority is granted by the legislature.