Clear Your Sidewalks!

The city is not ticketing (yet), but if you don’t shovel the sidewalk in front of your house, you will receive an angry phone call from them. Get on it.  #

50 Responses to “Clear Your Sidewalks!”


  • Has there ever been an actual ticket issued for failure to clear the walkway? Seems like there are usually reminders that the ordinance exists, but no enforcement.

  • Might there be good reason for the city not pulling the trigger and enforcing this local ordinance?

    Maybe they don’t want it challenged in todays courtrooms, where lawyers would ask tough questions.

    After all, if local government actually CAN require property owners to clean snow off city-owned sidewalks adjacent to their property, why not the snow on the streets themselves?

    And if snow removal can be required on sidewalks, why not other, even ALL, sidewalk maintenance and repairs?

    This is an area where the stupid are cocksure, the intelligent full of doubt, and the city poobahs smart enough not to push the issue.

  • Fining a massive number of people is not conducive to receiving a large amount of votes. People don’t remember much but they will remember a fine.

  • As a pedestrian, I’m strongly in favor of the sidewalk clearing ordinance. I can understand various reasons homeowners have for not getting it done, but there’s no excuse whatsoever for commercial property/business owners for not getting it done. Long after the common folk have cleared their walks, there are icy sidewalks on the shady side of Main Street for another week or two.

  • What about sidewalks that aren’t privately owned? I’m thinking specifically about the long stretch along Elliot & Cherry Ave. near Region 10, and past Tonsler Park. Shouldn’t the city follow its own ordinance and clear those? I have to walk that way to get to work. It would be nice if the sidewalks on W. Main were cleared too, which they were, partially on Monday in front of some businesses, but there were still areas where it was necessary to step into the street.

  • Might there be good reason for the city not pulling the trigger and enforcing this local ordinance?

    Maybe they don’t want it challenged in todays courtrooms, where lawyers would ask tough questions.

    After all, if local government actually CAN require property owners to clean snow off city-owned sidewalks adjacent to their property, why not the snow on the streets themselves?

    Man up, shovel your walk, and quitcherbitchin’. If you hate your neighbors so much, move out into the country.

  • Waldo, I’m guessing the folks who still haven’t gotten up of of their asses to shovel the sidewalks in front of their houses and want to bitch about having to are the citified equivalent of the folks in the county who’ve run out of food already. Those folks all want to bitch that the roads aren’t dry yet and they can’t get in to Applebee’s or some other greasy food emporium and restock their abdominal fat supply. Maybe Florida or back to New Jersey?

  • Except for the elderly and disabled. And it’s true that snow shoveling can bring on a heart attack.

  • Patience, yeah. The city should be clearing those. UVA’s medical center work crew did a great job of sidewalk clearing. They were out Sunday working on the whole stretch from Crispell down around Roosevelt Brown and aways there toward Cherry (I came down Grove, so I don’t know how far they went). They also made sure the ice path and steps up to the parking lot on Grove were clear of ice and well sanded/salted. And by the next day, they’d cleared to the 11th st garage and around the JPA/W Main corner, though they didn’t clear a path to the crosswalk there. That required wading and drift jumping.

    I imagine this corridor was deemed important for both their employees and so that pedestrians weren’t in the ambulance path, but that doesn’t explain Elliott (I well remember how many sirens came through when I lived there). Seems the city would want folks off the street on that big hill, which gets a lot of traffic.

  • So if it’s snowed 20 inches or so, and the City has plowed another 4 feet onto the sidewalk in front of property I own, do I just shovel the top 20 inches and they’ll c’mon by and take care of their artificially placed pile?

    We’ve been encouarging our tenants to clean the walks in front of their homes, but if they do not why does the owner get the ticket?

    How about out of town landlords?

    BTW, I’ve had 3 guys for 3 days shoveling…expensive.

    How about I’ll finish when the City gets E. market clear to Woolen Mills?

  • The city says “shovel your sidewalks” but then their snowplows come along and push a pile of snow that blocks your driveway or parking space you have shovelled out, as has happened on my street. When I asked a passing city snowplow truck whether they could so something about it-so my neighbor could get back in-they said “we’re not supposed to.” And yet we are supposed to shovel the city’s sidewalks!
    And on Lexington Avenue the city actually piled the snow up on the sidewalk by Maplewood Cemetery, making it totally blocked.
    If I were to receive an “angry call” from the city about an uncleaned walk,I’d tell them where in our city government I’d like to stick the pile of snow!
    And what about those who are physically unable to do it or can not find anyone? I think most people would clear their walks, for their own convenience or out of courtesy to their neighbors, without threat of legal sanction.
    Saw where a Council meeting had to be cancelled because of the snow. Maybe it should snow more often if it will keep our local politicians out of action!

  • We’ve been encouarging our tenants to clean the walks in front of their homes, but if they do not why does the owner get the ticket?

    How about out of town landlords?

    It seems to me that you can “encourage” all you want, but, unless your leases make the tenant responsible for snow removal, than the responsibility remains that of the property owner. If the water pipe in front of your house burst, you could “encourage” your tenants to repair it, but it’s probably your responsibility. Freedom from those sorts of obligations are one reason why people may choose to rent.

    As for out of town landlords, same deal. They can either get into town to fulfill their obligations or pay somebody else to do it on their behalf.

  • We get to pick. Either everybody can do an hour’s work, or we can increase taxes enough to pay people to do it for us. Keeping in mind that the whole town working in parallel can clean the sidewalks in a day or so, but hiring people means a smaller force that will take a lot longer.

    I prefer the former. But, then, I live out in the country so that I don’t have to do this kind of thing. :)

  • The space is either public or private. Public spaces are to be maintained by public services. Easy to grasp, one would think. But in the land of the terminally stoopid, nothing’s ever obvious.

  • Only in cville could something so simple and obvious be made into a complicated mess. Your neighbors leaves fall in your yard you still pick them up. Even if leaves from a city park falls in your yard you pick them up. You shovel that areas you own..maybe even twice.

    I bet that if the city did a budget based on the expectations of some around here were would have a riot. Lets see… $5.00 per K on property taxes?

  • Is anybody here willing to pay higher taxes to have their sidewalks shoveled?

    Let’s keep in mind that, due to obstacles in sidewalks and their narrowness, they’d need to be done by hand—snowblowers would just put the snow back in the road, and there’s obviously not enough room for a plow. So if we wanted them to be shoveled within 48 hours of a snowstorm, let’s all imagine how many people that would require to shovel all of the sidewalks of the city in that time frame. This is an expensive proposition, on the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

    I’m recalling how pissed off some people got over Art In Place a few years ago, for the whopping $5,000 that was costing the city. Imagine if we were spending 50x that to do something that’s already happening now without any public spending required.

  • Many creative solutions can be envisioned, including tax rebates for those who will do it themselves, smarter equipment (http://www.snowmelter.com/en/cost_savings.php), utilizing more ingeniously available manpower from minor offense inmates and volunteers (similar to fire dept. volunteers), developing more intelligent response plans, etc.

    But the current ‘solution’ is patently unfair and established by the weak of mind.

  • I have an idea for Charlottesville: If you can’t maintain it, don’t build it.

    I know that the ordinance is just a dodge to keep the City from being sued by anyone who slips and falls on their sidewalks, but threatening the public with fines for not doing the City’s job is taking it a bit far.

    Also: perhaps the City’s angry phone callers should hang up and grab a shovel themselves? I know it’s against City policy, but those employees could produce something besides CO2. Just a thought.

  • Many creative solutions can be envisioned, including tax rebates for those who will do it themselves, smarter equipment (http://www.snowmelter.com/en/cost_savings.php), utilizing more ingeniously available manpower from minor offense inmates and volunteers (similar to fire dept. volunteers), developing more intelligent response plans, etc.

    Tax rebates? Really? You want to establish an entire government infrastructure to monitor who shovels how much how often, value that at some particular dollar rate, and then have people claim it on their property taxes? And you think that’s better than just having everybody shovel their walks, and thus giving us all of those people the same tax rebate by virtue of not having to raise taxes? Or, you posit, we can spend a much of money on snow melting machines, convincing people to volunteer to shovel other people’s sidewalks and “developing more intelligent response plans” (which is politician-speak for “I have no fucking clue of how to pay for this, but I feel compelled to move my lips.”) And somehow all of this is better than just people shoveling for an hour?

    I could be convinced that there are better approaches than people shoveling their own walks. But this? This is foolishness.

    But the current ’solution’ is patently unfair and established by the weak of mind.

    I could totally write software that would generate your comments on cvillenews.com. And if I did, I’d have every single one of them end with this sentence.

  • You want to establish an entire government infrastructure to monitor who shovels how much how often, value that at some particular dollar rate, and then have people claim it on their property taxes?

    An entire government infrastructure? Really?
    I could equally write software that could generate your posts automatically, as you’re one-dimensional: ZERO creative, out-of-the-box ideas.

  • Waldo, if it’s only going to take hundreds of thousands of dollars (low ball estimate), we wouldn’t have to raise taxes. We didn’t raise taxes to see to it that the Mall is the very first public space that is cleaned after every snow. For now, we could use the $1.6M the city has earmarked for buying the property on the corner of 4th and Preston that the city doesn’t need. It is a question of priorities.
    The city has acknowledged that it will have to rely upon the young, the empty nesters, and the retired to supply its housing vacancies. Why lure retirees to the city if you’re going to fine them for not doing something most of them are too decrepit to do? As previously stated, there are health issues associated with shoveling snow, cutting grass, etc. Anybody for a hip replacement?
    Am I advocating for the city’s cleaning of all the city’s sidewalk of which it is 3/4 owner? No. Just keep on keeping on. I have never seen most of the sidewalks suitably cleaned after a snow in Cville and I doubt I ever will.
    It is strange however that I haven’t seen the usual people with snow shovels attached to their vehicles driving around asking people if they need snow removal, nor have I seen people walking around with shovels asking if someone needs his walk shoveld. Many the economy is in better shape than I thought.

  • Here’s an idea: let’s abolish the tax rebates for big landowners and give those rebates to the folks maintaining their own sidewalks! Plus, I bet we can then shrink the size of government infrastructures! hahahahaha…..

  • We need a wall of shame for businesses who haven’t cleared yet. Boylan Heights and Christian’s on the Corner–whoever is responsible for those sidewalks needs to have them cleared. Incline ice busy intersection. Yuk. I realize there’s nowhere to *put* the snow, but that’s beside the point. Cart it over to the statue if you have to. Get it off the sidewalk.

    As for landlords, if snow removal is in the lease as the tenant’s responsibility, make sure you have stipulations for what happens if you have to hire someone. Chances are those fees can come out of the security deposit or a surcharge for the monthly rent–just make sure it’s in the lease. If snow removal isn’t mentioned in the lease, the property owner is responsible.

  • Here’s an idea: let’s abolish the tax rebates for big landowners and give those rebates to the folks maintaining their own sidewalks!

    Yeah, well, the problem is that the tax deals that I think you’re referring to are only offered by Albemarle County. The “clear your sidewalk” requirements are imposed by the City of Charlottesville, so I don’t think that’s going to work out.

    I’ve got to say that I’m amazed at the amount of moaning and groaning about property owners being expected to do a bit of work and sweat for an hour. No wonder there are so many out-of-shape, physical wrecks around. Come on – if you’re not physically disabled, get to work. If you can’t do it, pay somebody else to do it for you. And, if enough of you are unwilling or unable to do it, sure, go ahead, create more government jobs and tax yourself to pay for it. But there ain’t no free lunch.

  • I’ve spent maybe 20 hours the last few days shoveling, helping neighbors out, including getting our Postal Lady out of the ditch. So, Harry, I’ll say you would moan and whine much more than I do. But, as we both know, that’s not the point, eh?

  • Good job, Majung. Your 20 hours certainly exceeds the 5 hours that I spent digging. Clearly, you’re not an out-of-shape, physical wreck. I’m glad that you didn’t make your postal carrier wait for the federal forces to come and pull her out of the ditch. She might still be there.

    It’s good to know that you’re not a moaner or a whiner. Me neither. But, those other guys…

    Merry Christmas to you.

  • How can people be SO short sighted they can assume automatically not clearing a sidewalk of 2 feet of snow is an act of laziness.

    The city is filled old people, infirm people, landlords and ladies absent from the city temporarily or permanently, people without transportation or shovels or excess income to hire anyone even if they could find someone whose services are needed by everyone at the same time.

    What are you doing with the snow from the sidewalk, putting it in the street? That’s not permitted, and can get you cited for a REAL offense. You’re supposed to shovel it into someone’s yard or driveway, and it better be your own.

    Of course sanctimonious moralizers who leap in to sermonize on blogs are out in force, as always. If they spent that time shoveling sidewalks still blocked, what a queer world it would be.

  • It should be common practice for able-bodied people to shovel for their neighbors who are disabled or elderly. I’m from Buffalo, where snowfall is measured in feet per hour, and we always shoveled for our neighbors. If you have children, have them help the elderly neighbors–it builds character.

  • I don’t think anyone has advocated that the city clean all the sidewalks-though someone on one of those mini-tractors can cover a lot more ground faster than someone with a shovel.
    The issue here, what has upset some of us, is that this is an emergency, a snowfall that cannot be cleared away in a few minutes. There was no need to rush with a reminder about the ordinance. At least in my neighborhood ever since Sunday people have been working very diligently on snow clearing.
    And then there is the matter of city crews plowing snow onto sidewalks or other spaces that had been cleared.Just up the street from me there was a carefully cleaned sidewalk- but where the walk came to the street there was a huge wall of snow piled up where it had been plowed. And there was other space available. It would seem to be common sense not to block sidewalks where they exit on the street or block driveways. Its already difficult enough without the city adding to the problem by this carelessness.
    I totally agree about businesses needing to clear their walks. Also, I am under the impression that the county has no walk-clearing ordinance. I used to work in the county,on Rio Road, and saw very few sidewalks that were cleared in front of businesses.

  • If you have children, have them help the elderly neighbors–it builds character.

    When I was a kid, in New England, snowstorms were always a chance to earn some money. My brothers and I would get up early and go around the neighborhood, offering to shovel driveways and walkways. The only rule, imposed by my mother, is that we had to shovel for at least one elderly widow in the neighborhood and we could not accept payment. We could, however, accept an invitation to come in for a cup of hot chocolate, afterwards.

  • I don’t think there was a rush with the reminder of the ordinance. The city had already announced that they were not enforcing the normal rule. I think giving folks until mid-week was more than generous, especially since I doubt they’ll actually bother fining anyone.

    I’ve cleared my sidewalk, multiple neighbors’ walks, and other spots here and there. I threw down granular deicer even though I hate the stuff because I figure my elderly neighbors need their hips intact. I’m quite amused by the folks across the street–they dug out the yard walks for two elderly neighbors, but never bothered clearing their own streetside sidewalk. The sidewalk on this side of the street is clear, though, so it’s not necessary to have both on a neighborhood street.

    On my walk downtown or to the Corner, there are plenty of sidewalks not shoveled, both for residential folks and business property. That’s one to two miles, depending on the direction I travel. Some folks have been diligent, some have not.

    But hey, bartering still works. I know plenty of folks who work for beer, lunch, warm socks, whatever. And the cash option exists for those with the funds.

    The point remains, though, that the sidewalks need to be cleared in a timely fashion. Call it safety, civic responsibility, or whatever, but it needs to be done.

  • As is typical here at cvillenews, posters love to write about how cool they are, what they do for this and that, and then make that the norm to such an extent, they want their behavior to be LAW and even punish those that don’t follow. Well, the world doesn’t work like that.

    The facts remain: a public sidewalk is a public space, therefore surrounding property owners should have no obligation to maintain that space. If they do so by their own volition, then great. I certainly do because I have the time and physical capacity to do so, and I like to have my neighborhood clean and functional. But not everyone has the means and that’s life.

    Should we make demands on owners regarding cleanliness and year ‘round safety on said sidewalks? Of course not! It’s simply not theirs. When someone buys a property in cville, is there a legal document to be signed spelling out their sidewalk duties? Is there even a map/plot drawn determining where one sidewalk duty starts and ends?

    What this represents is yet another case of mindless, unstructured thought processes we have in the USA. It’s the same mentality that creates irrational, lopsided social contracts like our healthcare system based on employment rather than lucid, intelligent, reasonable and fair systems that provide universally for all, not just the privileged few.

  • I want to clear my sidewalk so some scum bag can walk his dog down the street and let his dog do his business in my yard. Not. let the snow stay on the sidewalk until it melts naturally.

  • But then he’ll walk his dog somewhere that a sidewalk is cleared and it’ll do it in someone else’s yard.
    I think we should clear our sidewalks, but I am 100% in agreement with your sentiment about thoughtless, selfish dog owners. And that includes those who do pick up- but then leave the bag in front of your house, on the walk or in the grass by it.

  • I am not going to go and read through the other posts to see if my comment has already been covered.

    I saw the NBC 29 story about the fella that suggested that since “sidewalks are public property” why is a private citizen required to shovel it?

    He made a good point.

    If I lived in town I would definitely be looking forward to finding a legal answer to that question.

  • So to those who follow the “the sidewalk is public property and therefore I’m not shoveling it” line of thinking, do you prefer that pedestrians walk in the (even more narrow) street and get hit, or that you pay more taxes to have the city clear your walk?

    I don’t wanna sound like an old fart here, but whatever happened to civic responsibility? Seems like people want and expect more, and are willing to do less. I guess that’s the American way.

  • Seems like people want and expect more, and are willing to do less. I guess that’s the American way.

    You’re confused. The ‘American Way’ is to not think things through, let shit happen then sweep it under the rug. It goes without saying, that shit starts to stink. In 2009 going into 2010, there’s loads of stinking shit everywhere you look. In fact, there’s so much of it, nothing gets done anymore and folks just wonder why.

  • Why is it that the city only considers me to own or be responsible for the streets in front of my house when it snows? I can’t get the city to come out and remove the grass that grows in the summer through the cracks in the sidewalk in front of my house. By the middle to end of the summer that stuff is like a hay field.

  • Thanks for the laugh. In many of the comments, I heard my own father’s voice. Though my parents have lived in the same place since 1972, and though the town’s plows push show into the apron of the driveway 6-10 times each year, my dad still calls me to complain about it. You’d think that after the first few years, he’d realize that the plows are doing what they are supposed to do and that adds a little to his work.

    The people who belly ache about these inconveniences are probably happy to take advantage of the nice things that come with living in a community. If pitching in and clearing your walks is so horrible, maybe it’s time to move to a place where you won’t be burdened by living in a neighborhood.

    Jogger, I’m enjoying the image of an adult fretting over grass growing between sidewalk cracks in front of their home and thinking that are powerless to do anything about it as it grows into a “hay field.” :)

  • jogger you must not have been paying attention. Under city code, it is your responsibility to deal with that “hay field.”

    Sec. 5-155. Duty of owner or occupant to cut grass, weeds and other vegetable matter from property line to the public street right-of-way.
    (a) It shall be the duty of the owner or occupant of any land or premises abutting upon any public street right-of-way, including the sidewalk and between the sidewalk and curb, whether paved or not, and the duty of the owner of any unoccupied land or premises abutting upon any public street right-of-way, including the sidewalk and between the sidewalk and curb, whether paved or not, to have any grass, weeds and other vegetable matter cut and removed, and at all times to prevent such area from becoming unsightly, impeded or offensive by reason of failure to remove any such materials.

  • There is an easy solution for those who want to live in the City and still not have to shovel sidewalks. Live on a street that doesnt have sidewalks. There are some nice streets right here in the Downtown area that have no sidewalks, like Malcolm Crescent right near Park St. All you need concern yourself are your own walkways and getting your car out.
    By the way, the sidewalk by Maplewood Cemetery is still impassable due to the snow piled on it. When is the city going to obey its own ordinance>

  • By the way, the sidewalk by Maplewood Cemetery is still impassable due to the snow piled on it. When is the city going to obey its own ordinance
    If you recall the story about the Arby’s signs, the judge didn’t care that ordinances are not uniformly followed, as they only apply to people that city/county employees don’t like. BTW, saw many ‘unlawful’ signs on 29N these last few days…

  • If you recall the story about the Arby’s signs, the judge didn’t care that ordinances are not uniformly followed, as they only apply to people that city/county employees don’t like.

    Um. No. The judge ruled that the fact that others violate the law does not eliminate the need to follow that law. The ol’ but he did it first! might fly in preschool, but that’s basically out the window once you start big-boy school.

  • You can keep on putting a spin on everything, Waldo – works wonders with your ‘LOL’ followers – but the facts remain.

  • There is a written record of the judge’s decision. Let’s see the “facts” Majung.

  • Let’s see who disagrees with the facts… the judge upheld the conviction against Arby’s signage and was neither swayed nor moved by Arby’s defense that the ordinance is unequally enforced.

  • I like Majung’s theory: that the judge ruled that the government ought to enforce laws only against people who they don’t like, in a secret ruling that only Majung/Sympatico was given access to. It makes me wonder what other top-secret rulings that only he knows about. We’re getting some great insider access here!

  • Yeah, Waldo …obviously, once again, you are disingenuous. The fact remains, 1 citizen has been targeted, whereas others can flaunt the same ordinances without repercussions. The most obvious issues are spun and spun and spun by the spin-meisters, of which you belong.

  • So Majung, we are supposed to agree with your spin with no reference to the judge’s actual ruling?

Comments are currently closed.

Sideblog