Show Shoveling Ordinance Responses from Candidates 2019
Thank you to those candidates for Mayor, City Council and School Committee that took the time to respond to the WalkMedford survey of pedestrian and bicycling mobility issues in Medford. We are encouraged by the demonstration of awareness of the issues surrounding mobility for all in our city, and look forward to working with these community leaders in the future, whether they are elected or not.
Difficulty walking in Medford after the snowstorms of February 2015 was the original impetus for the founding of WalkMedford. We are encouraged by the Complete Streets policy you enacted in May 2016, and by the progress that has been made to date making streets safe for non-motorized travel. Walking after snowstorms remains a challenge, and we appreciate you engaging City staff to improve conditions.
We see two areas for attention:
1) improving the ordinance that deals with clearing snow from walkways, and
2) other actions that encourage and facilitate compliance.
We acknowledge that snow removal has its challenges and requires collaboration by many people. But making progress on winter pedestrian safety is an important part of the Complete Streets policy. We look forward to working with you, the City departments and the City Council on this important issue.
The Ordinance We propose working with your office and the city departments under your leadership to create an ordinance change that recognizes the implementation considerations. We understand that an ordinance would need to be advanced and passed by the City Council.
This is the current ordinance:
Sec. 74-114. - Removal of snow and ice. Whenever the sidewalk, or any part of a sidewalk adjoining any building, or lot of land on any street, is encumbered with ice and snow, it shall be the duty of the tenant or occupant, and, in case there should be no tenant or occupant of the whole of such building or lot of land, it shall be the duty of the owner, or of the person having care of the sidewalk, to cause such sidewalk to be made safe and convenient for public use or travel by removing the ice or snow or by covering the area with sand or some other suitable substance. In case such tenant, occupant, owner or other person shall neglect to do so for the space of six hours during the daytime, he shall forfeit and pay the sum of $25.00 for the first offense and $50.00 for each successive day that the sidewalk shall continue to be encumbered. Any person shall not throw or put, or cause to be thrown or put, any snow or ice into any street in the city. The fine for violation of this section shall be, for the first offense, $50.00 and, for the second offense and subsequent offenses, $100.00.
Our proposed revision makes the following improvements:
Makes the triggering event more specific and related to safety. Clarifies where snow removal is required. Entries to crosswalks have been a problem in the past. Sets a reasonable and clear time limit for uncleared walks. Makes the property owner responsible, instead of leaving responsibility undefined between owner and occupant. Adds a "clean and lien" option, which puts a more effective incentive on the owner to clear sidewalks, and eliminates need for the code official to take people to court to collect fines. Somerville and Chelsea, among others, use this approach. Specifies that the snow removal must result in a safe walking surface (down to pavement, or sanded/treated). Specifies that fire hydrants must be cleared. Identifies the enforcement agents.
The proposed provisions put Medford more in line with Boston, Somerville and others. The "clean and lien" provision ensures that walking routes do not go un-shoveled, but we feel there should be programs to make sure it doesn't hit our most vulnerable homeowners. WalkMedford and a Board of Health intern are researching programs that assist seniors and disabled homeowners with snow removal, which could be publicized through community organizations. Further, the City code official is given leeway in the proposed ordinance to give a break to people over 60, disabled or with other hardships.
Below is our proposed revised ordinance: Whenever snow or ice accumulates on a sidewalk and creates an unsafe condition, the owner of any land or building abutting a sidewalk shall remove the snow and ice to permit safe passage for pedestrians on the sidewalk abutting the owner's property and the entrance to a crosswalk abutting the sidewalk. The owner shall also remove snow at a fire hydrant within or abutting the sidewalk that abuts the owner's property sufficient to allow fire department access to the hydrant. The owner shall remove the snow or ice or treat the sidewalk with sand or other suitable material to permit safe passage to pedestrians. The owner shall remove snow and ice within six daylight hours after the snow stops falling and the city may extend the deadlines set forth above in its discretion. The City’s Code Enforcement Officer, or his designee, or the Police Department shall notify the owner of the failure to comply, and allow the owner 24 hours to comply. If the owner does not comply within 24 hours of receiving notice, the City may, in its discretion, remove the snow or ice and charge the owner for the removal as a lien on the owner’s property tax bill, or fine the owner $50 per day until the owner complies. For each subsequent offense within 12 months, the fine or charge shall double.
Mayor Stephanie M. Burke March 1, 2018 Page 3
A person shall not throw or put, or cause to be thrown or put, any snow or ice into any street in the city. The fine for violation of this section shall be, for the first offense, $50.00 and, for the second offense and subsequent offenses, $100.00.
Actions to Encourage and Facilitate Compliance The ordinance could be presented in a community spirit together with information about winter safety, homeowner services, and the benefits of safe routes to schools and businesses. Part of the public relations would be a good-faith effort by the City to do its part by clearing the sidewalks on City property, and managing street plowing so plowed snow is stored in safe locations. This can go a long way. Already, the publicity around the new sidewalk plow is a positive beginning. A redesigned "Winter Safety in Medford" website is an opportunity to effectively communicate the needed information simply and succinctly.
Boston and Somerville both have good examples, with excerpts reproduced below. Excerpts from Somerville and Boston Snow Removal Web Pages From Somerville’s Winter Guide Web Page ( https://www.somervillema.gov/snowparking ) Property Owners’ Responsibilities for Clearing Sidewalks What to Clear: Owners of any home and/or building abutting a public way are responsible for ensuring that the sidewalk and accessible ramps in front of their property, and extending to the corner if on a corner lot, are clear of ice and snow, in accordance with Section 12-8 of the City Code of Ordinances. For properties abutting sidewalks with curb cuts, ramps, or other access points, property owners are responsible for shoveling proper pathways for access. How to Clear Sidewalks: Per state ADA requirements and City ordinance, sidewalks must be shoveled to a minimum of 36 inches wide to allow wheelchair passage. When to Clear Sidewalks: The time frame in which residents/property owners have to shovel before getting a ticket has changed. The new policy is that sidewalks must be cleared within 6 daylight hours after snow stops falling.
Enforcement/Ticketing: Failure to comply with this ordinance will result in fines in accordance with Section 1-11, as noted below: 1st offense: $50.00 2nd offense: $100.00 3rd offense: $200.00
Enforcement/Clean and Lien: If sidewalks abutting private property remain uncleared after 24 daylight hours from the end of the snow emergency (or snowfall if no emergency was declared), the City will make every effort to dispatch crews or contractors to the address for snow and ice removal. This work shall be carried out in accordance with the priorities listed under “Plowing Procedures.” In order for the City to recover its costs for the clearance of such snow and ice from public sidewalks abutting private properties, additional fines will be assessed and charged via a lien placed on the property in question.
Reporting Uncleared Sidewalks: City Inspectors regularly patrol the city following each snow event, tracking properties that do not comply with City Ordinances for snow and ice removal.
Mayor Stephanie M. Burke March 1, 2018 Page 4
These properties are documented within City databases, and violations are issued. Clean-and-lien activities will also ensue according to the procedures noted above. Tip: However, if you notice any sidewalk, public access route, ramp, etc. that has not been cleared of snow and ice up to the minimum width of 36 inches, please contact 311 by calling 3-1-1, emailing 311Updates@somervillema.gov, or reporting issues via Facebook (www.facebook.com/311Somerville) or Twitter (@311Somerville, @SomervilleCity). The City of Somerville maintains work orders and requests for these issues to help to track problem areas. Do Not Shovel Snow or Ice Into the Street, Unless...: Per Section 12-9 of the City Code of Ordinances, Residents/property owners may not shovel snow or ice into public streets unless all of the following conditions are met:
The mean temperature for that day is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit (snow should be soft), It is during daylight hours, Snow or ice is broken up and spread evenly.
From Boston's "Boston in Winter" site, https://www.boston.gov/winter-boston Property owners must: clear sidewalks within three hours of snowfall ending or three hours after sunrise if it snows overnight, and clear at least a 42-inch-wide path for wheelchairs and strollers. Simply put, we're looking for an accessible path of travel. While the rule is three hours, we try to be reasonable for deciding when we start the clock. Our goal isn't to fine you. We just want people -- especially youth and seniors — to be able to get around safely.
Shoveling Fines: We have information on what you can expect to pay in fines each day your sidewalk is un-shoveled, or if you shovel snow onto the street. We fine ourselves for City-owned properties too.
Rules on clearing snow
Things we could use your help with:
Don’t shovel or push snow into the street. If you do, the City may fine you. Remove ice to bare pavement or make as level as possible and treat with sand, sawdust, or similar material. Every year dozens of people are seriously injured slipping and falling on sidewalks. Please clear any snow that may be blocking a handicap ramp, fire hydrant, or storm drain. If a hydrant is buried in snow, it takes the fire department time to find it and shovel it out. Don’t leave snow or ice on stairways or fire escapes. All common means of exit must be clear in case of a fire or another emergency.
Volunteer Opportunities. WalkMedford has a representative of the Stakeholders Committee which is advising the City on implementation of the Complete Streets policy. The following additional opportunities to help are coming up:
The public will be able to review and comment on the proposed plans for the six projects funded by MassDOT. Watch the WalkMedford e-mail list for details on when public meetings will be held.
While the City received MassDOT funding for six projects, we have a list of 86 suggested projects. There will be opportunities to advocate for these projects as the City develops a plan to manage the large backlog of Complete Streets improvement opportunities.
Clippership Connector WalkMedford is one of several groups advocating for this important new shared path along the Mystic River, from Clippership Drive to the Andrews Middle School and Riverbend Park. According to Mayor Burke: “The Clippership Connector will transform several parks and paths along the river into an interconnected system that will allow for recreation and support economic development in our downtown area.”
Volunteer Opportunities. As the project progresses, there will be opportunities to comment and advocate for the project.
Click here for project description. See below for proposed views and map courtesy of Amber Christoffersen, Greenways Director, Mystic River Watershed Association (mysticriver.org).
Improve Snow Shoveling of Sidewalks and Intersections We are working with City staff to encourage more attention to keeping crosswalks clear by the City’s snowplows (and its contractors), making sure sidewalks in front of City buildings and parks are cleared, and more attention to enforcement of the City’s ordinances requiring residents and businesses to clear snow from sidewalks. We also drafted sticky notes that WalkMedford participants can attach to residences or businesses reminding them that shoveling their walks is the neighborly thing to do and the law.
We are also reaching out to the City Council to advocate for redrafting the City’s confusing snow removal ordinance to clarify responsibility.
Volunteer Opportunities. We can use help with distributing snow shoveling sticky notes at people's residences and businesses that do not shovel after snowfall.
Develop Maps, Web Content and Wayfinding Signs Related to Walking in Medford There are many opportunities for education and outreach letting people know the benefits of walking. We’ve already published articles on our Facebook page and would like to do more, such as:
Creating waking maps, beyond the two we already have. http://www.walkmedford.org/get-walking.html
Leading walking or photography contests
Improving our social media materials and keeping it up to date
Developing wayfinding signs (e.g., 1.0 miles/20 minute walk to the Library).
Volunteer Opportunities. We are just getting started with this effort, and there are lots of opportunities to get involved. Contact Jen if you’re interested in any of these efforts, or have ideas of your own.
Safe Routes to School Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a state-run program that offers encouragement for students to walk to school. They also provide safety assessments around schools, and there is a grant program that provides funds for improvements. Medford had a walk assessment done for the Brooks School and is awaiting the report, but there are opportunities at Medford’s other schools as well.
Safe Routes to School is reliant on parent volunteers for the corresponding school their child is enrolled in. Ideally, more than one parent would be the contact for the SRTS representative to collaborate with and to help implementing SRTS concepts.
Walking with Walk Medford Some people like to walk together! We just need someone with the energy and desire to organize it. Walks on our streets, walks in the Middlesex Fells. Whatever our participants want to do!
Volunteer Opportunities. We need someone to organize the effort, and individual walk leaders.
WMWalking with Walk Medford Lead: Maybe you? Contact us using the form below and share your favorite walking routes.
Neighborways Many of our residential neighborhoods are overrun with cars and/or trucks going too fast for the conditions and making walking unsafe or uncomfortable. Other communities have developed Neighborways programs whereby community members get together with the City to create an environment more conducive to walking and just living in the neighborhood. See what Somerville and other communities have done. We’d like to start talking to the City about a pilot program in one or more of our neighborhoods.
Volunteer Opportunities. Once we get going, we’ll need people to organize their neighbors.
Improve Snow Shoveling of Sidewalks and Intersections. We are working with City staff on this important issue, but further volunteer work and coordination will be needed to encourage our neighbors to keep sidewalks clear.
We can use help with distributing snow shoveling sticky notes at peoples residences and businesses that do not shovel after snow fall!
Clippership Connector. We have just begun the planning process for this important new shared path along the Mystic River, from Clippership Drive to the Andrews Middle School and Riverbend Park. We now must build support and spread the word about its potential benefits and find funds to make it happen
Advancing a Complete Streets Policy. We've made a great start, but with the support of the new administration we need to move Complete Streets in Medford from idea to reality. Mayor Burke recently entered into a Community Compact with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with one element being Complete Streets. Check out information about the City’s Complete Streets efforts here.
Walk Medford Social Media. I In 2016 we seek to develop a robust website and social media team.
Actions to Promote Walking. These could be events and/or wayfinding signs for pedestrians that encourage people to walk instead of drive for shorter trips.
Accomplishments in 2015
Complete Streets* Briefing Book. We developed an educational briefing book to inform current and prospective elected officials and Traffic Commission members about benefits of Complete Streets approach to maintaining and developing our streets.
Over 150 Pedestrian Crossing Signs. We successfully advocated for purchase of over 150 new neon-yellow pedestrian warning signs—the first of these have already been installed .
Clippership Connector. We advanced consideration of new walk/bike path along Mystic River, between Clippership Drive and Riverside Park—dubbed the Clippership Connector—engaging elected representatives, and representatives of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA).
School Crossing Petition. We supported a petition drive to advocate for crossing guards and other safety improvements along High Street for middle school students going to their school buses.
Snow Shoveling Brochure. We worked with the Medford Board of Health on an updated brochure explaining residents' responsibilities to keep sidewalks clear of snow.
* Complete Streets are streets for everyone. They are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to work.
What People Are Saying:
"WalkMedford is like a breath of fresh air for our city!"
"We just love the improvements WalkMedford has done in such a short time."
"WalkMedford is making great strides (pun included;) in making Medford a safer place to walk!"