Snowy Mountians in Boulder
I was at the city council meeting that voted 8 to 1 in favor of the snow removal changes this season. It was clear that the council knows there is a problem and that they want feedback from people with disabilities on what would be more efficient and effective for the coming snow seasons.
Listening to the council members concerns it was clear that an “abatement” proposal has a clear following. The concept of abatement is simply that if you fail to clear your sidewalk, the city will get it done and charge the property owner.
The city currently uses abatement in connection with “tickets” to get walkways cleared. Last season CPWD analysis found a city enforcement rate of about 7.4%. Out of about 1000 properties reported, less than 80 were cited and the city removed the snow from about 30 violators’ sidewalks.
CPWD generally applauds the snow removal time-table as opposed to a static 24-hour removal requirement. This is a major point that CPWD needs to provide feedback for the city. The adopted regulations state that of the snowfall ends by 5:AM, property owners need to remove snow by noon that day.
The fact is clear that the city has these regulations to help get people to work and children to school. Some council members liked the 24-hour flexible enforcement cut-off because it sometimes may give residents more opportunity for clearing walks. We don’t shut the city down however; when it snows and the snow enforcement should recognize that people are still using streets and walkways.
At the city council meeting I told about an enforcement dilemma that CPWD had experienced in 2008. I called it the “snow reprieve.” What happened is a large snowfall on Sunday was not cleared by one property owner for the morning commute on Monday. Even though the violator was reported, about an inch of snow fell and gave the scofflaw a pass.
The large snow was not removed, the inch of snow simply extended the time the property owner had to remove the snow. Of course, the one inch additional snowfall was not removed either and although every other home on the block had a clear sidewalk, that single property owner had snow packed ice on the walkway all week and did not receive even a warning.
Finally, today’s paper has a letter to the editor that can be misleading. It is written by the Executive Director of CareConnect here in Boulder and is intended to ask the community to volunteer to assist with the snow removal program that the Center supports. The title of the letter seems to imply that people with disabilities should somehow be excluded from snow removal responsibilities.
CPWD wants to be very clear that our community may disagree and have varying opinions and interests in any public discussion, however; people with disabilities should have the same rights and responsibilities as any other citizen. In this case we believe that all property owners have a civic responsibility to clear the public walkways and are not asking for any additional or special consideration in the enforcement of the city regulation.