The Boulder City Council considers changes to the Snow Removal regulations and enforcement.
One of the changes that the city has developed is using contractors to remove snow where residents have failed to shovel and charging the residents for the removal along with a fine. The benefit to people with disabilities is that this method makes the sidewalk usable. In the past, residents got either warnings or tickets, but often left the snow on the walkway and a barrier to our community.
The Daily Camera reported over the weekend that last year the city used contractors 32 times for snow removal. The city issued 33 tickets for 1,044 complaints made. Snow scofflaws are ignored 97% of the time. With that kind of enforcement rate, people with disabilities cannot be confident that walkways will be clear when there is snow.
The newspaper also mentions that along with greater teeth for snow removal enforcement, there will be a drop in the ability of the city to get eyes out in the community to find the offenders. With 1,044 cases reported, the real problem seems to be the identification and verification of the offense, not the enforcement. The paper also notes that 78 people were “repeat offenders.” That means at least half of the repeat offenders got repeat warnings. The city believes that with the ability to bypass some warnings, they will be able to be more effective with enforcement.
Overall, I expect that the changes the city is looking at will be positive for our community. When members of ADAPT testified two year ago, the city council was surprised to find that many days after a snowfall, sidewalks were still impassable particularly by our community. ADAPT members showed photographs of many sidewalks where treacherous areas of wind-blown snow or packed ice blocked the path.
At the City Council meeting tonight I plan to say that we see a need for more efficient and effective enforcement on snow removal. We also wish to remind citizens that snow-shovel-width path does not effectively help our community. The regulations call to clear the entire width of the sidewalk. If a snow shovel is sixteen or eighteen inches wide, it does not clear a path for a wheelchair or walker that has a 28 inch wheelbase. Likewise, people who use a white cane often need to be able to locate the curb and other landmarks that can be hidden with a narrow path through the snow.