CHICAGO — After 19-plus inches of snow hit Chicago over the weekend, trekking to work — or even just to the nearest bus stop — could be a daunting undertaking for commuters.
In many parts of Chicago, knee-high boots will be a must: and that's not the city's fault.
A city ordinance that requires homeowners or business owners to clear their sidewalks quickly after a snowfall, or face a fine.
This winter, through Jan. 16, about 800 complaints about unshoveled sidewalks were made to the city's 311 line. The city subsequently issued 57 tickets, said Pete Scales, a Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman.
Alisa Hauser says that's a large increase over the past few years:
The city could not provide a breakdown of how many homes or businesses were ticketed. Homeowners who are ticketed for failing to clear snow face a $50 fine, a city ordinance states. Businesses can face a fine of up to $1,000 for each day a sidewalk remains unshoveled.
If a ticket cannot be issued in person, it is mailed to a homeowner or business, the city said.
The city sends inspectors out to investigate complaints "and in most cases, they either find that the snow has already been shoveled or they leave a door hanger to remind the property owner of their responsibility to clean the sidewalk," Scales said.
City regulations state that if snow stops falling before 4 p.m., businesses and homeowners have three hours to clear the sidewalk, except on Sundays. If snow stops falling after 4 p.m. or on Sundays, sidewalks must be cleared by 10 a.m. the next day.
The 57 tickets issued since the start of 2015 appear to be an increase from previous years.
Last year, NBC5 reported that over a two-year period, the city issued just 72 tickets out of more than 1,600 complaints. Many tickets were forgiven, NBC5 reported.
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