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Shovel Your Sidewalk This Winter Or Face Fines Up to $500

By Ted Cox | October 19, 2015 4:03pm | Updated on October 20, 2015 9:56am
 The City Council is setting strict standards for when sidewalks need to be cleared of snow.
The City Council is setting strict standards for when sidewalks need to be cleared of snow.
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DNAinfo/Patty Wetli (file)

CITY HALL — It will cost more to be lazy this winter.

A City Council committee on Monday hiked the top fine for failing to shovel your sidewalk to $500 — a tool city officials said would be used against repeat offenders.

City officials clarified language on snow removal, but in doing so it also hiked the fines and set strict times to have sidewalks shoveled.

"The original language was very vague," said Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld, head of the Department of Transportation, which is assigned to enforce clear driveways and sidewalks along with the Department of Streets and Sanitation. Scheinfeld added that the new ordinance, submitted as part of the 2016 budget process Monday, set "clearer guidelines."

Yet there's no denying the actual ordinance language increases fines for failure to clear sidewalks from $50 to a range from $50-$500. It also increases the fine for obstructing the public way with shoveled or plowed snow from $25-$100 to $50-$500. Jeffrey Levine, of the Law Department, said it was intended as a tool the Law Department can use to increase fines for repeat offenders and other scofflaws.

It also calls for snow that falls during the day to be cleared by 10 p.m., and for snow that falls overnight to be cleared by 10 a.m., while confirming that business owners as well as property owners and operators are required to clear the snow from the public way on their property and not cover Divvy stations and other bike racks in the process.

RELATED: Snow Scofflaw Tickets Went Up Last Winter

The timing provision made some aldermen skittish, but Levine sought to placate them by saying the increased fines are aimed at the "repeat, flagrant offender."

"Our first step is always to issue warnings," Scheinfeld said.

Budget Director Alexandra Holt said the "intent is not to change the procedure," but it's "really intended to address the people who don't ever clear the snow from a sidewalk."

The new ordinance cleared the committee and heads for approval as part of the budget process at the City Council meeting on Wednesday.

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