They weren’t bluffing.
Before snow started falling Wednesday, city officials issued 142 tickets to property owners who had failed to clear their sidewalks from the previous snowfall.
“We have seen quite a few sidewalks that appear to have been untouched since the original snowfall,” said Brian Jimenez, the city’s codes enforcement manager.
The tickets are for $72 total — a $20 fine and $52 in Municipal Court costs. Violators likely don’t know yet they’ve received a ticket. That’s because the city is sending the tickets through the mail, in part, to ensure property owners rather than tenants receive the tickets.
The city’s ordinance requires property owners to clear public sidewalks that run through their property within 48 hours after the end of a snowstorm. City inspectors began issuing tickets Tuesday — 48 hours after Sunday’s snow — and stopped when snow began falling on Wednesday. Property owners now have 48 hours from the end of this snowstorm to clear their public sidewalks — basically defined as sidewalks that run along a public street.
Jimenez said inspectors checked 366 properties that had been the subject of complaints. Property owners can choose to contest the ticket in Municipal Court, or pay the $72 fine and fee.
A majority of city commissioners said Wednesday that they thought the ordinance ultimately would make it more likely that people will shovel their sidewalks in a timely manner.
“I’m hearing that people are upset about getting a fine, so maybe that will change their behavior in the future,” City Commissioner Lance Johnson said.
At least one city commissioner, though, wants the city to consider scaling back the ordinance or scrapping it. Commissioner Mike Amyx — who voted against the ordinance in December 2008 when it was proposed — said he still has significant concerns.
“I’m afraid that we have placed people who for a variety reasons can’t move the snow, we’ve placed them in a situation where they are trying to do it anyway,” Amyx said. “That concerns me.”
The city operates a program with Douglas County Senior Services that provides volunteers to the elderly and others who cannot shovel snow. But commissioners who support the ordinance said more volunteer groups need to be found.
“I wish we could have more of that and less tickets,” City Commissioner Aron Cromwell said.
To lodge a complaint about sidewalks, call 832-7700; to receive information about volunteers, call 842-0543.