Evanston aldermen Monday are scheduled to vote on new rules to require homeowners to shovel their walks within 24 hours after any snowfall and set penalties of up to $750 for violations.

The city currently does not require shoveling unless snowfall totals four inches or more.

The change would also apply to tenants and commercial building property owners and adds a provision requiring that sidewalks at intersections be cleared by adjoining property owners as well.

Violators could also have liens filed against their property by the city, if the city chooses to clear the walks itself.

In a memo to aldermen, Interim City Manager Erika Storlie says the city received 153 complaints about sidewalk conditions after the first two storms this year.

Because the first storm, which drew 99 complaints, involved just under four inches of snow, Storlie says, the city had no legal authority to require people to clear the sidewalks.

After the second storm, which reached the four-inch threshold, the city issued 16 violation notices, she said.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, has requested that the Council suspend its normal rules to be able to introduce and adopt the ordinance tonight rather than waiting until the following meeting, two weeks from Monday, to take the adoption vote.

Related stories

Tougher snow shoveling rules proposed (1/14/20)

Change in works for sidewalk shoveling rules? (11/30/19)

What’s magic about four inches of snow? (4/22/19)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Almost icebergs!

    Would property owners be responsible for the removal of the berms of snow that city trucks plow onto sidewalks at intersections?

    1. Seems so …

      Hi Dan,

      The text of the ordinance creates no exception based on whether Mother Nature or a city plow placed the snow on the sidewalk at the intersection.

      That does raise the question of whether if you suffer a fatal heart attack while shoveling the snow, your estate will be able to sue the city for damages for the forced labor they put you to.

      However, I imagine they would argue that you were free to hire a contractor to do the work for you.

      — Bill

  2. Great Revenue Source

    Sounds like we can even be fined when the snow starts after we have already arrived at work? If it’s still on the ground when we get home after the rush hour, even if it’s only an inch !

    1. 24 hours

      Hi Frankie,

      Under the new ordinance you’d have 24 hours from any snow accumulation to clear the walk. So, presumably, nobody would have to shovel more than once every 24 hours. So unless you work 24-hour shifts, having to go to work should not be a barrier to compliance.

      — Bill

      1. It still depends on reasonable enforcement

        There are edge caess where it could be hard to tell if a walk had been shoveled within 24 hours from time of inspection or if it had been slightly longer. If they only issue citations when the violatiion is clearly way over the line then no one can credibly accuse the city of playing “gotcha”., while still getting flagrant violators.

        Compliance would require some extra cost for residents who regularly travel for more than a day, but that does not have to be a deal-breaker.

  3. New snow rules

    Would this apply only to the crosswalk, or to our private walk as well, including the back yard ?

    1. Crosswalks

      Applies to crosswalks at intersections whether you’re a homeowner or landlord.

      Applies to private walks and “carriage walks” connecting the public sidewalk to the curb as well as “walkways, stairs, driveways, parking spaces, parking lots and similar areas on private property” only if you’re a landlord.

      — Bill

  4. New Snow Rules

    Could we get our crack parking crew to enforce the new rules?  They consistently demonstrate sound discretion.  Or would that require raising their salaries as a result of expansion of their duties, thereby absorbing most of the revenue generated ?

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