Sunday, October 15, 2006

shoveling the sidewalk

Winter is just around the corner, and with it comes the dreaded sidewalk obstruction, snow. We like the snow, both crunching under our feet and spilling off the side of a shovel. However we know many Ann Arborites who curse this chilling debris as the crystaline spite of Old Man Winter. Regardless of your personal appreciation of snow, we all have to deal with it for the next few months.

Ann Arbor requires that all all residents chip in to keep the sidewalks clear and safe throughout the winter. The city website points out that:

There is an ordinance regarding snow removal (violations can result in fines up to $1000) that identifies the responsibilities of citizens in removing snow from sidewalks. However, clearing snow and ice from sidewalks should simply be looked upon as a combination of courtesy and caring toward all those who need to use the public walkways.

All snow and ice should be removed from the entire width of the walk on a daily basis. The city provides a self-serve (bring bucket and shovel) supply of sand and salt at the maintenace yard at 721 N. Main. If you have a reasonably strong back or a snowblower, shoveling for the neighbor is a great community builder. We've heard that some OWS blocks have formalized the sharing of this task. It is also an excelent favor to trade for a ride!

Inevitably, winter walkers will come across sections of sidewalk that are not properly maintained. You can call the city at (734) 994-1788 to report violations. However, before you do, remember that if the city discovers a violation they will ticket all residences within 100 address numbers of the reported violation. There may be a perfectly good explanation for the lack of proper attention at the house in question or nearby residences. Official warnings and fines tend to piss people off more than improve their neighborliness. Making a friendly suggestion either in person or via post-it note might be a better initial contact. Chronic shovel procrastinators may require and deserve a more official and enforcement-backed reminder.

We'd be interested to here what success has come from those who have reported unkempt sidewalks.

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