Councilman David Greenfield wants government to charge lazy homeowners for not clearing sidewalks of snowBy Mason White 5:45 PM February 19, 2014
|Snow on sidewalks illustration|
By: Hydar Tomar
(Scroll down for video) New York City Councilman David Greenfield announced that he would like the government to charge lazy homeowners for not clearing their sidewalks of snow, according to a statement released by his office.
After receiving numerous complaints from residents about snow and ice coated sidewalks in front of commercial and residential properties throughout New York City, Councilman Greenfield is proposing changes to the city’s laws to better protect pedestrians.
Currently, property owners receive a fine starting at $100 if they fail to clear their sidewalk within four hours after a storm ends.
However, even when this fine is issued, the sidewalk often goes unshoveled and remains dangerous to pedestrians, especially children and senior citizens. Under Councilman Greenfield’s proposal, the city would use its municipal workers to clear the sidewalk and would then bill the delinquent property owner $250 or more for the work, depending on the size of the property.
This would ensure that the hazard is remediated at no additional expense to the city while still holding the property owner accountable for breaking the law.
“We all have a responsibility to our neighbors to make sure that the sidewalks in front of our homes and stores are cleared and passable four hours after the snow stops falling. Unfortunately, many people don’t care and ignore the law. Simply issuing a fine to the property owner really doesn’t solve the problem, as many of these tickets are ignored. That’s why I am proposing to amend the existing law so that the city can perform the work itself, which would actually result in ice-free sidewalks and additional revenue,” said Councilman Greenfield.
In many cases, the neglected sidewalks are in front of properties such as abandoned or stalled construction sites, vacant houses or empty storefronts.
With these summonses often going ignored and unpaid, allowing the dangerous condition to persist, Councilman Greenfield is proposing to overhaul the existing law so that it better meets the ultimate goal of getting the sidewalk cleared on behalf of pedestrians.
Under his proposed law, owners of commercial and residential properties who fail to clear their sidewalk would be charged a fee starting at $250 and rising depending on the size of the property for the city to perform the work.
The city would use the revenue to fund the hiring of additional temporary snow laborers used to clear public areas such as street corners and curbs, which would create more jobs while leading to safer, clearer sidewalks for the public.
The city already has a database of temporary snow laborers it calls on during major snow events, with pay starting at $12 an hour and rising to $18 an hour after working 40 hours in a week. Councilman Greenfield envisions an expansion of this program through the hiring of additional workers to clear sidewalks as part of his new legislation.
“It’s vital that all residents can get around safely, especially in a community like ours with so many families and seniors. This winter has made it clear that the current law does not provide enough motivation for many property owners to do the right thing. My law would increase the fine against those who flout this important responsibility, while also achieving the goal of making sure that every inch of sidewalk in New York City is safe and passable,” said Councilman Greenfield.
Councilman Greenfield is proposing this law after receiving numerous complaints from residents about snow and ice covered sidewalks throughout Boro Park, Midwood and Bensonhurst and after personally seeing several elderly constituents slip and fall.
Last week, he worked with Senator Simcha Felder to remind all property owners of their responsibility to keep the sidewalk clear and warned of an impending Department of Sanitation crackdown against those who fail to do so, Greenfield said in a statement.