SLC ordinance on snow removal gets mixed reactions

Posted at 8:51 PM, Jan 29, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-29 22:51:55-05

SALT LAKE CITY – A city ordinance requiring homeowners to remove snow within 24 hours is getting mixed reactions; some say enforcement is too strict, while others say it doesn’t do enough.

Salt Lake City is not unique in having a snow removal ordinance. In fact, most Utah cities have one. The law, simply put, requires folks to clear their sidewalks or pay a fine.   

“We want our walks to be cleared,” said Jill Remington Love, Salt Lake City Council vice chair. “We don’t want wheelchairs to have to be in the street, and we don’t want walkers that want to be on the sidewalk to have to be in the street.”

In reality, most homeowners may never get cited. That’s because a citation is only issued when a complaint is filed. City officials said there aren’t resources for officers to patrol neighborhoods looking for violations, and city council members said it’s not a perfect system.

“One person might get a complaint filed against them because they live on a corner lot, and people walk by it a lot,” Love said. “One person might get a complaint filed against them because they’re a city council member, and folks are upset we even have an ordinance.”

Two city council members did get warnings after an upset resident reported them. Love said two of her neighbors got cited, and they are neighbors she said are diligent about shoveling their sidewalks. This has prompted the city council to look closely at the ordinance. But Love said any changes would be to the enforcement, not the ordinance itself.

“This is not about revenue,” Love said. “I think all of the councilors would be comfortable with warnings being used liberally. It’s really about education.”

Fines are based on how long snow has been on the sidewalks. Fines start at $50 and go up from there.

For information on filing a complaint, visit the city’s website.