It was pretty challenging being a pedestrian after winter storm Jonas dumped more than 15 inches on Charlottesville. City code requires that sidewalks be cleared within 24 hours after the snow stops. Once City Manager Maurice Jones declared the storm officially over the evening of Saturday, January 23, citizens received a slight reprieve because it was a weekend and they had until 8am Monday, January 25, to shovel sidewalks around their properties.
Many didn’t get that memo.
As of February 1—one week after the deadline—the city had issued 90 citations to those who hadn’t cleared their walks, and the citations were made after residents received a notice saying they had 24 hours to remove the snow or the city would do it—and bill them for the cost.
Is it possible residents just didn’t know? “We posted it pretty aggressively in the news and on our website,” says city spokesperson Miriam Dickler. Every issue of City Notes that goes out with monthly utility bills includes a reminder, she says, and the city used Facebook and Twitter as well to get the word out.
“We try to get in front of people as much as we can,” says Dickler.
She says citizens who are physically unable to shovel can notify Neighborhood Development Services to avoid being cited. And she says some neighborhood associations work with volunteers like the Boy Scouts to help shovel for those who can’t. This past storm, UVA architecture students wanted to help and were put in touch with the president of the 10th and Page streets neighborhood association, she says.
“Most years almost everyone shovels their sidewalks,” she says. “It’s great that residents recognize it’s about public safety.”