Brookline proposal aimed at making residents clear snow from sidewalks tout suite
Brookline Town Meeting next month will consider a proposal to cut the amount of time residents have to clear their sidewalks after a snowstorm from the current 30 hours to just 6 daylight hours - and to increase fines on snow slackers.
Article 9 in the Nov. 15 special Town Meeting warrant says snow removal has become the leading source of complaints to the town 311 system and that complaints have been increasing in volume ever since 2015, when residents did an admirable job keeping up with the record snowfall, then began slacking off again.
The proposal calls for doubling the fines for not shoveling from $100 for the first offense to $200. Fines for second, third and additional offenses would also increase, but not by 100%. Proponents acknowledge this would mean more revenue for the town, but say they're only talking several thousand dollars and that they would expect the amount collected to go down as the town's good burghers get into the shovel swing of things and clear their sidewalks promptly.
The proposal also calls for requiring residents to clear not just a 36-inch swath of sidewalks but to clear a path at curb cuts, such as driveways, to ensure people with mobility issues can get to the sidewalks to begin with.
Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!
Hey, I'm willing to shovel my sidewalk or pay someone to do it. And I'm not a Brookline resident, but if I was, my beefs would be:
- There are only so many snow shoveling services to go around. After a big storm, I'm not sure they can get to everyone within 6 hours.
- For those who still physically go to work, 6 hours isn't enough.
- While I sympathize greatly with anyone in a wheelchair or mobility impaired, plows can put a ginormous amount of super heavy snow at a curb cut or driveway. Clearing those can be another challenge altogether, especially if your spot is on a curve or otherwise a place where extra snow accumulates. A 26" swath of sidewalk is one thing, but homeowners aren't always equipped for clearing the snow-plow residue.
1. There are as many snow shoveling services available as there are able hands that want money. Your options are to pay well and find a shoveler, sell the burdensome property and let the next owner shovel, or pay the fine.
2. So use that paycheck to hire a shoveler, release the burdensome property from your estate, or pay the fine.
3. Those with mobility issues are even less equipped to deal with snow storage, so make accommodations, release the burdensome property from your ownership, or pay the fine.
Stop whining and shovel your walks.
Less snow shoveling services than you think
I have had periods where I had trouble finding people to take care of shoveling/plowing for me for any amount of money because they were all booked up. And the people who do it are often so busy that you can't count on them getting to your house within 6 hours if it's a heavy snowfall. I have disabilities that mean I can't just go out there and shovel by myself if my guys don't show up or are late. Then, of course, there are the times that the city plow comes by and piles the snow back up.
30 hours to move snow? Surely there is a medium amount of time. I think that 6 is good, but perhaps 12 hours for residential and 6 for businesses.
As for the cut, I did the the handicapped ramp by my house for years. So long as the property owners are not forced to deal with plow drivers depositing copious amounts of snow (as they do a block away from Mayor Wu's house) that's not a horrible task, even in large storms.
My only concern, and this has been a thing for me for years, is the width requirement. I do believe that people in wheelchairs and those with strollers shouldn't be forced into the street, the reality is that there are streets that are less that 36 inches wide.
Think you meant "sidewalks". And yes, there are, and certainly many more with less than 36 inches that's not occupied by parking meters, fire hydrants, trees, lightposts, mailboxes, outdoor dining tables, etc.
That said, close to my house are sidewalks without trees and whatnot that are much narrower than 36 inches. That's what happens when things predate the rise of zoning and codes.
So , if owner of building
So , if owner of building decides not to shovel, people will be lining up for a slip and fall law suite, lawyers will be very busy in Brookline .
Or possibly they'll just be trying to walk down the street (or roll down the street) and live their damn lives, and all they're asking for is a reasonably clear sidewalk that allows them to do so. Projection much?
When I lived in Brookline
The biggest annoyance was MBTA bridges and other state-owned property that would never get cleared. It would soon be covered with 3" of ice that would stick around for weeks or months. (And/or turn into an impassable slush lake.)
Same in Boston. It's the traffic island and other areas not adjacent to residences and businesses that are the biggest hindrance.
Fees for MBTA?
Maybe this would get things moving with MBTA shoveling?
The city of Cambridge built a fancy traffic island/curb extension a block away from my house (with benches and a bus stop, too) and it's always a real pain to get them to clear the snow off of their own sidewalk. If you call Public Works to complain, they say they'll send over an inspector who will write a ticket and fine the property owner. They never offer to send a crew over to clear the snow from the sidewalk abutting their own property!
check the checkers? The worst offender is the entity with the most snow removal assets. The sidewalks around municipal properties, especially parking lots, and notoriously the parking lot in the village on Kent St. near Harvard St. use snow removal by God, usually weeks after a decent snowfall if we are in a dry spell.
Then the whole street clapped
6 daylight hours is plenty, either shovel before work or when you get home.
I shovel the entire walk, the curb cut and even the street where the curb cut is. And also the drain, and sometimes my neighbors.
There's plenty of young kids to shovel snow.
Maybe in Brookline but in
Maybe in Brookline but in Mattapan it's mostly adults walking around offering to shovel your sidewalk as of last year anyway.
Curious where you're getting six hours of daylight, or any daylight at all, "before work or when you get home" in the winter. I want that gig.
Kids shovel snow? Ha. Hahahaha.
And did they provide guidance
And did they provide guidance as where to place large volumes of shoveled snow? Are they providing removal services?
This is a key point and it gets overlooked. There are places in Brookline where it's building, sidewalk, street - nowhere to put the snow. It doesn't have to be "large volumes", you can't throw it in the street so where does it go?
Sidewalk shoveling should be a municipal service.
We clear streets and bike paths. We need to clear sidewalks too.
Property owners have long proven to be unreliable in keeping the sidewalks adjacent to their properties clear.
I have no problem in raising property taxes to partially subsidize this service.
"I have no problem in raising property taxes"
Good for you, im sure all of you neighbors would agree.
Instead of throwing money away (giving it to the gov) just pay to have you neighbors sidewalk shoveled.
Some towns do this
And to be honest, the quality of snow removal makes me think the private sector, when required to so, does a better job.
When I shovel my sidewalk out, I have a level of work I call "Canadian quality," which I use based on winter trips to Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal over the years. I use that phrase to denote that snow have been mostly cleared to the extent that people wearing proper footwear and without mobility issues should be able to pass by. I also consider the job far from done, since people shouldn't be forced to have to deal with that level of clearing. In those Canadian cities, sidewalk snow removal is a municipal service.
I'd much rather shovel my own sidewalk than pay $300 a year extra in taxes for a government service which is going to be lacking at best. The city can't even do a good job clearing common area sidewalks and medians as it currently stands.
It's not unreasonable to expect people to clear their walk in a reasonable amount of time or hire someone who will.
the same argument could be used for streets
why should i pay more in taxes for the government to plow the streets? Just let every homeowner hire someone to plow in front of their house, or do it themselves. That doesn't make sense though, does it, because there are economies of scale. It's cheaper and faster for one plow truck to do the whole street all at once. It's similarly easier for one person to snowblow or plow an entire sidewalk at once.
Not at all
A street is continuous so it only takes a few seconds for a single plow to pass by a house, plus it's the bare minimum to keep and emergency vehicles and people moving. Even people who don't drive use the street for busses and deliveries.
In contrast, a sidewalk is on both sides of the street and is filled with obstacles: Signposts, curb cuts, fire hydrants, etc. It's not a quick process even with a narrow bobcat or snow blower.
And beyond that, the city already sucks at clearing out traffic medians, sidewalks near parks and bridges, and other "common" areas. What makes you think they'll do a good job with hundreds of miles of residential sidewalks?
Furthermore, cities can't hire enough plow operators as it currently stands. If you have a truck with a plow, you can make big bucks as a contractor for the state or municipalities. You would need a hundreds of contractors for Boston alone if you expect it to be done within 24 hours.
And anyway, even current street plowing isn't great. Go check 311 after next big storm and look at all the complaints about poor plowing. It's going to be x100 if they included sidewalks.
If you don't want to shovel, just hire someone. Consider it a tax.
EMS workers and delivery
EMS workers and delivery drivers use sidewalks too. But America’s sick car culture means vehicles get treated better than people. The sidewalks would be easier to clear if they were actually wide enough and not full of shit for drivers like signs, stop lights, meters etc. It’s disgusting how much money and property are used on drivers. This isn’t suburban Kansas.
What a great parody of yourself
Did you really write that it’s bad that things are bad for people whose job it is to drive around all day because there is infrastructure for people to be able to drive?
Let’s just hope that if you need an ambulance, the sidewalks will be clear while the streets are clogged with snow and ice.
It would appear
That I am living rent free in your head as well.
Do you also think that delivery drivers and EMS would prefer untreated streets to untreated sidewalks? I mean, you are less of a coward than Kinopio is.
I'm trying to understand, do you wish Boston was more like suburban Kansas?
Would you be willing to
Would you be willing to shovel the sidewalk of a disabled elderly person living on a fixed income? Thank you in advance.
And I already do. I also shovel a nearby walking path even though it's city owned. (The city won't clear it.)
Maybe I've been lucky but in the places I've lived neighbors are pretty good about taking care of people who have trouble shoveling their own walk for reasons other then laziness.
You've been lucky
Regardless of how willing they might be, my end of the street is all older people who have trouble shoveling for themselves let alone helping others.
I do a lot of walking
In Needham, where I live, the town clears the sidewalks. That means the sidewalks are consistently clear from one end to the other. When I cross into Newton, which requires its residents to clear the sidewalks, the degree and quality of the cleared sidewalks changes from one property line to the next. Many residents will clear exactly one shovel's width of sidewalk across their properties, and the quality of the surface they leave behind will vary greatly, particularly as the snow melts and refreezes, leaving icy patches. Frankly, I'd much rather walk in Needham.
This this this this. I will
This this this this. I will pay 1000 dollars a year if it means the city just shows up and does it, without me having to haggle and hassle and chase down somebody who costs less but is less reliable, only to have my nicely cleared sidewalk that abruptly ends at my neighbor's property line, because he's a slumlord and doesn't give a fuck.
Hell, since Pandemic WFH started I've shoveled it all myself, because I can go out every three hours so my noodle arms aren't straining with 9 inches at a time - I'll STILL pay so that I can actually use the goddamn sidewalk besides my little 50 foot portion.
Sidewalks are the arteries of a city. You don't address cardiovascular health by looking at your arteries in 4 inch chunks, you come up with a whole-body plan to keep your blood system healthy and operational. The city realizes this with roads but refuses to bite the bullet when it comes to sidewalks.
One time after a snow fall Magoo was having a snowy treat as sometimes Magoo is apt to do by way of eating freshly fallen snow. Magoo was munch munch munching and then realized the snowy treat was yellow. Seems Magoo was eating pee’d on snow. Magoo.
Don't eat blue snow.
Magoo, you've done it again.
The rock salt won't hurt you that much, but too much calcium chloride and urea (but dyed blue) in the stuff Keolis and/or the MBTA uses might make you sick.
But hey... you like to munch fresh snow. I can appreciate that.
I know you have vision problems, but Madood, you have to be careful about what you're ingesting. And posting.
Watch out where the huskies go...
...and don't you eat that yellow snow.
you were leaving.
still desperate for attention?
Put it to bed
Your Magoo schtick grew old and tired years ago.
Please retire this bit.
Haven't seen you in a while. I always enjoy your comments!
Are you five years old?
His comments are about eating snow that's laced with urine. Only a five year old enjoys this.
... not even most 5 year olds would think that was particularly funny. More, like ---- EEEW, gross!
Never change, Mr. Magoo. Never change.
Sec 1 of 13th Amendment
To the US Constitution reads: " Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
I would call maintaining public property involuntary servitude. That said, I do shovel the city's sidewalk in front of my house.
You wouldn't have liked living here in colonial times
Residents were subject to being called upon to work on public roads. They were allowed to pay their way out of their obligations, if they could afford it.
..."colonial times" were well before the 13th amendment, "now" is well after.
The town of Needham plows its sidewalks
Why can't Brookline?
I'd guess 99% of Brookline streets have sidewalks. I'd guess less than 50% of Needham streets do.
It is fairly common out in the 'burbs for sidewalks on primary streets and near schools to be plowed.
If you can plow for cars, and you can plow for bikes, why can't you plow for pedestrians?
We need to ban those gas powered snow blowers!
They are noisy and polluting.
We also need to get rid of those dangerous pickups and plows for removing snow and those big, scary trucks need to go as well.
We should have people sweep the snow from streets. Why are we so far behind the Chinese on this?
Do plows fit on cargo bikes? Check with the Dutch./s
Funny you should mention that
I'm in the market for a decent small electric snowblower. Problem is some of what I need to shovel/snowblow/whatever is gravel drive, and everyone says you need a two stage for that, and $$$$$. Anyway, people who sneer at electric equipment are seriously behind the times as far as what's available.
I've used both. Electrics
I've used both. Electrics have come a long way.
That looks like exactly what I need. Thanks!