Snow removal up to owners |

Snow removal up to owners

City Council offers shoveling, plowing law clarification

Mike Ehrlich blows snow off the end of his driveway along Apres Ski Way in Steamboat Springs on Thursday.
Brian Ray

On the 'Net

Steamboat Springs' municipal codes aren't necessarily easy to find online, but they are there.

From the city's Web site (http://www.steamboatspri...), open the "Departments" menu and click the "City Clerk" link. Open the "City Clerk's Office" menu and click "Municipal Code of Ordinances."

The snow removal ordinance is in Article I, Section 5 of Chapter 20, which is titled "Streets and Sidewalks."

— City officials reminded Steamboat Springs homeowners this week to keep their snow shovels shoveling and their snow blowers blowing.

Removing snow from sidewalks, parking areas and curbs on or along any commercial or residential property within city limits is the job of the property owner, according to the city’s municipal code. Steamboat’s snow removal law has been on the books for years, but the issue was highlighted this week during a bit of “housekeeping” by the Steamboat Springs City Council. The council clarified the law Tuesday night after a request from city staff.

“We changed the code to make it clear that this isn’t limited to areas adjoining commercial properties,” said Colette Byrne-Erickson, the city’s municipal court prosecutor. “This doesn’t change the code or expand its language. We were just trying to make it less confusing. This is basically housekeeping.”

Thursday’s heavy snowfall, which the National Weather Service expects to stop Friday before starting up again Saturday, had Steamboat residents and business owners working up a sweat with their shovels.

Bryne-Erickson said Tom Whiddon, senior community service officer with the Steamboat Springs Police Department, told her about a confusing section of the snow removal ordinance – Section 20-5 of the city municipal code – that he discovered after receiving several complaints about uncleared snow.

Whiddon is on vacation this week, but city code enforcement officer Shane Jacobs said he frequently receives calls about snow removal violations.

“We get calls for people plowing snow from their private property into and across the street, which is illegal,” Jacobs said Thursday. “You can’t plow snow from your property across or into the street. We get calls all through the winter to stay on merchants to get their snow shoveled.”

Jacobs said he generally doesn’t get many calls about snow removal at private residences, and he usually doesn’t fine merchants who are slow to shovel their properties.

“I’m not sure that we’ve ever cited any merchants for not shoveling their sidewalks,” he said. “Usually it just takes a verbal warning.”

Bryne-Erickson noted the real danger of not removing snow from a sidewalk or curb – in addition to not performing a public service – is the possibility of a lawsuit should an accident occur.

“People should know that their failure to do this could result in some civil liability as well,” Bryne-Erickson said. “(Clarifying the ordinance) might be a good reminder to people – they do need to shovel their sidewalks.”

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