It’s an odd fact of life in New York City that after a snowstorm the streets are nicely plowed but the sidewalks may remain a mess. The city dispatches trucks to clean the streets shortly after the snow stops falling. But the sidewalks? That’s up to the owners of the buildings alongside them. And if a homeowner doesn’t get around to shoveling? Well, then you’ll just find yourself delicately dancing along a bumpy, icy, and/or slushy stretch of pavement.
This is hardly unique to the Big Apple. Cities, and especially suburbs, throughout the country take the bizarre position that roads are a public good but sidewalks, where they even exist, are a luxury that homeowners must maintain for themselves. It is especially perverse in a city where more people walk than drive as they go about their daily lives.
Theoretically, New York City can fine owners $100 or more for not shoveling their patch of sidewalk. In practice, enforcement is somewhere between spotty and nonexistent.
And so, in this particularly snowy winter -- which may become the new norm thanks to climate change -- a New York City council member has proposed that the city up the fine to $250 and use the proceeds to pay for the shoveling itself. The New York Daily News reports: