“We need a snow shoveling ordinance in Goshen!” A number of residents have said this to me in the past few weeks or posted on Facebook. While I’m reluctant to push for such an ordinance, if a groundswell of support convinces Goshen City Council members to sponsor and pass an ordinance, I’m likely to approve it.
I’ll admit, the several inches of snow that fell a couple weeks before Christmas pointed out that many able-bodied Goshen residents do a lousy job of shoveling sidewalks. Kids walking to school or bus stops, mail carriers, newspaper delivery people, commuters to and from work and people walking for pleasure or exercise had to negotiate knee deep snow in some places or walk in the streets.
This issue surfaces every few years after particularly heavy snowfalls. I’ve surveyed cities across the state, asking how many had shoveling ordinances. A number of cities do, but about half of them said they don’t enforce the ordinance because it is so complicated. It’s worth noting that most such ordinances give 24 hours after snow stops falling for sidewalks to be shoveled. So even with the best ordinance enforcement, there will be times sidewalks are covered when kids are walking to school or bus stops. There will always be some people who are physically unable to shovel and either don’t have a friend or relative to do it, and can’t find or afford to pay someone to do it. And there will be vacant properties and “no man’s lands” that require City employees’ time when they have streets and alleys to clear at the same time.
Many landlord-owned properties are particularly notorious for having snow-covered sidewalks. These same landlords seem not to get yards raked before snow falls). If landlords don’t include in their leases that tenants are responsible to shovel sidewalks as part of the consideration of rent amount, they need to do it themselves or pay someone to do it.