Leave it to Hollywood, land of perpetual sun, to idealize the appeal of a White Christmas. Sure, the first snowfall of the year is pretty, for about the first inch, until it starts blocking sidewalks and turns a walk to the train or grocery store into a slippery obstacle course.
This wouldn’t be a problem if everyone shoveled, as required by the Municipal Code of Chicago, posted below.
With so many Chicagoans relying on walking for transit, a wide, clear path is more than a courtesy, it’s a necessity. All property owners are responsible for clearing a five-foot wide swath of sidewalk, leaving enough room for strollers, wheelchairs, walkers, etc. So, no, letting pedestrians trample down a path the width of their shoes outside your home or business does not qualify as meeting your obligation.
Additional guidelines and tips from the city:
* Do NOT push snow into streets, cover crosswalks or block alleys.
* Scatter sand or birdseed for traction; lay off the kitty litter and wood ashes, which don’t melt snow or ice.
* Keep salt away from sensitive plants.
Instead of mentally cursing wayward property owners as you slog your way through a mountain of sludge, feel free to report the miscreants:
* Call 3-1-1.
* Call the alderman’s office: 47th Ward, 773.868.4747; 40th Ward, 773.769.1140.
* Report online to the city’s sidewalk snow removal request page.
Be sure to provide a specific address; do not use 3-1-1 or the request page to report snow in streets, alleys or parking lots.
Individuals face $50 fines for failing to clear their walkways; businesses can be fined $250 – $500 per day.
Municipal code 4-4-310 Public Ways – Maintenance – Littering prohibited
It shall be unlawful for any person licensed to engage in any business or occupation on premises abutting a public way, or for any person using any part of a public way for or in connection with his business or occupation, to litter or to permit the accumulation of any paper, rubbish or refuse upon that portion of the public way abutting said premises or on and about that portion of the public way so used. It shall also be the duty of the licensee to remove the snow and ice from the sidewalk in front of his premises.
Every owner, lessee, tenant, occupant or other person having charge of any building or lot of ground in the city abutting upon any public way or public place shall remove the snow and ice from the sidewalk in front of such building or lot of ground.
If the sidewalk is of greater width than five feet, it shall not be necessary for such person to remove snow and ice from the same for a space wider than five feet.
In case the snow and ice on the sidewalk shall be frozen so hard that it cannot be removed without injury to the pavement, the person having charge of any building or lot of ground as aforesaid shall, within the time specified, cause the sidewalk abutting on the said premises to be strewn with ashes, sand, sawdust, or some similar suitable material, and shall, as soon thereafter as the weather shall permit, thoroughly clean said sidewalk.
The snow which falls or accumulates during the day (excepting Sundays) before four p.m. shall be removed within three hours after the same has fallen or accumulated. The snow which falls or accumulates on Sunday or after four p.m. and during the night on other days shall be removed before ten a.m.