The city of Minneapolis issued its annual reminder Tuesday for residents to shovel their sidewalks, and the consequences for slacking go beyond the occasional dirty look from a neighbor.
City ordinance requires all owners of homes and duplexes to clear their sidewalks within 24 hours of snowfall. All other property owners have four daytime hours to do so.
People should call 311 to report unshoveled sidewalks, the city said. When the city receives a complaint about a sidewalk, Public Works mails the property owner a notice of violation. Three days later, the sidewalk at the address is inspected and if it hasn’t been shoveled, the city hires a contractor to clear the sidewalk and bills the property owner.
The cost starts at $150 and ranges to $299 for a corner lot.
Most people don’t tattle on their neighbors. In fact, said Lauren Hazenson, who works for the Nokomis East Neighborhood Association, she hears more stories of people shoveling each others’ sidewalks.
There are homes in her Minnehaha neighborhood, she said, that seem to fall behind schedule after a snowfall, but she’s never called 311.
“I have not personally called them in,” she said. “It’s never gotten so problematic where there’s like lumps of ice.”
Last winter, when 29 inches of snow fell, the city received 2,652 complaints of unshoveled sidewalks, mailed 1,938 notices and billed the property owners to clear their sidewalks 167 times.
The number of complaints varies greatly by year. In the winter of 2014-2015, when 29 inches of snow also fell, the city received 6,198 complaints and mailed 3,871 notices of violation. Property owners had to pay for someone else to clear their sidewalk 533 times.
“It’s really important for everyone to do their part,” said Sarah McKenzie, a spokeswoman for the city. “… The city’s goal is to remind everyone of their responsibilities and turn to enforcement as a last resort.”