Temperatures may still be averaging in the 90s, but it appears a new Spokane Valley snow ordinance may finally be getting off the ground.
After several discussions on the subject of spurring citizens to clear sidewalks, the Spokane Valley City Council voted 6-1 – Council Member Sam Wood voted no – to move the proposed new law to a second reading on Aug. 22 for final approval.
City Attorney Cary Driskell said the ordinance – which would include a potential penalty of $51.25 for property owners who fail to clear sidewalks within 48 hours after a storm (and up to $102.50 if it happens three times in a year) – is less about punishment and more about education on how to make it safer for pedestrians during the winter months.
“What we’ve been doing in the past has not been effective,” Driskell said.
For its part, the city will try to reduce the amount of snow and ice that plows end up moving to sidewalk by removing the “bat wing” plow blades to a straight-blade on the four trucks that currently have them. Efforts will also be made to place snow closer to the curb and not on sidewalks.
No extra staff will be hired by the city.
Meanwhile, there will be an education campaign to let citizens know their responsibility for snow-removal and the possible penalties that could ensue. A greater emphasis will be placed in commercial areas and in school zones.
The city will also provide information on resources for those who have physical limitations and unable to clear the snow themselves.
In speaking before the council, Bob Blum said he believes the proposed law puts an unnecessary burden on residents.
“If the city puts the snow on the sidewalk, then the city should be responsible for clearing it,” he said. “What’s the difference between a public sidewalk and a public road?”