Borough Park

Greenfield’s idea: Make city shovel snowy sidewalks, have property owners pay

February 21, 2014 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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If a property owner is too lazy to shovel the snow from their sidewalk, the city should do it and then charge them.

That’s the centerpiece of a new proposal by Councilman David Greenfield (D-Borough park-Midwood-Bensonhurst), who said he’s sick and tired of homeowners and merchants leaving slippery snow on sidewalks for days at a time.

Under Greenfield’s plan, the city would use municipal workers to clear snow and ice off the sidewalk and would then bill the delinquent property owner $250 or more for the work, depending on the size of the property.

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City law mandates that property owners must clear snow and ice from the sidewalk four hours after the snow has stopped falling.

The proposal put out by Greenfield is similar to the law currently in place regarding dangerous cracks and uneven flags on sidewalks. The Department of Transportation fixes the defective sidewalk and bills the homeowner for the work.

Greenfield said his proposal would ensure that the hazard of snow and ice would be remediated at no additional expense to the city while still holding the property owner accountable for breaking the law.

“We all have a responsibility to our neighbors to make sure that the sidewalks in front of our homes and stores are cleared and passable four hours after the snow stops falling. Unfortunately, many people don’t care and ignore the law. Simply issuing a fine to the property owner really doesn’t solve the problem, as many of these tickets are ignored,” Greenfield said.

The city would use the revenue generated by the snow fines against property owners to fund the hiring of temporary snow laborers used to clear public areas like street corners and curbs, Greenfield said.

The city already has a database of temporary snow laborers it calls on during major snow events, with pay starting at $12 an hour and rising to $18 an hour after working 40 hours in a week. Greenfield said he envisions an expansion of this program through the hiring of additional workers to clear sidewalks. 

“This winter has made it clear that the current law does not provide enough motivation for many property owners to do the right thing. My law would increase the fine against those who flout this important responsibility, while also achieving the goal of making sure that every inch of sidewalk in New York City is safe and passable,” Greenfield said.

Greenfield said his office has received numerous complaints from residents about snow and ice covered sidewalks throughout Borough Park, Midwood and Bensonhurst. He also said he personally saw several of his elderly constituents slip and fall.

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