Your view: City snow removal policies are out of date

Your view: City snow removal policies are out of date

By Jeff Yutzler, Alexandria (File photo)

To the editor,

It is time for the city to revise its snow removal laws and policies. This was particularly apparent last Saturday. Two days after a moderate snowstorm, large stretches of sidewalks and pathways throughout the city were an icy mess

This was frustrating and dangerous for those of us who couldn’t wait to get out and about and enjoy the relatively nice weather. We shouldn’t have to walk in the street, take long detours, or risk falling.

Since far too many owners and residents are not taking their responsibilities seriously enough, the city needs to enact a more aggressive policy. City code states that sidewalks must be cleared within 48 hours of a “Level 2” storm. This is an absurdly long period of time — 24 hours is more than enough time to clear six inches of snow.

In fact, failure to clear the snow within 24 hours usually means that it melts and refreezes, making it much more slippery and harder to remove. How about reclassifying “Level 3” as “Level 2” and “Level 2” as “Level 1”? I would take it one step further and shave another six hours off of the time limit for priority areas, such as near Metro stations or retail zones.

In addition, the city needs to make a bigger effort to clear sidewalks and trails on its own property. These pathways form an important part of the mobility network. For example, Eugene Simpson Park links much of Del Ray with the retail property on Monroe Avenue. According to the city’s web site, these paths are second or third priority, which apparently means, “We won’t touch it.”

This isn’t good enough. If the city doesn’t have the resources to do more, how about organizing a volunteer effort? A neighbor and I shoveled a path through Charles Hill Park, because we knew the city wouldn’t do it. It just took a little bit of effort on Friday but it made a huge difference the next day, especially compared to un-cleared areas like Eugene Simpson Park.