Shoveling from the weekend’s snowstorm is a big job. Many residents and businesses have cleared sidewalks, but some have not. Those that deserve a special circle of hell: businesses who had no trouble shoveling huge parking lots but left their sidewalks impassable.
Photos by Steve Money on Twitter.
Like the Georgia Avenue Walmart, which Steve Money says cleared its delivery area but piled snow high on the sidewalk. That forced people on foot to walk in the road on busy Missouri Avenue.
The same goes for Autozone, right near the Rhode Island Avenue Metro. Shane Farthing says someone in a wheelchair had to go into the street to get to the Metro.
Photo by Shane Farthing on Twitter.
Kate Sweeney nominated the Exxon at Franklin and 12th streets NE in Brookland. She says, “They never shovel the sidewalks. Infuriating! The parking lot isn’t totally clear but they’ve shoveled enough that people can get to the pumps.”
Photo by Kate Sweeney.
The Hechinger Mall and 7-11 on Bladensburg Road also shoveled parking but not sidewalks, says Dan Malouff, who had to walk in the road to get home Tuesday night.
What will DC do?
Photos by Dan Malouff.
One thing these businesses have in common is that their customer base is largely or entirely arriving by car, so access on foot is not a priority. But even if it’s not in their interest to make it safe for people to walk, it’s important.
Last year, the DC Council passed a law authorizing the government to fine property owners who don’t shovel their sidewalks by eight daylight hours after a storm. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who wasn’t a fan of the idea when she was a councilmember, announced she wouldn’t enforce the law, but then later announced that she would in fact enforce it, on businesses in particular.
I actually think it’s reasonable for her to forebear on giving any tickets to individual homeowners for now. People have had a lot of time to shovel by now, but there’s not much reason to slap a $25 ticket on an elderly homeowner or something like that. However, Walmart and Autozone aren’t unable to shovel; they are choosing not to.
These are the kinds of properties DC should fine. If anything, the issue is whether the fine isn’t large enough. When the bill was being debated, I advocated for very small fines for an individual homeowner and potentially large ones for a very big commercial property.
If a company owns a large site with a big parking lot and can clear it, but doesn’t bother to open the sidewalk, only government action, or maybe shaming, will change that.
Thanks to the many people who sent in photos and sorry we couldn’t use them all (at least not yet)! If you see other big offenders, post them in the comments or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.