Community Comment

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 7, 2009, 9:45 P.M.

New-and-improved snow removal…

Winter 2008, 6 feet and rising... (The Spokesman-Review)
Winter 2008, 6 feet and rising... (The Spokesman-Review)

Good evening, everyone...

As our regional weather begins to lean toward fall-like conditions, it is perhaps easier for some to remember the debacle of snow removal last winter. Perhaps that is why Mayor Mary Verner and the City of Spokane are rolling out a revised approach to snow removal as a pilot project for the 2009-10 snow season. This is as close, I submit, as the general public in Spokane will ever get to hearing our Mayor admitting in public that things simply didn't work last winter. Getting politicians to admit their mistakes is about as difficult as pulling teeth out of a bantam rooster, and just about as noisy.

The biggest problem I perceive about Verner's proclamations is, once again, despite the purchase of a few more plows (11 truck plows, according to the press release) the City once again seems to be suggesting it is the citizens and businesses responsibilities to keep sidewalks, hydrants and storm drains clear of snow and to adhere to parking restrictions on snow days.

“We heard from our citizens, and we are responding,” says Spokane Mayor Mary Verner.

The Magi of City Hall have changed their plan. Under the new-and-improved plan, the City defines the snow season as Nov. 15 to March 15. During this time, the City may declare a snow emergency when weather conditions warrant.

A Stage 1 Snow Emergency is declared when 2 inches of snow are on the ground and 4 more are anticipated during the current snow event; a Stage 2 Snow Emergency is declared when 6 inches of snow are on the ground and more is anticipated in the current snow event.

A Stage 1 Snow Emergency will require citizens to move parked cars off of all arterials and bus routes, while a Stage 2 Snow Emergency will require citizens to park on one side of the street in residential areas. The parking changes will allow plow drivers to open up streets better, allowing for easier and safer travel during heavy snows.

Although it is not specifically mentioned, when it snows 2 inches of snow with no further additional snowfall expected, the city apparently has decided not to include that element in the plan, despite the tragic number of fender-benders and slide-offs that have taken place every year due to icy intersections and thoroughfares.

If snowfall is less than 2 inches will they plow the main thoroughfares or simply wait until it melts off? Good question. When it snows and the median temperature drops below the freezing point of liquid deicer, will they put traction sand on the major intersections? Probably not, based upon their beastly snow removal performance records of past years.

Last year we had a snow berm of over 5 feet tall in our yard from clearing our sidewalks. Don't go telling me, as a god-fearing citizen, to clear my sidewalk within 24 hours or face a ticket. I work for a living. Lead by example, not by edict.


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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.