December 23, 2010 in Washington Voices

Snow removal in shopping districts discussed

Berm-clearing low on city list
By The Spokesman-Review
 

When city plows battle the snow on the streets, it has to go somewhere; hence the snow and ice berms in the middle of downtown streets and along residential sidewalks and driveways.

In the business districts along Market Street, North Monroe, Garland and South Perry, the snow and slush often end up filling those on-street parking spots between curb bump-outs. These parking bays are very popular with business owners when it’s not snowing, but what’s a person to do when they are filled up with slush and hard-frozen snow?

“The street department will try to clear out the parking bays but it’s lower on the priority list, behind basic plowing of the streets,” city spokeswoman Marlene Feist wrote in an e-mail. “It also has to be done at night since the parking bays are used during the day.”

At a recent meeting of the Historic Hillyard Merchants Committee, business owners along North Market Street weren’t sure how to deal with the snowbound parking spots. Some thought the snow had to be hauled away; others had heard that only special contractors were allowed to clear them.

“The business owners can hire someone to plow out the parking bays and it’s OK to push the snow to one end of the parking area, but not out into the street,” Feist wrote. “They need to make sure the equipment doesn’t obstruct the traffic lanes.”

If business owners hire someone to haul the snow, they must have permission from the property owner where they plan to dump it before they start moving it.

“Who they would choose to hire is up to them, of course, but it never hurts to hire someone with appropriate licenses and insurance coverage,” Feist wrote.

Property owners are responsible for keeping sidewalks clear and passable at all times. Shovels, brooms and snowblowers rarely cause any concern with law enforcement, but motorized equipment must be operated safely and according to traffic regulations and laws.

“As far as appropriate equipment to use, our guys are more concerned that it is operated safely and without obstructing traffic, vehicular or pedestrian,” Feist wrote.

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