Snow ordinance enhanced due to weather conditions

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By Katie McCoy
Entirely East Lansing

Snow piled up by Parking and Clearing Enforcement to clear sidewalks.

Snow piled up by Parking and Clearing Enforcement to clear sidewalks. Photo by Katie McCoy

EAST LANSING – Parking and Clearing Enforcement is enforcing the snow ordinance of East Lansing starting March 1 because of the recent treacherous weather conditions.

The ordinance states snow that accumulated before noon on a sidewalk in front, or adjacent to your property, must be cleared by midnight the same day.  Snow that accumulated after noon on a sidewalk must be cleared by midnight the following day.

According to Megan Clark, assistant to the city manager, snow must be cleared within 12 to 48 hours after the first snowfall and ice should be cleared, or applied salt, within 12 hours of formation.

“Those who don’t comply face fines ranging from $150 for the first offense to $480 for the fourth offense,” said Clark.

The ordinance has been in effect since 1994, said Parking and Clearing Enforcement Secretary Andrea Rodriguez.

“Parking and Clearing Enforcement enforces ordinances that are created and voted on by City Council,” said Rodriguez.  “Since the ordinance is enforced on March 1, then they take further action and are stricter with their rules.”

Mayor Pro Tem Ruth Beier said East Lansing City Council enhanced the ordinance this winter because the sidewalks were not being cleared in a timely manner and it put walkers at risk.

“We want East Lansing to be a walkable community and it can’t be when people have to walk in the streets because of snow and ice on the sidewalks,” said Beier.

According to Eldon Evans, Parking and Clearing Enforcement supervisor, there are many snow removal companies around the city of East Lansing that plow the snow early in the morning and as often as they need to, depending on the weather.

“The biggest change we made last year was to issue tickets to owners rather than residents when sidewalks are not cleared,” said Beier.

So far in 2016, there have been 43 citations made to citizens who had not shoveled their snow.    In 2015, 232 citations were made. Parking and Code Enforcement enhances the ordinance and tickets citizens who do not comply with the law.

“We found that in many cases, landlords blamed residents for not clearing the walks, while residents assumed the responsibility was the landlord’s,” said Beier.

Anna Shaffer, East Lansing home renter, said her landlord has a snow plow company that takes care of the snow for the tenants.

“They charge us $20 to $25 an hour, depending on the amount of snow,” said Shaffer,” but sometimes they don’t even do anything and we pretty much have to shovel it ourselves.”

According to the new and most updated ordinance, the owner of the property gets the ticket, regardless of the arrangement with the tenants.

“The ordinance applies to all properties including owner occupied, rental, commercial and retail,” said Beier.

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