Fines could loom for not clearing slippery sidewalks

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Once snow falls in the Queen City, you can be fined for not clearing off your sidewalks thanks to some city ordinances.

Snow and ice removal from sidewalks each have their own sections of the city's municipal code.  If you don't clean them up according to that code, you could see fines up to $25.

"It's a struggle walking to places around Clifton right now," said Kaleb Iles, who lives in Clifton.

Iles walks nearly everywhere as a college student living in Clifton. A lot of sidewalks are clear for his commute, but many of them aren't.

"I see that it's probably hard to clean up because there's so much on the ground, and it's been there and frozen, but it's been a week now," said Iles.

It's been a week since the snow and ice storm hit the Tri-State. While it's long gone, the snow and ice left on sidewalks should be long gone, too, so says the city's municipal code.

When it comes to sidewalk snow removal, the city's code says:

The owner, occupant or other person having the care of any building premises or unimproved lot of land abutting any street where there is a graded sidewalk or a sidewalk graded and paved, shall, within the first four hours after daylight after the ceasing to fall of any snow, cause the same to be removed from the paved or traveled part of such sidewalk. The provisions of this section shall also apply to the falling of snow or ice from any building onto a sidewalk.

Snow or ice shall not be moved into the gutter when the gutter has been previously cleaned, and in no event shall snow or ice from any area other than the pedestrian walk be moved into the gutter.

"There's definitely parts that are better than others. But, there's some parts that it gets hard.  I've seen people fall. I think the ice is contributing to how slowly everything's been able to melt and be cleaned up," said Chase Stutenroth, a UC student.

There is another part of the code applying to ice removal from sidewalks:

Whenever a sidewalk or any part thereof along any building premises or unimproved lot of land shall be encumbered with ice, the owner, occupant or other person having the care of such premises or lot shall cause such sidewalk to be made safe and convenient by removing the ice therefrom, or by covering the sidewalk with sand or other suitable substance.

Failure to comply with the provisions of this section for a period of more than two hours during the daytime shall subject such owner, occupant or person in charge to the penalty provided for violation of this section.

"If you don't, what's the consequence?  Sometimes the consequence can be that you're liable for somebody's injuries.  Sometimes the consequence is here's a ticket.  You've got to pay the ticket," said Dan Moore, an attorney with The Moore Law Firm.

Moore says you need to be non-negligent in clearing sidewalks, and not making matters worse.  But, at the end of the day, the safe bet, he says, is to just clean it up.

"There's not a whole lot of liability associated with this.  There's not a whole lot of claims that actually come to fruition and materialize into actual cash being paid," Moore told FOX19.

A Cincinnati city spokesperson tells FOX19 they don't regularly enforce these snow and ice removal violations, but they reserve the right to do it, generally in extreme cases.

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