Federal exemption? Sidewalk clearing takes holiday

Charlottesville City Code calls for sidewalks to be cleared within six hours after snowfall has stopped. An informal survey of downtown streets one day after yesterday's flakes shows most sidewalks cleared– with some notable exceptions.

The federal courthouse on the corner of Water and Ridge-McIntire, pictured left, is one. A call to inquire about building maintenance was not immediately returned.

The Albemarle County Office Building on McIntire Road also was un-iced in this photo taken yesterday around 1:30pm, which actually would have been within the six-hour window.

The sidewalk on West Main in front of the Amtrak Station, which historically goes unshoveled, was no exception this morning.

But with City Hall offices closed for a long weekend both January 18 and 21, complaints about ice-covered sidewalks will fall on deaf ears.

"Those sidewalks are really dangerous," says pedestrian activist Kevin Cox. "People slip and fall, and it's preposterous if governments don't clear their own walkways."

Cox worries about further precipitation forecast for tomorrow, followed by an arctic blast. "If the sidewalks aren't cleared today, they're going to be a major mess for a long time," he predicts.

UPDATE: City Manager Gary O'Connell writes in a 12:30pm email (sent via Blackberry) that police are visiting unshoveled properties this afternoon.
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14 comments

Funny thing is, it is a class 1 misdemeanor to not comply with this law. That's right, if you do not shovel your sidewalk you are subject to a maximum of 12 months in jail. Somebody call Longo

Kudos to the City Manager for telling the police to get behind a shovel and push! Any update from the County or the feds?

This morning I walked along West Main, through the Corner District and then up Rugby Road. The Corner was the only place that was reasonably cleared and plenty of UVa property was treacherous. Good thing we had some decent sunshine and melting today!!

Thanks to the Hook for staying on top of this issue.

Kudos to the city manager for telling the police to get behind a shovel and push? Where did you read that? I would think the intention of the city manager's memo was to ask the police to enforce the law against civilians and local businesses who had not shoveled their sidewalks.

Another example of "Don't Do As I Do, Do As I Say!" coming from our local governments. Does any of this really surprise anyone?

Cletus, WTF? It most certainly is an enforceable law. It doesn't matter that the sidewalk belongs to the city.

Charlottesville City Code

Sec. 28-25. Removal of snow, sleet and ice from sidewalks.

(a) It shall be the duty of every owner and/or occupant of every house or lot which abuts or fronts on, or is otherwise situated on, a paved sidewalk or walkway to have all snow removed from such sidewalk or walkway within twelve (12) hours after the same has ceased falling. This requirement shall exist whether or not an unpaved strip of publicly-owned property runs between the paved sidewalk and the private property line and the words "abuts," "fronts on," "otherwise situated on," should be interpreted in accord with such requirement. The duty of snow removal imposed on each owner and/or occupant by this section extends only to that portion of a particular paved sidewalk or walkway which runs in front of that particular owner's or occupant's private property.

(b) The provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall apply to ice or sleet on sidewalks or walkways, except that the same, when it cannot be removed without injury to the sidewalk or walkway, shall be covered, within the period of time specified, with sand, ashes or some other substance which will render it safe for travel.

(c) Whenever any house or lot is unoccupied, it shall be the duty of the owner or the agent of the owner thereof to have the snow or ice removed from the sidewalk or walkway abutting, fronting on, or otherwise situated on such owner's property as is required by this section.

(d) A warning shall be issued for a violation of this section. The warning shall be posted on the property or delivered by hand to the property owner and/or occupant, and shall provide the owner and/or occupant twelve (12) hours in which to correct the conditions, after which penalties shall be imposed pursuant to section 28-1. Every twelve (12) hours that such snow or ice is allowed to remain in violation of this section shall constitute a separate offense.

(Code 1976, Ã?â??§ 25-20; 11-6-89; 11-3-03(2))

Cletus, I basically agree with you. But I am talking real world antics. The people in Charlottesville are spineless. They will do what the city officials tell them to, even if they have to pay some kid $50.00 to shovel 50 feet of sidewalk. And the local rambos will cite the violators. They would probably love nothing better than to get into a dissing match with a local civilian over sidewalks blocked by snow, so they can provoke and antagonize them into more serious criminal charges. After they dish out their "contempt of cop" street justice of course. Ever since assault on a cop was elevated to a felony in Virginia it's the trump card they love to play nowadays. (Trust me, I know. :) ) Today's rambo cops are just like thugs, they pick and choose their fights carefully. One on one, they procede very cautiously. But after 2 or 3 backup officers are present they become 8 feet tall invincible Arnold Schwarzeneggers. Just mouth off with your constituional arguments to the rambo cop who comes to warn you your sidewalks need to be cleared. You'll see.

Cletus, let me show you how today's rambo rookies act out. Cops nationwide are totally out of control!

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

CLEARWATER, FLORIDA - If anyone was "lovin' it!" at the McDonald's that Jean Merola visited Thursday evening, it certainly wasn't her.

The 75-year-old grandmother of eight was arrested for disorderly conduct after she refused a police officer's orders to move her car while she waited for the coffee and fries she ordered at the drive-through window.

"Isn't that terrible?" she said from her Clearwater home Saturday. "Oh my goodness, here I am, a poor little innocent woman waiting for my French fries."

Merola had pulled her Lincoln Town Car to an area where drive-up customers are directed if their orders will take some time. She ordered her fries without salt.

While waiting, a Clearwater police officer pulled up behind her and started honking his horn, she said. He was also waving his arms, apparently signaling for her to move her car, she said.

It was not immediately clear why the officer was at the McDonald's

She stayed put, so Officer Matthew Parco, 30, got out and walked over to her car and asked for her license and registration. Words were exchanged and after a brief altercation, she was handcuffed behind her back and put in the cruiser, according to Merola and an arrest affidavit.

Another officer arrived and took her to the Pinellas County Jail, where she was booked for misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Merola said she was searched, photographed and fingerprinted. She was released about 90 minutes later on her own recognizance, jail records show.

"My shoulder hurt me so bad that night," said Merola, who said she was just getting over pneumonia. "My shoulder and my arms and both of my hands were all swollen. When you're older you can't take that. That's when you're a young person, to put up with that. And it was uncalled for."

The arrest affidavit states that Merola's car was partially blocking the drive-through lanes. Parco wrote that he asked her three times to move her car forward a foot to allow cars behind her to pass.

After refusing, Merola yelled at Parco for about 20 minutes, calling him a "brat," a "smartass," and a "dumbass," according to the affidavit.

Merola, a widow and 43-year resident of Clearwater, made no apologies for her conduct. She said she could not move her car forward as the officer wanted because a curb was in front of her. She denies that she was blocking anyone.

"He's the one that blocked the traffic," she said. "Because he parked there where he wasn't supposed to park."

As for swearing, "I got upset because he honked his horn at me," Merola said. "You know, it's only normal for you to get upset when somebody honks a horn at you when you're not doing anything."

Merola said Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard called her Saturday morning to offer an apology.

He says, "I am so sorry Mrs. Merola, this should never have happened."

Neither Hibbard nor Clearwater police were immediately available to comment.

The personnel at the jail also were sympathetic, Merola said. She didn't have to go in a cell with other inmates and didn't have to put on the yellow jumpsuit they wear, she said.

"They were very, very nice to me," she said. "When I was in there, they were just all shaking their heads. And I didn't get to eat my McDonald's, you know? So they gave me a sandwich. But I couldn't eat it."

Bookmark and watch this link over say, the next week or so.

http://forums.officer.com/forums/showthread.php?t=81201

A veteran seasoned officer asks why the rambo rookie had to act like such a total idiot. The rambo rookies will now jump in and defend the idiot cop claiming the idiot cop did nothing wrong.

Over the course of the next week or so you will able to spot the veteran officers and the rambo rookies just by the replies they post in the link. I'm sure the debate will get downright hilarious! :)

Kathy, the law is unenforceable. I can think of half a dozen reasons just off the top of my head why that would be the case. Not the least of which is that the city's own records will show the sidewalk in front of your house doesn't belong to you. If the city has the obligation to cut grass around the sidewalks (as they clearly have been doing for some time) then they have the obligation to shovel the snow. It's a non statute easily challenged.

all right girls, we will all network together now, telephone our legislators, and just ban everything in life that we don't like. Right?

Wrong. Plenty of people are on oxygen, have heart problems, are paralyzed, depend upon things like "meals on wheels", can't walk but live alone, etc, etc, etc and they can't shovel snow within 12 hours. I hope I am in Charlottesville district court when an 85 year old guy with an oxygen tank stands in front of one of our bum condoning judges and contests his citation for not shoveling snow within the allotted 12 hours.

Go back to New York, New Jersey, northern Virginia or wherever you came from---you interlopers have made the town uninhabitable and bestowed upon us a city government that is so reprehensible that many now refer to Cville as the "California of central Virginia."

Since we have the only Salvation Army in Virginia that plys our beloved career bums with three hot meals daily, maybe these career layabouts can pay the community back by shoveling the sidewalks of those who have worked all their lives and now live with infirmities that preclude shoveling snow.

You people make me ill. May you burn sowly.

SOTLR, ever heard of the 13th Amendment? Are you really so far gone that you think a municipal statute trumps the 13th Amendment? I have the right to ask that question in court. The judge has a duty to answer. Also you will find that the sidewalks are very clearly part of the "right of way" and the responsibility of the city. Part of your municipal taxes go for such performance and consideration. The simple fact that there is a codified statute on the books means nothing. So when I reference long established case law that clearly define the words "involuntary" and "servitude" the judge is either going to have to capitulate and dismiss the charges or he is going to have to make moronic and demonstrably contradictory statements that will never prevail upon appeal. The city has no standing to force me to act as it's agent unless I'm under contract to do so. Please show me the contract that says I agree to that and that the contract was offered with full disclosure. I don't think you or anyone else can do that.

12 hours after the snow fell it was 50 degrees and the sidewalks were clear. Non story. Next.

Where were the people when this ordinance was re-written and passed? It was covered in the press. Obviously, the residents can afford to pay someone to clean the walk and just need to be reminded sometimes.

Legal this, legal that... Just shovel your damn sidewalks, for crying out loud. If your neighbor is incapable of shoveling his or her sidewalk, go do it for them. This is a civilization we live in. When did people get so lazy?

The city should have people that shovel thier sidewalks, even on holidays. If the people aren't exempt from the rule, the city shouldn't be either. They should have to go through the nuisance of having to pay the fine, too.