I guess I should be more specific – is it time to update Section 18.402 (h)? Here is the wording today:
It shall be the duty and obligation of the owner of property abutting a sidewalk in a public right-of-way to remove snow from the sidewalk within 48 hours after the snow has fallen. In the case of a multiunit building with more than one occupant, it shall be the duty of the lessor to remove the snow unless the lessor has obligated a tenant who is actually occupying the property to do so. Any owner of property abutting a sidewalk in a public right-of-way, lessor of a multiunit building, or tenant obligated by the lessor, who fails to remove the snow from the abutting sidewalk within 48 hours after the snow has fallen shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be subject to a fine of not less than $25.00 nor more than $50.00. Alternatively or in addition to and concurrent with all other remedies, the Department of Public Works or the Police Department may enforce the subsection with civil penalties pursuant to title 24, “Civil Penalties,” of the Howard County Code. A violation shall be a Class E offense.
This became an issue yesterday when the afternoon before (specifically at 3:40pm on the 24th) the Howard County Government Facebook page issued this information to followers of the account (READ MORE HERE). This caused a major uproar on Facebook with over 130 comments (mostly negative) and another 120 shares. There were at least two bloggers that wrote about the post (Scott E’s Blog and Hedgehog Report).
I give credit to the County Executive (Allan Kittleman), early on the 25th he instructed the staff in Howard County Government to issue an update (and apology) to followers (READ HERE) – the post was published at 9:09am. He also posted that same information on his official government account and his campaign account (both Facebook and Twitter).
And now on to my actual point – the current wording does not anticipate the type of weather event we just encountered and maybe the County Council should look at revising it to be more clear for residents. I fully support the code when we get a few inches of snow. When we get significant snow fall in amounts that it takes MANY days just to get the roads plowed (and I give significant props to all of those hard working men and women getting the roads back in operating conditions), shouldn’t we have wording in THIS code that talks to significant snow events and what the expectations are for the residents in Howard County? I think so!
To that point – I am going to reach out to my County Council Representative (Jen Terrasa) and make my case (via this post) as the justification to update that code. Are you with me? If so, reach out to your County Council Representative and send them this post. Maybe we can get a better written code that addresses the scenario we face today.
Here are the email addresses for each County Council Member:
Jon Weinstein – firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Calvin Ball – email@example.com
Jen Terrasa – firstname.lastname@example.org
Greg Fox – email@example.com
And while we are at it, let us see if we can get the County Executive on board with this update:
Allan Kittleman – AKittleman@howardcountymd.gov
If you have any comments….send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, post below in the comment section of this blog or reach out to me via social media.
PS – One a personal note, the plows came through my neighborhood this morning at 5:00am (THANKS SO MUCH). I might actually be able to leave the neighborhood today.