Lessons in snow etiquette
By David Drachsler
Regarding the Feb. 9 front-page story “On still snowy sidewalks, etiquette slips away”:
The commonwealth of Virginia may not have statewide rules on the responsibility of property owners to clear snow from the sidewalk in front of their houses, but some localities do. Alexandria requires business owners and residents to clear sidewalks “abutting” their property within 24 hours after a storm has ended or face a $50 fine.
Of course, after storms of this magnitude, homeowners are doing well to dig out a car so they can get to the grocery store; the city recognizes this difference because the city Web site says in cases when there has been more than 12 inches of snow, “The City will plow and treat streets as quickly as possible, based on weather conditions and available resources.”
I believe a similar rule of reason applies to homeowners, and I can’t believe Alexandria would fine anyone who has not cleared his or her sidewalk in a reasonable time.
During the blizzard of ’96, I managed to drive to my mother-in-law’s garden apartment to shovel her steps and walk. When I parked in the only available space near her building and moved a folding chair to do so, a woman screamed at me that it was “her” space.
It is clearly illegal to block or obstruct a public street in Alexandria with any object, and folks should apply a rule of reason here as well.
| February 10, 2010; 5:02 PM ET
Categories: HotTopic, Virginia, weather
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