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Oh snow you didn't!

Since moving to Washington from New York -- three years ago this week -- I have marveled at how just the mention of the word "snow" can paralyze this place. Schools close whether the white stuff shows up or not. And when actual snow hits, fuhgeddaboudit. Washington is a mess, literally. Streets go unplowed. Sidewalks often glisten with snow and ice until the sun does the job for ne'erdowell property owners. Those who do do their civic duty, more often than not, leave a trench as wide as their shovel will make. And don't get me started on the pliƩs I have to do to clear every corner.

Given all these grievances, you can imagine my elation at reading: "On still snowy sidewalks, etiquette slips away" by Ian Shapira and Aaron C. Davis in today's Post. Finally, someone has given voice to my not-so-silent pain. The story points out that District law mandates snow and ice removal within eight hours of a snow storm's completion. Not everyone is bad. But the scofflaws are hiding in plain sight. Mayor Fenty could rake in a load of dough in fines if he wanted to. With the next "snowpocalypse" bearing down upon us, perhaps he'll give it a shot.

By Jonathan Capehart  | February 9, 2010; 11:04 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Since I walk to Courthouse Metro in Arlington everyday, I fully expect to walk in the street to get to the station after a snowstorm. What I didn't expect today was the absolute mess in front of the new Marriott at Courthouse. They have not treated their sidewalks at all. I dread going to work tomorrow when there will be a fresh foot of snow on top of the frozen solid mass of glop that is covering the entire sidewalk on Clarendon Blvd. This is also next to the elevator that services the Courthouse Metro Station. God forbid someone handicapped should try to access the elevator, they would never make it. Shame on Marriott for leaving such a mess on the sidewalks!

Posted by: mjw703 | February 9, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't it be a bit hypocritical for the city to fine people who haven't cleaned their walks when DC doesn't even bother to clear the streets? Most people in my neighborhood have cleaned their walks. The ones who haven't probably figure they're not going anywhere if they leave the house because their tax dollars didn't even buy them a plowed street some 4 days after the storm.

Posted by: tagtron | February 9, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Well, using a the city's failure (Could be ANY of the cities in the region, frankly) as a justification for not obeying a fairly clear law that requires cleared sidewalk is a joke. The only people one hurts by not shoveling their sidewalk is the rest of the community. The city doesn't care one bit. I live in Alexandria and their response has been abyssmal as well. So, folks, let's keep the sidewalks clean and make driving and walking better for ourselves. Clearly, our tax dollars aren't going to help much nor are we likely to remember the lame excuses come election day.

Posted by: egraves1 | February 9, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

You are an idiot. I'm so sick of hearing about how Washingtonians cannot handle the snow. Take a look at the stats, Washing sees just about as much snow as NY. the reason this city shuts down is because the public transportation system is a joke. If 90% of New Yorkers had to drive to work, that city would shut down with 4 inches of snow as well. Another arogant New Yorker, what a surprise.

Posted by: kdjsgreen | February 9, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I don't think some citizens realize "it's the law" to clear their sidewalk. The household occupants may not be going anywhere but they should be considerant of their neighbors who have to go to work.

Posted by: rlj1 | February 9, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

By the way, do you really think that the District, a city in which most of the 500k residents live below the poverty line, should be budgeting to remove snow in 8 hours? How about schools and public safety instead in return for the occasional snow day. Native Washingtonians Unite!

Posted by: kdjsgreen | February 9, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

NEW YORK (JFK AP), NY - 22.7 inches annually

Washington area has experience 2 snowfalls of 2 ft this year. That has never happened in NY.

Posted by: kdjsgreen | February 9, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

I have marveled at how just the mention of the word "snow" can paralyze this place. What Arrogance ! Even if you moved from the north pole you can't justify this fickleness with a 20-30 inch snow storm. No city deals with this level of snow easily. Move back to new york.

Posted by: dcperspective | February 9, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I gotta say, man - you messed up by leading with NYC rather than Northfield, MN. Now everyone thinks you're arrogant and have an attitude. If you'd dropped the Carleton K a bit, everyone would have thought you were a tough midwesterner. (and the point that this isn't really appropriate for a storm of this magnitude is legit).

Posted by: Urnesto | February 9, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, this piece really only served to make you look like a d-bag. If you don't like it here, go back to NYC.

Also, not to pile on, but you don't write particularly well.

Posted by: TerrenceEvansDC | February 9, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

You are an idiot. I'm so sick of hearing about how Washingtonians cannot handle the snow. Take a look at the stats, Washing sees just about as much snow as NY. the reason this city shuts down is because the public transportation system is a joke. If 90% of New Yorkers had to drive to work, that city would shut down with 4 inches of snow as well. Another arogant New Yorker, what a surprise.


keep in mind NY is a pretty big state and the rest of us new yorkers laugh at those people from nyc just as much!!!

Posted by: nall92 | February 9, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

it's snowing outside as i type!!!!!!

Posted by: nall92 | February 9, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

I'm finding the comments here to be pretty funny.

Yes, we did get a lot of snow for 24 hours (and two times in one winter is unheard of here) BUT people freak out at the very mention of snow- no matter how slight. Traffic slows down with slight flurries. Groceries stores run out of bread, milk and eggs. It snows here every winter and people act like its Florida when snow is anticipated.

As for the stats posted by kdjsgreen- you omitted Central Park which gets a little more than 28 inches on average and JFK which averages 26 inches. I'm pretty certain the thought of an additional 6-10 inches of snow in DC each year would cause a panic.

As for the transportation argument--I grew up in Cleveland. Our public transportation is no where near as extensive as DC or NYC. We average more than 50 inches of snow each year and the city doesn't shut down.

Oh, and one more thing- just because you have an SUV doesn't mean you know how to drive it in the snow!

Posted by: 39aka94 | February 9, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, elsewhere on

Prince George's County Health officials just sent out a notice warning of the "hidden dangers" of snow shoveling.

"Prince George's County Health Department wants residents to be aware that strenuous task such as shoveling snow coupled with extreme weather conditions increases your risk of heart attacks," the release stated.

"The risk of a heart attack during shoveling snow increases for middle-aged or older individuals, individuals with a sedentary lifestyle and individuals diagnosed with heart condition," county health chief Donald Shell said in a statement.

Want to bet that if the city starts fining people, someone will have a heart attack and sue?

Posted by: highschoolteacher | February 9, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Instead of citing the snow etiquette article, perhaps this writer who couldn't find a job in his blessed New York should cite the recent post news story on the condescention of liberals.

Posted by: oldno7 | February 9, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

To the person who used annual statistics to state that NY has never had two snowfalls of two feet or more in a year - one question - what inferior institution of higher learning did you attend? First, your statistics are meaningless. Before posting, you should research storm totals and it is obvious you haven't. I would suggest that you check December 77 through April 78 - there was a lot of snow that year. Second, JFK is not the marker to use - Central Park is the proper station to compare NYC totals. JFK is basically on Long Island which is, if you took basic geography, right next to the warming waters of the Sound and the Atlantic Ocean and receives less snow. While I hate this constant NY/DC comparison - after all they are different cities with different characters, I would suggest that NYC and its suburbs get more snow than DC and its suburbs on average. Having grown up within a twenty minute drive of Manhattan, I can assure you we received plenty more snow on average than I have experienced in my fairly long residency in the DC area. While I know that this is personal anecdote rather than supported by stated statistics, it is at least not a spurious use of dubious statistics. Since I do not feel like wasting my time on hours of research, I will rely on my personal observations.

Posted by: fwillyhess | February 9, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

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