82°Partly Cloudy

UPDATED: Snow Complaints By The Numbers

by ARLnow.com February 1, 2011 at 11:29 am 4,021 70 Comments

Update at 12:05 p.m. — The county has informed us that the previous numbers we were given were wrong. The article now reflects the updated numbers.

Last week’s snow and ice storm has resulted in a total of 679 complaints to Arlington County through its new Report a Snow Issue form, according to the county’s Department of Environmental Services.

As of last night, here’s the breakdown of what citizens are reporting:

  • 406 — This street has never been plowed or needs additional plowing
  • 189 — Sidewalk concern
  • 52 — Other
  • 32 — This street is icy

By comparison, TBD reported that 30 complaints were submitted after 2-3 inches of snow fell on Dec. 16.

The county’s new snow removal ordinance says that snow and ice must be removed from public sidewalks 24 hours after precipitation stops falling. So far, however, no fines have been issued as a result of the ordinance.

“Our collective focus this year has been on education and compliance,” said Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Myllisa Kennedy. “To date, there have not been any civil infractions issued according to Code Enforcement.”

  • bob

    as usual, Rosslyn Heights and Rosslyn Vue are refusing to remove snow.

    VDOT and/or Arlington County neesds to get the sidewalks on the N. Scott bridge as well

    • Chris

      I live there too.. have you called the office & asked them to do it? What did they say? (I haven’t called – should have)

  • LP

    I can personally be held responsible for reporting 4 of the “sidewalk concern” requests.

    • Rick


    • shirley

      I’m with you. I put in about 10 reports.
      Bottom line: If you can completely clean your 5-6 car driveway so that your cars can get out of the garage; and your steps and sidewalks from your house to the trash can, then darn it, you better clean the public sidewalk too. Just because you don’t walk anywhere doesn’t mean you shouldn’t clean it.
      So I kept my complaints to those who seemed to be able to clean all snow except that on the public sidewalk.

  • North Adams Snob

    Glad to know that ArlCo is being proactive here. I walk down N. Adams every morning to go to work- it’s a big “commuter” route for the hundreds of metro riders who live in the Yuppie Ghetto across Lee Hwy. Two houses are regular culprits. One is a rental that sometimes shovels, sometimes not. The other I think is owned by, ahem, folks from another country who might not understand the meaning of SHOVEL YOUR GD SIDEWALKS. I will be using this form with alacrity.

    • mehoo

      It always helps to throw some swipe at foreigners. That’s always a good move.

      • Chad

        Stay classy, San Diego.

    • V Dizzle

      Do you prefer D-bag or Mr Douche?

    • NorthAdams

      ya, those icelanders and swedes mock us for not being able to get around in the snow. “those pansy Americans…” I think I heard them say….

  • 1235

    No idea if it was because of this ordinance or just out of good will, but for the first time in 10 years that I know of, several businesses along columbia pike have actually shoveled their sidewalks. Very nice not having to slip and slide on the way to the bus!

  • The snow reporting form wasn’t working over the weekend, at least for me, though it worked before and after. It wouldn’t drop that “pin” to note a location and so wouldn’t submit.

    The numbers, therefore, might be lower than they would otherwise have been.

    • LP


      Had the same issue but seemed to work fine yesterday.

      • Mapper

        We had a power failure on Sat night and our GIS servers went down as designed.

  • johnny b

    The county should rescind this ordinance until it can show to its subjects that they can get their own walks shoveled.
    Schools are not being done properly, bridges over I66 not done, etc.
    If they want to collect statistics, whats wrong with designing a plan, testing it for a year or two, and then if successful put an ordinance in place.
    The current ordinance was a knee-jerk reaction to last years snowmegeddon. (or perhaps a retaliation, now that they realize al gore / GW was a HOAX).
    When they do start issuing fines, are the responsible county supervisors going to pay theirs out of their own pocket?

    • Burger

      How bout plowing streets. We are at day 6 and no plow.

      I found it ironic that the County’s failure to preform its government function were reported twice as many times as a sidewalk.

      Hmmm…when do the fines come down for them.

      • Rover

        I propose the county pay each resident on each street not plowed $100 after 72 hours of the snow stopping to fall. ROVER

        • JamesE

          How about I don’t have to pay my car tax? because my street never gets plowed and I could spend the money on more useful things like beer and more beer.

          • Mick Way

            Before you go all postal be sure that your street is actually the responsibility of the County. It is totally bass ackwards but most side streets are actually the responsibility of VDOT.


          • Westover

            Mick, you are reading it wrong. The thick black lines are secondary streets that the state takes care of, the thin lines, which are most of the neighborhood streets and cul-de-sacs, are county maintained.

          • Mapper

            You are correct, only the thick black streets are VDOT. The vast majority of streets in the County are County maintained. Personally I’ve never liked that map but it’s what the street staff wanted.

          • JamesE

            I live on N.Stuart where it ends behind the Nature Conservancy, it was almost comical watching people try to go down the street and turn around only to get stuck over and over again

    • R.Griffon

      > …now that they realize al gore / GW was a HOAX

      Looks like someone doesn’t know the difference between weather (which is in your back yard) and climate (which is global). Much as I hate to turn this into yet another liberal vs. conservative flame thread, this kind of ignorance can’t be ignored.

      For the last time: A snowstorm (or even MANY of them, or even a whole winter of record low temps) does not prove or disprove anything. You know what does? GLOBAL data observed over a substantial period of time. Like this: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/

      And that’s only to establish a trend; causality is a whole other ballgame.

      So I tell you what – How about conservatives promise not to call GW a proven hoax every time it snows, and in return libs will promise not to claim it proven right every time it’s hot. Deal?

      • Sgt. Hartman

        What’s the baseline? How long have the data been collected? AGW is nothing more than an unproven theory.

        • mehoo

          No, it’s a well-supported theory. The answers to your questions are easily found. Don’t assume they don’t exist simply because you don’t know them.

          Here’s a start – “Understanding and Responding to Climate Change” by the National Academy of Sciences.


          • Sgt. Hartman

            Unlike other AGW alarmists, I give the authors of the linked study some credit. As it states, “Estimating the Earth’s global-average temperature becomes increasingly difficult going further back in time due to the decreasing availability of reliable proxy evidence, but the available evidence indicates
            that most regions are warmer now than at any other time since at least A.D. 900.” That’s hardly convincing and rather self-serving to AGW proponents.

          • mehoo

            That’s also hardly the only statement about the subject. It’s just a summary of the research. It says the obvious, that it’s harder to measure as you go further back. Doesn’t say it’s so hard to measure as to be completely unreliable.

      • Banksy


        Folks like johnnyb also probably don’t think that cigarettes cause cancer or that man ever landed on the moon or that the Earth orbits around the sun…

    • mehoo

      It snowed, so global warming is a hoax! :rolleyes:

      Where do you people come from?

      • Westover

        Global Warming is not proven. In fact it might be the opposite. Now Global Climate Change is an undeniable fact. The question to still be answered which has serious economical and moral issues is, is this a natural cycle of nature or caused by man’s pollution?

        • Maria

          But it was REALLY HOT this summer!!! That proves global WARMING, doesn’t it??

  • Katie

    Who do they deem responsible for clearing the sidewalks between 13th Road and the Rite Aid on Walter Reed near Columbia Pike? There are townhouses that face the smaller streets, and then a big “for sale” plot of land–and the whole stretch is NEVER done. Pedestrians have to walk on the road. Very dangerous. (No crosswalks until you get to Columbia Pike.)

  • Arlwhenever

    No big deal. The rainplow is coming through tomorrow.

  • South Arlington

    For all the complaining about the ordinance, it was nice to be able to walk from Columbia Pike to 2nd Street in Penrose without having to leave a sidewalk (except for 2 townhomes).

    Ironically, the only area that really wasn’t shoveled was the sidewalk around Penrose Park. If only our parks and recreation department could be as proactive as Pawnee, Indiana’s.

  • KArlington

    Can we add “Street plowed in such a way that a 4-foot high drift was left in the middle that is now frozen granite and won’t melt until May?” Or does that fall into the 1st world concerns folder?

  • Andrew

    Went for a run Sunday afternoon (3 days after snow stopped). From VA Square, ran up Glebe road. Sidewalk on bridge across 66 was not cleared and I’d say at least 80% of the houses up to Old Glebe road did not shovel their sidewalks. Glad I didn’t bother reporting anyone since no fines were given out.

  • Marci/Ballston

    I applaud the ordinance, but need to see the county sidewalks adhering to the same rules. 6 days later now, some non-residential (park) sidewalks are just as treacherous as they were last week. Arlington, are you also going to fine yourself? Please tell me you will, there is no excuse for 30+ kids having to stand at a bus stop on a 20% grade hill, at a public park no less, that has been untouched by a shovel or icemelt products.

  • CadeTyler

    Only one house on my street hasn’t shoveled their sidewalk. One! A week after the bloody storm. Reported and had my dog pee on their snowlawn, Enjoy your yellow snow, you shoveling scofflaws!

    Also, the Infinity Apartment complex on Columbia Pike and Columbus still haven’t cleared all of their sidewalk. Again!

  • OX4

    Good Lord, people. Put yer boots on and enjoy the winter.

  • Clarendude

    Thanks to whoever cleared the snow along Wilson in front of the Power Substation in Clarendon! I was surprised it was clear. Maybe Dominion did it, or Northside Social or maybe the Tire Place ?

  • LyonSteve

    Military Rd was plowed… but then left all the snow in the middle of the road. For a good portion of Military Rd, one has to ride in the bike lanes because the travel lanes have a 2 foot high snow drift in them.

    Plus where those stupid medians were placed in the road, there is snow about 8 feet wide in front of them. Way to go ARLCO.

  • R.Griffon

    Might be nice if they start handing out warnings to people who haven’t shoveled. Maybe a lot of property owners are still unaware of the ordinance.

    And couldn’t agree more that the County could do more to ensure clear sidewalks on County property, esp. where people are known to congregate (like bus stops) or travel.

  • Lacy Forest

    I’m glad a live on a street with no sidewalks.

    • Lou

      Ah, but you probably have easements that abut the curb. Next thing you know, the county will require you to clear their easement.

      • Mapper

        … you’re in luck… we haven’t mapped those yet… 🙂

  • Anon

    Ballston Golds Gym was an offender – never shoveled their snow this winter or last and its a highly traveled spot with a bus stop. Reported them, and a few days later they shoveled. Did the same thing with a family that only shoveled their driveway and now they are shoveling their sidewalk. The law seems to work.

    • Seriously

      You sound like a real bitch! I shoveled, but would not rat out a neighbor without telling them face-to-face first. That’s the problem with you liberals, government solutions rather than “manning up” and taking some responsibility to have a dialogue with people. I’ve got no problem ratting out Zimmerman or other board members and government buildings, but you just sound like the type of person who gets off on this little amount of power!

      • Andrew

        Wow. I’m anything but liberal, and was extremely pissed when I tried to go for a run Sunday and had to run in the street most of the time. No excuse for a gym that employs many able-bodied adutlts to not shovel their sidewalk. Also, absolutely no excuse for that kind of name calling.

      • Westover

        Disagree here. This is one of those places that government authority has a role in enforceing our “social contract”. The neighbors who fail to shovel their sidewalk should know better, but it should not be up to the guy next door to enforce the law either. This system lets neighbors be neighbors, now if the fines were in effect this year, you might have a point. But allowing the county to mediate here is probably a good thing.

      • Anon

        Not my neighbor – just a house I pass on my way to work – and walking up to a strangers house and complaining about their sidewalks sounds like a good way to get yelled at. This anonymous tip did not fine them (see above) just made them aware of the law. Quite frankly its a favor as someone could fall and sue and they’d be per se negligent (I wouldn’t). Not a liberal at all – just believe in the golden rule, I shovel my walk, you shovel yours.

      • mehoo

        How come people who rant and spew insults are usually the same people screaming about “liberals!”?

  • Open 24-7

    The Ballston 7-11 on Wilson Blvd and N. Emerson didn’t clear its sidewalks either. I told the manager and he said he is only responsible for his parking lot and that anyone walking could use the other side of the street.

  • Michael

    Hopefully the county is serious about letting residents and businesses know about the ordinance after recieving our complaints. There are two on Washington Blvd. just south of Pershing St. where the businesses appeared to have plowed their own parking lots and dumped the snow onto the sidewalk. Most of the homes along Washington Blvd. have also not shoveled their walks as well. Hopefully the rain tomorrow will give us some good melt, since it’s not fun to walk into traffic on my way to and from the Clarendon Metro.

    • Westover

      The Lee Harrison Shopping Center did the same into the middle of Harrison Street, abruptly taking away an entire lane of traffic!

  • North Cherrydaler

    The gas stations (Liberty & Exxon) at the five-corners intersections NEVER shovel their walks–and it’s tricky for pedestrians to get around those corners at that busy intersection. I submitted them to the report form, so I’m hoping there’s at least some follow-up to our reports.

    • shirley

      and yet their station at Columbia PIke & George Mason (same owners) did get cleared…

  • NomNom


  • Thes

    I’m very glad for the ordinance. One business near where I live had not shoveled by the next day and so I went inside and told the people behind the counter that they could get a $100 fine. English was their second language and they were not management, but “government could fine you $100” was a simple message, much simpler than trying to convince them of their civil responsibility or insurance risk. One of them was out shoveling within 10 minutes and even thanked me for the warning. WTG Arlington!

    • charlie

      glad to know that yet another business run by people for whom “English is their second language” were appropriately bullied by Zimmie’s lapdog.

      How is it relevant that they aren’t native English speakers?

      • mehoo

        Read it again.

  • Chris

    Snow removal in this county, if not the region, is a joke. I understand having trouble removing 20 – 30 inches in an area that rarely gets that amount, but 3 – 5? Really? I was shocked this weekend at the number of cross streets connecting Washington Blvd. and Lee Highway between Sycamore and George Mason, and side streets immediately north of Lee Highway between Nottingham Elementary and Yorktown High that had not been plowed — or had been plowed by a drunk. They’re nothing more than packed snow with a layer of ice. And then the county gives us a snow removal ordinance that the county itself couldn’t follow. Who’s going to fine the county, or are they too good for their own ordinance?

    • Lou

      The county prioritizes walking above driving.

  • SoCo Resident

    When exactly is the County going to get serious about fining – FORGET the “education.” Why is it a given that the younger the residents are of a house and the nicer their cars, the more likely it is that the walk is completely ignored? Their message to the neighbors is loud and clear.

  • Cherrydaler

    The post office on George Mason didn’t bother to shovel the sidewalk on George Mason- though they did get their interior sidewalks. That was the one I submitted.

  • MadMan

    Someone in my neighborhood not only didn’t shovel their sidewalk, they built a larger-than-life snowman right in the middle of it, obstructing the entire width. It will be there for weeks. What are they thinking?

    • Clover Leaf

      Keep Off my sidewalk or Frosty will get you?

      • Arlington, Northside

        Zing!!! 😀

  • Pingback: Pike Wire | PM Wrap Up for FEB1/11()

  • Sophia

    Rosslyn Gateway Park wasn’t shoveled…until today. That path was unwalkable and full of ice.

  • anon

    The county should be taking care of its own sidewalks before enforcing the ordinance against private homeowners and businesses. The entire stretch of Barton St between 10th St and Fairfax has been neglected by the county after every snow/ice event we’ve had this winter. That stretch of Barton runs along county property – the community garden (weed patch) and Barton Park – and it’s a major commuter route.


Subscribe to our mailing list