As Snow Falls, A Reminder About Snow Removal

by ARLnow.com January 25, 2013 at 3:05 pm 1,605 44 Comments

With snow falling and the evening rush hour beginning, Arlington County snow removal crews are gearing up to keep primary and secondary arterial streets clear.

According to the Arlington County website, the county is currently in a Phase 1 snow alert. Soon, crews will likely move into Phase 2, clearing accumulated snow from arterial streets.

“Our crews are on alert and scheduled to work through the evening as needed,” said county spokeswoman Laura G. Smith. “The public [can] check the snow status on our website.”

The video above, released by the county on Wednesday, explains Arlington’s snow removal process and its four phases.

The video also reminds residents that, by ordinance, all Arlington property owners are required to clear snow and ice from public sidewalks adjacent to their property within 24 hours after snow stops falling. In the event of snowfall over six inches, that timeframe is increased to 36 hours.

Property owners are also prohibited from depositing snow onto roads and other public property.

  • Alex

    Would love a real storm this winter!

  • KalashniKEV

    I love to clear snow by ordnance!!!

    • Popeye

      He, He. That’s funny

      • KathyInArlington

        Popeye, I think you are a lady as no guy would write “He. He.”

        • Say It Ain’t So

          Actually I know a guy at work who from time to time writes tee hee hee…. kinda the same

    • drax
  • Glebe Roader

    Take all the snow in the photo above and sprinkle it over the entire 26 square miles of the County. That’s how much snow we are getting today.

  • Becoming Indifferent

    I hope my idiot neighbors are reading this.

    • Mdre

      Does anyone know if the county can fine individuals for not taking care of sidewalks? It’s a major safety issue for pedestrians and there is a general lack of attention to this from homeowners as well as business owners in the Arlington area.

      • John Fontain

        Yes, there is a $50 civil penalty for sidewalks less than 200 feet and a $100 civil penalty for those over 200 feet.

      • Swag

        They can, but they never do.

      • Mike

        They have the authority to fine, but the enforcement policy on the County website says that their priority during the first few years under the new snow ordinance will be “education.” They seem to be saying their focus will be on reminding people, issuing warnings, etc., rather than imposing fines on those who didn’t know or forget. But they have the authority, and presumably if someone was really obstinate about not shoveling after being warned, they could issue a fine.

      • Buckingham Beauty

        They should. I squeaked and slid on some sidewalks on the walk home tonight. Some folks had left the first snow untouched, which had become ice over the last day, and then the fresh snow on top of that hid the ice underneath. At least I could see the ice on the way to work, but the afternoon trip home was tricky.

  • R. Griffon

    The video also reminds residents that, by ordinance, all Arlington property owners are required to clear snow and ice from public sidewalks adjacent to their property within 24 hours after snow stops falling.

    I really wish more people would be aware of this. Seeing most walks clear after the recent snow, but quite a few of them not so, esp. when many of them have since melted and re-frozen into ice. It’s really inconsiderate, and even dangerous.

    • G. Sherwood

      24 hours below 6 inches and 36 hours fir 6 inches and above.

  • Mary-Austin

    Looks like a heavier accumulation of salt than snow today.

    • Hank

      In that event I will look forward to moistening my bare skin and rolling around in the street to turn myself into a giant soft pretzel.

      • malaka

        In this cold there’ll be nothing giant about your soft pretzel

        • Say it Ain’t So

          Oh Malaka! Thank you for this! +10

        • drax

          Tee hee hee.

      • Comment of the Day

        Comment of the Day!

      • bemused bystander

        A very cold soft pretzel.

      • Mary-Austin

        Haha I meant road salt not bath salts.

    • Popeye

      We used sand one year. What an awful mess we had come spring.

  • Ashton Heights

    I think this ordnance would be unconstitutional. The government can’t force me to do work on land that I do not even own.

    I pay taxes, let them use that money to clean the sidewalk they own instead of their vanity projects and subsidizing housing.

    • SHLady

      we live in a community,. Shovel your damn sidewalk.

  • Joe

    Like anything else the County does it is all smoke and mirrors. They have no way of fining anyone for not clearing sidewalks. All anyone has to say is I didn’t know.

  • John Fontain

    “Property owners are also prohibited from depositing snow onto roads and other public property.”

    Just to clarify the ordinance, any snow required to be removed under this ordinance is, in fact, allowed to be shoveled onto roads or other public property.

    “Surely, John Fontain, you must have erred in your conclusion,” you are probably thinking. Well, the relevant paragraph of the ordinance reads as follows:

    “No person shall plow, shovel or blow any snow or ice FROM PRIVATE PROPERTY [emphasis added] onto a public street, crosswalk, transit stop, sidewalk or any public property.”

    Yet the ordinance only requires the clearing of “public sidewalk[s]”adjacent to private property, not of any walkways on the private property itself.

    So as long as you only shovel the public sidewalk adjacent to your property, you are not prohibited by this ordinance from throwing the snow onto the road or other public property.

    Here is a link to the poorly written ordinance:


    • GreaterClarendon

      SSSHHHHH! You’re not supposed to tell them that! They won’t be scared! As a regulator myself, I’ve noticed that exception in the language, which comes in handy since I’ve got a long sidewalk, and a fence surrounding it.

    • m

      That aspect of the law is sensible — they allow you to put the snow you remove from the public sidewalk onto other public property (the edges of that sidewalk or the street). Otherwise, they would be saying that you are required to remove snow from public property and deposit it on private property, which makes no sense. What they don’t want you doing is taking snow from private property (like a driveway, or worse, a parking lot) and putting it on public property (like the street that the county is trying to keep clean).

    • Dave

      You are correct, there are two aspects to the ordinance. The prohibition on plowing or placing snow into the public right of way is designed to deal with townhome, condo and commercial properties that hire private snow removal companies that have often plowed snow into the County streets, sometimes building mountains in the medians and placing a further burden on the County to plow or haul snow from private parking lots.

  • mjw703

    My in-home daycare provider, a nice grandmother in her 50’s, managed to shovel her sidewalks yesterday. Her millionaire neighbors on either side of her did nothing at all. Walking on Pershing Drive into traffic during rush hour is oh so much fun.

    • malaka

      They are probably in the Bahamas.

    • Jake

      Only little people shovel snow. And the fine? If you are a lawyer billing at $400 and hour, you’ll pay the fine rather then 20 minutes in the freezing cold doing manual labor .

      • GreaterClarendon

        But I think they have the right to shovel your property, and charge you for it.

    • Mikey

      That’s logical- the grandmother works from home, is around during daylight hours, and has time to take care of the shoveling (more like sweeping in this case) herself. The” millionaire neighbors” probably work long hours in high-pay / high-stress jobs, get home late in the evening, and need to hire someone to do the snow removal for them. But after a light dusting like yesterday, they didn’t have any trouble getting their cars in and out of the driveway, and it probably didn’t occur to them that they needed to remove the snow from the sidewalks.

  • fedworker

    “Property owners are also prohibited from depositing snow onto roads and other public property.”

    That’s what my neighbor’s property is for.

  • Garden City

    If I have to shovel the public sidewalk in front of my house, am I also responsible for filling any potholes that appear in the public street in front of my house. If not, why not?

    • 5555624

      Yes you are — fill ’em with the snow from the sidewalk.

    • SHLady

      I am a northeasterner born and raised. SHOVEL YOUR DAMN SIDEWALK! what are you, french?

  • Sweeper

    Video moment 10 or so illustrates County planners working with a half-consumed punch bowl! What were they drinking? Is that good for snow removal?

  • Suburban Not Urban

    So – lets start a list of all the places the county is responsible for and does not shovel – since the ordance exempts them from the requirement unlike the homeowners.

  • SHLady

    It was just a dusting this time. too bad, I want some SNOW!
    and folks, please shovel your sidewalks and your fire hydrants!!! after snowmaggedon, I went around Fairlington and shoveled out fire hydrants. I did about a dozen before my shovel broke.

  • Ren

    I walked from South Arlington to Clarendon on Friday at 5:30. I encountered one guy shoveling his sidewalk in 2 miles and that was it. Almost fell on Sunday night on the sidewalk at the corner of N Harrison and 26th St.
    There’s more to being a homeowner than being the first one at the door to buy a generator when a storm’s coming.


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