Responding to complaints about unplowed sidewalks, a Brooklyn lawmaker is proposing a bill to increase the fine for failing to clear the sidewalk to a minimum of $250, and use the money to have the city shovel the sidewalk — as well as all public places that are not currently cleared.
Councilman David Greenfield said in a statement Tuesday that the $100 fine currently in place for not clearing sidewalks within four hours after a storm ends is not sufficient to deter home or property owners. Even when this fine is issued, he said, the sidewalk often goes unshoveled and remains dangerous to pedestrians.
Under Greenfield’s proposal, the city would use its municipal workers to clear the sidewalk and would then bill the owner $250 or more for the work, depending on the size of the property.
“We all have a responsibility to our neighbors to make sure that the sidewalks in front of our homes and stores are cleared and passable,” Greenfield said.
The legislation has yet to be presented, but Greenfield says he would put revenues raised by the increased fine into a lockbox for use only for snow removal in any given winter. It would not go into city coffers under the proposal.
The money would go toward hiring seasonal workers to clear snow in front of unshoveled homes, and also to shovel sidewalks in front of abandoned construction sites, vacant houses or storefronts.
The city already has a database of temporary snow laborers it calls on during major snow events, with pay starting at $12 an hour and rising to $18 an hour after working 40 hours in a week.
A bill Greenfield proposed last year requiring public agencies such as the MTA to have an internal database so they would know who is responsible for clearing their properties died, since it never left the relevant committee before the end of the term in December. He plans on reintroducing it in tandem with the other legislation.