Winter weather is in the forecast again, which means residents may need to shovel their sidewalks for the first time since this past winter.
In Pullman and Moscow, city code states the owner of the property that borders the sidewalk is responsible for snow and ice removal. In Moscow, this does not apply to snow displaced onto sidewalks by city snowplows after the owner has already removed natural snowfall.
Pullman city code states the owner must clean off dirt, rock, snow or ice within eight daylight hours of accumulation. Moscow residents have 24 hours to clear their sidewalks. In both cities it is illegal for the snow to be shoveled onto a public road.
Moscow Code Enforcement Officer Alan Johnson said he will leave a warning at the door of a residence if he receives a complaint. While neglecting to clear the sidewalk can lead to a citation, Johnson said he did not have to issue one last year. Usually the warning is persuasive enough to get a resident to perform his or her duty.
"That's what we try to do is educate, and the summons or citation is a last resort," he said.
Pullman can enforce civil penalties of up to $500 for each violation, and each day the violation continues is considered a separate offense.
The city of Pullman recommends if the owner is unable to remove snow or ice without damaging the pavement, he or she should spread an environmentally friendly substance on the surface that will provide traction. That can include ash, sawdust or sand. The code says the owner must clear the sidewalk as soon as weather permits.
The city recommends having snow shovels or a snow blower before it snows and using deicer or ice melt. People worried about their health or slipping on the ice should have a local service shovel for them.
Johnson said one of the most common problems he sees is the buildup of snow in front of vacant businesses and businesses that are closed over the weekend.
He said because Moscow is a community where people like to walk, he encourages residents to be courteous to their neighbors and keep sidewalks safe to use.
The National Weather Service predicts a chance of snow for most of next week, with potentially heavy snow Tuesday night.
"So break out the snow shovels," Johnson said.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.