Pullman and Moscow property owners who do not shovel their sidewalks may get an education on city code from police officers this winter.
As the snow continues to pile up, code enforcement officers are reminding people to be responsible for clearing any sidewalk on his or her property.
In Pullman, residents must remove the snow within eight daylight hours of the last snowfall, said Pullman Police Department Officer Elizabeth Oje. If their sidewalk is deemed a serious safety risk, police may require them to act sooner. A person could be fined $50 to $250 depending on the offense.
Property owners in Moscow have 24 hours after the snow falls to clear their sidewalk, said Moscow Police Capt. Will Krasselt. Moscow police will contact the person if there is a complaint, and failure to keep a sidewalk safe could lead to a misdemeanor.
Often, however, it does not get to the point where punishment is warranted. Oje and Krasselt said Moscow and Pullman police will educate the person on their responsibilities first, and give them an opportunity to clear the snow and ice.
Oje said that is usually enough.
“Most of the time education works and keeping it on people’s radars seems to be effective,” Oje said.
She said police try to be considerate of other factors working against the property owner. For example, sometimes snow piles up so fast that the person simply cannot keep up, she said.
So far, no penalties have been issued in either city.
Oje said Pullman has tried to be more proactive this year in educating people about the city code. Police took over sidewalk enforcement when Pullman Parks and Recreation Department no longer had the resources to oversee it, she said.
After heavy snow fell late last winter, Oje said, the police wanted to get ahead on their education efforts. So this year, the city displayed tips and city code information on buses and included information on sidewalks in residents’ water bills.
Oje said she believes it is working.
“I think the word is getting out and people are more aware,” she said.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to email@example.com