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City: Take this walk and shovel

Councilor’s proposal would force some who don’t clear paths to pay snow-removal costs.

Thousands of property owners who failed to shovel public sidewalks abutting their homes and businesses have been fined this winter, but City Councilor Bill Linehan wants to take that penalty to the next step by charging repeat offenders for snow removal.

“There’s a number of ways to do that,” Linehan said of sharpening the so-called “Green Ticket” fines. “Potentially there could be not-for-profit groups that could remove the snow and they could contract with the city to do that or there may be a public mechanism, some group at DPW, that is specifically on this.”

City ordinances currently require property owners to shovel city sidewalks within six hours after a storm or be fined up to $200. After being ticketed, owners have 21 days to remove the snow and can be fined every day they don’t comply.

“What’s happening is we’re citing folks now very well but we’re still not getting the sidewalks clean and therefore the public safety issue remains,” Linehan said.

Michael Mackan, chief of Boston’s Code Enforcement Police, said the number of repeat offenders is unclear. “Even if there’s one sidewalk not shoveled it’s a big problem,” Mackan said.

The matter was referred to the Committee on City and Neighborhood Services and a hearing has yet to be scheduled.

Mackan said even though the city has a similar program in which prisoners clear snow from vacant lots, it’s hard to know if his crew has the bandwidth to enforce Linehan’s proposal.

“They pass the laws,” he said, “and then we figure out how to carry them out.”

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