Q: I live in a brownstone in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and one of my neighbors does a terrible job shoveling his sidewalk. He shovels a narrow path that is barely the width of the shovel and usually leaves a layer of snow that becomes smooth and icy. His lot is on the corner, and he rarely clears the curb, making it difficult to cross the street. How do I tell him to shovel better?
A: Owners are responsible for clearing snow and ice in front of their buildings and creating a path that is at least three feet wide, as per the NYC administrative code. Those with corner lots must also clear a path to the zebra crossing, including any pedestrian ramps. When the melted snow forms a puddle, the owner must distribute the water.
The city gives time to get the job done: four hours if the snow stops between 7:00 and 17:00; 14 hours if the storm ends between 5pm. and 9 p.m. and if it stops snowing between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., the area must be cleared by 11 a.m.
According to what you describe, your neighbor is neither clearing a sufficiently wide path, nor is it free of ice. If he doesn't do it on time, you can call 311 and your neighbor can get a ticket that starts at $ 100 to $ 150 for the first offense and up to $ 350 for additional violations. But before you go that route, try talking to him. You may find a more amicable solution.
Shoveling snow is difficult work, and many people have obstacles that make it even more difficult. Someone who is older or has a disability may have trouble shoveling. A commuter may not be able to get to work until the snow has hardened. Parents of young children may not have someone to monitor their case while they work outside.
Now talk to your neighbor while you shovel. Explain that you are concerned about safety and want to find a way to make sure the entire sidewalk is passable. "Your delivery should be positive," said Diane Gottsman, a national etiquette expert. “It's really up to us to do the right thing and be proactive with the right attitude and help. How can I help you? How can we clear this up? "
Maybe you can make an arrangement to share the workload and swap shovel shifts if it's a severe storm like the one we just got. If he's unable to do the job, you and other neighbors could come forward to help, as the goal is to clear the sidewalk for everyone. Or suggest that he hire someone to do the work for him. (If you know an enterprising teen in the neighborhood looking for extra pocket money, pass the name on.) You can also share options like a shoveling aid program around town for homeowners aged 60 and over or with a disability.
If after this conversation he doesn't offer any solutions and his path remains poorly shoveled, give the city a call.
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