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How to work with neighbors who do not shovel?

Hi I was looking for some advice on how to deal with a neighbor who does not shovel their walk.

I have been here in JP for about 4 years. Over that time there has always been one neighbor who consistently does not shovel. I have only seen their sidewalk shoveled once in that time period.

My wife asked them about it last winter and their reply, "We are just girls, we can't do it."

This  year I asked them, and they replied that they did shovel. Yet if you look at the sidewalk, they clearly did not. There is about 3" of packed snow on the walk. Yes it is a lot more difficult to shovel at this point, but that is not the point. If they shoveled like everyone else in the neighborhood, it would not be in its present condition.

I would hope and imagine that if you live in this climate long enough, you know you need to shovel pretty quickly, before the snow gets packed down, or else it becomes very difficult to shovel properly. How is it that every other house on the block was able to clear their sidewalk, but these folks can not. Every winter it becomes quite a hazard, as it ices over.

I tried using the "Citizen's Connect" app, and reported this a few days ago, but I am not really interested in them getting a $50 fine, I just want them to shovel their walk, so no one falls down. Please let me know if you have any suggestions on getting these folks to shovel, or at this point, to at least put down salt to help melt the 3" of snow/ice.



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Comment by Kevin G on January 20, 2011 at 5:30pm
Actually around here it seems like the problems are with condo associations. With a condo association there is a lot of responsibility to pass around, without anyone stepping up. Some associations are good, but I find those are the ones that cause more problems. There are a couple large multi-families right near me, and they do some of the best clean up around. The owner of one has his crew there early and often.
Comment by Eric on January 20, 2011 at 4:46pm
The worst are multi-family rental buildings. I feel like the landlords have made a cost benefit analysis in that it costs them more to hire people to do the work then it would cost them in fines.
Comment by Laura Cuozzo Guarnotta on January 20, 2011 at 3:39pm
Came across this funny post today about (former) city councilor Turner also not being a big shoveler either:
Comment by Kevin G on January 20, 2011 at 7:55am
I guess the fine worked, or possibly the knowledge that the fine can be cumulative. Late yesterday evening the walk was shoveled.
Comment by Kevin G on January 19, 2011 at 4:27pm

Latest news from the city: I called today, and they said that, "The address has been cited".

I believe it is a $50 fine.

The city employee asked, "Has it been shoveled yet?" I said, "No."

They then asked if I wanted to file another complaint, which I did. I believe that they will and can be fined $50/day for each day it remains unshoveled.

I was then put through to the code enforcement folks. They confirmed that the address has been cited, and that they could cite them again, but they can't promise to do it right away. There are some delays as they are receiving tons of no-shovel complaints. He seemed to imply that the best case scenario is that they would be fined every other day, as they just could not manage to get there every day to issue a citation. I understand they are a bit overwhelmed. I guess I will keep filing reports until the neighbor does something about it.

I have to add it is pretty ridiculous that they continue to not do anything. I walk up and down my street every day, about 1/2 mile. Over this 1/2 mile of walking there is only one house that still has snow/ice covering their entire sidewalk. At least every other house has at least attempted to clear their sidewalk.

Comment by Kevin G on January 19, 2011 at 10:39am

Well the house has still not shoveled their sidewalk. Now we have even more ice on the sidewalk. Unfortunately it is where the road slopes, so it is even more dangerous. So I have gotten to step 3 in your suggestions, and called the city. They have told me that it is still an open ticket, and has not been addressed yet.

As far as renters vs. owners-this property is a 2-Family, that was converted to condos. They appear to be owner occupied, at least one of them claims it is on their property taxes.

Comment by Matt Lee on January 18, 2011 at 5:33pm
I think the renters comment is very important. If people rent, its not their responsibility to shovel.
Comment by Erin A. on January 18, 2011 at 10:43am
I reported a house that never shovels to the Mayor's hotline and this last storm, for first time - voila!  They shoveled!  Something about getting a ticket gets people moving.
Comment by interrobang letterpress on January 17, 2011 at 3:34pm

unfortunately, aside for the minority who don't shovel, there are a lot of households that only make a first pass and then never follow up. Yesterday was beautiful out and on my walk up to Harvest, many sections of walk were shovelable (sic) after an ineffective first pass and have remained neglected, and as such, covered in an inch of slushy snow, in a narrow, single shovel-width swath. 

Personally, I try to be quite conscientious, in the very least, for the benefit of the postman who must negotiate slippery sidewalks 6 days a week. The paradox to me is the car owners who park on my street who don't lift a finger to assist shoveling, and then clear a small path to get in their car, piling the snow back on the sidewalk I cleared.

I'd be interested in seeing the use of the Groundcrew  app (which I recently downloaded and signed up for) used to open up the preposterous and negligent single foot-print wide crevices that get left when property owners fail to take responsibility for side walks at street corners. Witness the corner of Washington and Gartland in Stonybrook. Absurd.

As regards your neighbors invoking the "g word", report them. Aside from being unbelievably lame (and sexist) in 2011, a $50 fine will server as a great motivator in future. In the least, they'll hire someone. Sheesh.

Comment by Joseph Porcelli (Chief Neighbor) on January 17, 2011 at 1:58pm

Great questions, I get asked this a lot. 

My first suggestion is to the talk to you your neighbors - which you have done.

My second is to report it to the city - which you have done.

My third is also call the Mayor's 24 Hour Hotline at 617-635-4500. Tell them you have used Citizen Connect (as they will pull up the ticket) and ask them what else you can do. 

If they are renters - it is the landlords responsibility. You can also find out who the landlord is somewhere on

I'd also appreciate other peoples thoughts and suggestions. 


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