558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
Yes, the City does have a snow removal ordinance
Recent snowfall has prompted questions about who has the responsibility for removing snow from city sidewalks
January 14, 2013
Winter officially began less than a month ago and Prineville has already seen multiple snowfalls that have blanketed the ground.
That snow and accompanying ice can turn a normal walkway into a slippery hazard where people could fall and possibly suffer injuries.
Consequently, City law requires local residents to clear snow from the public sidewalks alongside their property to keep others safe, and the Prineville Police Department wants to make people aware of this during the winter.
Ordinance 93.39 states that “no owner or person in charge of property, improved or unimproved, abutting on a public sidewalk shall permit snow to remain on the sidewalk for a period longer than the first two hours of daylight after the snow has fallen; or ice to remain on the sidewalk for more than two hours after daylight after the ice has formed unless the ice is covered with sand, ashes, or other suitable materials to assure safe travel.”
Prineville Police Chief Eric Bush said that police tend to enforce the snow removal ordinance on a complaint-driven basis.
“We don’t drive around looking for snow on sidewalks because we simply don’t have the time to do that,” he said. “But, if somebody calls with a concern, we get right there and we will take care of it.”
So far, that enforcement tactic has worked well for Prineville police, Bush continued.
“It seems that the way we have been handling these types of complaints and the way we have been enforcing them has worked well, in my opinion, in the 20 years I have worked here.”
Although the police generally limit their snow-removal enforcement to complaints, they want people to exercise responsibility for the public walkways along their property.
“A sidewalk is a public right-of-way,” Bush said, “and you may own a piece of property, and you own the property that sidewalk sits on, but it’s a City right-of-way.”
If the police receive a complaint and the person refuses to clear the snow, they have the authority under the ordinance to cite the individual. While that is the case, Bush said the police prefer not to take that step.
“Our objective is to resolve the concern, not necessarily cite people,” he said.
In fact, when it comes to the issue of snowy neighborhood sidewalks, Bush would not mind if the people involved can peacefully resolve the issue without police intervention.
“We are firm believers that if one neighbor has a concern about another neighbor, if at all possible, we would like people to resolve the problems themselves before calling the police,” he said. “But, if they can’t, we will respond and help them through that.”