City extending grace period for residents to clear their sidewalks

Published on February 01, 2019

Close up photo of a person shoveling a sidewalk

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The City of Grand Rapids is extending the grace period for residents to clear their sidewalks following this week’s snowstorm, giving them until Monday to remove snow and ice. The City also is going door to door urging residents to move their parked cars off the street – or face a towing expense.

Since Monday, the City has asked residents to follow the odd-even and one-side parking rules in place for winter and remind them they may receive a parking ticket and, in some cases, have their vehicle towed if they don’t.

Today, members of the Fire, Police and Public Works departments are in neighborhoods across the city asking residents to move vehicles that have been parked on street in the same spot for multiple days, preventing plow crews from clearing the road of snow. If the illegally parked vehicles – those buried in snow and on the wrong side of the street according to winter rules – are not moved within 20 minutes, they will be towed.

Crews also are creating a tow list of cars that aren’t buried in snow but are parked on the wrong side of the street. Those vehicles will be towed if they are not moved by 1 a.m. Saturday. For a map of city streets that have odd-even or one-side parking restrictions and enforcement hours, CLICK HERE.

“Some of our streets are difficult to travel, and this is a problem for not only residents but also emergency vehicles,” Fire Chief John Lehman said. “This is a public safety issue. If we don’t get these vehicles moved and neighborhood streets cleared of snow, we will have even more dangerous conditions when the snow melts. We could see flooding on our neighborhood streets.”

Melting snow and ice can accumulate if they can’t drain properly and, if they freeze again, streets can become dangerous and flood. Residents are being asked to help clear catch basins in their neighborhoods. If you’re interested in adopting a basin to keep clear, CLICK HERE.

City ordinance requires property owners to clear their sidewalks 24 hours after the end of a snowfall or ice event. But with the amount of snow that has fallen this week – more than a foot – and the dangerous wind chills that have forced residents indoors, the City wants to give property owners time to clear their sidewalks.

The City is encouraging residents to help neighbors, friends and family members who aren’t able to clear their sidewalks.

“This is a great way for residents to give back to our community,” Lehman said. “We have many older residents and individuals with physical limitations across our city. We’re asking community members to help us assist these neighbors and make sure our sidewalks are safe for everyone.”

Lehman is urging residents to spend the next few days clearing sidewalks ahead of the warmer temperatures and rain that’s forecasted for this weekend and the freezing temperatures expected to follow. These conditions will make it more difficult to clear sidewalks when the melted snow turns to ice.

“We need to make sure sidewalks are safe for students when they return to school Monday,” Lehman said.

The City also is reminding residents and private snow plow operators that it’s against City ordinance to put snow in streets, alleys and sidewalks. It also prohibits the blocking of fire hydrants and mailboxes. If you’re interested in adopting a hydrant in your neighborhood to keep it clear of snow and ice, CLICK HERE.

Building owners and maintenance professionals are being reminded of the dangers of significant snow accumulation on rooftops. It is recommended that 18 or more inches of accumulated snow is removed from a roof supported by a wooden structure or large areas of flat roofs. For a roof supported by a steel or concrete structure, 24 or more inches is recommended for removal. Building owners and maintenance professionals are encouraged to remove significant drifts and, where possible, remove snow or ice obstructing roof drains, eaves, gutters or downspouts.