An October 24 Gazette.net article reported that the Montgomery County Council has passed, by an 8-1 vote, a bill requiring the county executive to create and implement a snow and ice removal plan for sidewalks. The article noted that while county law already requires property owners to clear their sidewalks within 24 hours after precipitation, some sidewalks are not covered. From the article:
The legislation seeks to ensure sidewalks are passable after storms and should improve how the county fulfills the intent of its law requiring snow removal, bill sponsor Councilman Hans Riemer said.
“The goal of this bill is to make our county more walkable in every season,” Riemer (D-At Large) of Takoma Park said. …
Councilman George L. Leventhal (D-At Large) of Takoma Park, the lone vote against the bill, questioned the necessity of mandating a plan via legislation, asking if its goal could have been accomplished through other means.
The article noted that the Council did not want the County to spend additional money on sidewalks that property owners are required to clear and that instead the plan should help target where the County should be spending additional resources:
However, limited county resources will prevent the county from removing “all snow from all public property in every location every time it snows,” [Reimer] said. Instead, the plan should help the county rationalize where spends money for sidewalk snow removal, he said.
Among its requirements, the bill mandates creating a digital map that shows each sidewalk and who is responsible for clearing it of snow. It also requires the executive branch launch a public education campaign for property owners about their responsibility for clearing snow and ice from their sidewalks, as well as requires a plan for picking up trash after storms.
The article stated that the bill is estimated to cost the County $350,000 to create the map, $8,000 annually to update the map, $100,000 for the public information campaign, and $6 million for snow removal in an average winter.