Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 03/2004

« St. Ann's celebrates 125 years of prayer | Main | This is what happens when you don't look in your own backyard »

October 05, 2007

Comments

Even vs Odd

I live on the even side of my street and if the friggin DPW didn’t always push the snow onto my sidewalk and Driveway, I wouldn’t mind. When the slushy snow turns to ice it takes 4 times more energy from me to clear the areas.

If we are too jeopardize public safety by switching sides, leave it alone but give me and my even side neighbors a break and don’t push it back onto the sidewalk and block our driveways.

Pie Man say's she's hot!

Nice flip flops!

Mr. Snowmeister

Well, it's obvious that at least seveal aldermen live on the odd side of the street! If they lived on the even side during a snowy winter, they would not be against this proposal. People have tried to change this for many years with no luck, due to some of the alderman being against the change. It's funny, you can change other statutes without confusing the poor, stupid electorate, I can't imagine why this statute should be so different. And by the way....I live on the even side of the street, and the fire hydrants are on my side of the street. And let me tell you what it's like dealing with a snowstorm:
Sometime while the storm is winding down we go out and clear our sidewalk and driveway. In a little while we hear a plow come down the street so we go out and clear the driveway once again. During the night we hear the plow come through, and in the morning we go out and clear our driveway again. By this time, the temperature has usually dropped enough so that we are no longer shoveling snow, but chunks of ice picked up in the street and deposited in my driveway. I am out there for hours literally shovelling the STREET (since this is where all of the snow and ice are coming from)! A storm of 6 inches can require that I clear the driveway up to 4 times, and each time I am usually clearing MORE than the original 6 inches. Can someone please explain to me why I should have this inconvenience when those across the street do not? And did I mention that the even side of my street gets virtually no sun, so the snow which has been pushed there stays frozen there much longer than it would across the street.

thenoseknows

im thinking back to when this started and i remember mayor capuano's study on this matter showed that there were more parking spaces on the odd side. i live on the even side, so does capuano! leave it alone we need the parking spots. if it changes you cry babies will be complaining that your car was towed by pats and it was some way for pats and the administration to make more money.

Jay

Mr. Snowmeister, I agree with you 100%. It drives me nuts when I have to shovel my car out from under a mound of rock-hard, black, muddy snow. Last year I had to use a steel pole to crack the ice surrounding the wheels of my car as my shovel was ineffective.
And what's worse, as you pointed out, is that the sun never hits my side of the street so this disgusting, trash-ridden, hardened snow/ice just sits on my sidewalk for months!

William Hurst

Where does everyone live that is having a problem with the even side snow emergency parking? I been shoveling snow for 50+ years and all they do is plow the middle of the road. Even or odd it does'nt make a difference our driveways get plowed in. Deal with it.

Matt Goodman

I live on the even side, I'm on a corner (so I've got to shovel twice as much sidewalk as folks who aren't on a corner), and I've got a fire hydrant.

I don't have a problem with the current system, and I think changing the current system would be a mistake. Multiply the number of folks who complain about being towed or ticketed during snow emergencies now, and multiply that by the number of people who get ticketed or towed for street cleaning because they forget what day it is on or what side of the street will be cleaned.

Ron Newman

My tendancy is to say, leave the current system alone, it's easy for people to understand.

mr. plow

so the city workers that do nothing are plowing in driveways three and four times.come on which is it ,they do nothing or they do too much.

Snow

Just think all the plows have to be turned around Left to Right then Right to Left just think of all that extra O/T
Boos HOG if you only got a small tithe

it *is* funny

I think Mr Plow makes a good point ... everyone complains that the plow guys don't do enough and then they complain that the plow guys are maliciously piling snow in their driveways. On snow removal in a densely populated city like ours, no one will ever be happy. I hate shovelling a few times a day too, but it is what it is.

Allison

As has been stated - we get the snow plowed up onto our sidewalk - we clear it 4 or 5 times due to the plow - and typically it turns to ice. One particularly bad snowstorm we were away - we came back to our sidewalk covered in 3 feet of ice! I managed to chip out the fire hydrant but not the rest - Somerville then proceeded to leave me tickets every day for a week - all because the of the plow + ice.

I for one would welcome this measure! Share the pain.

mr. plow

I think we have to remember these brave souls that operate these plows are the first one on those hills. Go for countless hours. Leave their families at home to take care of themseves.For this service they get shovels thrown at them,yelled at threated and god knows what else.I say if you havn't plowed then spend 36 hours in the cab of a mac.Untill then i suggest you pull over and let the plow through.

Fred Berman

The even/odd snow-plowing question has come up at least a few times over the course of the past couple of months that I've gone door-to-door in my campaign for Alderman at Large.

While I can't speak knowledgably about the fire hydrant issue, it seems like there may be some relatively straightforward strategies for addressing the "confused resident" issue and for preventing the disproportionate loss of parking spots on the odd side.

1. Avoiding Confusion

As the new year approaches, and maybe again when the weather forecasts are giving us advance warnings of the first storm or two, how about having Tom Champion use Reverse 911 to call and remind us which side of the street is going to get dumped on by the plows (even side on even years, odd side on odd years)

The City could probably also blast out an email about which side of the street to clear (reaching folks who can't be reached by Reverse 911 because they've replaced their land lines with cell phones). To get the relevant emails, the City could give residents the option of furnishing their email address on the annual census ... if they are interested in being notified about plowing, or flushing of the pipes, or even about an upcoming zoning board meeting to review an abuttor's application for a variance, or the Board of Alderman's agenda....)

2. Disproportionate loss of parking spaces

Most residential streets have houses and driveways on both sides, so that each side has more or less the same number of parking spaces. In most of our neighborhoods, therefore, we'd lose about the same number of parking spaces no matter which way the plow blade was facing.

The extra 2,000 spaces on the odd-numbered sides of streets presumably result from a small number of streets in which the even numbered side of the street has Somerville's typical mix of double and triple deckers, and the odd-numbered side borders a park, a playground, a school, a large apartment buildings, etc.

Maybe in those less typical locations, it wouldn't make sense to have alternate side of the street plowing.

Maximizing the number of streets which can implement alternate side of the street plowing, while minimizing the loss of parking spaces is exactly the kind of "problem" that GIS was created to solve.

Although equitably dividing the burden of shoveling out from under the snow left by the plow may not be possible on every street, it should be possible on most.

While public safety should be the paramount concern, our approach to resolving this issue should also be guided by fairness.

That sense of fairness is missing from the "let's just keep things the way they are" response that was attributed to some of the Aldermen quoted in the article.

We can do better.

For the record, I live on the odd-numbered side of the street.

Charles Chisholm

Perhaps the City should purchase twenty-one snow cats (one per precinct)and clean everone's sidewalk and driveway. Tufts University has one and its sidewalks are cleared quickly and they have no plowed in driveways. It would especially help seniors would need all the help they can get in the winter.

Election

Well said, Charles. On some days it is impossible to walk anywhere. Thick ice covers all sidewalks due to lack of repeated cleaning.

Imux

It's a good idea as soon as the city has it's fiscal house in order. How much you think those CATS cost? They're not cheap. Who is paying?

Charles Chisholm

The City's finances could easily handle the cost. I can think of many expenses whose benefit to our City, and its people, is far less than the benefit of this proposal. Somerville has, more often than not, denied its citizens the quality of ideas and services they need and deserve. Self appointed fiscal guardians, whose knowlege of the City's finances is only dwarfed by their capacity to think innovatively, are the first problem. A misguided set of priorities is the second.

Nobody

... And who would be a good person to elect who is not a self-appointed fiscal guardian and can think innovatively etc?
Ding ding ding! We have a winner ladies and gentlemen!
Nothing wrong with self-promotion, folks.

Solh Zendeh

I really think this is a property owner issue. We either pay individually or via taxes for new snowcats or whatever. I personally don't think *more* money sent to city hall is the way to solve this issue. Just shovel or pay someone to do it - it's the cost of ownership. As long as the city fines people that don't comply fairly and logically, I don't have a problem with the current system.

That said, I'm on a corner lot, with no parking at all on my side, so *everything* on the street gets piled onto my sidewalk. I don't mind shoveling, however I can't figure out what to do with all the snow sometimes. There's literally no place to put it... and there's nothing that I can find in the ordinances that addresses that issue. Typically I end up just packing it down and sanding it, but I'm not sure that, strictly speaking, is legit. I've been ticketed a couple of times, and I just chalk it up to sometimes you blow it and have to pay...

What I could find on the city site:

Sec. 12-8. Snow and ice on sidewalks.
(a) No owner, tenant, or occupant of land or a building abutting upon a sidewalk within the limits of any public way in this city, and no agent of such owner having the charge of such land or building shall place or suffer to remain on such sidewalk for more than six hours between sunrise and sunset on any day, any snow or any ice, unless such ice is made even and covered with sand or other suitable material to prevent slipping.
(b) Whoever violates any of the provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall be fined in accordance with section 1-11.
(c) Upon neglect or violation of the duty imposed by the provisions of this section such duty may be performed by the superintendent of highways at the expense of the person liable to perform the same.
(d) The city treasurer with the approval of the mayor may in civil actions prosecute and adjust claims inuring to the city under the provisions of this section.
(Code 1963, § 12-10)
State law references: Removal of snow from sidewalks, M.G.L.A. c. 40, § 21(3), (4); ordinances authorized, M.G.L.A. c. 85, § 5.

Sec. 12-9. Shoveling snow on streets.
(a) No owner, tenant or occupant of land or a building, or any agent thereof, in this city shall cause any snow or ice from said land or building to be placed in any public way in this city unless said snow or ice is broken up and spread evenly, to a thickness of no more than three inches, during daylight hours, when the mean temperature for that day is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
(b) Whoever violates any of the provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall be fined in accordance with section 1-11.


A couple of improvements I can think of:

1. Obviously addressing what to do with the snow - corner piles that the city will "collect"?
2. tiered fining - warning the first time, progressively greater fines as the days/incidents add up.
3. Absentee landlords should get hit hard. I have no idea if this is true, but I suspect many of the unshoveled areas are properties where the owner simply doesn't live, and the tenants have no financial incentive to shovel.

I am not against investing in new machines per se, but I'd like to try some reasonable adjustments to the policy before that.

Sorry for the long post.

Ron Newman

The city could use such a machine to clear its own sidewalks, though. After every major winter storm, the (heavily travelled) sidewalk of Day Street next to the city parking lot is impassible. I usually have to call my ward alderman to get it taken care of.

Nobody

What is "the cost of ownership" is pretty arbitrary and obviously something that can debated and negotiated. They way this is going to be settled is by somebody breaking his/her spine on a frozen sidewalk the city was supposed to clean and getting $100M out of the city.

Solh Zendeh

Nobody,

I'm not sure I understand what you are saying. I definitely advocate the city clearing the sidewalks that it is responsible for - so a machine to clear city maintained sidewalks may be a good investment, especially because if someone falls and hurts themselves on a "public" sidewalk, we the property owners are going to be on the hook in that lawsuit.

But traditionally, sidewalks abutting private property is responsibility of the owner. This is a system that can and has worked for a long time, and I don't see a compelling reason to have the city take on more property tax to pay for a job that can and should be done by the individual owners. If there are particular issues - fine, lets address them, but turning this into a city job just seems like the wrong direction to me.

In the end, the property owners are going to pay for snow clearing one way or another. I think keeping the responsibility as local as possible is the right move, as long as the ordinances are fair, and they are enforced.

Calling Perry Mason

"No owner,....of land or a building abutting upon a sidewalk....shall place or suffer to remain on such sidewalk for more than six hours between sunrise and sunset on any day, any snow or any ice, unless such ice is made even and covered with sand or other suitable material to prevent slipping."
~This statute has always amazed me because all sidewalks are public property. How can the city legally require that I maintain public property? I'm not allowed to trim the tree in front of my house, because it is on 'public property'. The only reason noone has ever challenged this law in court is because of the fear of retaliation.
"No owner....of land or a building....shall cause any snow or ice from said land or building to be placed in any public way....unless said snow or ice is broken up and spread evenly, to a thickness of no more than three inches, during daylight hours, when the mean temperature for that day is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit."
~Another interesting statute. I'm not allowed to put snow in the street, despite the fact that that is where it came from! The plows can put snow and ice in my driveway all day long, and I'm supposed to keep it there? Or where?
And to the poster above who wrote.."traditionally, sidewalks abutting private property is responsibility of the owner". People have allowed the city to create this 'tradition', however, the sidewalk is only my 'responsibility' when it is covered in snow. Any other time of the year it reverts back to city property and I have no rights to anything which may be done with it. Again, I'd love to see a test case!!

Solh Zendeh

Actually, you are responsible for the sidewalk being clear year round. If it comes down to doing it myself or paying the city to do it for me, I usually lean towards doing it myself. On the other hand, it is annoying that they are pushing the snow from the street onto my sidewalk. I guess if the maintenance of one is going to interfere with the maintenance of the other, a reasonable argument could be made that the maintenance for both should be done by one party.

Since it would be impossible to rely on individuals to keep the streets clear, I guess that means that it falls to the city.

Color me half convinced. I don't like the idea, but maybe it's for the best that the city clear the streets and the sidewalks. Wow, what a flip-flop that was.

somervilleboy

"No owner,....of land or a building abutting upon a sidewalk....shall place or suffer to remain on such sidewalk for more than six hours between sunrise and sunset on any day, any snow or any ice, unless such ice is made even and covered with sand or other suitable material to prevent slipping."
~This statute has always amazed me because all sidewalks are public property. How can the city legally require that I maintain public property? I'm not allowed to trim the tree in front of my house, because it is on 'public property'. The only reason noone has ever challenged this law in court is because of the fear of retaliation.

You are exactly correct. Try to sue someone who did not shovel their sidewalk. Impossible. Act of nature.

What Burns My Ass!

If all the landlords in this city would allow their tenants to park in "their " driveway it would lessen the burden of cars parking on the street during snow emergencys.

I can count at least 7 houses around me that have enough parking for at lesat 4-6 cars on their property. But I am told by the tenants that their landlords refuse to allow them to park in the driveways because it would inconvience them to ask the people living there to move their cars around in order for the landlord to get out of the driveway.

There should be a city ordinance that if there is a snow emergency that landlords should be ordered to allow their tenants to park in their driveways.

I believe this would free up thousands of parking spots throughout the city.

Charles Chisholm

Getting "elected" and "being self-appointed" are mutually contradictory terms.
Ding, ding, ding went the ding-a-ling.

snowbunny

leave the parking the way it is BUT if the plow people would have a little consideration for those of us who do have driveways. There is nothing worse than after clearing the mouth of the driveway to have to come back out an hour later and then have to clear away these hugh piles of ice that the plow has just dumped there. If the city can't respect homeowners that do have driveways, then send out some bobcats and have the city clear the mouths of the driveways for us.. The city is the one that put it there in the first place. WE are paying taxes!!!!!!!!!!!

Imux

There should be a city ordinance that if there is a snow emergency that landlords should be ordered to allow their tenants to park in their driveways.

Now the city wants to "own" driveways? They can plow those too. I will say that when it snows I do tell my tenants they can move cars in AFTER my car is way back. It saves me time having to shovel as it keeps a lot of the snow off the driveway.

The problem is you can give an inch and people will take a mile (try to park in the driveway when there is no snow emergency).

FP

I think it would be way to confusing for the parkers and the plow trucks. Besides what happens when the snow storms are days apart and you have snow on both sides of the street because the last batch did not melt?

You guys argue so much you don't see the simplest things....

Jack Diederich

Why argue about a situation that happens once or twice a year? Leave it alone.

Now if you want to talk about street cleaning I'm all in. If garbage day is the problem could we always do street cleaning the day after that? Everyone remembers garbage day. The 1st/3rd 2nd/4th rule is uneven but I can't think of a better way.

Do we really need to clean 4 times a month (twice on each side)? I see at least $100 of tickets per residential block every street cleaning. When street cleaning was extended into last winter the first thing I thought was "there must be a budget shortfall somewhere."

Fred Larson

" Do we really need to clean 4 times a month (twice on each side)? I see at least $100 of tickets per residential block every street cleaning. When street cleaning was extended into last winter the first thing I thought was "there must be a budget shortfall somewhere." "

I think you are right, street cleaning is about the tickets and income more than it is the cleaning. Otherwise they clean up the bar that has a license to operate in a Residential zone. The Bar often has live music with crowds of people standing out front smoking. There are tons of cigarette butts all around the place. When the crowd is out smoking the smoke is rising up into the transient rentals above the bar and into the neighbors homes.

They don't care about clean and quality of life as much as they care about writing those tickets...

Fred Berman

Progressively higher fines for failing to shovel snow (and scrape away and/or sand over the ice) make sense. But, for some landlords/owners, those fines will only be a cost of doing business.

The sidewalks still need to be made safe.

How about if the proceeds from the fines, or at least a portion of those proceeds, pay for Somerville High students to actually remove the snow and ice from offending sidewalks in their neighborhoods.

Of course, any time you're paying a student to do a chore, there needs to be someone to oversee and verify, etc. So this kind of initiative would cost more than just the stipend paid to the SHS kids.

But the fines could be set so that they more than cover the administrative costs as well as the stipends.

Once this were put in place, landlords and homeowners could even proactively contact the "program" to arrange for shoveling and de-icing, instead of waiting to be fined. This would allow elderly and disabled homeowners -- who can't maintain their sidewalks, but are nonetheless legally liable if someone slips and hurts him/herself -- to fulfill their obligations.

I'm sure there are complications that I haven't thought of, but I think it's worth further exploration.

Jack Diederich

re: Paying Students to Shovel

Fred, you just described a business. I'm not sure why it would be a better idea if it were run by the city. In fact unless things have changed since my youth there are already gangs of kids shoveling snow for cash. With regular customers. I used to look forward to snow because it was better pocket money than mowing laws (due to the fact that fewer people are able to shovel than mow).

Everything old is new again

Mr. Berman, you must be living in the past. You have accurately described a program which was part of the city's Youth Program when it actually had programs. The director at that time (I think it was Kathleen Houghton) was very pro-active, and set up a system where the elderly could sign up for the program in advance and the kids would show up and shovel automatically. Somehow, the march of progress wiped out this and other worthwhile programs.

Charles Chisholm

Higher fines will be passed on from absentee landloards to their tenants in the form of rent increases....I still favor buying the snowcats to clean the sidewalks.
I believe many other communities would follow suit. We could buy one, choose some streets at random in each ward and do an experimental program. If it works, expand it. If it fails, we can still use the one snowcat, or auction it off. Why are so many so unwilling to try new ideas?

Solh Zendeh

Mr Chisholm, I am not against a new idea. But I think the program described in the previous posts sounds like a better way to start than yours for these reasons:

Financial: It gets kids work at a time when there are less and less jobs for teens (because labor wages have been depressed by outsourcing, illegal immigration and automation). The capitol investment is virtually nil vs buying new machines. And it keeps our dollars *in our town*, as opposed to purchasing a piece of equipment made by Honda or some other large multinational corporation.

Environmental: A machine uses gas which pollutes and makes huge amounts of noise. And more importantly increases our reliance on a foreign source of energy - read: Iran/Iraq/Saudi Arabia/Venezuela.

Institutional: Apparently, we tried it before - there is knowledge and comfort with the youth program among the citizenry. That's a real asset. Plus it gets these kids interacting with the people of their town in a positive way, something that is sadly more and more rare in my opinion.

Logical: Certain sidewalks would require manual shoveling anyway, so you'd need a crew with shovels in addition to the machine(s).

The comments to this entry are closed.

Most Recent Photos

  • Danehy_Park_Family_Day
  • Bloco
  • 3517a
  • Web_toon_7_21_10
  • Prospect hill
  • Web_toon_7_14_10
  • 3224a
  • Art1(2)
  • Art5
  • Art10(2)
  • Union_square_flood
  • Flood_pic_(bridge_1)