Records show increase in 2019 shoveling tickets in Denver

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DENVER — Inspectors with the city of Denver completed more than 10,000 inspections for sidewalk snow in 2019, an increase of more than 400% from 2018.

In total, 313 properties received $150 tickets. Just 51 properties received similar tickets in 2018.

Laura Swartz with Denver’s Community Planning and Development office says a number of large storms helped tilt the numbers.

“The number of inspections completed for sidewalk snow will directly relate to the number of major snowfalls,” she said via email. “In both spring and fall of 2019, we had several major snowstorms (including the bomb cyclone in March) necessitating a greater level of post-storm enforcement.”

The city has received criticism in the past — particularly from ADA advocates — about not issuing more tickets.

“We’re not in the business of issuing tickets,” said Amanda Weston with the department in December. “We’re in the business of educating.”

Sidewalks covered in snow can be a major problem for those with disabilities.

“The littlest patch of snow on the sidewalk is almost impossible to get over,” said Ashley Jack.

Jack was paralyzed from the chest down following a car crash in 2018 and is learning to navigate Colorado winters on her power chair.

“It’s been insanely difficult to get around and it really shouldn’t be,” she said. “It’s just dangerous at the end of the day and it makes being in a chair harder than it already is.”

Of the 313 people who received citations in 2019, records show 17 properties continued to ignore their sidewalks. Those properties received a second fine for $500.

Jack hopes people think about others who need the sidewalks to get around next time it snows.

“The next time you’re shoveling, maybe just shovel a little further,” she said. “If we can just make sure at least one side all the way down is cleared, it would make such a difference for everyone.”

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