As Temps Fall Fast and Hard, Property Owners Face Strict Sidewalk Ordinance

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Sunday, January 4, 2015, 6:02 pm
Alice Dreger

Sleet and snow fell in East Lansing today with temperatures falling fast and, according to the National Weather Service, set to stay below 16 degrees for the next several days. As a consequence of the weather, East Lansing property owners will likely find themselves struggling to adhere to the City’s strict snow and ice removal ordinance.

The ordinance requires that the snow that fell this afternoon be cleared by midnight tomorrow. This will become challenging as low temperatures cause the sleet and snow to freeze hard. Nevertheless, people using the sidewalks—including people with mobility disabilities, people who can't afford injuries, and those who walk to school and work—count on property owners to comply with the law.

Regular rock salt (sodium chloride) will be ineffective because of this week’s low temperatures. But as ELi on Earth recently reported, calcium chloride (CaCl2) is a viable option for the temperatures this week. As ELi reported, Calcium chloride “works at lower temperatures, is probably easier on East Lansing roadside plants, does less damage to concrete, and does not cut the feet of pets and wild animals of East Lansing. You can get it at a number of local stores, including Meijer.”

According to the City of East Lansing, “Each day that an owner fails to maintain a sidewalk in accordance with [the snow and ice removal ordinance] constitutes a separate offense.” The City Manager can decide to post on a noncompliant property  “a notice of the intent of the City to abate the condition with the costs of the abatement assessed to the property owner.” In that case, “the City may abate the condition and assess the property owner the costs if the condition is not remedied in accordance with the [stated] standards within 24 hours of the abatement notice.”

Last year the City came under some criticism for alleged failure to adequately enforce the ordinance. This year, the City has sent out numerous notices saying enforcement will occur.

UPDATE (January 5, 10 am): If you know of a senior citizen who needs help with clearing walks and driveways, check out ELi's report on this winter's organized "neighbors helping neighbors" program: read it here.


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