As soon as the snow stops falling, it’s time to get shoveling. In Philadelphia, you have six hours to clear the sidewalks in front of your home before facing potential fines, according to city rules.
For city residents, whether you rent or own, here’s what you need to know.
Can I get fined for not shoveling my sidewalks?
Yes. Fines range from $50 to $300 for those who violate city snow-removal rules.
How much time do I have to clear my sidewalks?
You have six hours after snow stops falling to clear your sidewalks.
Who’s responsible for clearing the sidewalks? What if I’m a renter?
Whether you rent or own, you’re responsible for clearing a path, unless you live in a multifamily dwelling, like an apartment building or a building with more than one unit. In this case, the building owner or agent is responsible for snow removal, unless your lease says otherwise.
What about businesses?
For businesses, clearing sidewalks and parking lots is the responsibility of the property owner, says Crystal Jacobs Shipman, spokesperson for the Philadelphia Streets Department.
The city is responsible for clearing sidewalks at city facilities.
How wide do I need to make the path?
A path must be at least 36 inches wide, unless the width of the pavement from your property line to the curb is less than that. In this case, your path can be narrower, but has to be at least 12 inches wide. Paths must be thoroughly cleared, and you can’t dump the snow and ice into the street. It’s also illegal to use private plows to pile snow in the street after the city has cleared the road.
You can use a commercial deicer to salt your sidewalk or driveway, and it’s a good idea to apply it as soon as you see a light layer of snow. If you don’t have deicer, you can use kitty litter for temporary traction.
Can I report someone who hasn’t shoveled their sidewalk?
If you want to report a sidewalk that has not been cleared, call 311.
What happens if I’m parked along a snow emergency route?
When a snowstorm hits, the Philadelphia Streets Department may declare a snow emergency. When an emergency is declared, the city plows 110 miles of snow emergency routes from curb to curb, which means vehicles and dumpsters within those areas must be moved or you face fines up to $150. If you can’t get to your car, or if your car can’t be moved, it doesn’t matter. Your car will be towed and ticketed if you don’t move it.
You can view a list of snow emergency routes at philadelphiastreets.com/highways/snow/emergency-routes. If you live, own a business, or frequently park within these areas, you’re advised to plan ahead as winter weather approaches. Large signs reading “Snow Emergency Route” in white letters on a red background will be posted along the streets once a snow emergency is declared. If your vehicle was towed from a snow emergency route, call 215-686-SNOW (7669) and be prepared to provide information to identify your vehicle.
What if I live in the suburbs?
If you live outside of the city, the rules vary by township — these include how quickly you have to remove snow and how wide the pathway must be. But in most towns, property owners and tenants can face fines if sidewalks aren’t cleared. Check with your township for specific details.
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Crystal Jacobs Shipman, spokesperson for the Philadelphia Streets Department