City of Minneapolis taking 'proactive' approach on sidewalk snow removal enforcement

Clear the way or you’re going to pay – that’s the way sidewalk snow removal works in Minneapolis.

But many say, it’s not working at all.

“It’s an ongoing problem and we haven’t found a great solution yet,” said Minneapolis Council member Cam Gordon.

This winter, the city invested in proactive inspectors, who make the rounds after a snowfall to try to ensure everyone clears the sidewalk outside their home or business. In the past, enforcing snow removal relied mainly on neighbor complaints.

“I think the idea is if we do this proactive enforcement, we can really see what’s going on,” said Council member Gordon.

Council member Gordon says the Council also asked staff to come up with a report that compared Minneapolis’ snow maintenance to other cities. Gordon is taking interest in the possibility of sidewalk snow removal becoming a city responsibility, like it is in places like Buffalo, New York.

“They were coming back saying it would be really expensive, we might not have the right equipment now, we may have to hire more people, so we can have crews out plowing the streets and doing the sidewalks at the same time,” he said.

While it’s off the table for now, Minneapolis resident Sharron Anthony would love to see it happen. Living with a disability, she’s supposed to be able to get help. However, some days she ends up doing it herself, worried she’ll get fined.

“Yeah, they offer help, but I call those numbers and I keep getting shoved elsewhere,” said Anthony. “It was worthless to me.”

It’s stories like those that have city leaders like Gordon re-analyzing the process.

“There’s lots of people who do shovel and there’s others who don’t and all winter they’re blocked up there,” he said.

Some cities in the Twin Cities metro area take care of sidewalk snow removal, such as Bloomington and St. Louis Park. If you aren't sure whether you are responsible for shoveling the sidewalk in front of your home or business, most city websites can provide the answer.