Welcome, welcome, to snow in Yakima. The kids love it as it's fun, you may get a snow day for schools and it's a frozen treat when you're looking for a quick snack*. Grown-ups, however, you think of all the extra chores you didn't ask for. Scraping it off your car, giving yourself a safe path around your home and all that. But what about your sidewalk? Certainly the sidewalk belongs to the city so they should shovel the snow, right? ...right? Well, no. According to the city of Yakima website removing the snow from your part of the sidewalk is 100% your responsibility. Surprise!

There's a law in Washington state saying all homeowners have to clear sidewalks within 24 hours of snow or you could be fined.

The state of Washington has a law requiring all homeowners to clear the sidewalks within 24 hours of a snow storm. Failure to do this could result in misdemeanor charges and a hefty fine

This shouldn't be a surprise as it's something many do, but most may not. I've walked a lot of sidewalks in Yakima and happy to say that many times the sidewalk is taken care of but there are several that are not.

They're not asking you to keep it completely clear and certainly not saying you must own a heavy duty snowblower, but simply shoveling a pathway in front of your place is common courtesy. And for safety, too. If the sidewalk isn't shoveled it may encourage people to walk in the street which is far more dangerous. Especially when snow and ice are concerned.

These bulletpoints are from the City of Yakima website:

  • After you clear the sidewalk of snow, you may choose to apply an ice-melting substance. The City of Yakima recommends use of Calcium Chloride, (sometimes called “hot melt”) rather than Sodium Chloride (Rock Salt) because it is less damaging to sidewalks and plants. Also, it works at a much lower temperature, so it is more effective in freezing conditions.
  • If your home or business is at a corner, please remove the snow from the sidewalk ramps so children, and other pedestrians can cross the street.
  • Dig out fire hydrants for your safety.
  • If you can afford one, buy a snow blower, and help your neighbors. Make sure you blow the snow into your yard and not the street.

They go on to say to not take it personally.

This is illegal

And, whatever you do, do not throw the snow from the sidewalk back onto the street. That is illegal.

Now, could you get a ticket if you don't shovel your sidewalk? In the 100+ year history of Yakima, I think so far exactly zero people have gotten a ticket but if someone falls and cracks a bone or something, especially if you're a business, that could mean bad news for you. Best to have us all do our part.

*...you probably shouldn't eat snow but I'm grown and I still eat snow so I can't say anything.

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