Williams, Walsh & O'Connor, LLC

Whose responsibility is it to keep New Haven's sidewalks clean?

Although the weather patterns so far this year may cause many of us to think differently, winter hasn't actually officially begun yet. It's actually still a few days away. That doesn't mean that you haven't navigated snowy sidewalks and streets already though. As you've gone about doing so, you may have wondered who the city of New Haven says is responsible for shoveling sidewalk around town.

According to a spokesperson for the New Haven Public Works Department, the onus falls on property owners to remove all ice and snow that has accumulated on the sidewalks in front of their businesses. It's supposed to be cleaned up within 24 hours of any storm.

From the perspective of city officials, it's not considered good enough for a property owner to simply shovel out a narrow area along the sidewalk so that pedestrians can safely walk by. The spokesperson says that the shoveled area must have a width of at least 42 inches so that those residents who use wheelchairs can also navigate sidewalks safely.

The public works spokesperson notes that the first time that their representatives come around, they generally only issue a warning. However, if they come back within 24 hours and notice that you haven't remedied the situation, then they may give you a citation. That can set you back $250.

One of the reasons that the City of New Haven so closely regulates the removal of snow and ice on public sidewalks is because they don't want someone to get hurt. While no business owner wants to receive a citation, it is far less than what they'd have to pay if an injured resident and their attorney were to sue them for medical costs and lost wages and win.

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