Sidewalks Municipalization (Snow/Ice Removal, General Maintenance, and Replacement)

Shared for feedback by Green Party Onondaga County


Syracuse is ever more widely recognized as the snowiest city in America with 124 average inches per year (Erie with 99.0", and Buffalo with 95.0", are a distant 2nd and 3rd). Perhaps less well known is that Syracuse is the 5th snowiest city in the whole world tied with Quebec City, Quebec, Canada ( see NOTE below ).

As a community, we the residents are ever more cognizant of the joys that can come from being a Winter tourist destination, having a white Chrsistmas, and playing in the snow - such as Mayor-Elect Ben Walsh's pledge to legalize sledding.

Along with the joys of a 4-season city and a winter wonderland from December-March, we have to face the challenges of managing the snowfall. This proposal for legislation is to municipalize sidewalk maintenance/repair and sidewalk snow management to allow for full-time pedestrian use of sidewalks year-round, and to allow emergency services, education, and commerce to continue with minimal interruption.

The most recent changes to the Syracuse book of law related to sidewalk snow managament are included here, but they had little teeth. A $100 fine is not sufficient deterrent due to the low amount of dollars fined. In addition there is a lack of enforcement. Frank Cetera has documented his daily walk from the Near Westside to the Northside with pictures, and plow operators have blocked sidewalks with snow along the route all Winter season of 2015-2016, so there is also a lack of enforcement even with the increased allocation provided in Local Law No. 2, 2015. Additionally, a FOIA request for instances of violations and enforcement was submitted by Cetera for the 2015-2016 season and ther results showed zero instances of violations reported or enforcement actions that took place.

Local Law No. 2, 2015 - Provides additional “enforcement authority” for carrying out issuing appearance tickets for violations of Chapter 9, Article 14 of the revised General Ordinances entitled “snow removal contractors”; and,

General Ordinance 9, 2015 - Amends Chapter 24, Article 2 - Ticketed enforcement for swept, thrown, or deposited snow or ice improperly placed in any street gutter or public square or park, or on any sidewalk within the city - $100 penalty per violation.

Finally, we recommend a fee based system tiered according to the property assessed value, to deliver a fair and balanced rate of payment to operate the project citywide. According to estimates from the Green Party of Onondaga County, verbal discussions by current Common Councilors, and other city experiences such as Rochester, NY, property owners will pay less than $100 annually to enable Syracuse to have maintained and cleared sidewalks year round - while providing additional public jobs to accomplish the work, and removing our reliance on the snitch system by neighbors which is currently how enforcement takes place for sidewalk repairs.

Please take a read of the draft legislation below and provide your comments and feedback.

Sincerely, Frank Cetera, Green Party Onondaga County

NOTE ......and only falling behind St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada at 131 inches, Toyama, Hokuriku, Japan at 143 inches, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan (host of the XI Olympic Winter Games. In 1972) at 191 inches, and Aomori City, Tōhoku , Japan at 312 inches.

Read the document

Sidewalks Municipalization (Snow/Ice Removal, General Maintenance, and Replacement)

A Local Law of The City of Syracuse Authorizing the creation of Operations within the Department of Public Works for the coordinated snow removal along with maintenance and repair, of all sidewalks within city limits, in the same manner that roads and streets are municipally managed.


This ordinance is adopted by the Common Council of the City of Syracuse under authority of the Common Council of the City of Syracuse.


It is the purpose of this ordinance to regulate coordinated snow removal along with maintenance and repair, of all sidewalks within city limits, in the same manner that roads and streets are municipally managed, through the creation of city jobs and subcontracting, and the collection of a fee on all properties located within the City of Syracuse geographic boundaries, so as to protect the public health, safety, and welfare of the City and its residents, to allow for full-time pedestrian use of sidewalks year-round, and to allow emergency services, education, and commerce to continue with minimal interruption.

  1. The City of Syracuse will manage the operations; and the fee shall be progressive in nature and based upon lot frontage and property assessment.

  2. The City shall within four (4) hours after snow ceases to fall clear or cause to be cleared the sidewalk along the said premises from all snow and ice; the time between 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. the following day not being included in the above four-hour period nor shall the foregoing be applicable to Sundays. In the event of the accumulation of snow and snow ceases to fall:

a. Between 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. the following day, such snow shall be removed by 12:00 p.m. of said day, except Sundays;

b. On Sundays, such snow shall be removed by 12:00 p.m. the following Monday.

  1. In case the snow and ice on the sidewalk shall be frozen so hard that it cannot be removed without injury to the pavement, the City (shall) within the time specified in the preceding paragraphs cause the sidewalk to be strewn with salt, sand or some similar suitable material and shall thereafter as soon as the weather shall permit, thoroughly clean such sidewalk.

  2. The city shall prioritize emergency, transportation, and school routes, employment and health centers, and other factors relevant to commerce and well-being.

  3. The City shall maintain a database of sidewalk conditions and create a schedule and budget for regular repair and replacement as needed based upon current code requirements (see SECTION ##_##)

  4. Fee, those who can’t pay, etc (TO BE DETERMINED)

  5. Properties that do not currently possess sidewalks will have them installed within a (time period tbd).


For purposes of this ordinance, the following words and/or phrases shall apply:

ENFORCEMENT. The violation of this ordinance shall be a civil matter which may be enforced in the _____________________ or in the ________ County Superior Court, at the election of ________________.

OTHER LAWS. This ordinance is in addition to all other ordinances of the Town of _________________ and all applicable laws of the City of Syracuse. All ordinances or parts of ordinances, resolutions, regulations, or other documents inconsistent with the provisions of this ordinance are hereby repealed to the extent of such inconsistency.

SEVERABILITY. If any section of this ordinance is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such finding shall not invalidate any other part of this ordinance.

EFFECTIVE DATE. This ordinance shall become effective _________________

Adopted this _________ day of __________ , 201 .


  1. Agenda item at regular/special Common Council meeting held on _____.
  2. Read and approved at regular/special Common Council meeting on and entered in the minutes of that meeting which were approved on _____.
  3. Posted in public places on _____ .
  4. Notice of adoption published in the _____ newspaper on _____ with a notice of the right to petition (?? Do we have this??).
  5. Other actions [petitions, etc.]

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