Friday, February 23, 2007

Enforcing 26-9

City ordinance 26-9 says you can't plow snow from your driveway or path onto the sidewalk. Violation of 26-9 is not a sin of ommission, it is a sin of commission. If you have plowed snow onto a sidewalk, you have actively put your private convenience above the interests of your neighbors.

It's a good ordinance. There's no legitimate excuse for plowing driveway snow onto the sidewalk. It's just sloppiness.

Moreover, it is a relatively easy ordinance for the police to enforce. As an officer patrols, he keeps an eye out for piles of snow that block the sidewalk. Obvious priority goes to sidewalks that lead to schools or public transit. When he sees such a pile, he gets out of the cruiser and writes a ticket.

It should also be easy to get people to comply with the ordinance. It's not homeowners who actually violate the ordinance; it's their agents ... the guys with the plows. It's a relatively small group of people committing a much larger number of violations.

If the police ticket a handful of homeowners, those homeowners complain to the plow guys. And, I'm willing to bet, the plow guys are going to be careful not just with that homeowner's driveway, but with all the other driveways they plow in Newton.

Call it viral enforcement. (Copyright application to follow.)

Update: Snow on Sidewalks
Leaving Snow on Sidewalks

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