Why sidewalk snow scofflaws might have to pay more in Des Plaines

  • A person shows how the sidewalk on the 1500 block of South Lee Street in Des Plaines is covered by snow and ice this winter, despite a city ordinance requiring clear sidewalks. City officials are set to raise the fines for noncompliance.

    A person shows how the sidewalk on the 1500 block of South Lee Street in Des Plaines is covered by snow and ice this winter, despite a city ordinance requiring clear sidewalks. City officials are set to raise the fines for noncompliance. Courtesy of Des Plaines

 
 
Updated 3/18/2022 3:35 PM

Frustrated with commercial property owners who don't remove snow from public sidewalks each winter, Des Plaines officials are planning to boost fines for stepping in and doing that work.

The city council on Monday could decide whether to add a mobilization fee of at least $250 to what it charges property owners when public works crews or city-hired contractors have to remove snow off sidewalks at businesses.

 

At the moment, the city can charge the owner or occupant of commercial property for the cost of snow or ice removal, plus a 25% administrative fee.

Salting and plowing each cost the city $500 per mile, per pass, officials have said.

There also are fines for not clearing 2 inches or more of snow within 24 hours after a storm. Fines can be $250 for a first offense, up to $500 for a second offense and $750 for additional violations.

The fees for snow and ice removal would remain in place under the proposal, as would the fine structure.

The proposed $250 mobilization fee isn't designed to generate a lot of revenue for the city, Mayor Andrew Goczkowski said. Rather, city officials hope it will compel property owners to keep their sidewalks safe for their customers.

It's too early to say whether the extra penalty will be an effective incentive, Goczkowski said.

"I certainly hope so," he said. "But (we) just have to see."

Although it's a concern citywide, officials have said snow accumulation on sidewalks especially is a problem along Lee Street between the Canadian National Railroad tracks and Oakton Street. That's in the 5th Ward, and Alderman Carla Brookman has advocated for stiffer fines.

The proposal is scheduled for a first reading at Monday's city council meeting, but final approval is possible. The meeting is set for 7 p.m. at city hall, 1420 Miner St., and it can be viewed live at desplaines.org/access-your-government/city-departments/media-services/dptv-live-webstream.

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