Action Alert – Contact Ann Arbor City Council Urging Snow Ordinance Revisions Be Rejected
Tony Pinnell, a member of the City of Ann Arbor Pedestrian Safety and Access Taskforce, sent out this request to members of the WBWC over proposed revisions to the City’s snow removal ordinance that Tony states “doesn't fix the problems, it directly weakens rules about ice removal, it badly hampers enforcement, and it poses a very real threat of drawing legal action against the City.”
Dear members of the Washtenaw County Walking and Bicycling Coalition:
This Monday evening October 15, Ann Arbor's City Council has its 2nd reading and FINAL vote on the revised, Council-drafted ordinance governing snow and ice removal in Ann Arbor. Your support is urgently needed today and tomorrow to reject this ordinance change as drafted.
Help us convince City Council before the final vote that they are making a major mistake.
Defeat this revised version in its current form. Its poorly crafted legislation that's unworthy of Ann Arbor. We have excellent people on City Council, but like everyone else, their batting average is not 1.000
Write to the Mayor and City Council members. And if you can, come this Monday evening October 5 to the City Council meeting to speak at the public hearing with us.
Here's the link to write to all City Council members at once: CityCouncil@a2gov.org
Despite the appreciative welcome City Council members expressed for the finalized "Recommendations to City Council" (attached) submitted by the Ann Arbor Pedestrian Safety and Access Task Force, City Council's revised snow and ice removal ordinance - that was drafted by two City Council members - rejects almost all the Task Force's recommendations, ignores the recommendations directly requested by the Ann Arbor Commission on Disability Issues, and violates specified requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
It's vital that City Council reject this deficient, nonconforming draft revision (attached). It doesn't fix the problems, it directly weakens rules about ice removal, it badly hampers enforcement, and it poses a very real threat of drawing legal action against the City.
THE MAIN PROBLEM: Ann Arbor is one of very few snow belt cities in the country that still allows commercial and residential property owners to leave 1 inch of snow, slush and pack-ice on sidewalks all winter. Almost every other city in the U.S. and Canada requires all owners to remove all snow and ice within a reasonable timeframe. Most Michigan cities do the same. We are surrounded by documented proven Best Practice, proven models, Lessons Learned and established facts. See the Task Force's attached PowerPoint presentation on snow and ice removal.
1. The current ordinance in force allows offenders one warning per snow event. The Task Force recommendation is to make it only one warning per winter season, before a property can be fined. It's the repeat offenders that create the barriers for all of us, and some Council Members are still wavering about getting tough with offenders. You don't get repeat warnings for running stop signs or stop lights, and you don't get repeated warnings if you block a City Council member's driveway with your pick-up truck. You get towed, first time. So one warning on snow and ice is enough.
2. The revised draft version ordinance would STILL allow property owners to leave "snow greater than 1 inch and any compacted snow of greater than 1/2 inch." So it leaves the pack-ice on the sidewalks and crosswalks that everyone has been fighting with the past two winters. It does nothing to solve the main problem that was a principal reason why City Council formed the Pedestrian Safety and Access Task Force in the first place.
NO other city in the United States or Canada allows such a complicated, two-depth threshold.
Leaving this allowance directly contravenes the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
3. The existing ordinance currently in force requires residents to remove ice within 24 hours. The new draft ordinance ELIMINATES this requirement, retaining merely a requirement to "treat the ice...to prevent it from being slippery".
4. The new draft ordinance is inconsistent and confusing in its language, requiring separately under Section 4.60 (6) to "make sidewalks, walks, and ramps free of snow and ice for their constructed width and length".
5. The new draft ordinance creates two different time deadlines: 18 hours after accumulation to treat ice, and 24 hours to remove unpacked snow above 1 inch and compacted snow above 1/2 inch. There is NO other city in North America that has such a complicated 2-time-limit and 2-depth-level standards. EVERYWHERE else uses either 12 or 24 hours or a time-certain deadline (e.g. by 12 noon, or 10 pm, etc.) to remove all accumulation.
Are you proud of Ann Arbor? Are you proud that we don't empower freedom of movement for EVERYONE?
- Many of our City Council members are feeling pressurized to lend their ears too closely to a loud minority of people who say it's asking too much.
- Consequentially: Some on City Council are putting the needs and documented wishes of the Disabilities Community second to those who spread disinformation about exaggerated costs and effort. The Task Force has proven in black and white that each and every one of these exaggerations is false. The Task Force has also insisted that a hardship clause be included to provide a coordinating, networking clearinghouse of low-and no-cost solutions for any resident who needs help clearing snow and ice. The additional cost for privately contracted removal services is minimal. The extremely competitive market ensures affordable solutions.
All 117,00 residents of Ann Arbor are being disadvantaged by this draft ordinance, but no one more so than those with disabilities. And to be blunt: It's an insult to disabled veterans - people who are disadvantaged because ALL OF US sent them to fulfill a duty that they willingly shouldered.
The least we can do for them, and for everyone in town, is spend just a few extra minutes of sweeping, shoveling and de-icing for them per winter. A few extra minutes per winter. And if you can't do it yourself, then help is out there waiting for you! Networking to get help can be so easy: it's done in a hundreds of other cities, we can to.
Is that really too much to ask?
Finally, please read the attached letter sent to City Council by Mr. Michael Harris, the executive director of Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America. Also, watch the brief half-minute video-clip linked below and ask yourself: Is it 1 inch of loose snow? Is it 1/2 of compacted snow? Does it violate the draft ordinance?
Our Mayor and City Council members are good people who want to do good. They get swarmed on lots of issues. Please help them to understand, to be a Council with "can-do" attitude, and to simply do the right thing.
tel.: 734 929-2032