I dont get it. We live in Durango. In the mountains. Where it snows. Every winter. So why cant people manage to shovel their sidewalks? Or they wait several days after a storm, and then make a fruitless attempt. By that time, foot traffic has completely compacted the snow into treacherous ice. Why does winter take people by surprise? Annoyed
Durango has a peculiar relationship with snow. When it falls in the mountains, theres much rejoicing and folks pay a lot of money to play in the white fluff.
Yet when snow falls on ones sidewalk, that fun-filled substance becomes an unbearable burden.
In the backcountry, a shovel is an essential tool. Every responsible person who skis off-piste has a shovel.
But here in town, a shovel seems optional. Some irresponsible people are piste-off that they should own one.
A lot could do with Durangos rental rate. About half of Durangoans rent their abode, according to the latest U.S. Census data.
Is shoveling the landlords responsibility? Nope.
The Durango City Code has the cold, hard facts on snow and ice.
It shall be the duty of the owner, tenant and occupant of any premises abutting or adjoining any public sidewalk to remove all snow and ice from such sidewalk, reads Section 21-36.
If you dont take care of the sidewalk, the city will take care of it for you. It will hire snow shovelers, then bill you for their work and tack on 25 bucks.
Another possibility is that a person slips and falls on your unmaintained sidewalk. When the victim of your negligence hires a personal-injury attorney, you wont have a snowballs chance.
But its not predominately a dutiful homeowner/slacker renter thing, points out our friend Shane Roukema, one of the citys code-enforcement officers.
We have nonshoveling problems everywhere. Renters. Owners. Businesses. You name it, he lamented after last weeks storm.
I dont know what people are thinking, he mused. They must believe some friendly elf comes along and clears the sidewalk.
Someone does come all right. But its not an elf. Its Shane. Or another code officer.
They dont have pointy ears and a shovel. What they do have is a pointy writing instrument and a citation book.
The holiday timing of the last two storms had a lot to do with lackluster shoveling rates, Shane pointed out. Many folks were out of town visiting friends and family.
What really slays Shane is abandoned vehicles on the street.
After it snows, some people find their car plowed in. So they just leave it there and dont do anything, he said.
They dont brush the snow off the hood or roof and it sits there for days. After a while, someone reports it, so we go out and green tag it, he said. Owners have 24 hours to move it or the vehicle is towed.
Most times, the owner calls up and yells at us. Its MY car and its NOT abandoned! they scream. But how are we to know? It hasnt moved in a week. Its covered in snow. No one is taking care of it. Thats pretty much the definition of abandoned.
So lets start off the new year with a clean sweep, starting with the sidewalks and your parked car.
If youre elderly and need help, call La Plata County Senior Services at 382-6429 for assistance.
If you dont have a shovel, betcha your neighbor would be more than happy to share.
Or hire the neighborhood kids, who need to get outside more often and could use odd jobs.
And if you dont want to deal with sidewalks, move to the Animas City neighborhood where there are none, and the cantankerous and libertarian residents, including Mrs. Action Line, aim to keep it that way, thank you very much.
Email questions to mailto:email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you wash your car this week to ensure we get more snow.