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Boston issued record number of shoveling tickets

The Blizzard of 2013 is still hitting some Boston residents hard — in the wallet.

The city issued a record 2,400 tickets for not shoveling sidewalks or for dumping snow into the street, following the wind-whipped storm that struck in February and dropped about 2 feet of snow.

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“That’s the highest number, ever,” said Michael B. Mackan, the chief of the code enforcement police of the Inspectional Services Department. There were nearly 3,000 complaints, he said.

Mackan, who has worked for the city for more than 20 years, said the record number of calls can be attributed to the fierceness of the storm, but also because it’s much easier to lodge complaints. The city now has a 24-hour hot line and Citizen Connect, an online app.

In years past, complaints could only be called in eight hours a day, he said.

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Fines, which mostly ranged from $25 to $300, totaled more than $200,000 for the blizzard. The National Weather Service reported that 24.9 inches of snow fell during the Feb. 8-9 storm. One contractor was fined $3,000 for dumping snow on the grounds of Boston Latin School.

The contractor was using the school grounds as a temporary dumping spot and did eventually remove all the snow, said Mackan.

Some addresses received multiple tickets. One spot on Corey Street in West Roxbury received 10 tickets. More than 15 addresses received five or more tickets.

The properties ticketed up to five times included multiple-family homes, commercial buildings, and even a few vacant lots. Of six properties inspected by the Globe, five were on corner lots.

One home on River Street, near Mattapan Square, received eight tickets totaling $350.

A tenant at the property, which is on a double corner lot with a long sidewalk, complained that the landlord did not clean ­either the driveway or the sidewalk.

“I called the landlord to shovel us out because myself and another girl were completely blocked in,” said Shaquita Alexander. She ended up hiring her son and another boy to shovel out the driveway, but not the sidewalk.

“We shoveled enough to get out, that was it,” she said. The landlord could not be reached for comment.

Property owners are responsible for clearing sidewalks in front of their property, the city said.

The highest number of tickets were issued in Dorchester, the city’s largest neighborhood, at 477. Roxbury (227) and Hyde Park (176) followed on the list. The neighborhoods were identified by the city in the data. A spot check showed that the street addresses appeared to be accurate, but not all neighborhoods were properly identified.

The city began ticketing during the storm and didn’t stop until Feb. 27 — more than two weeks after the storm.

Tickets are issued by the Inspectional Services Department’s 15 code enforcement officers.

Mackan said his officers use a device that prints out a ticket, with the owner’s name and a photo of the offense, which can then be stuck on the owner’s front door. Tickets are mailed to owners of vacant lots, he said.

While he did not have exact numbers on how effective collection was, he noted that nonpayment now results in the fines being attached to the property owner’s tax bill.

Officers either get tips about unplowed sidewalks or find them while walking around, a department spokeswoman said. Tickets can be appealed to an independent hearing officer. After that, they can be appealed in Housing Court.

The data was obtained from the city by MuckRock.com and analyzed by the Globe.

The mayor’s hot line number is 617-635-4500.

Matt Carroll can be reached at mcarroll@globe.com.
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