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Walsh pushes hike in fees for failing to shovel snow

Snow made it difficult getting around in South Boston after a recent storm in February.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Mayor Martin J. Walsh is pushing to dramatically increase fines for businesses and residents who fail to shovel sidewalks or who hurl snow onto Boston’s streets.

As the city endures a record-shattering winter, Walsh wants the ability to increase the maximum fine for snow scofflaws to $1,500, a major jump from the current maximum of $300, according to a document filed in the city clerk’s office.

The City Council is expected to take up the measure Wednesday at its weekly meeting.

Council President Bill Linehan declined to comment Monday night when reached by phone because he had not yet reviewed the proposal.


District 6 Councilor Matt O’Malley, who represents West Roxbury and Jamaica Plain, said he is willing to consider the proposal.

“At first glance, I think it makes sense,” O’Malley said Monday night. “Most businesses and residents did a good job, but there are certainly many who didn’t.”

The measure is a home rule petition, which must be approved by the City Council, the Legislature, and Governor Charlie Baker .

A series of relentless snowstorms has dumped 104.1 inches of snow on Boston this winter, according to the National Weather Service in Taunton.

If the city receives just 3.5 inches more, it will tie the all-time record set in 1995-1996.

In many neighborhoods throughout Boston, residents have run out of places to put the snow. Mounds of snow and patches of ice have made sidewalks impassable.

The harsh winter has been especially tough on people with disabilities.

“They’ve plowed the streets over and over again, but they’re not plowed to the ground,” said Karen Schneiderman of Jamaica Plain, who uses a manual wheelchair.

Schneiderman, a senior advocacy specialist with the Boston Center for Independent Living, thinks most residents do shovel their sidewalks, and she has not seen anyone throwing it in the streets.


But higher fines could deter those who do, she said.

“If somebody doesn’t shovel at all, or throws it in the street, they should be fined,” Schneiderman said.

The city has issued more than 4,000 fines to residents or businesses for violating the city’s ordinances on snow and ice removal from public sidewalks or for shoveling it into the street, said Melina Schuler, a spokeswoman for Walsh.

“With a cap of only $300 for any type of snow infraction, the current fine structure does not effectively deter this behavior, nor does it raise enough revenue to help defray some of the added costs these violations create,” Walsh wrote .

But Joanne McDevitt, president of the City Point Neighborhood Association in South Boston, does not favor increasing fines.

“I think most people have been fairly responsible,” McDevitt said. “I don’t see that many people throwing snow in the street.

“The bigger problem is we still have too much snow to handle. We have to figure out how to get rid of that snow, before we go raising fines.”

Kathy McCabe can be reached at katherine.mccabe Andrew Ryan can be reached at