New policies, in effect immediately, introduce “clean and lien” program for repeat offenders.

SOMERVILLE – Winter is coming—and with it updated snow removal policies in the City of Somerville.

To ensure streets and sidewalks remain safe and accessible throughout the snowy winter months, changes to the City’s existing ordinance, effective immediately, make shoveling timelines more predictable and understandable; increase fines for properties with un-cleared sidewalks; and add a “clean and lien” component, allowing the City to address repeat offenders by removing snow and ice and placing liens on those properties to recover associated costs.

Residents are reminded to review new and existing policies for snow removal, and snow emergency procedures, by visiting http://www.somervillema.gov/snow, and encouraged to sign up to receive City alerts regarding snow emergencies by visiting the website or by calling 311.

New Regulations for Shoveling Schedules
Property owners are responsible for shoveling sidewalks abutting their property of snow and ice. To ensure sidewalks remain accessible for all residents, particularly senior citizens, residents with disabilities, and young children walking to and from schools, the City has updated its allowable timeline in which property owners must shovel sidewalks before incurring fines. The new schedule is as follows:

• If snow ceases to fall after sunrise (during daylight hours), property owners must shovel sidewalks by 10 p.m.
• If snow ceases to fall after sunset (overnight), property owners must shovel sidewalks by 10 a.m.

In cases of extreme snowfall and/or during snow emergencies, the City reserves the option to alter the schedule as necessary.

Fines for Un-Cleared Sidewalks Increased
Fines for failure to shovel within the allotted timeline have doubled. Property owners are responsible for clearing sidewalks abutting their property of snow and ice to a minimum width of 42 inches (a requirement of the Americans with Disabilities Act). Failure to shovel sidewalks within the timeline set in City ordinance (see description above) will result in fines, which have doubled in amount for the 2014-2015 winter season:

• 1st offense: $50.00
• 2nd offense: $100.00
• 3rd and subsequent offenses: $200.00

To increase awareness of these policies and to expedite notification for residents who may receive violations, City inspectors will leave brightly colored notifications on the doors of affected properties. Because violations are mailed to property owners, it may take up to three days for owners to receive the citation. The door hangers will be delivered immediately, and will help property owners to address the violation and avoid incurring additional fines while helping to increase compliance with shoveling regulations.

“Clean and Lien” Program Introduced
After the third offense, the City will have the right to use its own resources to clear sidewalks of snow and ice, and to lien the affected property to recover costs for time, labor, and resources.

Youth Sought to Assist Senior Citizens, Persons with Disabilities with Shoveling
The City is seeking Somerville youth to participate in its annual Snow Shoveling Assistance program. Interested youth will be paired with senior citizens or residents with disabilities who need assistance with snow shoveling. Youth will be paid by the residents at a fixed rate per storm. Interested Somerville youth should contact Sonja Darai in the Office of Commissions at 617-625-6600 ext. 2406, or SDarai@somervillema.gov. The program is run in partnership with the Somerville Council on Aging and the Somerville Health Department.

For more information on all of the City’s snow removal policies and procedures, visit http://www.somervillema.gov.


  1. What if you are a senior and cannot shovel till their children come a shovel which would be after they get home from work, what would happen,would i still get a fine?? I need to talk to someone . who do i call and speak about this problem???

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