Shoveling Fines: Does the City Have a Double Standard?

Hundreds of people across Boston have gotten tickets for not clearing their sidewalks of snow. But what about the city? Why are so many city sidewalks still packed with snow?

Over 500 people across Boston have been ticketed so far for not clearing their sidewalks of snow. Some of them have shoveled, but are still being ticketed.

Tickets for not shoveling snow are being left on doors all over Boston. Dan Sugarman of the South End has been ticketed twice this week for not shoveling well enough. Sugarman contends he did clear his walk by shoveling and using salt saying.

"I used an entire container of salt," he said. "It's empty."

Sugarman posted his plight on Facebook and like the snow, comments from others ticketed started piling up.

"what angered a lot of people on this block is that they actually did shovel and they still got ticketed," said Sugarman, who has lived in his home for over 20 years.

One neighbor wrote in a Facebook post that she shoveled before and after work, twice in one day, and was still ticketed at 1:15 a.m.

The city confirms over 500 people have gotten tickets for not shoveling just this week. Residents pay a $50 fine and businesses $200.

"what's the point of shoveling if you are going to get the $50 fine regardless?" Sugarman asked.

But NBC Boston Investigators found city sidewalks just around the corner from Sugarman un-shoveled. We also found a sidewalk next to city-owned Marcella Park only partially shoveled, literally stopping in the middle of the sidewalk. The irony is that where the city stopped clearing that sidewalk is just steps away from, and connected to, the city's own facility housing snow plows and salt.

The Investigators took the issue of those snow-covered sidewalks to Mayor Marty Walsh, who promised, "I'll make sure someone shovels them."

But why is the city ticketing residents and businesses when the city hasn't shoveled its own sidewalks?

"I made it perfectly clear we will fine our own city departments if they don't shovel," Walsh said.

And he has. The Investigators obtained a list of departments fined by the city. There have been 70 citations issued to city departments since January with fines totaling $14,000. That includes the parks department, which oversees Marcella Park. But either way, the sidewalks remain covered in snow.

Sugarman has a message to the mayor on behalf of residents who do shovel and still get fined.

"You need to speak to your code enforcement people," he said. "You need to be more careful about who you ticket."

Sugarman and many of his neighbors have already appealed their tickets to code enforcement. Be aware if you appeal, the last snow ticket he got three years ago took until July to get a hearing. He eventually won.

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