Shoveling snow off your sidewalk isn’t just a nice thing to do — it’s the law in Denver. Homeowners are required to remove snow from sidewalks (including accessibility ramps on many corners) within 24 hours of when the snow stops falling, and fines can be steep after an initial warning. Failure to remove snow can result in a $150 fine for the first offense, $500 for a second and $999 for each subsequent violation. Businesses must remove snow within four hours of snow stopping. Renters should check their leases and talk to their landlords to see if snow removal is their responsibility or the property owner’s.
Snow removal isn’t the only property maintenance to pay attention to this winter either. Snow can damage or break tree branches, which can also impede mobility, with the same escalating fine structure.
The continual cycles of freezing and thawing can also damage sidewalks, which are also the responsibility of the homeowner to repair. Denver’s regulations on sidewalks are different than some other cities, and newer residents are often surprised to learn maintenance is not the responsibility of the city, but rather the individual home or business owner.
Laura Swartz, from Denver’s department of Community Planning and Development, said residents are encouraged to talk to neighbors about snow removal before reporting them to the city, as many are simply unaware that snow removal is their responsibility. She said her department conducted 2,472 inspections for lack of snow removal in 2018, but most residents cleared their sidewalks after one warning before a fine was issued.
If you need help clearing your sidewalks this winter, the Denver snow angel program might be able to help. The city initiative matches neighbors who need help clearing snow, whether they are elderly, physically ill (short- or long-term), or otherwise need help. Contact SnowAngels@denvergov.org for more information about how to receive help this winter.
If you want to report a business or homeowner who isn’t clearing their sidewalks, you can call 311 or use the PocketGov app on your smartphone.