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City Fails to Cite Snow Scofflaws—Walkers be Warned

City responsibility to actually collected on snow removal fines. There is a Duty to Protect walking pedestrians from ongoing traffic!

When reading this, ponder:

§ 31-18-10 Walking in street prohibited. Providence RI Oridinace

§ 31-18-10 Walking in street prohibited. – Where sidewalks are provided it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway. Where sidewalks are provided it shall be lawful for a person to run or jog along and upon an adjacent roadway, and if the person shall begin to walk he or she shall walk upon an available sidewalk.
History of Section.
(P.L. 1950, ch. 2595, art. 29, § 6; G.L. 1956, § 31-18-10; P.L. 1984, ch. 298, § 1.)

I would argue that  "unshoveled ice” or "snow" equates to a sidewalk not being provided.  Do we have this as an Ordinance in Cranston????

§ 31-18-8 Due care by drivers.

§ 31-18-8 Due care by drivers. – Notwithstanding other provisions of this chapter or the provisions of any local ordinance, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle upon any roadway, shall give an audible signal when necessary, and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused, intoxicated, or incapacitated person. Violations of this section are subject to fines enumerated in § 31-41.1-4.
History of Section.
(P.L. 1950, ch. 2595, art. 29, § 4; G.L. 1956, § 31-18-8; P.L. 1976, ch. 58, § 5; P.L. 2002, ch. 292, § 113.)

So walking in the street may be prohibited, but drivers are still bound to exercise caution.

 

My letter sent December 23, 2009 seeking clarification re: Snow Removal in Cranston - Business Owner's Obligation and further obligation of the City to Enforce public protection to our residents, students and further ward off potential harm to them and lawsuits

Dear Mayor Fung and Council President Lanni,

On or about January 2008, I had corresponded with Councilman Lupino and several other council members regarding the enforcement (or lack of) upon business owners' responsibilities to clear their walkways.  I have noticed as the Cranston East students leave the school they are all over the roads ~ wouldn't the School Committee members feel we are putting them at risk?  Councilman Lupino had responded to me stating he had planned to ask about the enforcement issues related to this ordinance.  Unfortunately the issue was never really resolved and so I wrote to you in an e-mail dated 3/1/09, attached below. 

The last couple of days while driving over Reservoir and Park, it is apparent that businesses' are not fulfilling their obligation which I complained about almost 1 year ago..  Again, I am particularly interested because I see many of our youths walking in the streets, and these same youths are typically the very same patrons of many of the businesses in those areas.  I would therefore think Businesses' would want to ensure the safety of their patrons.  As I am a Why Child, I would like to know what the process is of notice from the onset of the business opening ...are they given a copy of the Ordinance Council President Lanni?  Further, I am concerned as a resident that likes to avoid harm to anyone, nor do I revel in paying out on lawsuits to potential victims when the situation could have been altogether avoided.   Also, who holds the jurisdiction to fine?  Is this a duty of the Building Inspector or the Police?  I would think you could create a new job for someone collecting just fines in the City upon businesses all year round.

Would you be so kind to re-read my letter below and follow-up as to some of the concerns.  I very much look forward to hearing from you both, and I am hopeful we can reach a better solution than the one that isn't being currently enforced.

Best regards for a happy Holiday ...and hopefully a little relaxation for the next week.

Be well,

Suzanne

+ + + + + + +

Date: Sunday, March 1, 2009, 8:39 PM
Dear Mayor Fung,
 
First, I would like to genuinely congratulate you on your appointment - which for those of us that have watched the financial demise of Cranston and for that matter, the State  - know that you have embarked on a grave endeavor that I don't envy you. 
 
That being said, here are three ways I see a loss of money collected by the City and for this Snow Ordinance to be rewritten.
 
The City does not follow the Snow Removal Ordinance:
> >> 12.16.010 Snow and ice--Removal of snow--Penalty.
 The owner, occupant or an building or lot of land bordering on any street, highway, square or public place where there is a sidewalk supported by curbing, shall, within the first twenty-four (24) hours after any snow has ceased to fall, cause the snow to be removed from the sidewalk adjoining such building or lot of land. 

In case of neglect so to do, the person chargeable with such duty shall pay a fine not exceeding twenty dollars ($20.00) and for each and every hour after the expiration of such twenty-four (24) hours that the snow shall remain on the sidewalk, such owner, occupant or other person shall pay a fine of not less than one nor more than two dollars.   (Prior code § 27-7)[END]

You will note there is a pathetic fine of $20 and the structure of this fine.  The businesses (ex: Park and Reservoir intersection) continue to disregard this Ordinance and pedestrians are forced to walk dangerously in the busy road.  I can think of 2 publicized incidents over the last several years which are below. We must protect mother's walking children to the bus, the elderly - literally everyone in Cranston and this oversight and neglect of the City to collect fines is shameful.  (Note, Providence had this issue last year and actually mailed letters to businesses with a warning and the police were going to issue tickets - WHO does this in Cranston , how many fines have been given, how much generated...these are just rhetorical, no need to answer this one) I have brought this up  at previous council meetings and inquired are notices sent to the businesses and then are they fined on the 2ND complaint?  I was told that this would not be a "business friendly act", because it is hard enough to get businesses here.  Sorry, that's gobbledygook and you want to generate revenues and have our City run like a City that cares about the residents - then protect them please. I reached out as recently to Councilwoman Michele Begin-Andrews who agreed with me.

Where exactly do we stand on this - wouldn't fines help offset the costs for our DPW?
http://www.necn.com/Boston/Weather/Pedestrian-killed-by-snow-plow-in-RI-/1198

http://www.projo.com/news/content/PEDESTRIANS_KILLED_12-20-07_CD8ARTI_v31.2a7

http://www.wpri.com/dpp/news/local_news/providence/providence-north-main-hit-and-run-victim-rememberedProvidence RI, 23-year-old George Adams, IV was killed last Thursday when he was struck by a car while walking with a friend on North Main Street near Benefit Street.  Monday. Mounds of unshoveled ice had forced them off the sidewalk. "And all of a sudden, he got ripped from her hand. He was gone that fast." He later died at the hospital. 


I do believe we can generate more money in different venues.

I look forward to hearing from you,
 
Be well,
Suzanne Arena


Robin stated "... the enforcement of the ordinance falls under the prevue of the Police Department.  Typically, if someone calls in a location, the Police will go out and follow-up.  In the past, we have focused on major roadways given, as you pointed out, that the greatest concern lies with people walking in the street on highly travelled roadways.  Again, it is a matter of someone reporting a location and the police sending someone out.  This is not something that might get picked up in random patrols as the officers’ focus should not be on the sidewalk, but rather the roadway.  Consequently, calls from the public help us out on this."

My problem is this, upon my initial irritation I called the City Council and Administration.  I complained about the City's handling of enforcement with businesses and I have had several conversations with the former Council President whom shared that the City of Cranston wants to be viewed as 'business friendly' (inferring that pushing for fines to businesses was not going to want them to move here).  Upon those initial complaints to the City Council whereupon the standing President Lanni served as Councilman and should remember this to be an issue, nothing has been done to date.  Further Councilman Lupino was very supportive and helped as much as he could on gathering information about the Snow Removal Ordinance specifically relating to businesses.

Failure to clear sidewalks of snow and ice threatens public safety by forcing pedestrians to walk in the street.  Just look at other communities in recent years, pedestrians walking in the street are at risk of being struck by a motor vehicle.

Also note, that when I called upon that initial complaint I found conflicting information from the Building Department and the Police on whose jurisdiction it is.  I would be happy to look through my notes and/or e-mails for further names etc., but I find this is not useful.  We have spun our wheels long enough and the fact is that I have called and complained to the Building Department.  Frankly, for $25 a fine (the wording in the Ordinance is such that it is a pittance and time allotted to the business to ignore the Ordinance is beneficial on their side).  My solution is to hire someone to manage the fining of business albeit for snow, garbage containment etc. and they could earn their keep like the Recycling Job created under the Napolitano reign.  I seem to recall there was a grant for such salary of that recycling job, perhaps there would be one for this job as well.  "Again, it is a matter of someone reporting a location", I have done this to the City Administration x2 and now and I think that a viable solution is created. 

Robin said “the enforcement of the ordinance falls under the prevue of the Police Department.  Typically, if someone calls in a location, the Police will go out and follow-up.    In the past, we have focused on major roadways given, as you pointed out, that the greatest concern lies with people walking in the street on highly travelled roadways.  Again, it is a matter of someone reporting a location and the police sending someone out.  This is not something that might get picked up in random patrols as the officers’ focus should not be on the sidewalk, but rather the roadway.  Consequently, calls from the public help us out on this."

I used to call Robin to complain about this asking for fines.  Why don't you ask the City how much they have collected in fines over the last 5 years? 

Robin said, "Regarding the fine – I believe that sometime in 2006 or so, that ordinance was updated.  There are two sections in the code: one which refers to the one-time fine and another which references a $20.00 per day fine.  Remember, we must comply with state law when we set these.  A non-payment, like any other “ticket” would require appearance in Municipal Court.

Again, I will research the numbers on fines collected – but as I emphasized in the article in today’s Herald, this is not about revenue generating, but about public safety.  If a warning suffices, then we have succeeded.”  To date, this question remains unanswered as to the fines collected.

Watching the high school kids walking in the STREET along Park and crossing over the intersections of and Reservoir.  I had some outstanding questions that were never answered, although I will say Robin was quick to respond and gave me some information:  "This type of work [warnings/fining] is best put in the hands of police as people tend to be a bit more responsive when a police officer provides them a warning and informs them of the law.

Robin responded, “Regarding questions 1 and 2 [below], I am not comfortable with taking the approach of providing all new residential and business owners copies of the ordinance or providing copies to people each time an ordinance is changed – that’s exactly why public meetings are advertised in the first place.  If that was the case, we would have to supply copies of all ordinances because the next issue would be complaints by people who are cited for various issues saying they were informed of one law  but not another.  Ignorance is not an excuse for breaking the law – and providing a few specific laws certainly is not the answer as it appears to weigh some laws as more important than others.

As far as hiring a person strictly for this type of enforcement – I can tell you that we are not going to create new positions right now – and with a reduction in City staff of approximately 10%, I can’t put someone out there to walk up and down the streets all day.  The grant to which you refer was from resource recovery.  I have not found a grant money to promote hiring people for sidewalk snow removal.  The safe routes to schools program is very clear in the use of funds, and this would not fall under that.”

Last year Mayor Cicilliane sent all businesses a letter because he was having a problem with this very issue and then sent out fines.  This was accomplished by the police however, for the way the ordinance is structured it seems annoying to have the police enforce this so we should 1) re-write the Ordinance and 2) allow a new created inspector to accomplish and pay for his/her job.  Insurance Adjusters go out and take a picture and notes and their word is enforced, why couldn't the same hold true here.

Nothing has been answered for instance;

1.  Upon a new business being bought or the new residential home purchase, are they given the snow removal ordinance?

2.  When any Ordinance is updated and it pertains to the residents or businesses are they given notice within 30 days?

3.  How many warnings to businesses and homeowners for non-compliance of the snow removal ordinance was given out for the last 5 years respectively?

4.  How many fines to businesses and residents are given for the last five years, respectively?

5.  How much money has been generated for the City in such fines?

I look forward to having these answers given, because I have been asking for quite a few years for an answer.  I understand Robin you are new in this administration, but as noted below I complained about this during the Fung Administration and was hopeful that since the onset we might have given this area a little more attention. 

As always, thank you for your assistance.

Be well,
Suzanne

 

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Suzanne Arena January 03, 2013 at 07:47 PM
Jenn M says " It's like every other ordinance that NEVER gets enforced in cranston. You try to do something about it and just end up frustrated by the passing of the buck. Yeah we have all these rules but nobody ever enforces them. There's a pick up your dog poop sign every 200 feet in edgewood with 6 dog bombs between every one because nobody knows anyone who's ever been fined for not picking it up. I'm sick of feeling like the Lorax so I'm crossing my fingers the housing market keeps on it's current trend them I'm out. I feel bad for all the good people I'm leaving behind but I won't miss the losers like the guy next door and the 2 land lords up the street a bit who don't take care of their properties."
Don Botts January 03, 2013 at 08:17 PM
re: the $20 dollar fine, looks like state law limits fines to $20 for sidewalk infractions. http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/statutes/title24/24%2D7/24%2D7%2D7.htm
Cranston Res January 07, 2013 at 09:14 AM
I agree the lack of cleared sidewalks is a major issue not only in Cranston, but in other Rhode Island communities. I think the major issue here is the manpower/funding to enforce the ordinance, even though it presents a severe safety risk.
Suzanne Arena January 07, 2013 at 12:25 PM
The City could Deputized (Deputy Sherriff) someone and their salary would be based on fines. Digital cameras are your tool for evidence. During the other seasons they could chase down the dog crappers with same philosophy. Radical is sometimes whispered when you hear my solutions, but if you continue to do what you've always done, expect the same result.
Joe Richer January 07, 2013 at 01:14 PM
Salaries based on fines is not a route to justice. Enforcers will shovel snow onto walks in order to get paid.
Suzanne Arena January 07, 2013 at 01:56 PM
Deputy - a person appointed or authorized to act as a substitute for another or others. - deputy sheriff, a person appointed or elected as assistant to a public official, serving as successor in the event of a vacancy. - a person representing a constituency in certain legislative bodies. Fine, have them do it for free. There are plenty of retired people that might be happy to help out.
Small Change January 07, 2013 at 05:13 PM
As the New Year biegins, The Patch really should have a vote for the 'Gladys Kravitz' Award for 2012.
Suzanne Arena January 07, 2013 at 08:27 PM
Without people like me watching Small Change, then our Crime Watch would not be as successful. I do not have busybody time to look at others because I am too busy being a stay at home mom and researching data on child advocacy and other issues of interest. Believe me, if I knew witchcraft as Samatha did I would have turned you into a .....sewer rat - lol! You made me laugh, and I often do at myself. Thanks for the 2 cents.
Small Change January 07, 2013 at 09:50 PM
For what its worth, I find that a fine response. &) The Patch would be a better place if we kept our discussions in perspective. If there were a Cranston 'Gladys Kravitz' award, however, we would probably have to exclude anyone involved with 'The Banner' controversy, so the award could retain its amateur status. Speaking seriously about snow removal, as with most things it has more to do with a sense of community than with legalities. As I drive down Wilbur Ave all walks are shoveled- you wouldn't want to be the one that isnt. Turn onto Providence St and none are - what's the point of one shoveled walk on an unshoveled street? Mine is shovelled, and actually looks just a tad silly, as you have to walk in the road both sides of it.

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