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Ridge Councilman wants to boost fines on chain retailers who don’t shovel sidewalks

Shovel, don’t get shamed: Councilman Brannan vowed to create a “shovels of shame” list to out the district’s chain retailers — like this Ridge Starbucks outpost — who fail to clear their sidewalks of snow and ice quickly enough after major storms.
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Snow me the money!

Councilman Justin Brannan (D–Bay Ridge) wants to boost fines on chain retailers that don’t clear the sidewalks in front of their storefronts after major snowstorms.

Following last week’s “bomb cyclone” that dumped a foot of snow the borough, Brannan said major retailers have no excuse to leave ice and snowdrifts blocking the sidewalk in front of their shops and when so many mom-and-pop business owners found a way to shovel their portions of their pedestrian stomping grounds.

“After it snowed on Thursday last week, there was no excuse for there to still be snow and ice outside storefronts a few days later,” Brannan said in a statement. “If small business owners can shovel their sidewalk after a storm, then a chain store or bank with multiple storefronts can surely hire a company to do it whenever there’s a storm.”

The city administrative code requires every “owner, lessee, tenant, occupant, or other person” responsible for a property to clear a path free of snow and ice from the sidewalks adjacent to their properties within four–14 hours after the end of the snowfall, depending on when the flakes stop falling, according to the Department of Sanitation.

If businesses or landlord don’t clear their sidewalks, first-offense fines range from $100–$150, and third and subsequent offenses can bring finds up to $350, according to the sanitation agency. For mom-and-pop shops, that’s a significant hit, so most are quick to garb the shovel. But for a major corporate tenant, the paltry penalty is sometimes just written off as a cost of doing business.

Brannan’s bill would hike first-offense fines to $1,000 and up, with third and subsequent offenses costing of up to $5,000, but only for large retail chains and franchise owners with ten or more locations throughout the city. The legislation would make sure big chain retailers do their fair share of wintry cleanup without putting undue burdens on small business owners, according to Brannan.

“Failing to shovel your sidewalk creates a dangerous situation that puts pedestrians at risk, especially our many senior citizens,” he said. “If these large national retailers and banks aren’t responsible enough to do their jobs as property owners, then the city needs to take steps to increase penalties and enforcement.”

And Brannan warned that district’s chain retailers which ignore their snowy and slippery sidewalks won’t just suffer a financial cost, but a reputational one as well.

In the vein of Public Advocate Letitia James’s “Landlord Watchlist,” Brannan vowed to publish an online “Shovels of Shame” list to call out the nabe’s repeat sidewalk offenders.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 1:34 am, July 10, 2018
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Reader feedback

Jeff says:
Why stop at the chain retailers. Apply fines to ANY building owner who does not shovel snow and their clean sidewalks. Also clear the street corners so people can cross the streets.
Jan. 10, 1:38 pm
ROSALIE907 from Gravesend says:
Jeff is absolutely correct but I'll also add in homeowners who live in corner homes and only clean the front of their house.

FYI, I was trying to cross East 2nd Street and Avenue X last Saturday and the curbs were sheets of ice.
Jan. 10, 2:11 pm
Rehma Saadi from Bay Ridge says:
LOL!!!!! I think this is so funny coming from CM Brannan - I know people who live on his block say he (before being elected) never shoveled and they had to call 311 to report and have Sanitation come out - would he give himself a fine? Someone should ask him that-
Jan. 11, 5:01 pm
Rehma Saadi from Bay Ridge says:
Just kidding. I'm just a hater.
Jan. 13, 5:29 pm
Lydia from Brooklyn says:
An insightful and encouraging feature on Brooklyn-based small businesses: https://thebridgebk.com/how-to-grow-challenge-scaling-small-business/
Jan. 25, 4:24 pm

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