June 28, 2019
Mayor Ruthanne Fuller
City Council President Marc Laredo
Newton City Hall
Dear Mayor Fuller, President Laredo and members of the City Council:
The Board of the League of Women Voters of Newton urges the Mayor and the City Council to approve the revised provisions of Sec. 26-8D, Removal of snow and ice from sidewalks, and the addition of Sec. 17-23, Enforcing persons and revised ordinances subject to civil fine, of the Newton City Ordinances as passed Wednesday, June 19, by the Public Facilities and Public Safety & Transportation Committees.
We commend the addition of a clause to provide this ordinance with meaningful incentives for compliance by implementing fines. Since the Removal of Snow and Ice from Sidewalks ordinance has been in place, more sidewalks have been cleared and mobility throughout the City has been enhanced. However, we continue to see residential and business sidewalks blocked by snow or ice. Research in behavioral economics consistently finds experience with a fine significantly boosts future compliance. We believe that with education, a fine, and consistent enforcement, Newton will be able to maintain safe passage on sidewalks.
Since the goal of this ordinance is to clear city sidewalks, we support the creation of an effective mechanism that would help people who are unable to clear their own sidewalks due to health and/or financial factors rather than waiving fines, should they be implemented.
Strengthening this ordinance supports our City’s Energy Reduction Goals. Transportation accounts for at least 40% of Newton’s greenhouse gas emissions. Reliably safe sidewalks increase use of mass transit and pedestrian activity, reducing our reliance on automobiles for local transportation and our greenhouse gas production.
In addition, our sidewalks across the city are used by people walking dogs, delivering mail and packages, walking children to school, visiting neighbors, etc. We request you to make the ordinance permanent and to designate responsibility for enforcement, as quickly as possible, to protect our pedestrians and our environment.
President, League of Women Voters, Newton