Clear your sidewalk

As a property owner you have the responsibility to ensure that your sidewalks are cleared.  Here is a long winded note I sent to a citizen (renter) who directed some profanity at one of my staff.


I wanted to take a moment to respond to your comments.  I would suggest that you discuss this with your landlord as they may have failed to deliver good information.  I am perhaps one of the people most responsible for putting a strong sidewalk clearing ordinance in place.  We do this for a reason.  As you may know only about 60% of Minnesotan’s drive.  The rest do not for various reasons.  All people regardless of circumstance deserve to get around safely.  We set a clear expectation that all property owners in the City of Rochester must clear sidewalks within 24 hours of the end of a snowfall event.  This is a responsibility that comes with owning property in Rochester.  When we implemented this policy, it was covered extensively by the media.  We do not lower the standards for public safety for anyone.  The property owner is the person that would actually be fined and charged, not a renter.  Unless you have some agreement with the landlord I don’t see why you are paying this.  If the landlord failed to inform you of the requirements, you should discuss this with them.
I work 40-55 hours a week on the city council, serve as leadership on a national development committee, run a business another 20 hours a week, and have daughters that are 2 and 5.  Every time it snows I or my wife (who also works full time) clear our sidewalks.  We do this because we care about the safety of all in our neighborhood, not because we are required to.  No exceptions, no excuses.  If we could not clear the snow, we understand that we would be responsible to hire someone to do it.
I know Doug very well and find him to be friendly and honest.  I respect his dedication to the our city and treat him with respect.  I am disappointed that you would direct profanity at any of my staff.  I would expect you of all people would have better bedside manner.  Every year we do a competitive bid and hire the cheapest contractor to clear snow.  This is how our rates are set.  We don’t want to fine anyone, we want our public walkways to be safe at all times.
If you want to express anger at anyone, that should be reserved for elected officials like myself that put the policy in place and later reaffirmed it, or your landlord who is likely aware of the requirement, but failed to inform you.  Staff is doing what they are directed to do and I appreciate their commitment to making Rochester accessible for all.
Lastly, we do not go out and look for violators to fine.  Rather we operate on a complaint basis.  Your walkway upset someone enough that they contacted city hall.  I don’t know the story, but perhaps a senior slipped and fell or perhaps a parent had to take a stroller out into a street.  Regardless, I maintain the rights of these citizens outweigh any inconvenience caused by a requirement to clear sidewalks.

If you want to discuss this further, we do have open comment periods before our city council meetings where you can be heard.


Michael Wojcik
Rochester City Council – Ward 2

“No one is big enough to be independent of others” – Dr. Will Mayo

“Take care of God’s creation. But above all, take care of people in need.” – Pope Francis

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