Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Takoma Park prepares to legalize three foot width for snow clearance

According to the Gazette ("Takoma Park considers reducing fine for snow removal"), the City of Takoma Park plans a bunch of changes to its ordinance on snow removal.  From the article:
Takoma Park officials are considering changes to the city’s snow policies, including reducing the fine from $200 to $25 for those who do not shovel snow from the public sidewalk adjacent to their property. ...

Stewart joined Schultz, Male and Seamens in an informal vote Monday requiring residents and business owners to remove snow from only a three-foot-wide part of a sidewalk, rather than the entire sidewalk. Many sidewalks are in commercial areas or don’t have a strip of lawn to deposit snow, Male said.

But that width does not allow for some users, such as people in wheelchairs or cyclists, said Smith, who supported a wider swath.
However, three-feet is not wide enough for people to walk next to each other, or for people going in opposite directions to be able to pass each other, without having to step in and or walk in the ice and snow.

While this path width is less than 3-feet wide, more like 2-feet wide, it illustrates the problem well enough.
Shoveling a lane in the sidewalk, unshovelled corners

A three-feet width for snow clearance is inadequate for commercial districts.  The point is for commercial districts to be competitive through maintenance and other factors, rather than encouraging them to lag the practices in better managed commercial districts.

Inadequate snow removal in the Upshur Street commercial district
There is a portion of the sidewalk in front of these stores on Upshur Street NW in Petworth that has been cleared, but it is confusing for customers to have to figure out how to wend their way from storefront to storefront, without being forced to walk on the snow and ice.

In terms of planning for the walking-transit-bicycling city, this proposed change is a step backwards.

Takoma Park is two cities too.  Part of the problem is that Takoma Park, not unlike DC, is "two cities," the walking city in the core, although the residential lots are pretty big, where thousands of people walk each day during the work week to the Takoma Metrorail Station, which is just across the city line in Takoma and they may stop by the Old Takoma commercial district on their way home from work, and the outer city, which is a mix of automobile semi-dependent neighborhoods and strip shopping districts.
Carroll Avenue @ Eastern Avenue, Takoma Park, Maryland
"Snowmageddon, 2010," Carroll Avenue @ Eastern Avenue, Takoma Park, Maryland.

For the core, Takoma Park's "walking city," a three-foot wide requirement for snow clearance is a bad policy and regulation.

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