Snow Removal – Setting The Story Straight

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With two significant snowstorms hitting the metro area since the holidays (and likely more to come), residents may be wondering what the story is on snow and ice on your street and sidewalks.

Wheat Ridge property owners are required to shovel snow within 24 hours of snowfall of two inches or more. If they don’t they may get a warning from the city, and a fine if they fail to comply.

That became the law in the fall of 2016, when the city council adopted Council Bill No. 24-2016 (Ordinance 1611) amending the Wheat Ridge Code of Laws to add a new section entitled Removal of Snow and Ice from Sidewalks. At the time, Wheat Ridge was one of only two cities in the metro area without a snow removal ordinance. Wheat Ridge has policies, procedures and practices similar to Arvada, Denver, Golden, Lakewood and Westminster.

“Shoveling your sidewalks is not only the law but is the neighborly thing to do,” said Wheat Ridge Police Chief Chris Murtha in response to an email query. “Pedestrians need to be able to safely move about the city and the Wheat Ridge PD is prepared to more aggressively enforce this code if that’s what it takes to keep our residents safe.”

Are the neighbors being neighborly?

So far this season, community service officers have issued more than 30 written warnings and more than 100 door hangers indicating violations, and have issued “several” citations (an undetermined number), according to city Communications and Engagement Manager Amanda Harrison.

“Last year we did not have to issue any citations for sidewalks although we did issue many warnings and door hangers,” she said. “This year’s storm is obviously staying longer than we thought it would and we have many more complaints.”

Compliance is greater than 75 percent once a business or resident is notified, said Harrison.

Although Public Works has the option to remove sidewalk snow and bill a property owner who fails to do so, it doesn’t happen.

“Our public works department does not have the capacity at this time to remove snow from individual businesses and homes, however in the past we have recruited volunteers to individuals who need assistance,” said Harrison. “We are looking at ways to revitalize this program because currently it is not in use.”

If you’re putting off shoveling because you believe Public Works will just throw street snow on your cleared sidewalk and then write you a ticket, that’s not going to happen: the snow-clearing ordinance specifically relieves residents of removing snow thrown on their walks by the city or the Colorado Department of Transportation.

It Snowed A Lot – Will The City Plow My Street?

Although Wheat Ridge residents have to remove the white stuff from their sidewalks within 24 hours of a 2-inch-or-greater snowfall, City of Wheat Ridge policy is to only clear residential streets only if there is an accumulation of 12 or more inches. That’s directly from the city’s website.

But the snowplows – usually four at any time during a storm – aren’t idle.

“The City treats pre-determined first and second priority roadways with deicing materials prior to snow storms to prevent formation of snowpack and ice,” per the city website. “First priority roadways (red routes) include main streets, collectors, routes to schools, firehouses, and hospital accesses. Second priority roadways (green routes) include minor collector streets and third priority ([blue] routes) include hilly residential streets.”

If you’re wondering why the city isn’t putting sand on the ice and snow for traction, that’s because they no longer do that (except in extremely cold conditions). Instead, a combination of granular and liquid de-icers is used for anti-icing and de-icing operations, per the website.

And, if you want to complain to the city about substandard snow removal service, Wheat Ridge doesn’t maintain every road in the city: CDOT (Colorado Department of Transportation) maintains Sheridan and Wadsworth boulevards, Ward Road and Kipling (except between 49th and 51st avenues). 

You can find details of the snow and ice control program and a snow removal priority routes map at:

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