Frequently Asked Questions
Snow & Ice on Sidewalks
In July 2021, City Council adopted updates to Municipal Code Chapter 9.11 — Clearing Snow and Ice from Sidewalks. The changes reflect suggestions from the 2019 Pedestrian Master Plan. The Plan was created to help the City identify improvements in our sidewalk network with a goal of better serving those who use and need sidewalks the most.
Sidewalk users may include your neighbors, children walking to school, people with disabilities who have unique mobility needs and/or may use mobility-assistance devices, parents with strollers, the elderly, people walking to work or the grocery store, and many others with diverse needs.
The Pedestrian Master Plan incorporated extensive community feedback on how to improve our sidewalk network for all. Peer analysis was also incorporated into the plan, comparing Cedar Rapids to other similar-sized Midwestern cities. The Plan identified several snow- and ice-related opportunities for improvement. A cross-departmental City staff innovation team performed a root-cause analysis and vetted suggestions in the Pedestrian Master Plan to arrive at proposed updates to Chapter 9.11. City Council adopted the revisions in July 2021.
Changes to Municipal Code
The amended code provides new guidelines and additional clarity for property owners:
- Reduced timeframe for snow clearance.
Following a winter snow or ice storm, property owners have 24 hours to clear their sidewalks of snow and ice accumulations.
- New civil citation and formal appeal process.
If the City receives a report of sidewalks with lingering snow and ice, an inspector may arrive as soon as 48 hours after a snow or ice storm. This is down from 96 hours. If the sidewalk is out of compliance, a new $35 civil citation will be assessed. Previously, there was no citation fee during the inspection process. A formal process is available for residents to appeal the citation. A citation notice will be affixed to the front door of the property.
- New language.
The ordinance specifies property owners must clear the entire width of abutting public sidewalks and pedestrian curb ramps.
- The initial abatement fee remains $313.
The abatement fee remains unchanged from previous years. If a sidewalk is out of compliance upon inspection, a snow-removal crew will arrive the next day to clear the sidewalk. If the sidewalk remains out of compliance and the City needs to remove snow and/or ice, the initial fee remains $313, subject to the scope of work performed.
- New volunteer program.
The City is piloting a snow-removal volunteer program. Learn more about Snow Buddies. The program is operating on a first come, first-served basis.
Information was posted on the City’s website and through several communications channels, including the Our CR magazine; social media; eNewsletters; Neighborhood Association meetings; CR News Now text, email and app alerts; through local media outlets and more.
We understand how important it is for the City of Cedar Rapids to effectively listen to, communicate with and engage our residents. We continue to strive to improve our communications efforts, and we encourage residents to review the options above to stay informed on important City matters.
More formally, updates to municipal code are enacted following two (and possibly three) readings at City Council. Meeting agendas are posted on the City website on the Friday before each meeting. Meeting schedules and documents are available online.
Pursuant to Iowa law, municipal ordinances enacted by City Council are published in the local newspaper of record. In Cedar Rapids, summaries of enacted codes are published in the "LEGAL NOTICES" section of The Gazette.