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Snow Buddies Program Rollout Continues

Snow Buddies Program Rollout Continues

October 8, 2021

The City of Cedar Rapids will roll out the next phase of its pilot “Snow Buddies” program on Monday, October 11. The program pairs residents in need of assistance with volunteers who can help clear sidewalks of snow and ice accumulations in the winter. The program is intended to benefit residents who are not physically able to remove snow and do not have other resources to remove snow, such as neighbors, friends or a hired service.

In September, a call for volunteers went out for Snow Heroes who would like to help their neighbors in need this winter. Snow Hero volunteers can continue to sign up on the City website at www.CityofCR.com/SnowBuddies. Heroes must be at least 18 years old and provide their own snow-removal equipment. Snow Heroes will be paired with residents in need based on factors such as location and availability. Snow Heroes will not be allowed to solicit or accept money, tips or gifts for their volunteer activities. The number of volunteers identified will ultimately determine the number of Snow Buddy pairings that can be made through the program.

The second phase of the program will roll out on Monday, October 11 at 8 a.m. At that time, residents who meet the program qualifications will be allowed to sign up to request assistance on the City website at www.CityofCR.com/SnowBuddies or by calling Solid Waste & Recycling Customer Service at 319-286-5897. To qualify for assistance, individuals must reside in Cedar Rapids, be 65 years or older and/or have a mobility impairment, and qualify under the income guidelines. A single-person household can earn up to $31,300 and a two-person household can earn up to $38,800 a year to be eligible.

“We know how important it is for the community to be able to use safe, accessible sidewalks no matter what time of year,” said April Wing, a program manager for the City of Cedar Rapids. “Snow Buddies is intended for those in our community who might not have access to the resources they need to clear their sidewalks in a timely manner after it snows. We’ve already heard from several residents who are interested in this service. We wanted to make sure everybody knows when the application window will be open.”

The pilot Snow Buddy program will have limited capacity and operate on a first-come, first-served basis. City staff will assess the pilot program following the snow season, after which a determination of continuation or any program modifications will be made.

Snow Removal Policy Updates

The Snow Buddy pilot program launched in conjunction with this year’s updates to Municipal Code Chapter 9.11 — Clearing Snow and Ice from Sidewalks.

Snow and ice removal code updates were implemented based upon recommendations within the City’s 2019 Pedestrian Master Plan. The Pedestrian Master Plan contains several sidewalk-related priorities based on community feedback. It includes strategy recommendations and potential solutions used by communities across the country. A cross-departmental team of City staff studied potential snow-related action items and presented final recommendations to City Council in July.

A summary of adopted changes is below:

  • Reduced timeframe for property owners to clear snow. The new timeframe is 24 hours, down from 48 hours previously.
  • New civil citation and formal appeal process. A $35 citation fee will now be charged if a sidewalk is found to be out of compliance upon inspection. Previously no fee was charged during the inspection process. A formal appeal process is available for residents to appeal their citation.
  • Adjusted enforcement timeline. The previous enforcement process allowed for 120 hours between complaint and enforcement action, meaning in some cases five days could lapse between a sidewalk complaint being filed and enforcement action being taken. The updated process reduces that time to 72 hours between filed complaints and enforcement action.
  • Additional clarity for sidewalk clearance. The new language specifies property owners must clear the entire width of abutting public sidewalks and pedestrian curb ramps.
  • The abatement fee is unchanged. If the City needs to remove snow and/or ice from the sidewalk, the initial fee remains $313, subject to the scope of work performed.

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