More Sidewalks of Shame – What to do?

“Dear PoP,

I was wondering if this issue might be one you could put to your readers. There is a church near my home that does not shovel its sidewalk (see attached photo; it’s the Mormon church on Capitol Hill), which takes up nearly half the block. Yesterday they had someone plow the parking lot, which won’t be used until Sunday, but no one touched the walk, and now it’s hardened into an inch-thick layer of pure, deadly ice. Every time it snows this part of the block becomes a treacherous walk. I’ve tried calling the church, but I only get a canned message about when Sunday services are with no option of even leaving a message. Other than waiting until Sunday and visiting in person, what can I do?”

“Sidewalk of shame. The shell at the corner of upshur and georgia ave nw. They managed to plow their driveway so customers could get in, but not so pedestrians could get by.”

And finally another spot from a reader:

“Could you please call out metro for the hall of shame for never clearing the sidewalks around the triangle between New Hampshire, 8th, and Randolph NW? A lot of people walk past there on their way to the metro and the snow always gets packed down and dangerous.”

Has anyone had any success dealing with Churches and/or other habitual non shovellers? It does seem particularly insulting when they shovel their driveways but not the sidewalk.

58 Comment

  • that shell never shovels the sidewalk after it snows. everyone please patronize the shell just 1 block to the south at Shepherd.

  • WWBYD?

    What would Brigham Young Do?

  • No photo, but I noticed this morning that the Bacon Funeral Home on 14th St in Columbia Heights had shoveled the sidewalk directly in front of its old/currently in use storefront but not in front of the hideous, eye-sore expansion next door. Nice going, guys.

    To counter the complaints: a group of neighbors were out shoveling the traffic island sidewalks at 13th/Spring/Kansas yesterday afternoon. That’s on the way to Raymond Elementary, so a lot of kids cross there. I didn’t have a chance to thank them in person, so here’s a public thank you to the guys who did it.

  • Also a problem on the Hopscotch Bridge (H St NE).
    Presumably, whoever handles snow removal for Union Station should be handling much of it but don’t(they sometimes make an effort, but usually a poor one).

    Louis Dreyfus Property Group owns the building (700 Second St) east of the Union Station parking garage and makes little effort to clear the snow at it’s entrance on H St, NE. The same company owns the lot south of H St NE between 2nd & 3rd NE and makes ZERO effort at snow removal along H (the bridge) or 3rd.

    Definitely a sh!tty neighbor.

  • If you really want it clear, sadly, I think the only thing to do is shovel or salt it yourself. The city obviously isn’t handing out fines.

    • Since the fine’s only $25, I can’t imagine it’d do a lot to help anyway.

      They should bump it up significantly and use the fines to fix the budget. I bet you could get millions if you really enforced it.

  • The problem of church’s taking care of their own (who don’t live in the neighborhood, but drive to services) is not limited to Capital Hill Mormons. St. Luke’s on 15th Street between P and Church Streets is notorious for not shoveling the walks on Church or P Street, but making sure that its parking lot is clean and there is a path from the lot to the church.

    • Lots of churches don’t shovel. WTF? It’s not like they don’t have the personnel. Not shoveling your church makes baby Jesus cry.

      • saf

        “It’s not like they don’t have the personnel”

        No, most churches don’t have much staff at all.

        On the other hand, I think members/lay leadership ought to do something if they don’t hire it done.

        • The Fisherman church at the corner of Priceton and GA Ave has not done crap. But I’m sure this weekend members from Maryland will be jumping the curb to park all over those unshovled sidewalks. Thanks Neighbor.

  • Meant “churchs”, not “church’s”

  • yesterday i noticed the dc gov’t dropped the ball on clearing the sidewalk around the girard st. park. it was a nice sheet of ice around the whole thing. thanks dc.

  • I have a related question – I’ve noticed that residents who have houses that are on the corner of a block often shovel their front sidewalks, but neglect the “side” sidewalk. Are residents of corner homes responsible for the whole thing, or just the front?

    • Don’t know about DC, but I was responsible for all the sidewalk that abutted my corner property near Philly. Given the configuration of my lot, that meant I had roughly six times as much shoveling to do as anyone else in my neighborhood. Of course, I also had three times the yard, which I considered a good thing at the time…

      • ah

        True in DC too. It’s the abutting property owner’s responsibility, so if your property has sidewalks on two sides, you’ve got to do all those sidewalks.

    • This is interesting. From the photo above, it looks like that sidewalk runs along the side of the church and posibly not in front of it…I wonder who is responsible??

    • This is interesting. From the photo above, it looks like that sidewalk runs along the side of the church and possibly not in front of it…I wonder who is responsible??

      • They own the parking lot and the building, they just decided to angle the entrance toward the parking lot. It’s still their walk.

  • The sidewalk in front of the construction site on Connecticut and Veazey, which is slated to be a new Walgreens, fits the bill as a “sidewalk of shame.” What makes it worse is that this is just across the street from the Van Ness metro station and the Giant–which makes it a high traffic area.

  • I wonder if the city had some way of collecting violation reports, and then simply sending a $0.44 cent letter that said “it was reported that you did not shovel your sidewalk as required by 11AM Thursday. Please remember that DC Law xyz.123 requires owners to shovel within so many hours”

    It certainly wouldn’t affect some owners who are willfully neglecting their obligations, but perhaps some would realize that they should be doing it.

    Of course, DC really ought to change the freakin law and allow parking enforcement, DDOT, MPD and whoever else to issue $50 tickets left and right.

    • ah

      The Glover Park list serv has a flyer they created that basically says this and is made for people to print out a stack and go around leafletting.

    • I’d hand those out, if someone else put them together and posted them for printing.

    • I put flyers in neighbors’ mailboxes/front doors last year when a woman walking her ~5 year old daughter and carrying her ~1 year old son on her back in a sling fell badly on an unshoveled section of sidewalk, landing on top of the baby. They were all fine, but my god it was scary to watch. I don’t know if it made any difference, but at least I felt like I’d done something.

      And I am perfectly willing to shovel someone’s section of sidewalk if they are incapable of doing it themselves, but the 20-somethings in the group house next door to me are just lazy, not incapable. We’ve offered several times to lend them our shovel, but they never take us up on it.

  • The CVS in Petworth hasn’t bothered to shovel the sidewalk around their building either.

  • The Murry’s on H Street never clears the sidewalks surrounding their property. The parking lot is plowed but the sidewalks are sheets of ice.

    Can I report them to the city?

  • I agree with Gumpper, St. Luke’s is HORRIBLE! They also like to park in the bike lanes. Really bad neighbors.

  • Let’s add the Lowest Price gas station at the corner of 14th and W Streets, NW, to the list. They may have the best Cuban sandwiches in town, but they are doing a disservice (and creating a safety issue) to the community by not shoveling their sidewalks!

  • Im convinced that the worst offender of the “clear your sidewalk” rule is the DC Govt! I walked on 14th to metro today and most of the sidewalks were clear except for the freakin’ sheet of ice in front of the Park on 14th/Girard (Hey CM Graham instead of spending time trying to rename that park after Obama, how about sending someone to salt and shovel??) and then they cleared again but yet another sheet of ice in front of Public housing (columbia Village I think) at 14th and Columbia. Actually after walking around yesterday, the sidewalks in front of most of the subsidized housing were still a mess. Why are they off the hook? Make the residents clean the sidewalks, all the other residents are required too!

    • +1.

      DC suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks at clearing sidewalks alongside parking triangles, parks, etc.

    • To be fair they’ve got A LOT of ground to cover between all of the roads and sidewalks near their parks. I know it sucks to have to walk next to a city park that hasn’t been done, but remember there are a lot of them they have to get to.

      No, I don’t work for the DC gov’t :p

  • Not sure how we can expect people that believe in magic underwear to be responsible enough to do adult things like shovel the sidewalk.

  • all of the sidewalks around union station! somehow the streets are miraculously cleared for taxis, cars and buses. but none of the sidewalks, which thousands of people use to get to work, are cleared.

  • If snow isn’t cleared within 24 hours of snow fall, my hometown sends out a crew to shovel the walk and charges the property owner $25/square foot of sidewalk. But that probably only works in small towns where they have the man power to send out sidewalk shovelers, and to follow up on unpaid fines.
    Also, why aren’t these property owners afraid of being sued by someone slipping on the ice on their properties?

  • I nominate the condos/townhomes at the Tivoli Square, the new ones behind the Giant. They shoveled out the parking lot but not the sidwalks. Jerks.

  • saf

    So, Shell, Wendy’s CVS, Safeway – lousy neighbors. Yep, yet another example of it.

  • I hate to call them out since they’re a great new addition to the neighborhood, but Beau Thai at the corner of New Jersey and R St have not shoveled the huge area of sidewalk in front of the restaurant and all along the side. They have, however, shoveled a narrow walkway from the street to their front door.

    • Not Beau Thai’s responsibility. There are units in that building. The association is responsible. That would be like blaming only one person in a condo or apartment building.

      • none of the other units use the front entrance, so i’m still blaming them. especially since they’re a business and should be concerned with the safety of customers coming to their restaurant.

        • Besides, Its called being a good neighbor.

          If a business wants more customers and respect, pay one of the local kids to shovel the snow.

          While you are at it, have them shovel the Church sidewalks and dump it on their front steps.

          This conversation is ridiculous.

  • There’s a house for sale on Spring near 10th that has not shoveled their sidewalk in years. You’d think the real estate agent would like the house to be accessible. Guess not.

  • The Fisherman of Men Church which takes up the whole frontage on Georgia Ave between Princeton Plac and Quebec Place is hideoulsy bad at clearing that sidewalk and those on the sides! It is always icy and slippery. Very bad neighbor!!

  • The Josephine Butler Parks building on 15th St. still hadn’t cleared their sidewalk as of this morning. I’d let it slide (ah ah ah), except I watched some guy shovel random paths through their parking lot yesterday and their front stoop is totally clean.

  • DC govt property and wheelchair ramps. Metrobus Stops. Just crossed town on foot and not a single sidewalk wheelchair ramp I saw was clear until I got to DuPont. There, the local business orange vest guys were taking care it, but elsewhere, nothing!

  • The Peworth Rec Center is completely unshoveled. Thanks, DC. One City, apparently one snowshovel.

  • My name is Scott Parker, with the Mormon Church on Capitol Hill (522 7th St SE) featured above. Just wanted to apologize for not getting that portion of the sidewalk cleaned sooner. We cleared a single path this afternoon (Fri), and have another little crew working on it right now (as of 6:05 pm Friday) to clear away the ice. Our church has no professional clergy – we all have regular jobs and volunteer our other time for church stuff – which also means we have no church office. That’s why no one could be reached there. But if anyone needs/wants to get a hold of me now or in the future, you can email me at scottparker1 [at] The volunteer church member tasked with clearing the sidewalk moved away since last winter, and we forgot to have that assignment covered. Sorry about that. That’s entirely our fault and we’ll get it fixed. We did do better last year, and shoveled that stretch multiple times. (My back can attest to that 😉 Also, the plow that comes is not a church member, just a contractor, and is hired regionally, not by us, but we’ll try and ask for him to pay attention to this as well. I’m from the area and have lived here on the Hill for the past 8 years, as do most of our congregants, so we care about getting this stuff taken care. Sorry again for not being on the ball this year. We’ll do better. Thanks.

  • The corner house just south of the Foggy Bottom metro station. It’s a super high traffic area, being on the way to the Watergate and Kennedy Center buildings and since it’s a corner house it’s a significant portion of sidewalk. Now, I understand being old and unable to shovel yourself, but honestly – these people live right outside of the Foggy Bottom station and clearly can afford to hire someone to shovel for them (they do find it worth their money to pay to have a beautiful, professionally landscaped garden in the warmer months, after all). Oh, I forget, they did shovel out a *tiny* portion of half-side walk just from their front door to the street. SHAME!

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