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Last updated: 12/4/17

Rules on clearing snow

As a property owner in Boston, you must clear snow, sleet, and ice from sidewalks and curb ramps abutting your property.

Don’t shovel or push snow into the street. If you do, the City may fine you.

Still have questions? Contact:
BOS:311
311
1 City Hall Square
Boston, MA 02201
United States

After a storm

What property owners must do after a storm
  • Clear sidewalks and curb ramps within three hours after it stopped snowing.
  • If it snowed overnight, clear sidewalks and curb ramps within three hours after sunrise.
  • Please clear at least a 42-inch-wide path for people using wheelchairs and pushing strollers.

Simply put, we're looking for an accessible path of travel. While the rule is three hours, we try to be reasonable for deciding when we start the clock. Our goal isn't to fine you. We just want people — especially youth and seniors — to be able to get around safely.

Shoveling tips
  • Don’t shovel or push snow into the street. If you do, the City may fine you.
  • Remove ice to bare pavement or make as level as possible and treat with sand, sawdust, or similar material. Every year dozens of people are seriously injured slipping and falling on sidewalks.
  • Don’t push or stress yourself when you shovel. You can make an underlying illness worse.
  • If you are elderly, disabled, or have a heart condition, please consider hiring a professional to clear ice and snow from your roof. The combination of ice and heights can turn dangerous. Learn more about roof safety tips.

Snow removal fines

We consider each day that you don't address a violation as a separate and distinct violation. Boston Code of Ordinances, 16-12.16 has more information about the City’s law on snow removal.

Failure to remove snow/ice from a sidewalk

Property

Fine

Commercial

$200

Residential with more than 16 units

$100

Residential with 16 or fewer units

$50

 
Removal of snow, ice from a private property to the street or sidewalk

Property

Fine for more than one cubic yard of snow

Fine for one cubic yard or less of snow

Commercial

$200

$150

Residential with more than 16 units

$150

$100

Residential with 16 or fewer units

$100

$50

Plowing snow in the City

During a snow storm, Public Works de-ices and plows 2,000 lane miles with City and contract equipment across 200 plowing routes. State agencies — like the Department of Conservation and Recreation and Massachusetts Department of Transportation — clear state-owned roads.

At full deployment, Public Works uses up to 700 pieces of equipment. They clear small public alleys, side streets, and dead ends are also cleared before the end of the City's snow removal efforts.

In clearing roadways, Public Works needs to plow snow across driveways. When you shovel your driveway or parked car, please remember that crews make frequent passes until roads are cleared.

A plowed street in the City of Boston