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Woman with cerebral palsy wants people to remember the importance of shoveling sidewalks

Published: Feb. 9, 2021 at 6:02 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Cathy Hafsi was born with cerebral palsy and relies on a walker or wheelchair to get around. For her, winter is a particularly tough time.

“If the sidewalks are not shoveled I just can’t walk where I want to walk, it’s nearly impossible,” Hafsi says.

Hafsi said she’s complained to the City of Cedar Rapids multiple times. City officials told us they’ve had 433 total complaints of homeowners not shoveling this season, but the problem isn’t unique to the metro area. Iowa City has had 608 complaints, Waterloo 169 and there have been 325 in Dubuque.

Each city has different requirements, some giving homeowners 48 hours to shovel after a snowfall and others just 24.

For example, In Dubuque homeowners have 48 hours to shovel. In Waterloo it depends on where you’re located. You have 24 hours if you’re downtown, in business districts, or if you live within three blocks of a school. In other areas of Waterloo, it’s 48 hours. In Iowa City, people have 24 hours to remove snow from their sidewalks. People in Cedar Rapids have 48 hours.

Homeowners will be notified if there has been a complaint, and are typically given 24 hours to remove the snow at that time.

The fine for not shoveling also varies by city.

In Cedar Rapids, the minimum charge is $313 if the snow is not removed after the homeowner is warned. In Dubuque, “the city will assess the property owner for the cost of removal (an hourly fee plus any salt/material costs), plus a $25 administrative fee,” according to the city’s website. In Iowa City, “the city will hire a private contractor to complete the job, and the property owner will be billed those costs plus a $100 administrative fee,” according to the city website.

There is no exception during cold weather in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, or Dubuque. However, Waterloo city officials will work with homeowners in certain circumstances.

Hafsi just wants people to remember to shovel their sidewalks, and to shovel the whole thing, curb cuts included.

“I have seen, people have shoveled a path of like 5 inches. Well, a power chair, a wheelchair, or a walker is not going to fit in 5 inches, there’s just no way,” Hafsi said.

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