116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The city of Cedar Rapids has launched the first phase of its pilot “Snow Buddies” program, which 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.
The Snow Buddies program will roll out in two phases. First, a call for volunteers — or “Snow Heroes” — who would like to help their neighbors in need this winter. Snow Hero volunteers can sign up on the City website at www.CityofCR.com/SnowBuddies. Heroes must beat 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 second phase will roll out at a future date, based on the number of Snow Hero volunteer resources identified in the first phase. The second phase will be open to applications from seniors and people with mobility challenges to request assistance through the Snow Buddy program. 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.
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.
The city is partnering with the AmeriCorps VISTA program to provide assistance for various volunteer programs, including snow buddy matching, training and program oversight. Interested candidates may apply to the position online.
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. A summary of changes adopted by City Council is below:
• Reduced time frame for property owners to clear snow. The new time frame 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.
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 the City Council in July.