116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Another winter means it’s time for Iowa City residents to get out their snowblowers and snow shovels — and prepare to clear snow from the sidewalk within 24 hours if they want to avoid getting fined.
A winter storm earlier this month dropped 7.5 inches northeast of Iowa City, and Winter Storm Izzy hit Iowa City last weekend with another 5 inches. Frigid temperatures also have been common at the start of 2022.
With more snow likely this winter season, The Gazette spoke with Stan Laverman, the city’s senior housing inspector, about what residents need to do after a snowfall.
Q: What are some general reminders that people should keep in mind?
A: Laverman said the city began enforcing its snow ordinance Jan. 3.
“Iowa City's policy has always been that 24 hours after a snowfall of 1 inch or greater that the sidewalks are required to be cleared,” Laverman said. “Additionally, ice of any amount 24 hours after that event, that's required to be cleared.”
The city provides a limited amount of salt and sand mix for residents at no charge. The mix is available at the Streets Division parking lot, 3901 Napoleon Lane. Residents should bring their own bucket and shovel.
Cedar Rapids property owners also have 24 hours after a storm ends to clear their sidewalks of snow and ice.
Q: How many complaints has the city received so far?
A: Laverman said the city has received 408 complaints for snow removal as of Jan. 18.
He recommends property owners make sure the city has good contact information for them. If possible, Laverman suggested residents create an account on the city’s self service website, so “it's easier for us to make sure they have the earliest notification possible if there's a complaint on their property.”
Residents who want to report a property where the public sidewalk has not been cleared can do so online at icgov.org/ICgovXpress, on the free ICGovXpress mobile app or by calling (319) 356-5152.
Complaints need to be specific and have an address for staff to respond.
If a property is out of compliance, the city will hire a private contractor to shovel, and the property owner will be billed those costs plus a $100 administrative fee.
“It's based off of the hourly fee that we are charged plus an equipment charge,” Laverman said. “We charge that plus our $100 administrative fee, and the administrative fee covers our time to do the inspections and paperwork associated with a complaint.”
Q: If people are out of town, what kind of steps should they take if the city is anticipating snow?
A: “In Iowa City, there's a lot of people that walk to go to work, for exercise, and it's important that even though you might be out of town to realize that life doesn't end here in the city. You should be making arrangements to have that sidewalk cleared.”
Laverman said it’s important for residents to clear the full width of the sidewalk — not just a shovel’s width.
“If you have people out there who may have limited mobility who are using assistive devices, say a walker or even a wheelchair, that single path isn't going to allow them to get through that sidewalk,” Laverman said.
He added that it’s also a lot safer for people who are walking because there’s no surprise of there being a patch of ice, which could lead to an injury.
“We're a very pedestrian-friendly community, or try to be, and this is part of it,” Laverman said.
Q: Cedar Rapids has a volunteer program called Snow Buddies that helps residents remove snow and ice in the winter. Have there been discussions to bring a similar program to Iowa City?
A: Laverman said trial efforts to mirror the program are underway this winter in Iowa City. He mentioned that a University of Iowa fraternity has partnered with elderly and disabled residents to help with snow removal.
“On social media, there's also people that have been offering to help assist elderly or residents that are not physically able to shovel their sidewalks,” Laverman said.
Aging Services is expanding its snow removal program in Johnson County with additional openings in Iowa City, according to a news release from the city.
People who cannot afford snow removal and have physical disabilities, severe arthritis, neuropathy, heart conditions or other risks can contact Aging Services at (319) 398-3644. Openings are limited.
Comments: (319) 339-3155; email@example.com