City of Seattle responds to our snow priorities campaign

On March 15, 2019, after we released Conrad’s video, we received this response Seattle Transportation Department’s ADA coordinator to our letter to City Council. We’ll be working with SDOT to publicize the proposed community meeting, and will also follow up to hold them accountable on the other steps they propose:  


Dear Anna Zivarts,

We have been informed of the concerns that you and your organization, Rooted in Rights / Disability Rights Washington, have brought to Seattle City Council regarding SDOT’s snow removal priorities and processes. Thank you for bringing attention to this important conversation. We understand that snow left uncleared from sidewalks can impact pedestrian mobility significantly, particularly for people living with mobility disabilities.

Currently, under the Seattle Municipal Code, snow removal obligations fall on residents and owners of private property that abut public sidewalks.

Per the Seattle Municipal Code:

  • 15.48.010 – Snow and ice removal.

It is the responsibility of the owner or occupant of private property to remove snow and ice on the sidewalks abutting his or her property in a timely manner and, if practical, prevent its becoming or remaining in an icy, ridged, uneven or humped condition or in a condition which is potentially hazardous to users of the public sidewalks.

(Ord. 117569 § 121, 1995; Ord. 90047 § 39, 1961.)

SDOT is currently reviewing our public messaging and will be working to increase awareness of the snow removal obligations of private property owners. In addition, we are also interested in some community engagement to solicit feedback from people with disabilities and their experiences resulting from the recent snow storms. We are interested to know if you and others may be interested in participating in this community meeting. If so, we would be happy to work together with you to develop a plan to have these discussions. We are also willing to work together on an ongoing basis as we review strategies for the future.

We are currently exploring some opportunities that could address these identified needs, while still complying with local, State, and Federal laws and being mindful of our limited resources. Some of these potential solutions may include:

  • Create a City Crews or a Volunteer program that responds to people that may need assistance removing snow at or near their homes for access.
  • Augment our pedestrian snow response to help Metro and Sound Transit clear their bus shelters.
  • Enforcement: Issue citations to the adjacent property owners of sidewalks, if they do not clear the sidewalks within 24 hours of a lull in the snow storm. People that are unable to clear their own sidewalks could be exempt.
  • Enhance our communication to businesses about their responsibility to clear their sidewalks.

Thanks again for your concerns and passing this information along. This is extremely important, as you are aware, in providing and maintaining routes that are accessible to and usable for all. I’m looking forward to hearing back from you and working with you to brainstorm additional, potential solutions.

Michael Shaw

ADA Coordinator

City of Seattle, Department of Transportation

Anna Zivarts is the program director of Rooted in Rights and a low-vision mom who can't drive. She joined the Rooted in Rights team from Time of Day Media, a digital media cooperative she co-founded in 2010. At Time of Day, Anna produced digital video for the Innocence Project and Fight for 15, and lead searches for the ACLU in Kansas and Wisconsin to find citizens disenfranchised by voter ID laws. Twitter: @AnnaZivarts