South Lake Tahoe business landlords face fines for failing to clear snow

Employees clear sidewalks of snow after receiving notices from the City.
Provided/Scott Robbins

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Snow covered sidewalks near some South Lake Tahoe business properties have created unsafe conditions for pedestrians by forcing them onto the highway and the City has sent warnings to owners that they will be fined unless they comply with the snow removal ordinance. 

Evan Williams, owner of Evan’s American Gourmet Cafe who received a warning, told the Tribune the sidewalk is not his property, and he never wanted it.

“For 25 years I had an herb garden and one day Caltrans took it out, now the city wants me to clear a sidewalk that isn’t mine and I didn’t want it,” Williams said and added that the property his garden previously occupied is Caltrans right of way. 

The ordinance states that property owners are responsible for the sidewalks immediately adjacent to their properties and are to keep them clear of dirt, ice and snow. 

The ordinance provides a specific timeframe for the removal to occur — “whenever the accumulation creates a condition that is dangerous to property or persons using the walkway. Within 12 hours after the end of a snow event, within 24 hours during a snow event if duration is greater than 24 hours.” 

“The City originally sent letters in November, in coordination with Caltrans, to businesses along US-50 and SR-89, notifying them of their responsibilities to clear sidewalks in front of their businesses,” said Assistant City Manager/Public Information Officer Lindsey Baker.

After the heavy snowfall in December, Baker said warnings were issued to those who were not in compliance, providing a two-week grace period to remove the snow.

The City has issued 104 notices of violation to businesses as of Monday afternoon, according to Baker.

“While our visitors and locals like visiting your business, make sure that sidewalks and pathways are cleared so they can get to your business and ensure that no one gets hurt,” said the notice of violation. “It is very easy to incur an injury when the sidewalks are not properly maintained.”

Evan’s American Gourmet Cafe is one of the last businesses before Emerald Bay Road/California State Route 89 shrinks to two lanes. Williams said there is no pedestrian traffic by his business. 

Baker added financial consequences are to follow if sidewalks are not cleared. The first violation is $100, $200 for a second, and a $400 fine for the third violation.

For another business the threat of a fine was motivation to take action immediately. 

Kyle McQueen, general manager of Sonny’s BBQ, said “I received the notice Jan 23 and literally took care of it the next day.” 

The 40-yard stretch of sidewalk took two employees approximately four hours to complete and had to be done during off hours, according to McQueen. 

“We can’t blow the snow into the street so we had to do it when we were closed,” McQueen said and added the employees had to move snow into the parking lot and then clear that from the parking lot.

Baker told the Tribune that any sidewalks the city is responsible for that may have been missed are being worked on as soon as possible.

People walk in the road to avoid a snowy sidewalk.
Provided/Scott Robbins

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