New Snow Removal Ordinance Effective November 28, 2015

Website_BannerThe regulations for sidewalk snow removal were updated earlier this year. The primary intent of the updates were to clarify the specifics around snow removal.  In particular, the changes and clarifications were made pertaining to:

  • Required time periods for snow removal (daytime vs. nighttime);
  • Days that snow must be removed (seven days a week);
  • Clearing of crosswalk ramps adjacent to properties; and
  • Shoveling of snow into the right-of-way or any other space where snow impedes traffic of any kind is prohibited.

The goal of the ordinance updates is to make it easier for Chicagoans of all ages and abilities to get around the city. To incentivize snow removal, the fines have also been adjusted to address flagrant, repeat violators of the law.


You may download the Snow Removal brochure in color or in black and white.
You may download the Snow Removal brochure (Spanish) in color or in black and white.


Why is sidewalk snow removal important?

Chicagoans of all ages and abilities need to use the sidewalks to get where they’re going every day of the year. Many children, older adults, and people with disabilities face serious mobility challenges in winter time. Clear sidewalks are a shared community responsibility, and this new ordinance clarifies the requirements for snow and ice removal.


Do the new regulations for sidewalk snow removal in Chicago apply to home, business and property owners?

Yes, the new sidewalk snow regulations affect all home, business and property owners in Chicago. Business owners that rent space adjacent to sidewalks are responsible for shoveling snow under the ordinance. Some landlords for residential and commercial property hold tenants responsible for snow clearance as a part of their lease agreements, others don’t. Renters who aren’t certain of their shoveling responsibilities should check their rental agreements or ask their landlords for clarification.


When do they take effect?

The new regulations take effect November 28, 2015.


When do I have to shovel my snow?

You must shovel snow as soon as possible after it falls. Snow that falls between the hours of 7:00 am and 7:00 pm must be removed no later than 10:00 pm. Snow that falls between the hours of 7:00 pm and 7:00 am must be removed by 10:00 am.


Do I have to shovel on weekends?

Yes. You must shovel 7 days a week in the City of Chicago.


In what way should I shovel my sidewalks to be in compliance?

You must clear a path at least 5 feet wide on all of the sidewalks adjacent to your property, including any crosswalk ramps. Do not shovel the snow into the right-of-way, which includes: transit stops and bus pads, parking spaces, bike lanes, bike racks, Divvy stations and any other space where snow impedes traffic of any kind.


Are there special rules for corner lots?

Yes. If you are responsible for a corner lot, you must remove snow and ice from sidewalks on all sides of your building and from corner sidewalk ramps. This applies to residential property and business owners.


Can I be penalized for failing to shovel?

Yes, you can receive a citation for failure to shovel. In 2014, 226 citations were issued. The fines range from $50 to $500. The amount of the fine is on a per-case basis, and determined by an Administrative Hearings judge.


Are there special considerations for snow removal?

Chicago Snow Corps is a program that connects volunteers with residents in need of snow removal – such as seniors and residents with disabilities.

To request a volunteer to shovel your block in case of extreme snowfall, call 311. This is a volunteer-matching service. The City will do its best to match those who have requested assistance.

Visit the City of Chicago Snow Corps website.


How do I report a property owner who fails to shovel their sidewalk?

Report property owners who DO NOT clear their sidewalks by making a “Snow – Uncleared Sidewalk” request with the City of Chicago 311 Service Request line.

DIAL 311 or submit an Online Snow – Uncleard Sidewalk request.

If calling from outside Chicago, call 312.744.5000

When you make a “Snow – Uncleared Sidewalk” request, please note the following:

  • Make sure the problem occurs on the sidewalk.
  • DO NOT use this category to report snow on streets, parking lots, or alleys.
  • Provide a specific address where the problem occurs.
  • Request a reference number from the operator, this will help you track the status and resolution of your request.

Can I commend a property owner who does a great job of shoveling their snow?

Yes! Thank your neighbors for keeping the sidewalks clear by nominating them for a Winter Wonder Award.

The City of Chicago and the Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council (MPAC) recognize businesses and organizations that do an excellent job of clearing their sidewalks of snow and ice.

Businesses and organizations can apply for recognition and supporters may nominate candidates that show excellence in shoveling their sidewalks by calling the Winter Wonder Nomination line at 312.744.5819 or completing the 2015-2016 online nomination form through March 15, 2016.

Winners will be listed on the Chicago Department of Transportation website and will receive an award signed by the co-chairs of MPAC.

Top nominees will be awarded based on number of nominations, photos, and social media mentions–so get the word out! Businesses and organizations can promote their participation by displaying the Winter Wonder Participation Poster.