Arlington County's last snowfall ended at 1:52 p.m., March 25, 2013, with accumulation of 0.26" at National Airport. The County’s Snow Removal Ordinance requires that property owners remove snow or ice within 24 hours. Note: accumulation reported by the National Weather Service for conditions at National Airport are lower that what appears on most of Arlington’s neighborhood and streets.
Arlington County has a Countywide Snow Removal Ordinance requiring all Arlington property owners to clear snow and ice from public sidewalks adjacent to their property within a designated time period. The Ordinance also prohibits transferring or depositing snow and ice from private property onto public property. Individual homeowners who are physically incapable of complying with the Ordinance are exempt (read about exemptions, below).
Focus on safety, accessibility
Providing clear, safe roadways and pedestrian routes is essential to ensuring access to jobs, schools and services for all in a walkable community like Arlington. The snow removal ordinance aims to help ensure safe access for pedestrians and to make all transportation modes available as soon as possible after a snow storm.
Specific provisions of the ordinance for residents and business owners:
- Snow and ice removal - All property owners are required to remove snow and ice from public sidewalks adjacent to their property:
- Must be removed from the entire width of the sidewalk up to 3 feet wide (to accommodate wheelchairs, strollers, and adults with children in hand).
- Must be removed within 24 hours after the snow stops falling when accumulations are less than 6 inches, and within 36 hours when 6 or more inches of snow accumulate (as measured at National Airport, per National Weather Service). If another snow event occurs, the clock will reset to the end of the most recent snowfall. We will post the official snow ending time on this webpage.
- Noncompliance could result in a civil penalty of $50 for sidewalks less than 200 linear feet in length, or $100 for sidewalks longer than 200 feet.
- The County may remove the snow or ice on sidewalks around private property when the owner fails to comply within the designated time period, and charge the cost to the owner.
- Depositing snow and ice on streets or sidewalks - Private owners may not deposit snow or ice from private property onto public property, including streets & sidewalks. Such action may result in a class 4 (criminal) misdemeanor and fine of $250.
The County is responsible for clearing sidewalks bordering County government-owned property. Read about the County’s snowfighting efforts.
Implementing the Ordinance
County staff have finalized the implementation plan. We expect that there will be a good bit of learning over the first few years. For this winter, the County will likely focus its attention on:
- Priority areas – high-density, high-traffic areas, with an emphasis on safety and targeting the most egregious problems.
- Public awareness – helping residents, businesses and property owners understand their responsibilities and actions they should take.
In future years, we expect to refine the plans and identify additional resources to assist with these efforts. Read the full implementation plan.
- Even though some individuals are exempt from the Ordinance, it is our hope that everyone will do the best they can to clear sidewalks, keeping our community safe and walkable.
- Homeowners who may need extra help can contact their civic association; the County is working with them to support neighborhood volunteer clearing efforts.
- Commercial property owners are expected to comply with the Ordinance.
- Snow clearing should be part of basic business operating plans.
- Individual homeowners who are physically incapable of complying with the ordinance are exempt.
- The County will not be pre-qualifying or maintaining lists of exempt individuals.
- Prior to issuing citations, County staff will make every effort to contact owners to determine if they are exempt.
- If the unlikely event that you receive a citation (and you are exempt), merely provide information about your exemption.
- If snow/ice is redeposited on your cleared sidewalk as a result of government action (e.g., snowplowing), you will be exempt from the ordinance.
- However, it is our hope that everyone will do they can to re-clear sidewalks to ensure our community is safe and walkable.
Supporting and enforcing the ordinance
The general intent of the ordinance is to identify locations and situations that pose a public safety hazard and to encourage voluntary compliance with snow and ice removal requirements. Read the ordinance>>>
The Arlington County Manager has the authority to suspend enforcement of the ordinance based on weather conditions.
Volunteer to help your neighbors
Your neighbors may need your help! We are working with civic associations and other community groups to promote neighborhood sidewalk snow clearing efforts. The effort brings together local community leaders and neighborhood volunteers to increase community involvement, assist elderly neighbors or neighbors with disabilities, and facilitate winter weather preparedness. Register through Volunteer Arlington or contact your civic association directly. You can also read about the County's Snowblower Loaner Program.
Tips and requests
- During severe winter weather, stay off the roadways if at all possible. Read our Winter Weather Preparation and Safety Tips.
- Snowplows must navigate many narrow streets. Residents should avoid parking on the street to allow snowplows to clear the street from curb-to-curb. Cars that remain on the street may be plowed in or damaged by a skidding vehicle.
- Keep fire hydrants clear of snow, visible and accessible in the event of an emergency.
- Do not plow, shovel, or blow snow from your own property onto the street – this is a violation of Arlington County law and you could be fined. Pile the snow onto your own yard.