Chicago area residents have been fortunate to experience moderate temperatures and snowfall this winter, but that doesn’t mean Old Man Winter won’t show up at any time, which means residents and business owners should be ready to make sure their sidewalks are cleared of snow.

The city will certainly be watching.

According to the Municipal Code of Chicago, property owners and occupants are responsible for keeping sidewalks clear of snow and ice.

Under regulations that took effect on Nov. 28, 2015, business owners who rent space adjacent to sidewalks are responsible for shoveling snow. Some landlords of residential and commercial property hold their tenants responsible for clearing snow, so tenants should check their lease agreements if they have doubts.

Snow must be shoveled as soon as possible, the city requires. If snow falls between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., the snow must be removed no later than 10 p.m. Snow that falls between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. must be removed by 10 a.m.

Shovelers must clear a path at least 5 feet wide on sidewalks adjacent to their properties, and snow shouldn’t be shoveled into a right-of-way, including transit stops, parking spaces, bike lanes or bike racks.

Violators can be issued citations, with fines ranging from $50 to $500.

During the winter season, these regulations are enforced seven days a week.

Such fines may seem steep, but thankfully, this close-knit community has residents who look out for each other and clear their neighbors’ snow, especially if the neighbors are elderly or have physical disabilities.

Local residents often share stories of neighbors who take their snowblowers up and down entire blocks to make them safe.

According to reports, city officials issued 204 snow citations during the snow season of 2018-19. People can report violators to the city by calling 311.

In a November 2019 report in the Chicago Tribune, a city spokesman said the city doesn’t focus on small residential properties, and the main issues are with vacant lots and large residential buildings.

Predictions call for Chicago to receive a near or slightly below-average amount of snow this winter, but given the accuracy of some predictions, residents should remain at the ready.

Shoveling or snowblowing is much easier than forking over a hundreds of dollars to the government.