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ACHD: Idaho Law is 'Ambiguous' on Who Should Be Shoveling Boise Streets


  • Harrison Berry
The snowball fight between the city of Boise and Ada County Highway District over who is responsible for clearing Boise's sidewalks escalated Wednesday morning, when the legal counsel for ACHD fired off a letter to Rep. John Gannon (D-Boise) insisting the current statute is "ambiguous."

Gannon recently intervened in the ongoing disagreement between City Hall and ACHD when he turned to the Idaho attorney general's office, asking for an opinion on who should be clearing city sidewalks. Boise officials had long argued it was private property owners who should be doing the shoveling—even crafting an ordinance that says any person who does not clear the snow from the sidewalks in front of their property would be guilty of a misdemeanor.

When Gannon asked the AG's office to look into who should be shoveling the 4,000-plus miles of sidewalks in the highway district, Assistant Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane said the law is clear: It's ACHD's responsibility.

Not so fast, said ACHD Commission President Paul Woods on Wednesday morning, adding that "differing parts of existing Idaho law ... contain a number of ambiguities, internal conflicts and obsolete provisions."

Wood pointed to Title 40 of Idaho Code, which he said needed a "top to bottom" rewrite.

"Moreover, I take exception to [the] characterization of ACHD's response being lacking,
particularly in the face of a record-breaking, snow-and-cold weather event that has not been seen
for many decades," he said.

In a six-page letter to commissioners, ACHD General Counsel Steven Price wrote, "The opinion of Assistant Chief Deputy Attorney  Kane holds no binding or precedential weight."

Price and Woods added they are working with leadership at the Idaho Legislature to seek input on the possibility of clarifying the law that would have the final say on who should be shoveling.

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