By editorial board • 

Snowstorm response wasn't perfect, but vastly better than Portland's

Last week’s snowstorm was adventuresome in Yamhill County, primarily in good ways. About five inches of snow transformed our communities into temporary winter recreation parks.

But memories will be far different in Portland, where about twice the snow created 10 times the havoc. Main roads were accessible for travel in these parts even before the snow stopped falling, but the same couldn’t be said north until cleansing rains finally arrived nearly a week later.

Quick action is essential from public works departments, lest motorists face days of trying to navigate bone-jarring ribbons of rutted ice. And the city and county departments serving this area answered the call admirably, from all reports.

The private sector response was less impressive.

When snow and ice accumulate on sidewalks, it’s up to property owners to clear the way. Not merely a civic duty, it’s a legal mandate.

McMinnville’s ordinance reads: “The city shall not be liable to any person for loss or injury to a person or property suffered or sustained by reason of any accident on sidewalks caused by ice, snow, encumbrances, obstructions, cracks, chipping, weeds, settling, holes covered by dirt or other similar conditions. Abutting property owners shall maintain sidewalks free from such conditions and are liable for any and all injuries to personal property arising as a result of their failure to so maintain the sidewalks.”

Many cities set a deadline. You get 12 hours in Newberg, six in Dundee, just two in Sheridan. 

But we shouldn’t need laws for this. Common courtesy offers reason enough for merchants and homeowners to clear walkways.

An eye test around McMinnville showed some took good care of their fellow man, others not so much.

Some merchants limited their efforts to clearing a path from their parking spot to the employee entrance, which didn’t serve customers very well, especially those coping with physical impairments or depending on leg power. We can, and should, do better next time.

But overall, our area handled the largest snowstorm and freeze in eight years quite well — far better than the badly gridlocked Portland Metropolitan area.

Yes, Portland and environs had a lot more snow spread across a lot more territory. Still, it’s clear that Mother Nature caught Portlanders off guard to a much greater extent.

This winter’s well-publicized struggles offer just one more reason why Yamhill County is such a great place to live and work.

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