Q: I frequently walk in a neighborhood with adult trees. This year the walnuts/acorns seemed to be plentiful, which makes it difficult to walk on some sidewalks covered with acorns. I know that sidewalks must be cleared of snow and ice in the wintertime; does that law also apply to the walnuts and acorns that cover a sidewalk?

A: Thank you for your question. There is no city code or state statute that requires walnuts/acorns that have naturally fallen from trees to be cleared from the sidewalk.

Red Wing City Code, Chapter 7, Streets and Sidewalks covers upkeep and maintenance of sidewalks and also the definition of “obstructions” of public sidewalks. By definition, obstruction of a public sidewalk would be a misdemeanor for any person to place, deposit, display or offer for sale any items or materials on a public sidewalk. The City Code, goes on to discuss what types of material may be considered in obstructions and dumping violations, which includes leaves, grasses and tree limbs to name just nature’s products.

The National Association of City Transportation officials state that sidewalks play a vital role in city life. As conduits for pedestrian movement and access, they enhance connectivity and promote walking. Sidewalks also provide a safe opportunity for our mobility impaired neighbors, friends and residence to exercise and enjoy the outdoors. Therefore, even though we do not have a law requiring walnuts/acorns to be removed from the sidewalk, let us keep them cleared for all members of our community to enjoy the beautiful outdoors of Red Wing.

References and resources

1. City of Red Wing, City Code, Chapter 7, Streets and Sidewalks. Located online at: http://lf.ci.red-wing.mn.us/weblink/0/doc/52268/Page1.aspx

2. National Association of City Transportation Officials, value of sidewalks, located online at: https://nacto.org/publication/urban-street-design-guide/street-design-elements/sidewalks/“Ask The Chief” allows readers access to useful information about law enforcement issues in Red Wing. This communication tool has been developed to enhance community policing efforts by providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to ask questions about local laws, programs and the department in general.

Submit your question to askthe.policechief@ci.red-wing.mn.us.

Generally one answer a week is posted RWPD social media sites and printed in the Red Wing Republican Eagle.