Getting Cars Off The Streets To Plow Snow


We struggle at the City Staff level trying to figure out the best way to get cars off the street to plow snow.  We have an ordinance that allows us to call a snow emergency and requires all the cars to be off the street, but implementing this system gets to be quite the ordeal.   

This year is a unique one in that there isn’t a tremendous amount of snow falling, but the severe cold and wind seem to be causing problems.  Last year it was cold, then snow, then rain, then cold, then snow and so on.  It is very hard to continuously call for snow emergencies and process them through each time. 

The plan for a snow emergency is to call it and then tow any cars left on the street prior to the plows coming out.  The cars are towed to an impound area and the owners aren’t allowed to get their cars back until they pay for the tow, the ticket and an administrative fee.  It isn’t a money maker for the City and because it needs to be done in such a short period of time it winds up being a very difficult thing to do.  Ask anyone who participates in the system.  They don’t like doing it.  This includes the tow truck drivers. 

The easier thing to do is to use common sense and realize that when it snows you need to move your car off the street so the plows can do their job.  I drove around this morning and found areas with cars parked on both sides of the street.  I’m not sure how the plows got through.  It was obvious that a number of them were still there from when the plows went out yesterday.  We probably should have called a snow emergency and towed.  The next time we probably will.

I realize that many properties don’t have enough off street parking for the people living in the houses or apartments, but they should.  If not on the specific properties, maybe they could find designated areas for parking. 

The Police Department will probably be issuing citations for vehicles that haven’t been moved once the plow has gone around them.  The City Code allows for the snow emergency to be called, but it also restricts parking on City streets for more than 24 hours.  Usually it is hard to enforce the Code since you need to prove the vehicle hasn’t moved, but that isn’t hard when there is a snow ridge around the vehicle. 

We all have to use common sense to make this system work.  If it snows, move your vehicle off the road…somewhere.  At least until the plows go by and the road is clear.

4 Responses

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  2. Jeff Lamberty

    How about an opposite-side-of-street parking ordinance, that took effect between, say, December 1 and March 31? You would be able to keep streets much cleaner than they are now, AND you could make sure people weren’t just leaving non-operable cars sitting on the street (we seem to run into that every couple years).

    1. Blaine Hill

      Very good idea. I think we would consider all kinds of solutions. We are just trying to avoid towing cars. This is costly for the owners and very time intensive for us, to include the need to safeguard the vehicles we tow.

  3. Why don’t we put a thing like from November 1 to April no parking on street in the residence area. I have went to towns to stay overnight an you park on the lawn or 4 cars to a drive so you are off the streets. Even driving the streets you have to wait till the other vehicle has passed you don’t want to hit the car park on the street. Let’s help the people that have to remove the snow. I know they get up early in the mornings to try to do a good job & then there is vehicles in the way.

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