Process to raise price of snow emergency ticket to begin

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Friday, February 3, 2012
— City officials hope a 50 percent increase in the fine for parking on the street during a snow emergency will accomplish was seven years of warnings has not: better compliance.

The city council during its 2012 budget deliberations voted to increase the fine from $20 to $30, but that change can't happen until council members amend city ordinance. That process begins Monday, Feb. 13, with a first reading of the new ordinance.

During budget discussions, City Manager Eric Levitt recommended a bigger fine not so much to increase revenue but to encourage compliance. City plows must navigate around vehicles left on streets, sometimes resulting in piles of hard snow and ice that can create safety hazards.

For seven years, police have issued warnings rather than tickets during the first snow emergency of each season.

The warning system was implemented in May 2005 after 423 parking tickets were issued to residents who did not remove their cars from streets during a January snowstorm.

Greg Addie, who was a member of the city council in 2005, said at the time that the tickets unfairly targeted lower-income people living in apartment-heavy inner-city neighborhoods. There, the only options for parking for some residents are seven designated city parking lots.

An analysis by city staff showed that 37 percent of the tickets were issued in the downtown area.

Officials opted to issue warning tickets during the season's first snow emergency to educate residents about the ordinance and parking options.

This year during the first snow emergency—Jan. 12 and Jan. 13—police issued 411 warning tickets.

During this year's second snow emergency—Jan. 20 and Jan. 21—the department issued 268 $20 tickets.

Levitt said officials decided to issue the warnings for the first snow emergency again this year as part of the city's continuing mission to educate residents.

People might violate the ordinance for a variety of reasons, especially because of parking limitations in certain areas or because they don't realize the city has declared a snow emergency, Levitt said.

Hopefully, the warning tickets relayed information and will increase compliance in the long run, Levitt said.

Levitt didn't know if the warnings would continue next season.

"That's what we determined for this year," he said.


What is a snow emergency?

A snow emergency is declared when at least 2 inches of snow accumulates. Vehicles must be removed from the streets before the snow emergency begins. It continues until all snow has been cleared from city streets and parking lots.

The city's goal is to finish plowing 10 hours after snow stops.

How will I know when an emergency is declared?

-- Listen to WCLO radio (1230 AM), WJVL radio (99.9 FM) or WKPO radio (105.9 FM).

-- Check the city's website for snow emergency information.

-- "Like" the city's general Facebook page.

-- Read The Gazette or check the newspaper's website, gazettextra.com.

-- Join the city's snow emergency email alert list by visiting the city website and searching for "snow emergency."

-- Call the snow hotline at (608) 755-SNOW.

What if I don't have a garage or driveway?

You can park in a designated snow emergency parking stall in any of seven downtown municipal parking lots:

-- East Wall Street lot at East Wall Street and North Parker Drive

-- City Hall parking lot at West Wall Street and North Jackson Street

-- South High Street lot at West Court Street and South High Street

-- Senior center lot at St. Lawrence Avenue and Water Street

-- Hedberg Public Library lot at South River Street and Union Street

-- North Parker Drive parking ramp at North Parker Drive and East Wall Street

Last updated: 7:48 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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