In Minnesota, the winter season is often more stress than it’s worth, especially when it comes to parking a vehicle in the street after a heavy snowfall. As far as the rules and regulations for the City of St. Cloud go during a snow emergency, it is important to know where it is alright to park so the snow plows can get through to make the roads clear and safe for everyone.
“From November 1 to April 1, we have overnight parking restrictions, which includes alternate side parking, or a parking ban,” St. Cloud Community Service Officer Barry Boldt said.
When the city is under a Snow Emergency, that means anyone who uses the streets for parking needs to move their cars to the correct side of the street, depending on where they live in the city. Most of the streets in and around St. Cloud State University have specific parking restriction signage posted on both sides of the road.
Most of the signs that can be found near the university in the residential living areas are “No Parking from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday,” and there is also signs for No Parking on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, which is generally on the opposite side of the street.
“The idea is that if we have to have a snow emergency, cars are parked on one side of the road and the plows can get right up to the curb on the opposite side,” Boldt said.
For other parts of the city, the city uses an alternating odd and even parking method which is based on the day of the month and the addresses of houses. According to the City of St. Cloud’s website, if the day of the month is an odd number such as March 15, then cars can be parked on the side of the street with even house addresses, and then the same goes for the exact opposite.
“In a perfect world, the operators would like to see no parking at all in the streets. Navigating a snow plow with a wing around parked cars is a huge challenge,” city of St. Cloud public works street maintenance supervisor Tom Zabinski said.
Snow emergencies are declared by St. Cloud’s street maintenance department if six or more inches of snow has fallen, and it usually takes effect starting at 12:01 a.m. the day after it snowed and the emergency can last for up to 72 hours to ensure everything is plowed.
“The reason we have the alternate side parking is because there are some houses that are so small they just literally don’t have garages or driveways and we have to have a place for them to park,” Boldt said.
Although the snow emergency and alternate side parking is enforced to benefit the city’s residents and employees, it does pose a problem for people if they don’t know the rules or chose not to move their cars to the correct side of the street.
“If your car is legally parked, there won’t be an issue. It’s when it’s illegally parked, [there’s an issue],” All Care Towing Vice President Vince Thiel said. “During normal times, non-snow emergency, it will be ticketed, [but] during the snow emergency, it will be ticketed and towed.”
Normally when a car is illegally parked in St. Cloud, the police will just issue the vehicle a parking violation, but during a snow emergency, all vehicles that are illegally parked will be towed immediately at the expense of its owner. In early February, there were over 50 cars towed during the snow emergency issued by the City of St. Cloud.
“I would suggest to move your car if you can, if you can’t get it started, communicate with the tow company and try to work with them, because if you work with them, they’ll work with you,” Thiel said.
When people don’t follow the rules for the parking restrictions, not only will your car end up impounded, but it also poses a safety concern. It creates a problem for emergency vehicles such as police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks because there is simply not enough room for double-sided parking, snow, and emergency vehicles all to fit on one road.
“Know your street and know where you park and get to learn the process and understand that we don’t enjoy having vehicles towed or ticketed,” Zabinski said. “That’s not what we’re here to do, we’re here to plow the streets.”
In fact, St. Cloud is one of the few cities in the area that allow parking on one side of the street during these incidents, others such as Sartell have complete parking bans during snow emergencies.
“If people understand the alternate side parking and the parking ban areas, then when we have a snow emergency they shouldn’t have any problem at all,” Boldt said.