When it comes to snow storm parking, Roseville to push communication

With snow still months off, the Roseville City Council discussed on July 22 how to best get the word out when on-street parking will be affected by plowing. (file photo)

Though the past two snowy winters were distant memories the night of the Roseville City Council’s July 22 meeting, members discussed this year’s impending winter and how to best manage resident parking when it comes to time to plow.

The council began its discussion on the topic last May, following the 2017-2018 winter, which lingered through to a mid-April blizzard. 

At the time, the council was looking for more effective means of getting residents to keep their cars off the streets in order to let city plows do their job. Another discussion later in 2018 led to a request for public input.

At the July 22 meeting, Public Works Director Marc Culver updated the council, saying the city had received solid input from the public.

Nothing jumped out to him, he said, except “people are happy with the way things are running.”

Culver said there was little interest in plans floated during previous council discussions, including seasonal or all-year overnight parking bans. There was a bit more interest in the city calling snow emergencies, he said, though not enough to act on.

Instead, Culver said, residents were looking for more communication and more notifications when snowy conditions create a need to move vehicles off the street, a strategy council members said they agreed with.

Per city code, street parking is restricted “on any street for a period of 48 hours commencing immediately after any two inches or more continuous snowfall or until snow removal has been completed on any street, whichever occurs first.”


Tweet storm

Culver said the Public Works Department made a push this past winter to improve its communications about plowing. Previous to the snowy season of 2018-2019, the city would send out an email as plows left to do their work.

“It wasn’t always super helpful to residents who didn’t know the plows would be in operation overnight,” he said, referencing electronic messages that would sometimes go out in the early morning hours.

Culver said emails this past winter went out earlier and with more detailed information; if there was the possibility of plows making a second pass at city streets, it was noted in the message.

Public works also set up a city snowplows Twitter account — @RosevillePlows — which also fielded in more specific information.

“Plows are set to roll at 3am,” says a tweet posted at 4:14 p.m. on April 10. “Plans could still change as fast as the weather has been, but it’ll be best to play it safe and park off street tonight.”

The city has also worked to get information about snow storm parking restrictions up at apartment buildings and in languages other than English, Culver said.

There’s also been a push on the enforcement side. Cars can be ticketed and then towed if they’re not moved, and in the past half decade Culver said the number of warnings and citations issued to cars still on streets during storms has steadily increased.

During the winter of 2015-2016, per city documents, police issued 305 snow storm parking warnings or citations. Data is incomplete for the winter of 2016-2017, though for 2017-2018, police issued 644 warnings and citations.

Last winter the number of warnings and citations was up to 993. 

“I hope that as we continue that message will start sticking with the people who park on the street on a regular basis,” said Culver. “We’re actually going to be doing citations and at some point we will tow.”


Winter is coming

Though the July 22 meeting marked the third time the council had discussed winter parking in 15 months, Culver noted public works crews generally make do with where people park their cars during storms.

“My street superintendent, while he would love all the cars to be off the street, he doesn’t think it’s as big of a deal as we’re kind of making out of it because cars eventually move and we go in there and clean it up,” said Culver.

Still, council members reiterated the importance of getting the word out about parking restrictions loud and clear, especially since renters, per city officials, tended to be warned, ticketed or towed the most, and it can be an expensive experience.

“I know from when I was a student at the University of Minnesota is that you get your car towed once and your week is ruined,” said council member Wayne Groff, who said it would be helpful if apartment building managers also got in on providing information about winter parking rules.

Culver said communication efforts would go out in languages other than English, including Spanish and Somali, as a way to “supercharge” them. City staffers are also looking at ways to visually convey information about snow parking rules in order to jump over language barriers, noted Assistant City Manager Rebecca Olson.

The council’s consensus was that snow parking messaging should be early and often.

“Maybe every issue of the city news has a little blurb about snow parking ... because the more hits you get on the message” the better, said Mayor Dan Roe. “You need to catch people when they happen to be paying attention.”

Meteorological winter in the Northern Hemisphere begins Dec. 1.


–Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813. 

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