by Eric Hagen
People are not allowed to park on Andover streets between 1 and 6 a.m. from Nov. 1 through April 15. It does not matter if there is snow on the ground or not.
While discussing changes to how parking violations are enforced, Councilmember Julie Trude suggested that the Andover City Council explore a way to let people park their cars in the street overnight when there is no snow.
“Last year we had a lot of snow, this year very little snow,” Trude said. “It is very difficult for families with lots of drivers to fit them on the driveway for a time period when there is no need to do it.”
According to Trude, Andover does not have public transportation options that some other communities do, so vehicles are even more necessary for Andover residents who need to commute to work. If the homeowner is hosting a large party where guests are staying overnight, Trude said it may be difficult to fit all cars in the driveway.
The council and city staff debated the idea before the council chose to maintain the current ordinance.
“Right now, we don’t have snow and it doesn’t seem to be an apparent issue, and yes, everybody wants to park on the streets,” Councilmember Sheri Bukkila said. “But the important thing is to have a measure of consistency and pattern.”
Statistics from the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office shows that deputies have issued many more parking citations in Andover this winter compared with last winter. According to Lori Taylor, administrative supervisor for the sheriff’s office, deputies issued 57 citations from November 2010 through April 2011. Between the beginning of November 2011 and Feb. 10, 2012, 106 citations were issued.
Community Development Director David Carlberg said a resident who was ticketed contacted the city and said its ordinance did not clearly state that the no parking rule was in effect regardless whether there is two inches or more of snow or none.
Carlberg agreed the city code was not clear on this matter, so the ordinance was modified to make the rule clear that no parking is allowed between 1 and 6 a.m. from Nov. 1 through April 15 on Andover city streets, period.
Bukkila has lived in Minneapolis and is familiar with that city’s strategy of designating certain roads as snow emergency routes. When the city of Minneapolis declares a snow emergency by 6 p.m. on a given day, nobody can park on either side of a snow emergency route between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. or until the road is fully plowed. On the second day starting at 8 a.m., you cannot park on the side of the road that has even numbered addresses and you cannot park along a narrow parkway. On the third day after a snow emergency has been declared, you cannot park on the side of the street that has odd numbered addresses.
Bukkila said having lived in Minneapolis, she understands the confusion that can come with this system. She disclosed that she has received a ticket in Andover for parking on the street during the winter restrictions and she paid it. She said Andover’s roads are fairly narrow and when snow piles make the street more narrow, it is more dangerous for kids to walk on the streets. Many areas do not have sidewalks.
Mayor Mike Gamache said the benefit of Andover’s system is the city does not have to worry about designating snow emergency routes and determining when snow emergency declarations should be made. If the snow falls, public works crews can get out and plow.
David Berkowitz, Andover’s city engineer and public works superintendent, said having cars in the street hurts the efficiency of the snow clearing process.
“I believe if we open this up overnight during the winter months, we’re going to have a really big problem,” Berkowitz said. “Right now we already have a challenge. If we do open this up we’re going to go from 50 cars in one night to hundreds of cars in the night, which I believe will create a real problem.”
A $50 fine, no court
Although people violating this Andover parking ordinance could still be ticketed, the follow-up procedure is less of a hassle than it was before.
Under the old parking rules, a violator was charged with a misdemeanor and had to show up in court even if they just wanted to pay the fine, according to City Attorney Scott Baumgartner.
Under the new parking rules, a person does not have to appear in court unless they wish to contest the fine, which totals $135 when adding up the city’s $50 administrative fine and $85 of court processing fees.
This change is similar to what the council did in July 2011 when it downgraded the crime from a misdemeanor to a petty misdemeanor if a boat trailer was parked within 1,000 feet of the Crooked Lake boat landing parking lot or the Crooked Lake Elementary School parking lot. People can only park a boat trailer in the designated Crooked Lake boat landing parking lot.
Violators before July 2011 had to appear in court and pay a $135 fine. They now pay a $135 fine and are not required to appear in court unless they disagree with the fine.
A quick survey of some of Andover’s neighbors shows that Andover’s overnight parking ban during the winter is common, and in some cases less restrictive.
The cities of Anoka and Ramsey do not allow parking on city streets from 2 to 6 a.m. throughout the year.
The city of Coon Rapids bans parking on city streets from 2 to 6 a.m. from Nov. 1 through April 1.
The city of Ham Lake does not allow parking on city streets from midnight to 6 a.m. from Oct. 1 through April 30.
The city of Oak Grove allows no parking on city streets at any time between Nov. 1 and April 30. During the rest of the year, the city still does not allow parking between 2 and 6 a.m. unless the city grants an administrative permit.
Eric Hagen is at firstname.lastname@example.org