by Sarah Squires
Parked on an even side of the block on an odd-numbered night? That's $25. Vehicle in the wrong lot at the wrong time? There's another $25.
If you really have all the Winona wintertime parking rules down, chances are it's because you've broken them, and paid the price.
It might be 18 years old, but the city's alternate side parking ordinance can still be confusing, confounding and downright irritating, said Johnny Dittrich, ten-year Winona resident.
Perhaps the reason alternate-side parking catches so many off-guard is because the signs explaining the system are not posted everywhere. The city did just add new signs explaining the rules to the game, most of which were put up near the Winona State University campus. The rest of the signs are posted on roadways leading into the city, at the city limits.
Winona Police Chief Frank Pomeroy said that near the university is where the city has the most problems with people not moving their cars according to the rules, probably due to the turnaround of students and the concentration of new people and vehicles in that area. Each year, he said, it takes a few months for folks to settle into the habit of parking their cars, alternatively. "[It is] where they tend, more than others, to not move their cars," he said.
Pomeroy said that before the ordinance was introduced 18 years ago, the city had a real problem on its hands when a snow emergency did occur. Getting people to move their cars for the plows meant that they might get towed, sometimes more than 100 cars in one snow event.
With the weather this winter being what it is, the city's street department has only actually plowed one time, earlier in the year up on the Garvin Heights and Wincrest area. But city officials say that the alternate side ordinance is not just for snow plowing; it's for street sweeping.
Street sweeping occurs all year round, but intensifies during the fall when the leaves in the street could get into the sewer system and area lakes, streams and rivers. There is a nighttime street sweeper year-round who sweeps around cars on both sides of the roadway during the summer months. In the fall, both of the city's sweepers are employed day and night to keep the leaves out of the sewer system, said Tom Scott, assistant street superintendent. He said that the sweepers sweep until it either gets way too cold, or the first snowfall gets in the way. This season, he said, the sweeping just stopped a couple of weeks ago.
For now, unless there is a snowfall significant enough to warrant plowing, there are no city sweepers or plows needing cars out of the way.
But who knows whether Winona will finally have a real white blanket to sing about this winter? "I don't know; it's hard to say," said Pomeroy. "When you live in Minnesota, you don't know when it's going to snow."
Snow or not, the tickets will still come, usually around 2,400 a season, said Pomeroy. That adds up to an estimated $60,000 in alternate side fines. For total parking fines in 2006, the city pulled in nearly $111,000.
The spendy scolding in the form of an orange city parking ticket isn't something a person ought to ignore, either, unless he doesn't mind the potential for landing in jail. If an alternate side ticket isn't paid within 30-40 days, a warrant is issued for the vehicle owner's arrest.
"It happens," said Pomeroy of the parking warrants. He said that a person can pay up on the spot and avoid the city cells, but after the warrant is issued, the fee goes up to $50.
Rules of the game Alternate Side Parking
Where and when can you park on Winona's wintertime streets? Here are all the answers:
City ordinance 61.56 - Alternate Side Parking
No person shall stop, park, or leave standing any vehicle on any street in the city or in Municipal Parking Lots 1 and 3 on any day from November 1 to April 1 between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., except as hereinafter provided:
(a) On even numbered calendar dates vehicle may be parked on the near side of the street adjacent to lots and houses which have been assigned even numbers in accordance with Section 25.06 of this Code;
(b) On odd numbered calendar dates vehicles may be parked on the near side of the street adjacent to lots and houses which have been assigned odd numbers in accordance with Section 25.06 of this Code.
(c) The above provisions shall not apply to the following:
i. Ben Street between Fifth Street and Third Street;
ii. Ewing Street, easterly side, from a point 20 feet south of the south line of Fourth Street to a point 113 feet southerly thereof;
iii. Fourth Street between Harriet Street and Huff Street;
iv. Francis Street between Gilmore Avenue and Howard Street;
v. Front Street;
vi. Gilmore Avenue between Belleview Street and Sioux Street; and between the west line of Wilsie Street and a point 176 feet westerly thereof;
vii. High Street, between Fifth Street and Broadway.
viii. John Street between Fifth Street and Broadway Street;
ix. Mobile Drive between Bundy Boulevard and Breezy Lane;
x. North Baker Street between Third Street and Second Street;
xi. Second Street between North Baker Street and Stone Street;
xii. Stone Street between Third Street and a point 310 feet north of Second Street;
xiii. Third Street between Olmstead Street and Ewing Street; and between North Baker Street and Ben Street.
xiv. Wall Street between Third Street and Howard Street;
xv. All former Winona Township streets and roadways.
xvi. Collegeview Avenue.
(d) On even numbered calendar dates vehicles may be parked in Municipal Parking Lot 1 on Second Street between Center Street and Lafayette Street between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.
(e) On odd numbered calendar dates vehicles may be parked in Municipal Parking Lot 3 on Center Street between Third Street and Fourth Street between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.