Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
WASHINGTON — This week’s weather marks the first snow event since the Washington City Council passed an ordinance that upped fines for street parking in winter weather.
Police Chief Jim Lester said the updated, now-enforceable rules would keep the streets clear of hazards.
“The plows can get the snow and ice removed a lot easier and safer with the cars not there,” he said. “In years past, we’ve had instances where cars just don’t move and the plows go around them two or three times … this was put into place to help the street department.”
Lester said enforcement didn’t kick in at a certain threshold of snow or after a specific amount of time, but once an unmoved vehicle presented a problem for maintenance crews running the plows.
At that point, maintenance workers would alert the police, and the enforcement process would begin.
“Initially, I expect that we’ll provide warnings like we have in the past,” Lester said. “If that doesn’t help, then we would have to proceed with the violation which is $50.”
Lester said the time line from a warning to a ticket was usually around 24 hours. After that, another 24 hours puts a car in danger of being towed. That timeline moves up drastically if a snow emergency is declared.
The snow ban only applies to cars parked on public roads. Lester said residents needed to plan ahead and arrange off-street parking to ensure compliance.
While a city-owned public parking lot on North Marion Avenue offers a few dozen spaces, the number is far lower than the cars of downtown residents, not to mention those of various households that don’t have a driveway.
“I’d suggest they start lining those up,” Lester said. “There’s several areas downtown that have parking lots, start talking to those businesses or churches … it’s up to the resident to locate a place to park off-street.”
As a last resort, Lester said cars in residential areas could pull into their yards to get off the road.
“When the ground’s frozen and things like that, we’re not going to get excited about somebody pulling into their yard while they allow the snow to be cleared,” he said. “As long as they don’t make parking in their yard a habit, they can move it back out into the street after the roadway is cleared.”