Little sympathy for victims of snow emergencies

With the seasons first big snowfall behind us, the “steamed because I got towed” season is well underway.

In Mankato, 332 cars were towed during the snow emergency on Monday, overflowing the impound lot that usually handles an average of about 150 towed cars when it snows.

It’s a moneymaker, too. The city charges $25 for the parking violation and $107.88 for the impound charge, 50 percent more than two years ago, the Mankato Free Press says. That’s about a $50,000 infusion — sorry, cash only — into the towing economy from six inches of snow.

Part of the problem is that the city is a college town and the kids don’t know the rules. The other is that avoiding a town tow requires people to pay attention to news on a Sunday. Who pays attention to the news on Sunday?

And Council member Jason Mattick wondered if the day of the week was the problem. The snow emergency was announced early Sunday morning, warning people that ticketing and towing would begin at 10 p.m.

“Not that it’s your fault, but I think a lot of people were just in a Sunday lull — Vikings or whatever,” Mattick said. “So it caught a lot of people off-guard. It’s unfortunate.”

Finally, Reeves said he noticed towing of some vehicles that city streets department officials might have let slide in previous years. The vehicles were those that had been parked on streets where plows had already made a pass or two. In the past, those cases might have been forgiven with towing focused on cars that had been parked throughout the snowstorm and were surrounded by unplowed snow.

Hentges agreed that some people mistakenly believe they can resume parking on a street once they deem it’s been plowed “curb to curb.” That’s the rule in some cities and was once the rule in Mankato, but the restrictions were simplified to prohibit parking until the snow emergency ends.

“We did have a few people confused on that,” he said. “But that’s been the case the last three years.”

Next year, the city plans to inform landlords when there’s a snow emergency, hoping they’ll pass it on to the renters.

The situation was much the same in Minneapolis, the Star Tribune reports today. Hundreds of cars got towed.

According to anecdotes in the paper, snow emergency rules are particularly confusing for people who just moved here.

Minneapolis ordinances govern winter street parking before, during and after heavy snowfalls, or when snow has accumulated from smaller snowfalls, so that plowing crews can clear more than 1,000 miles of city streets.

Ryan Helgerson said he paid $183 to get his wife’s car out of the impound lot. They’d followed the Day 2 snow emergency rules in Powderhorn Park after getting a text message alert, he said, but didn’t find out about Day 3 rules until it was too late.

Eric Muchow and Darren Nelson, both of St. Paul, were taken by surprise Tuesday when they parked for a few hours in northeast Minneapolis.

“It’s confusing. The parking restrictions ended already in St. Paul,” said Muchow, who described a fruitless attempt to chase down the tow truck on foot. “I didn’t even consider Minneapolis.”

The issue fairly unites us, according to the article’s comments section, where condemnation of liberals, millennials, and transplants is near unanimous.