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Shortening seasonal parking requirements has support

Rochester City Council will consider cutting two months off enforcement period.

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A sign lets drivers know of Rochester's seasonal parking restrictions Thursday, April 1, 2021, in Rochester. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
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Shortening the length for seasonal parking restrictions by two months appears to be headed for approval.

The majority of Rochester City Council members voiced support for starting alternate-side parking requirements Nov. 1 or later, and ending the practice by April 1.

RELATED: 7 things about the seasonal parking ordinance

“I would support having a shortened season,” council member Shaun Palmer said, adding that he’d prefer it to run from Nov. 15 to March 15.

The seasonal policy limits on-street parking from Oct. 1 to May 1 to alternate sides of the street between 2 a.m. and 3 p.m.

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What happened: The Rochester City Council discussed a proposal to shorten the timeframe for the city’s seasonal parking restrictions.

Why does this matter: The change would cut two months off the period requiring alternate-side parking, setting it from Nov. 1 to April 1.

What's next: The City Council will vote on the proposed ordinance change at a future council meeting.


Wendy Turri, the city’s Public Works director, said the shorter length limits the amount of spring and fall street cleaning that could be done before and after freezing weather. She noted that the work is important to help keep debris out of the city’s stormwater, which ends up in local waterways.

“We already have significantly impaired waters, and keeping those grass clippings, those twigs and those leaves out of the storm drain (is important),” said council member Kelly Rae Kirkpatrick, voicing support for the shortened period of parking restrictions, but also citing a need to ensure the annual street sweeping can be done.

Council member Patrick Keane also cited a need to compare two viewpoints. While the parking limits decrease a public benefit, he said they help improve efforts to clear snow throughout the winter months.

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“In my view, it’s a net value for overall citizens,” he said.

Turri said the city has seen an annual savings of more than $165,000 in equipment and labor costs since the seasonal parking ordinance was passed in 2019, but it has also allowed plow crews to clear wider paths with each snowfall.

She acknowledged that more work is needed to clarify the policy and ensure residents are aware of where they can park and when.

The policy limits parking from 2 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Vehicles must be parked on the side of the street with even house numbers on even dates, and be on the side with odd house numbers on odd dates.

Enforcement has been spotty, Turri said, citing limited staff and resources during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a desire not to tow vehicles before warnings are implemented. She said more uniform enforcement is expected to be implemented when the season returns.

The proposed ordinance change to run the parking restrictions from Nov. 1 to April 1 will be considered at a future council meeting.

Council member Nick Campion, who said he originally wanted to consider a later start, said the staff recommendation makes sense.

“Nobody wants to see people frustrated by it, but on the other hand, we have a large portion of the community that relies on having the roads cleared to get around,” he said.

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Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or rpetersen@postbulletin.com.
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