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Rochester to test drive snow season parking restrictions in 3 neighborhoods

To make it possible for Rochester snowplows to clear streets from curb to curb, new wintertime parking restrictions may be put in place in three core city neighborhoods.

If approved by the city council on Dec. 5, the restrictions would take effect Jan. 2. They would limit on-street parking to the even-address sides of the streets on even-numbered dates, and to the odd-address sides on the other days. Violators would receive $22 parking tickets, and cars would be towed if they interfere with plowing operations.

The restrictions would be in effect from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through April 1. Next year, the restrictions would restart Nov. 1.

"I don't think we can continue as we have, because it hasn't worked," said council member Mark Bilderback. Last winter, "there were some streets in my neighborhood, the Slatterly Park area, you just couldn't drive through."

The parking restrictions will begin on a trial basis in the Kutzky Park, East Side Pioneers and Slatterly Park neighborhoods.

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In the spring, the Public Works Department will give a report on the parking program, and the city council will consider extending it citywide.

Leaders in the three neighborhoods were contacted for their thoughts about the proposed program, and all indicated their support for it, said Public Works Director Richard Freese.

"Most people I've talked to so far really support trying this," said Dave Edmonson, of the Kutzky Park neighborhood.

Permit-parking and other restrictions in the neighborhood have created "a patchwork quilt" of different rules, Edmonson said. "Nobody knows what we have."

The city is moving to the program with some unanswered questions about how it will be applied. For example, some streets already have no-parking restrictions on one side. Other areas have handicapped parking spaces on one side of the street, but not the other.

The city plans to issue warning tickets in December to would-be "violators," Freese said. In effect, the warnings would say, "where you're parked today, come Jan. 2, you would be ticketed," he said.

Currently, the only restriction is that a car cannot be left parked in the same place on the street without moving for longer than 12 hours.

The city will seek permission from Olmsted County District Court to have Public Works employees empowered to issue tickets. Police and community service officers also have that ability.

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In addition to the parking restrictions, council member Michael Wojcik proposed strengthening city rules on sidewalk snow-clearing within 24 hours of a snowfall. Some property owners have left theirs unshoveled, perhaps because they think the city's lax fines are not too great an expense.

Wojcik proposed soliciting bids from private companies to do the work. Violators would be charged the city's cost for the shoveling, plus a $60 administrative fine.

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