City looking to mix of new rules to better clear streets, expand parking

May 6, 2019

The area usually exempt from Madison’s unpopular alternate-side parking ordinance would expand and new rules aimed at making snow and debris removal more efficient would go into effect under a multifaceted proposal from the city’s Streets Division.

Alternate-side parking restrictions apply from Nov. 15 through March 15 everywhere in the city except in the Snow Emergency Zone, which essentially includes all of the Isthmus plus the Vilas and Greenbush neighborhoods on the Near West Side.

They require drivers who park their cars on the street to park them on the even-numbered side from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. on even-numbered dates, and on the odd-numbered side on odd-numbered dates. But the restrictions are only in effect for the Snow Emergency Zone — where on-street parking is especially tight — when enough snow falls for the city to declare a snow emergency. They do not apply at all to a handful of narrow streets in the zone that only allow parking on one side.

The purpose of alternate-side parking — violations of which come with a $20 ticket, or $60 during snow emergencies — is to make room for snowplowing.

Now as part of a plan it hopes will expand parking availability and make its job easier, the Streets Division wants to:

Expand the Snow Emergency Zone west to approximately Glenway Street and Franklin Avenue and east to include the area southeast of East Washington Avenue to roughly Rethke Avenue. The area south of Monona Bay to Wingra Creek would also be added, as would a small area east of Lake Mendota and the Yahara River.Expand the city’s street-sweeping program, known as Clean Streets/Clean Lakes, to apply year-round throughout the expanded Snow Emergency Zone and in most other places across the city where it occurs now. The program would prohibit parking on one side of a street for a four-hour block of time between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, with the days and exact times varying by street.Eliminate the exemption from alternate-side parking rules on streets where parking can normally only occur on one side. This would effectively ban all parking on those streets for half the nights during snow emergencies.

Streets Division Superintendent Charlie Romines said the overall effect of the changes would be to better align parking bans with plowing and other street work.

“You don’t have to move except when I need you to move,” he said.

Last year, the City Council agreed to expand the Snow Emergency Zone southwest to include the Greenbush and Vilas neighborhoods, but with the understanding that street sweeping be implemented there year-round. Romines said the expansion was essentially a pilot for what his department wants to do now.

He said that in addition to giving Streets workers dedicated blocks of times to clear snow, the four-hour no-parking restrictions could also be used to collect leaves and brush, remove tree stumps from terraces and do other work.

Council members who represent two of the areas that would be added to the Snow Emergency Zone, Alds. Shiva Bidar, 5th District, and Marsha Rummel, 6th District, said their constituents are enthusiastic about the prospect.

“I’ve been asking for changes for years based on residents’ concerns,” Rummel said, and expanding the Clean Streets/Clean Lakes program will, she hopes, “improve service and keep more pollution and leaf debris out of lakes.”

Alds. Patrick Heck, 2nd District, Avra Reddy, 8th District, and Tag Evers, 13th District, who represent other areas that would be added to the zone, did not respond to requests for comment. They are new to the council as of last month.

Romines said the plan now is to finish collecting feedback and draft an ordinance late this month or in early June to implement the package of changes, with council members sponsoring and introducing the ordinance in July or August.

There’s no estimate yet on how much it would cost to create and install all the signs needed to let residents know of the proposed changes, he said, and any changes to related parking fines have not been considered.