AP NEWS

City works on snow policy updates

May 16, 2019

Up to now, Rochester has rarely enacted on-street parking restrictions in the event of snow emergencies.

But under one proposed option the city council is now considering, alternating-side parking restrictions could become a permanent, year-round reality, even during the warmest months of the year.

On Monday, a city council discussion of options for snow-related policies found council members split on what time frame to put in place for parking restrictions to be in force: all year, from October to May, or from November to April.

Council members Michael Wojcik and Shaun Palmer expressed support for the year-round ordinance, indicating it would be easiest to enforce since it would provide a consistent expectation.

Council Member Mark Bilderback said he’d prefer the shortest option.

“Most of the neighbors in our core areas would go with the November through April because that is what the majority of our streets are now,” he said.

Wojcik and Bilderback added they’d also be OK with the middle ground recommended by city staff.

It is just as important, Wojcik said, to be clear in the rules which days it is OK to park on the side of the street with the even-numbered addresses, and which days odd.

“Parking on the even days on the even side and odd days on the odd side, and for the love of God, don’t do it the other way,” he said. “You might not think it’s a big deal, but that was a pretty big deal to a lot of people.”

The instructions provided when the city declared a March 9 snow emergency were confusing to some residents, Wojcik said.

The city’s announcement stated: “Vehicles cannot be parked on the even side of the street on even numbered days, and the odd side of the street on odd numbered days.”

“It drove a lot of people nuts, more than I thought it would have,” Wojcik said of the instructions.

Chris Petree, the city’s Public Works director, acknowledged the instructions presented under the current policy were confusing, which is why few snow emergencies have been declared.

“The existing policy is a deterrent for our team to call a snow emergency,” he said.

Petree said he hopes proposed policy and ordinance revisions will help clarify expectations when snow starts flying later in the year. Part of that would be establishing alternate-side parking rules.

“That’s the consistency we want to provide, so it’s clear and we don’t have to declare a snow emergency just to get the word out,” he said.

Petree cited a potential benefit to having parked cars on both sides of the streets during warmer months.

“When we have parking on both sides of the street, that does create a natural traffic-calming component to the roadway,” he said.

At the same time, he said, restricting parking in some neighborhoods would make life difficult for residents there.

“We’d need to work with those neighbors to come up with some solutions,” he said.

Still, he indicated the pros outweigh the potential cons by increasing the efficiency of snow plowing, maintaining access for emergency vehicles and avoiding the need for snow emergencies in most cases.

In addition to the alternate-side parking proposal, on Monday the council also reviewed potential changes related to removing snow from public transit shelters, establishing priorities for plowing streets, and defining responsibility for snow removal, among other proposed policy revisions.

Petree said he expects to have policy and ordinance proposals ready for a council vote this summer.