our view

December 30, 2010

City is snowblind in parking decision

Just in time for Christmas, City officials offered another reminder to Des Moines residents who parked on designated streets when the snow plows were called out. But this reminder came with a fee.

Police have now issued an estimated 1,000 tickets at $35 each for illegal parking along snow ordinance streets in 16 residential neighborhoods in Des Moines. With just a few strokes on the calculator, the fine total adds up to more than $35,000 for the city’s coffers. That’s not bad for a few hours work, but it hardly covers the costs and headaches associated with the change.

We appreciate the City’s efforts to keep our streets plowed so that residents can drive safely. We really do. Although allowing residents to subscribe to thesnow ordinance e-mail list or receive notices via Twitter is cool, it doesn’t solve the problem. The powers-that-be need to better understand the parking constraints that many residents without garages or driveways have. In some areas, street parking is the only option. Where are these vehicles to be parked during snowstorms? Front yards were mentioned as a possible solution, but this idea was brushed off more quickly than a light snow on the front step. If these residents had a better option, they would already be taking advantage of it, as digging cars out that have been buried by snow plows isn’t much fun.

Yes, we want our streets plowed. Yes, we want this completed in a timely manner. Yes, signs were posted in participating neighborhoods in recent weeks to warn residents of the change. But we need to all be realistic, too.

What are residents without parking solutions to do? Sell their cars? Park in non-participating neighborhoods and walk home? Move their cars around every hour to avoid tickets? None of those options sounds safe.

We would fully support the City’s decision if real solutions were available, but for many they simply aren’t. Our elected city officials need to make laws that can be realistically followed and quit cow-towing to the complaints of the power-hungry few who preside in neighborhood associations. CV



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