262 tickets for breaking winter parking rules stirs up storm in Winona

No doubt Winona residents were basking in the unseasonably warm weather enjoyed by Minnesotans yesterday across much of the state. With a high of 61 degrees in southeastern Minnesota, the last thing on many minds was the onset of winter storm parking rules that took effect at midnight.

Yet the alternate side of the street ordinance on the books to allow snow plows to clear the streets in winter was very much on the mind of the Winona Police Department. The WPD posted a reminder on its FaceBook page.

Alternate Side Parking begins at midnight. Make sure you vehicle is parked on the ODD side of the street or you will be ticketed.

The long-standing ordinance requires residents to park on the even side of the street on even days and odd side of the street on odd days from midnight to 6:30 a.m. between November 15 and March 15. Minutes after the ordinance took effect again, officers began issuing 262 citations before many residents even got out of bed, according to the Daily News.

Alternate-side parking has started in Winona, and the $25 tickets have begun to quickly roll out to drivers throughout the city.

The Winona Police Department reported Wednesday morning that, after alternate-side parking started for the first time this winter season at midnight, they issued 262 parking citations to cars on the wrong side of the city’s streets.

The fact that no vehicles were towed didn’t prevent upset recipients from stirring up a storm in protest over an ordinance that some view as arbitrary and out of touch. Dozens posted comments on the police department’s FaceBook page.

Give warnings the first few days. This is beyond embarrassing to do this to the community. WPD has nothing else to do while on duty? Do better…. (Angelo Giaquinto)

Some towns elect to call a snow emergency and the odd/even parking only when necessary. Would Winona consider such a resident friendly answer? (Laura Connor Behling)

So upsetting for first year students that don’t get the whole thing and wake up to a ticket and panicking they are going to be late for class. Give these kids some leeway for crying out loud. Now we have a ticket to pay? And no snow. (Danjea Hall)

The number of tickets issued on the first day of restrictions may be out of the ordinary compared to recent years. But the resulting controversy is nothing new to officials at city hall.

“It comes up every year,” said Winona City Councilor Jerome Christenson. “It generally catches a bunch of college-age students who don’t read the signs. It’s not something that’s going to raise many eyebrows around here.”

As for warnings? Police apparently tried it for the first few years, but the warnings were largely ignored, until violators were issued an actual citation.

“I think more than 250 tickets is unusually high, higher than the last few years,” said Christenson. “But there’s always a bunch.”

So winter has officially arrived in Winona. Residents better make room for the snowplows, whether it snows or not.