Letter to the Editor: Let’s Use the Snow Emergency Ordinance
Last Sunday, Duluth was hit once again with a major storm and significant snowfall. Plows got right to work clearing the streets, but many were left unfinished. And remain unfinished. Because of our alternate side parking regulations, one side of virtually every street will remain unplowed for an entire week. That means an entire week of snow-related public safety issues that should be addressed right away, and could be avoided.
Duluth is an older city with narrow streets, especially in our hillside neighborhoods. When it snows and half the street is left unplowed, these streets become even narrower. Ambulances, fire trucks, and police squads can find it impossible to navigate snow-covered streets lined with cars. With only one side cleared, vehicles deal with streets as if they were one-ways. Safety concerns escalate when sidewalks aren’t shoveled and cars and pedestrians must share the crowded, slippery road.
Duluth’s snow emergency ordinances were written to handle these public safety issues. Under a complete revision of the ordinance in 2008 by Councilor Jim Stauber and myself, streets could be cleared curb to curb and back to normal parking regulations by the third day following a storm. Furthermore, they are designed to ensure residents know what parking regulations are during snow emergencies. Although they may not be as convenient as normal parking practices, they include provisions to help people adjust to the rules. For example, the city will only distribute warnings to illegally parked cars for the first year before moving onto fines and towing. The city also has the ability to take full advantage of media resources to inform residents on parking regulations including text alerts, social media, and online and TV alerts.
Not utilizing the city’s snow emergency ordinances increases safety risks and hurts everyone’s ability to get around after a major storm.
Roger J. Reinert