Every fall we publish a news story that explains Tooele City’s snow removal policy and how road crews push snow and drop salt to improve motorists’ travel during snowstorms.
The policy’s intent is to clear out snow and ice as efficiently and beneficially as possible from the City’s 340 lane miles of streets, more than 170 cul-de-sacs and dead-end streets, and several alleys.
The policy also includes a mandate from City Hall to help maximize snowplow crews’ efficiency and make roads safer for them to do their job: From Nov. 1 to March 31, parking on city streets is prohibited from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. and whenever snowplow conditions exist.
Evidently, too many citizens have ignored that part of the policy and City Hall wants that to change.
As reported in the April 18 edition, the Tooele City Council approved on April 17 changes to the City’s parking code, which will hit the wallets of those who ignore or forget to honor the City’s parking mandate under the snowplow removal policy. Parking tickets now cost $50 instead of $25, and if the violator doesn’t pay within 15 calendar days, the fine jumps to $100.
“We just know that $25 doesn’t work,” said Tooele City Mayor Debbie Winn about the reason behind the increase. “When you park your travel trailer and get two and three tickets, it’s easier to pay the $25 then it is to go and pay for it to be stored.”
But just in case higher parking fines don’t get the job done, the City Council added even more teeth to the parking code. Those new teeth authorize Tooele City police officers to remove, or cause to be removed, any vehicle that obstructs normal traffic, including pedestrian and bicycle traffic; obstructs authorized emergency vehicles or service vehicles like snowplows while performing official duties; creates a risk of danger or damage to property; and is abandoned or appears to be abandoned.
And the vehicle owner will have to pay for the tow.
During the April 17 meeting, Tooele City Attorney Roger Baker said the City Council asked City Hall last fall to review its legal authority to tow away illegally parked vehicles, especially those parked on streets during snowplow conditions. He also noted the City’s parking code hadn’t been updated in 29 years.
We find the City Council’s update to the parking code appropriate and long overdue. For years, we have heard Tooele City mayors politely request residents to not park on city streets from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. Nov. 1 to March 31, and during snowplow conditions. In fact, it was one of the first things new Tooele City Mayor Debbie Winn said when interviewed for the annual snow removal policy story we published last fall.
It is hoped the increased fines and giving Tooele City police more authority to tow away illegally parked vehicles will encourage more compliance to keep city streets unobstructed for snowplow crews.
It is also hoped, however, that first-time violators are given a warning first before being issued a parking ticket — or having their vehicle towed away. Not doing so is too Draconian of a tactic to get compliance.