January 4, 2012
During the next major snowfall of the season, Sedalia residents will have another concern to think about — where they’re parked.
For the first time, Sedalia Public Works employees are reminding residents who use street parking on arterial routes about the consequences of staying parked during a snowfall. Specifically, the cars could be towed.
“Every snow route has signs posted that state if there’s two inches of snow on the ground or the forecast is predicting two or more inches, those streets cannot have cars parked on them,” said Public Works Director Bill Beck. “It’s a safety issue. If there are cars still parked, the snow plows have to go around them, causing the cars to be buried in snow and creating a traffic hazard.”
To warn residents of the consequences, Public Works Department employees will leave fliers on the windshields of all cars parked in residential area snow routes. The flier states, “While the emergency snow routes are in effect, parking on this street will be prohibited.”
“In the past, we haven’t really been able to enforce the ordinance,” Beck said. “When there’s a major snowstorm, our police force is usually very busy with accidents. We don’t want them to spend that time knocking on doors telling residents to move their cars. With the fliers, we can let residents know ahead of time what the consequences are.”
According to Sedalia Police Chief John DeGonia, the police department hasn’t towed many cars in the past.
“Honestly, we don’t want to tow any cars,” DeGonia said. “We’d rather talk to residents and remind them or ask them to move their cars and only tow as a last resort. But now that the fliers are going out, residents will have fewer excuses about forgetting or not moving their cars. (Beck) and I have had conversations about towing cars but I hope we won’t have to do that.”
In addition to handing out fliers today, Public Works employees will distribute the fliers again a day or two before a major snowfall is predicted. Beck said he hopes by handing out the fliers twice, residents will remember to move cars.
“I feel for them, I do,” Beck said. “I know that for some people, street parking is all that’s available. It’s inconvenient for them to move their car around the corner or to another street. But this is a city ordinance and more than anything, it’s a safety issue.”
Beck said if cars are left on streets, snow plows are forced to go around them, creating one-lane roads and unnecessary traffic hazards.
“Our biggest concern is obviously emergency service vehicles being able to get around, especially for the routes leading to the hospital,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll get a few phone calls from irritated residents, but it’s the law. And I’m sure people would rather get a flier on their windshield than walk out of the house one day and find that their car has been towed.”