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Survey shows St. Paul residents generally satisfied with snow plowing

More than 400 people responded to a survey on their thoughts about plowing and snow emergencies. 

A survey of St. Paul residents found that most were generally happy with the snow plowing system.

More than 75 percent of respondents said that the overall effectiveness of snow emergencies is satisfactory or better and nearly 80 percent said that the city’s communication is satisfactory or better during a snow emergency.

Many expect bike lanes to be plowed, too.

The survey was sent to 1,400 residents; 416 responded. Three-quarters of those were homeowners and two-thirds have lived in the city for 11 or more years.

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Kathy Lantry, the former City Council president who now heads the Public Works Department, said:

“We are pleased to learn that residents are generally happy with our work. But, we know we can always do better, and we want to do better to make sure all residents are satisfied with the services they are provided. A big concern is a gap in understanding between the services we provide and the services residents think we provide.”

Many survey respondents said they expect city streets to be plowed within 24 hours of a snowfall, but officials note that residential streets aren’t plowed until a snow emergency is declared. That happens when 3 or more inches fall, or when there is an accumulation of 3 inches or more from several snowfalls.

Many see plows on major arterial streets and expect that their residential street will be plowed then, too, Lantry said. “We can only plow residential streets when there’s a snow emergency, and there are parking restrictions in place,” she said.

The survey also found that 90 percent expect residents to move their cars from the streets as part of the snow emergency schedule, and 78 percent expect cars that aren’t moved to get tickets, while 70 percent expect those cars to be towed.

Most, 60 percent, want plows to return to clean up snow that was missed because of unmoved cars.

On bike lanes, 31 percent don’t expect them to be plowed after a snowfall. But the rest expect they will be, and 50 percent want it done at the same time, or soon after, residential streets are plowed.

The big push will be to improve compliance of the parking restrictions, so the plows can do a better job, and fewer people will be tagged and towed, Lantry said.

This year, text messages announcing snow emergencies are being sent in four languages: English, Spanish, Hmong and Somali. And the city is working with property managers of large apartments, which tend to have higher percentages of towed cars, to help get the word out.