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St. Paul tows 650 vehicles, issues 2,500 tickets during snow emergency (and don’t forget to clear the sidewalk)

There’s a big push this year to get sidewalks cleared by homeowners, or else the city will do it for a hefty charge.

Somehow, the snow emergency that started Sunday night caught many folks off-guard in St.  Paul.

City officials report today that 650 vehicles have been towed and 2,521 tickets issued for illegally parked cars. And there could be more, because the snow emergency technically continues until Wednesday night.

This is an expensive mistake for vehicle owners: tickets are $53, and the tow cost is $219.50, plus a daily storage fee of $15. 

But some residents are complaining that the snow routes were changed last fall, and, even though signs were posted, they didn’t realize it, the Pioneer Press reports. 

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Some Frogtown day/night routes were changed due to light rail construction, and city officials say they’ll reimburse some residents for the cost of the tows.

Many residents applaud the towing (if they’ve moved their own cars), so the plows can clear the streets from side to side. Otherwise the plows would have to veer around parked cars and leave the streets narrow and rutted.

“It comes as a surprise to many that we get more complaints from residents asking for more people to be towed than we do from residents complaining that they were towed,” said Dave Hunt of the Public Works Department.

And city officials remind homeowners and business owners that they have 24 hours to clear the sidewalks on their property.

“Uncleared and icy sidewalks are especially treacherous for the elderly and disabled, many of whom need safe walkways to access transportation options,” said St. Paul Smart Trips Executive Director Jessica Treat.

If city workers have to come and shovel, it’s not cheap. They charge $160 per hour, with a half hour minimum, plus administration fee which include $115 for the inspections department (going up to $120 on Jan. 1).