ST. PAUL, Minn. – St. Paul gave its citizens a small reprieve from ticketing and towing to enforce the city's first-ever parking ban on Monday.
The city had threatened the punitive measures if drivers did not comply with the restriction to park only on the odd side of city streets until further notice.
Many St. Paul streets, particularly side streets, are snow and ice covered and deeply rutted. Moreover, the street accessibility has dropped as cars park further into the thoroughfares because of high snow mounds over the curbs.
"This had to be done because we need at least 14 feet to operate, if not 16," said Jim Smith, Assistant St. Paul Fire Chief. "We just did not have that clearance at the time. The ambulances were having trouble negotiating patients from the home out into their ambulances.
"Our fire units, we just had to stack them up in one long train, which meant some fire companies were literally a block away. We could not get our ladders up to the roof. We could not even get into some of our side compartments on our trucks to get equipment out to fight the fire."
Most city streets checked by KARE 11 seemed to be in compliance with the ban, but even those who did not got a pass for now. The parking enforcement officials held off on tickets and towing on Monday.
Public Works spokesperson Kari Spreeman said the city will ramp up enforcement as the week progresses.
Reaction from drivers was mixed, but compliant.
"I kind of like it," said David Rohlf. "There is no room to get down the streets at all when you are trying to drive through there with parking on both sides."
"The restrictions? I do not like it that much," said See Yang, "But it is what it is. We do have quite a few cars in our household."
Compliance was more spotty on wider streets like Summit Avenue. A number of cars were parked on both sides of the thoroughfare almost directly in front of the Governor's Mansion and in front of the William Mitchell Law School campus.