Sunday's Post Crescent featured a note from Nick Penzenstadler on the topic of the city's recent snow emergencies. Overnight last Wednesday the city had 42 cars towed during their ban on parking on city streets, and each towing carries a $20 fine, $189 towing fee and $30/day storage fee for impounded cars.
As you might imagine, the owners of those 42 cars are not happy about having their vehicle towed away, both due to the sudden inconvenience of losing their vehicle and having to pay hundreds of dollars to get it back. And while some of those drivers probably should have known better, to a point I can see where others are coming from with their concerns.
Towing the cars away is something of a necessity for plow crews to be able to get the streets as clear as possible following a major snow event. The snow rules are clearly posted on the city's web site and distributed via the media to a point. But if you were new in town, a new driver or simply visiting the city, I'm not sure you'd know where to look to find out about them. I'm not sure the average resident checks the city's winter page for updates before every expected snowfall, for example.
I don't want to advocate for carelessness or ignorance here, but I do think the current penalty is a little steep for a one-time incident. I wonder if it would be possible for the city to find a way to charge a little less to people having their car towed for the first time, and recoup the difference by raising the fee for people who should have learned their lesson but got towed again anyway. The point of the policy should be to help everyone remember to get their cars off the street, not to overly punish the people who made a single mistake.