Minneapolis wrongly tows cars

Residents say more communication is necessary following the street sweeping mistake on University Avenue.

Anissa Stocks

Street sweepers on University Avenue âÄúgoofed upâÄù by towing cars without advanced notice on Friday morning to the dismay of dozens of people who parked along the unscheduled route. Minneapolis is required to give residents a 24-hour notice when streets are plowed or swept, but the city failed to properly inform residents on Oct. 30. Minneapolis officials didnâÄôt indicate how many cars were towed, but City Councilwoman Diane HofstedeâÄôs office received upwards of 50 calls after the towings. Mike Kennedy, director of transportation, maintenance and repairs for the Minneapolis Department of Public Works said the city did not post a street sweeping notice for University Avenue and will work with those who have âÄúlegitimateâÄù cases to release their cars from the towing company without charges. âÄúIn this particular case, the city made a mistake,âÄù he said. âÄúNothing like this has happened in five years,âÄù when the city implemented the sweeping towing policy. Many residents complained that the signs are unrecognizable when it rains or snows. Minneapolis resident Kimberly Mulroy was one of the people whose car was towed without warning. âÄúThe signs blew away on Thursday night,âÄù Mulroy said. âÄúThere needs to be a more proactive way of informing people when street sweeping occurs. The signs donâÄôt work.âÄù Kennedy said the signs are federally mandated and cannot change. Minneapolis has adopted unique methods to inform residents that street sweeping will occur in the past, he said. âÄúWeâÄôve painted the posts on the signs in neon colors before, but that is expensive for [the city],âÄù he said. âÄúDifferent methods like that donâÄôt seem to do the job.âÄù Allen Kathir, a University alumnus who is running for City Council under the DFL ticket in Ward 3, has made improving parking a campaign platform. He said the city needs better communication with its residents when parking becomes an issue. âÄúThe city should advocate for students who donâÄôt always know how to fight a parking violation,âÄù Kathir said. He said the city doesnâÄôt keep students aware of ordinances such as street sweeping. âÄúIt shouldnâÄôt be hard to send e-mails to residents listing street sweeping schedules and times,âÄù he said. âÄúStudents have such varied schedules that the city should make sure they are informed.âÄù Mulroy, who is KathirâÄôs girlfriend, said she already paid the towing fee and is now going to appeal it. Hofstede said she will work with residents such as Mulroy throughout the appeal process. She said the city is responsible for failing to post street sweeping times on its Web site. âÄúCircumstances like this are rare,âÄù she said. âÄúRegardless, we will help those who were wronged.âÄù Mulroy said the length of the appeal process defers many residents from filing a claim. âÄúItâÄôs incredibly time consuming, and often appeals arenâÄôt granted,âÄù she said. âÄúBut, I plan to fight this because itâÄôs the cityâÄôs mistake, not mine.âÄù Kennedy said residents must watch for signs during the fall to avoid being towed. âÄúWeâÄôve all been towed at some point,âÄù he said. âÄúThe city isnâÄôt out to get them. We recognize that weâÄôve set up a policy that causes confusion.âÄù