Fewer cars towed in recent snow emergency

A snow emergency declared Thursday caused long lines at the Minneapolis Impound Lot for the second weekend in a row. Although 1,803 cars were towed over the three-day span, city spokesman Matt Laible said this weekendâÄôs number was comparatively lower than last weekendâÄôs 2,463 cars towed. Laible said people were likely more aware of this snow emergency because of its proximity to the last one. âÄúJust coming off the heels of another snow emergency, people are probably of a heightened awareness,âÄù Laible said. The average number of towed vehicles, Laible said, is around 1,500 to 2,000 per snow emergency, but last weekendâÄôs number was above average because more towing resources were available. âÄúItâÄôs really limited to the capacity for towing,âÄù Laible said. âÄúA lot more people are basically violating the snow emergency rules, and they might get ticketed, but they canâÄôt all be towed.âÄù In fact, only about 20 percent of cars that are illegally parked end up getting towed, Laible said. âÄúWhen thereâÄôs a snow emergency, weâÄôre using everything that we can,âÄù Laible said. The city of Minneapolis has contracts with five towing companies that tow cars during snow emergencies, none of which returned calls or would comment on this story. The $138 standard towing fee and $18 per night that a person must pay to get his car back is calculated so that the impound lot breaks even at the end of each year, Laible said. He said neither the impound lot nor the city makes a profit from towing during snow emergencies. âÄúI think many people assume that the city is making a lot of money, but thatâÄôs not the case,âÄù Laible said. âÄúThe reason for that is that our costs during snow emergencies are very high.âÄù The city pays the towing companies it contracts to, so most of that $138 fee goes to them, Laible said. The University of Minnesota also sent out a campus-wide e-mail informing students of the snow emergency, telling them to be aware of parking rules. MSA Facilities and Housing Chairman Paul Strain was planning to write a resolution asking the University to use more informative tactics to let students know of snow emergencies, after many students had their cars towed without their knowledge. When ThursdayâÄôs snow emergency hit, however, Strain called University spokesman Daniel Wolter asking for immediate action, which prompted the campus-wide e-mail. After the UniversityâÄôs prompt response, Strain decided not to go ahead with writing the resolution. Strain said he hopes the University will send out similar notifications once per winter in the future. In greater Minneapolis, Liable said about 18,000 people have subscribed to e-mail alerts, 120,000 listed numbers receive automated phone calls, and cell phone numbers can sign up to receive a call or text message. This year, there is also a Facebook page that has about 6,000 friends. People can also call the snow hotline at 612-348-SNOW for parking rules. Despite the fewer number of cars towed this weekend, the line at the impound lot was still long, which frustrated students who had to pick up their cars. Sophomore psychology student Mariya Leyderman said the line was so long on Friday night when she went to get her car back that she decided to come back the next morning. âÄúThere were so many people,âÄù Leyderman said. âÄúIt was a huge inconvenience and the biggest waste of money. I feel like if you get your car towed, it should be $20, not $200.âÄù