Beware spring parking fines

Parking will be banned on certain streets for sweeping in the coming weeks.

McKenna Ewen

The city will begin spring street sweeping this week and warns residents to pay attention to parking restrictions or risk tagged and towed cars.

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To find out when your streets will be swept, see the Minneapolis Street Sweeping Schedule.

Over the next six weeks, the city will post “no parking” signs one day in advance on streets to be swept and send automated phone messages as a reminder of the semi-annual street maintenance, but still expects to tow as many as 2,500 cars on Minneapolis streets.

Curb-to-curb spring street sweeping freshens up over 1,100 miles of streets and 400 miles of alleys.

The best thing residents can do is to look out for the signs, District 1 Street Maintenance Supervisor Garret Preussner said.

Spring sweeping is primarily for environmental purposes, Preussner said, to keep waterways clean from leaves and debris that falls into storm drains.

It also brushes sand used in the winter months to improve road conditions and increase driver safety.

Starting today, residents can check scheduled street cleaning dates on the city’s Web site. Streets that are not listed during the first week will not be swept until later in the month or early next month, city spokesman Matt Laible said. Schedules will be updated weekly.

On-street parking is restricted from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the day of the scheduled cleaning until signs are removed.

“I know parking is tight, but there isn’t a lot we can do,” Preussner said.

While the University offers free parking in select areas on campus during snow emergencies, it had not announced any plans to do the same during the sweeping.

During a typical street sweep operation, 160 cars are towed each day, said Public Works Director of Winter Operations Mike Kennedy.

Each vehicle towed results in a $138 fine and an $18 charge for each day that the vehicle is unclaimed.

Minneapolis police will also issue parking tickets to cars parked in violation of the signs, with half of the money returned to the city and future street sweeping projects, Kennedy said.

Minneapolis works with five different towing companies that charge the city $60 to $180 per tow. Roughly 20 percent of towed vehicles are never claimed, resulting in uncollected fees.

“It’s not really a moneymaker for the city as people think. We would prefer not to tow anyone,” Preussner said.

Over the past four years, the number of vehicles towed during street sweeps has gradually decreased. In 2006, the city collected 2,375 vehicles during spring sweeping, 224 fewer than in 2003.