A flurry of parking tickets in Madison - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

A flurry of parking tickets in Madison

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Three days since the area's first widespread snow storm of the season, the parking violators are obvious.

Cars buried in snow on Madison streets, with a sliver of pink parking notice sticking from underneath a wiper blade.

"The streets weren't as clear as we wanted them to be," said Madison parking enforcement supervisor Stefanie Niesen on Friday.

When city officials in Madison declared a snow emergency Tuesday, alternate side parking rules became the rule everywhere.

Early Wednesday morning, officers ticketed 517 cars.  Niesen said it still wasn't enough.  Streets Department superintendent Al Schumacher emailed a number of city alders and staff later that day to notify them that cars would be towed early the following morning because compliance was so poor.

"You could only get one car through and it was just a safety issue," said Neisen.  She said some cars were virtually parking in the middle of the street because snow banks were still present along the curb, unplowed because of other parking violators.  It posed a problem if an emergency vehicle would try to drive down the street.

The next night, another 659 tickets were written, 182 of them towed to nearby streets.

Niesen said she didn't know why this snow emergency declaration posed such a problem for parkers. "I wish I could answer, I just don't know. We try to educate as much as we possibly could."

Niesen said officers spend the first two weeks of November, before alternate side parking rules took effect in the outlying parts of the city, placing flyers on cars that explain the rules of winter parking.

A new website also went online in October, designed to educate people when snow emergencies were declared.

"When we realized people were having a hard times figuring out when the snow emergency was, or what the deal was with them, where you could park, where you couldn't park, we were trying to figure out how to reach out to, frankly, people who use new technology," said city alder Satya Rhodes-Conway, who spoke October 30 at the launch of the site.

On Tuesday, word of the snow emergency was prominent online with a red logo that said 'Yes!,' a snow emergency was in effect.

About 900 people also signed up to receive text message alerts from the site. More than 3,000 people received emails.

Nonetheless, total tickets increased, from 866 after last winter's first major storm in Madison to 1,167 this week.

The people who write the tickets hope this pricey lesson will mean less of a flurry of tickets after the next storm.

"I hope this worked," said Neisen. "I hope people complied because no one likes getting their car towed."

It was a costly fine.  A couple months back, the city council increased alternate side parking fines in snow emergencies to $60.  That's double or triple more than before. Cars that were towed were fined another $50.  In total, the city could make about $80,000 in fines off this storm.

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