Evanston’s Parking Committee wants to raise the fine for people who don’t move their cars to make way for snow plows during snow emergencies.

The committee this week voted to recommend to the City Council that the fines for violation of alternate side snow emergency parking rules be increased from $25 to $35.

Streets and Sanitation Director Suzette Eggleston said the higher amount is what Skokie now charges and noted that the fine for parking on a through street during a snow emergency is already $50.

Eggleston says many streets are so narrow that the snow plows can’t safely negotiate them when drivers don’t move their cars.

And, she said, if streets aren’t plowed the city is likely to get hit with liability claims if someone falls and is injured.

Alderman Edmund Moran, 6th Ward, said the increase “seems to be justifiable. It’s a significant problem.”

Aldermen Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, said people who don’t follow the rules force the city to pay extra to send plows back out for repeat trips.

Eggleston said the city now has global positioning system units on its plows, so she gets a complete record of where the plows have been.

She said that in the past the city had taken chances sending plows down narrow streets and ended up with property damage claims over cars damaged by the plows.

So last year, “I said if we cna’t get down the street, don’t plow it, and we had no incidents of property damage,” she said.

She said that in problem areas the city has put brochures on every car to alert residents to the rules and that it sends vehicles with loudspeakers out to warn people the plows are coming before any tickets are issued

In some areas the city uses a tow-and-replace technique, moving cars out of the way of the plows and then returning them to the same street. That costs violators a $100 fine.

As for towing away offending vehicles, she said the city doesn’t have a tow yard big enough handle all the cars illegally parked.

Rick Voss, the city’s parking division manager, said that before the Sam’s Club site was developed the city would tow cars there. “But the costs were astronomical with police costs to provide security and the number of tow trucks required,” Voss said.

“It was also a customer service nightmare,” Voss said, “with the police having to handle cash and credit card payment of fines at police headquarters before drivers could get a release slip to recover their cars from the impound site.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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8 Comments

  1. What about fines for people who don’t shovel their walks?
    “And, she said, if streets aren’t plowed the city is likely to get hit with liability claims if someone falls and is injured.”

    What about those of us who fall when walking down a sidewalk that a homeowner hasn’t shoveled?

    There’s probably a greater likelihood that someone will be injured from falling on unshoveled sidewalks than from falling on unplowed streets.

    There’s a city ordinance that requires people to shovel their walks, but to my knowledge the city never enforces it. I guess that’s because the city only cares about hazards for which it may be held liable. As for hazards caused by anyone else, well, I guess we’re on our own.

    Jan Smith

    1. Shoveling Walks
      In Wilmette and other communities the municipality snow plows the sidewalks.

      Your tax dollars at work.

  2. Report noncompliance
    Our neighbors have had success reporting sidewalk-clearing scofflaws to Property Standards: if citizens make a complaint, they do go out and write a ticket. I agree that homeowners need to be held accountable for clearing their sidewalks: when they don’t, kids in my neighborhood walk to school in the street.

    Find out more about Brummel Park Neighbors and Michele Hays

    1. Talk to each other
      So, you want your fellow citizens to be tattletales? Here’s an idea. Why don’t you go speak to the homeowners yourself and encourage others to do the same? Telling people to report each other to the city does not foster any sense of community. It drives us apart. Talking to each other like human beings is not too much to ask. If you’re scared to do it alone get a group together. We’re all adults here.

      1. Talk To The Empty Lot
        Respecting and adhering to the laws of the community also seems like the human thing to do. Shoveling the walk after a snowfall is not a novel concept. It’s your responsibility as a property owner. Why is it any less divisive to have neighbors remind you of your responsibility than the city?

        Our local problem has more to do with an absentee owner of a vacant property. Since he departed from the neighborhood, leaving no contact information with neighbors, his property has been neglected. Our only recourse has been to contact Property Standards.

        “Tattletales”? Stay classy!

      2. If that works, please do it
        However, telling strangers what to do with their property when you don’t have the authority to do so can result in childish responses, or far worse. There are better ways to foster community than walking around the neighborhood in a large group to complain to individual neighbors.

        This is a City ordinance that’s there to protect those who use the sidewalk; it’s no different than reporting someone who illegally parks in your alley or blocks a fire hydrant. Your neighbors’ safety is at risk.

        Expecting the City to search out individual scofflaws to fine them, however, is a huge waste of tax dollars.

        Find out more about Brummel Park Neighbors and Michele Hays

        1. Ask, don’t tell
          You wouldn’t be telling anyone what to do with their property. You would be asking them nicely. If they’re jerks about it then either tell them you are going to contact the city or just do it. At that point they’ve made it clear that they are not capable of civility.

  3. compassion and neighborliness
    Our block has some elderly folks on it and sometimes my kids just shovel their walks for them. Once someone with a snow blower did the whole block. An anonymous Samaritan we all still pray for. I would rather we pitch in than be the cause of a coronary. One year, we did not get out for two days after the snowfall because we had three people throwing up 24/7 with the stomach flu. It would have been a horror to get a ticket at that point. If you know your neighbors, you can usually figure out why the sidewalk is not cleared, and no one says you can’t help out. People need to work with each other and have some compassion for the odd souls in their neighborhood.

    Wilmette shovels the walks for its citizens, as do several other nearby suburbs with lower property taxes per thousand assessment. They also pick up their leaves.

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