Cops now responsible for enforcement of snow parking rules
The chance of getting a ticket from the city when snow falls just went up.
This year, as part of a reorganization of how South Lake Tahoe operates, the job of making sure snowplows have the room they need to work has gone from the planning department to the police department.
“I think there will be better enforcement,” said Lt. Terry Daniels of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department. “We’re integrating the whole patrol division into the snow tow operation. We’re hoping more consistent enforcement will change behavior and get people to park out of the streets.”
The law states that when there are 3 inches or more of snow on the ground any vehicle within the city’s right-of-way – which consists of the entire street plus several feet out on each side of the road – is considered to be parked illegally. Fire hydrants and power poles are a good indication of where the city’s right-of-way ends.
Because the police department is enforcing the parking law and not the planning department, patrol officers will be able to use their computer system to track repeat violators and problem areas.
The cost of an illegal parking ticket is $102. But, Daniels said, the purpose of increased enforcement is not to collect money for the city. It is to allow for more efficient snow removal.
“I’d be tickled pink if we didn’t have to issue these kind of citations,” Daniels said. “This is about changing behavior, not about revenue. We don’t make any money on this … pennies on the dollar.”
On Monday, South Lake Tahoe Police Department Community Services Officer Matthew Morrison delivered warning letters to illegally parked cars off Wildwood Avenue. Next time it snows, the cars will be ticketed. Or if need be, they will be towed.
Getting towed costs about $150 in addition to the price of the ticket. And if the owner doesn’t pick up the car, tow yards typically charge $40 a day as a storage fee.
“From year to year it’s like training period,” said Scott Rogers, South Lake Tahoe street superintendent. “It starts off pretty bad and as the year goes on and people receive citations in town and enforcement gets under way, people start to comply.”
Parking rules in the county when it snows are the same as they are in the city. The only difference is the cost of the ticket – $208 instead of $102. The large difference between the fines levied by the city and county is probably because the city has not adjusted the fine amount in more than 10 years, Rogers said.