Editor’s note: The weekly “Thumbs Up-Thumbs Down” editorial offers opinions on highs and lows in the news.
Eau Claire’s wintertime parking regulations aren’t working. Ask the more than 1,300 people who were ticketed nearly $40,000 over the past two weeks for parking on the wrong side of snow-covered city streets.
The nearly 30 inches of snow that has been dumped on the Chippewa Valley this month needs to be removed from the streets. That’s a given. Street crews need to be able to get at both sides of streets before they become too narrow for two-way traffic. The problem is that residents — and their visitors — apparently don’t know when a “snow event” is in effect and what to do about it. They leave their cars on the streets and find a $30 ticket.
The City Council changed its rules in 2015 from alternate side parking every day from November through April to a system where alternate side parking was in effect when the city declares a snow event. The change was made because it made no sense under the old system to be ticketing motorists in November or April when there was no snow on the ground. People thought it was just a money-maker for the city.
Under the old system, at least people knew they couldn’t park on a certain side of the street. They didn’t have to wonder whether a snow event was in progress. There’s certainly a lack of understanding that has made the job more difficult for city crews who find cars parked on both sides of the street, making it difficult to clear a path.
“I don’t think the new rules are working for anyone,” council member Dave Strobel said.
Agreed. It’s time for the council to reconsider the policy.
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If you’re a winter outdoors person, this is the February you’ve been waiting for.
At this time of year, organizers of the American Birkebeiner cross-country ski race usually are wringing their hands and worrying about whether they’ll have to shorten the marathon course between Cable and Hayward because the snow is gone. No such problem this year. Snow abounds for skiers, snowmobilers, snowshoers and sledders. It’s a winter like nothing in recent memory so we should be taking advantage of it. This is one of the reasons we live in Wisconsin. Spring showers, summer sunshine, fall foliage and this wonderful winter snow offer something for everyone.
So once you get the snow shoveled off your driveway, sidewalk and roof, enjoy it.
— Gary Johnson, editor