Fargo has been too lax for too long in dealing with cars left on streets during snowstorms. Any doubts that the city has a problem were obliterated by the “storm of the decade” that dumped more than a foot of snow a few days after Christmas.
When cars are left on streets, crews must plow around them, narrowing streets and turning them into rutted, sometimes hazardous obstacle courses for the rest of the winter.
Under the best of circumstances, plow crews can return and clear the streets that once were clogged with parked cars. But that strains workers and machines already taxed by having to clear 2,100 lane miles in a city with an ever-expanding footprint.
Enough. It’s time for the Fargo City Commission to tackle the problem.
City leaders have before them a proposed $150 fine for cars left on streets after the mayor has declared a snow emergency when four inches of snow have fallen.
As a survey of about 125 cities across North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota reveals, Fargo has not been strict enough in dealing with those who leave their cars on streets during snowstorms.
A tally by Fargo retiree Les Herbranson shows that about 90 percent of cities tow vehicles during snow emergencies. When has anyone seen a car left negligently on the street in a snow emergency towed away in Fargo?
It doesn’t really happen. That has to change.
We’re uncomfortable setting the fine at $150. That would be a hardship for some. But the city should set a fine that is high enough to serve as a deterrent.
Merely setting a tougher policy will not be enough, though.
The city should work to find solutions for those who are forced to park on the street. It should explore steps like those taken in Mankato, Minn., which offers free parking in city ramps and allows parking on lawns during snow emergencies.
Once a snow emergency has been declared, city officials should aggressively get the word out to inform people to move their cars or face a tow and a fine. It should spread the word through news releases, email and text blasts as well as social media posts.
It’s past time to act.
While on the subject of snow removal, we want to thank snow plow crews at all levels — state, county and city — for their extraordinary efforts in this challenging winter. They have spent long hours clearing streets and roads, often missing holidays with their families.
Too often their vital labors go unsung.
It’s hard work, unnecessarily made even more difficult when people neglect to move their cars.