The City of Omaha will tweak the enforcement of its snow emergency parking ordinance this winter because of complaints about previous enforcement measures.
The city will not issue tickets to violators between 6 p.m. and midnight, said Scott McIntyre, Omaha street maintenance engineer.
Violators will be cited the other 18 hours of the day, from midnight to 6 p.m.
“Hopefully, we'll see more people comply after midnight,” McIntyre said. “We get a lot of good plowing done between midnight and 6 a.m.”
Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert said the change in snow emergency parking enforcement and all of the tweaks to the city's snow-removal program were made “in direct feedback to response from the taxpayers.”
The snow emergency parking rules only apply when the city declares a snow emergency. And the only apply to people parking east of 72nd Street.
They're intended to keep parked cars out of the way of plows so they can clear streets more quickly and efficiently. Having to plow around parked cars slows the plows, and leaves more snow in the street.
Here's a refresher on Omaha's snow emergency rules:
» If it's an even-numbered day, park on the side of the street with even-numbered addresses. That's the north or west side.
» If it's an odd-numbered day, park on the side of the street with odd-numbered addresses. That's the south or east side.
» “No parking” signs with arrows still must be obeyed. But if the sign says “No Parking This Side This Block,'' you can park there if you're following the even/odd rules.
» Handicapped parking spaces may not be used by any vehicle when parking is prohibited.
Last winter, people were stressed about coming home from work, and parking on the correct side of the street, then having to go back outside and midnight and move their car across the street, McIntyre said.
“That accounted for a lot of the calls last year,” he said.
At 6 p.m. or later, people can just park on whichever is going to be the correct side of the street after midnight.
Or better yet, if you have a driveway, McIntyre said, “Park in your driveway. I don't think I can emphasize that enough.”
Last winter, the city issued about 500 tickets to snow emergency parking violators, McIntyre said. He didn't know how many of those were issued between 6 p.m. and midnight.
He anticipates tickets will be written again this year, but is hopeful the tweak will inspire and enable better compliance.
“The overwhelming majority of folks (who called) told us they wanted to see vehicles off the streets during that snow emergency,” McIntyre said.
In another change this year, the Mayor's Hotline will extend its hours whenever Omaha sees a storm big enough to require city snow plows. Typically, the hotline's three-person staff answers calls from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. But Stothert said she'll add more people and have them stay late during major weather events.
“It is very important that anyone looking for information about snow removal can talk to a real person and not just a recording,” she said.
The Mayor's Office also plans to post updates on Facebook and Twitter. The Public Works Department will provide Twitter updates on its activities.
Public Works Director Bob Stubbe said this winter will mark the fourth time the city will use contractors to help with plowing. Those contractors are called to help whenever Omaha gets at least two inches of snow.
World-Herald staff writer Erin Golden contributed to this report.