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Hundreds Of Owatonna Drivers Baffled By Winter Parking

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OWATONNA (WCCO) — In this season of so little snow, folks in one Minnesota town are wondering why the parking tickets piled up.

In Owatonna, 471 drivers got slapped with a ticket and fine for parking illegally during winter parking restrictions. Other Minnesota cities only use them during snow emergencies, but this Southern Minnesota city uses parking restrictions all season long.

Police are writing the tickets despite a dusting of snow so far this winter.

“I parked there many, many nights in a row, and always in the same spot,” said Larry Wiuff, who
begrudgingly paid his parking ticket. “I don’t consider it a big crime, what I did or nothing.”

It’s not the $20 fine that has him fuming. It’s why an Owatonna officer gave it to him that gets him going.

“It was really uncalled for this time of year, with the weather conditions the way they are,” Wiuff said.

As city signs point-out, parking rules follow an odd-even schedule from mid-November through March, midnight till noon, no matter the amount of snow.

“It’s to make it easier to plow the street,” said City Council President Les Abraham, who said the ordinance saves the Owatonna resources.

It means the streets will be free of cars the moment plows need to go to work.

“It used to be a point where we had to be towing so many vehicles, that we couldn’t get them towed in time for the street to be plowed, so it slowed up the plowing, increased towing services. More expensive all around,” Abraham said.

Those parking tickets are adding up quickly for Owatonna. The city’s taken in more than $9,400 dollars, which will go to the general fund of the Owatonna Police Department.

Owatonna Police say that they reminded drivers of the ordinance even before they started writing tickets. They say the first week the ordinance was in effect, they put notification cards on car windows. The second week, they only gave warnings to those cars that were in violation.

“I just think it’s very unfair,” said Wiuff.

Wiuff will now choose driveway over street-parking, always remembering the fine he got during a season of little snow.

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