Citations or warnings? KSL Investigators find a mixed bag of winter parking enforcement
PROVO, UTAH — Two days after a big storm in February, Sgt. Adrian Montelongo with South Jordan Police stopped issuing warnings, and started writing tickets.
KSL Investigators rode along with Montelongo on February 24, seeing vehicle after vehicle covered in snow and parked on the wrong side of the street.
South Jordan has an ordinance banning street parking on the odd-numbered side of the street during a snow event, and within 24-hours after the storm.
“We’ve been doing a lot more education to the public,” Montelongo said. “but with these big storms we’ve had, and how big this season has been when it comes to snowfall, we’ve been going out there and issuing more citations when possible.”
Writing tickets isn’t usually how South Jordan police like to operate.
According to data obtained by KSL Investigators, the department issued three citations for violating the winter parking rule so far this year. Two of those citations were issued the day of our interview.
“We have a big tendency to give the benefit of the doubt to the person,” Montelongo explained. “They might have something going on.”
Education vs. Enforcement
South Jordan isn’t the only city choosing to go the education route.
KSL Investigators requested citation data from ten different Utah cities with some sort of rule against street parking during winter months.
Eight cities provided calendar year data, while two track citations by winter season.
Total Winter Parking Enforcement Citations by Year
*2023 data is through the third week of February
We saw an even split between cities enforcing the law and those opting for more education for their citizens.
West Jordan, Layton, South Ogden, and Lehi all issued an average of 40 citations or fewer each year.
Lehi wrote the fewest tickets: just two in 2023, and not a single ticket the two years prior.
Lehi Police Sgt. Lane Larsen told us that’s because “most people don’t know the code as far as no parking overnight between Nov 1 thru Mar 30” so the city opts for warnings.
Larsen called these “red tags,” warning those who are noncompliant with parking laws in hopes to educate them.
He said results of the approach have been a mixed bag, with some citizens being very receptive to the warning, while others are not. On the enforcement end of the spectrum, West Valley City, Bountiful, Sandy, and Tooele each issued an average of 100 tickets or more per year.
Total Winter Parking Enforcement Citations by Winter Season
|West Valley City||255||395||301||490|
*2023 data is through the third week of February
Logan City in Cache County was king of winter parking citations, having issued 1,280 citations since November 1, 2022.
For Lt. Brooks Davis with the Logan Police Department, enforcing the winter parking rule is a safety issue.
“Our valley has a tendency to get cold, and any snow that we get tends to stick around and stay,” Davis explained. “So, it does become a priority for our parking enforcement.”
Davis says education is a part of their efforts early on in the winter season.
“Initially, we send out our parking officials and our patrol will also help in that first few weeks of winter parking and hand out hundreds of warnings to try to get everybody in the mindset of staying off the street,” he said.
Davis said a good chunk of their enforcement activity is driven by complaints from plow drivers and residents. To assist, they have four, part-time employees out ticketing in the wee hours of the winter months.
“If we can clear the streets, they’re going to have better traction, less slippage, which leads to accidents, and the city just operates more efficiently,” he said.
Parking enforcement isn’t the only priority for these cities.
In the thick of a winter storm, stuck motorists, crashes, and safety situations take precedence over parking.
South Jordan police say they take a robust approach to making sure the streets are safe.
“Engineering, education, and then enforcement, in that order,” said Montelongo. “To engineer what we can to make sure that we’re making our streets safe as possible for all of our residents.”
South Jordan, like many of the other cities we sampled, seek to educate residents on winter parking rules throughout the season through social media, newsletters, and through local HOAs.
“The last thing we want to do is conduct any sort of enforcement,” Montelongo explained. “If it comes down to that, and we need to start issuing citations, that’s what we end up doing.”
Have you experienced something you think just isn’t right? The KSL Investigators want to help. Submit your tip at firstname.lastname@example.org or 385-707-6153 so we can get working for you.
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