UPDATE: Dozens of cars towed, 104 cited under Columbia snow ordinance

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 | 1:16 p.m. CST; updated 10:07 p.m. CST, Thursday, February 6, 2014
The Columbia Public Works Department placed parking notices on cars parked on University Avenue on Wednesday. A new ordinance now requires cars parked on certain streets in Columbia to be moved if snowfall exceeds 2 inches so plows can clear the streets.

COLUMBIA — Twenty-six cars were towed from priority snow routes across town and 104 were cited Wednesday as Columbia for the first time enforced its new snow route ordinance.

According to the ordinance, if 2 or more inches of snow accumulates, cars are prohibited from parking on first- and second-priority routes so snow plows and other snow-clearing equipment can get through.

Columbia lifted the no-parking ordinance on first- and second-priority routes at 4 p.m. Wednesday, according to a news release from Columbia Public Works, and began efforts to clear residential areas.

Teresa White, spokeswoman for the Columbia Public Works Department, said she had heard mixed reviews of the new policy. Some plow drivers told her they had seen a big improvement in street access, and others reported no change in certain parts of town. She said it was too early to say whether some parts of Columbia were more compliant with the new ordinance than others.

In general, she said, "people are being compliant without being cited. A lot of it is just asking for help."

White said parking enforcement agents make the decision whether to ticket or tow a car.

"If a car is significantly blocking a lane or inhibiting plows from plowing and equipment from moving through that area, then they do (tow the car) for the public good," she said.

The ticket for parking on a priority route is $15, and towing fees can be as high as $200 because of the complexity of moving a car out of the snow for hookup. 

Parking enforcement officers have called several towing companies to enforce the ordinance. Annie Perry of Doug Perry Towing said the company had towed five cars Wednesday morning from Williams Street.

The price of the tow varies with the situation. "It depends on if we have to winch, tow and dolly it out," Perry said. 

She said the tow itself costs $100, with an additional $25 to $50 if the vehicle has to be winched, or pulled, out of its original spot to attach it to the tow truck and an additional $40 to $45 if the vehicle has to be placed on a dolly.

Public Works was asking for help from customers who normally park on streets designated as snow priority routes to look for side-street parking or other alternatives to allow equipment to plow the streets, White said. 

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service said more snow could be on the way Friday and Saturday, though the chance was 20 percent to 40 percent.

Customers whose cars were towed can call the Columbia Police Department at their non-emergency number, 874-7652, and press zero to speak with the operator to find out where their car was towed.

Supervising editor is Stephanie Ebbs.

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John Schultz February 5, 2014 | 5:15 p.m.

I don't have the time or access to look it up, but didn't the city say they would only warn people the first year this ordinance was in effect?

(Report Comment)
Taylor Fox February 6, 2014 | 11:14 a.m.

Hi John,
This is Taylor Fox, one of the reporters on this story, we have not found or received any information stating the city would only be warning people, do you have information suggesting this year people would be warned and not towed?

(Report Comment)

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