City Won’t Tow Odd-Side Cars

Thomas MacMIllan PhotoNew traffic chief Doug Hausladen put out a call for neighbors to work together to keep the odd-numbered side of streets clear for plowing. But, he said, tow trucks won’t come for the odd cars out.

Hausladen made those remarks Wednesday afternoon, hours before a parking ban was due to begin.

Starting at 6 p.m., the city will ban all cars from parking downtown, posted snow routes, and the odd side of all city streets, including neighborhood streets, until 6 a.m. Thursday. People can park overnight at the Temple and Crown street parking garages for $3 between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. Parking will be free at the Granite Square parking garage.

Hausladen, on his third day on the job as the city’s transportation director, said he’ll have tow trucks ready to clear out downtown, but not residential streets.

In recent years that subject has provoked much debate in town, especially in neighborhoods where narrow side streets became unplowable in repeated storms because of cars that never cleared the way in the first place. City officials have veered back and forth on the necessity of towing; as recently as Tuesday afternoon, emergency operations chief Rick Fontana said at a planning session at the city’s Emergency Operations Center that at some point crews need to do some neighborhood towing to get the message out.

Other officials questioned whether the city has the capacity to do that, or whether it will cost too much to make school parking lots available for neighbors to use. School parking lots have been open to neighbors for previous storms, but not for this one.

“Operationally, we are going to ticket and tow downtown. We are going to ticket and work on towing the snow routes,” Hausladen told the Independent Wednesday afternoon. But he called towing on the residential streets a bridge too far. “It’s a very large operational hurdle to get to the residential areas.”

The city just doesn’t have the resources to tow all odd-side cars, Hausladen said. “The fact of the matter is, that would be an army of tow trucks.”

Asked about smaller-scale enforcement—picking a street or two to clear, to send a message that the city is serious about the odd-side ban—Hausladen said he’s looking into that possibility. “Something we could do is randomized enforcement.” He said he’ll be talking to the mayor about that option.

“What we’re capable of right now is ticketing and towing,” Hausladen said.

For now, Hausladen called on people to open up their driveways for neighbors’ cars. “This is a community effort. Talk to your neighbors,” Hausladen said. “Every car owner should have in their mind where their emergency snow ban parking location is.”

Lisa Siedlarz File PhotoThe city’s policy on residential towing during snowstorms has been the source of confusion and complaints for years, with many people calling for simplicity, consistency, and enforcement.

In 2011, repeated snow storms left city crews unable to clear some narrow side streets in neighborhoods like East Rock, producing an uproar from neighbors.

In the wake of those storms, the DeStefano administration concluded, along with some of the vocal neighbors, that the city needs to declare a ban on parking on one side of those streets—before the snow starts. And then the city needs to tow cars aggressively, and promptly. Otherwise it will never be able to dig out.

“We learned the public will appreciate [aggressive towing] as long as we’re [clear] and follow through,” Mayor John DeStefano said at the time. “We’re going to be more aggressive about towing. People are pretty accepting and really cooperating.”

Read about the events and the subsequent debate at the time here and here.

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posted by: Esbey on February 5, 2014  4:23pm

If there aren’t enough tow trucks, what about a policy of residential streets of ticketing but not towing?  The revenue would help to offset the cost of the storm, and in particular the extra cost of dealing with cars parked on the banned side of the street.

posted by: Hill Resident on February 5, 2014  7:54pm

It really makes no sense ot have a parking ban if it’s not going to be enforced. Allowing your neighbors to park in your driveway during a parking ban is a great idea, IF you have enough driveways on your street, which we do not. We have a school at the end of the block for residents to park in, but it is not utilized. My street is a one way street - just one lane wide - with parking on both sides. With the snow and with the plowing the street gets narrower and narrower. Towing would take an army of town trucks but I am sure that they would also appreciate the additional revenue. Or you could contract the tow companies to hook the cars and drop them at the designated school lot, ticket them, plow the odd side. And if the tickets don’t get paid, you at least know where to find and boot the cars later. It’s a win win (except for the scoffers who will have learned a lesson. But if you are not going to tow, then at least ticket. You can’t make empty threats.

posted by: robn on February 5, 2014  10:14pm

Adding to ESBYs comment; there are armies of volunteers looking to shovel snow. Why not sponsor a training session to deputize such people during storms for ticketing?

posted by: DrFeelgood on February 5, 2014  11:41pm

Can someone explain how we would know what a posted snow route is?
Also, if the street isn’t 1 way how do I know what the even side is?

posted by: Walt on February 6, 2014  8:09am

Dr.  Feelgood

1,  Look for   signs on the posts in   your neighborhood.  If posters are there, it is “posted”

If no posters are seen,  it may or not be a “posted” street

2,  Look at the number on the   buildings.  If it ends with 2,4,6,8,or 0,  it is the even side. Works on both 1-way and 2-way streets

If you can’t read numbers,  try parking on the same side as most of your neighbors, You will have a good chance of being correct.  .

If no one else has parked yet drive away (not to my neighborhood, please)  and come back some other day after the snow melts.

Hope this helps.

posted by: leibzelig on February 6, 2014  10:00am

robn: Are there such volunteers who would shovel snow for the elderly, infirm and handicapped? If so, that really is a wonderful thing.
If those people exist, perhaps there could be coordination, where people who need these services could apply and the snow angels could be dispatched in their neighborhoods.
Maybe SeeClikFix or the new commissioner of elderly services could create such a sounding board.

posted by: robn on February 6, 2014  10:16am


I was talking about people looking to get paid for shoveling but to answer your question; yes, SCF already helped organize a site to collect volunteers for shoveling out those not able. You can visit that site here….

posted by: InformedOpinion123 on February 6, 2014  10:42am

Unacceptable! What is the point of a parking ban if the city is not going to enforce it with towing?!? Tickets do nothing. Side streets are a mess EVERY WINTER because people don’t move their cars, snow piles up with multiple storms and the streets not only become unplowable, but unsafe! It is absolutely ludicrous that the city has not been able to figure this out yet. This is an awful start to this administration and to Hausladen’s appointment at “traffic czar.” And what experience does he have exactly that qualifies him for this appointment?

posted by: absolutmakes on February 6, 2014  11:45am

While I think a ticket-and-tow policy should be in place, if the infrastructure isn’t there to make it happen then don’t advertise the policy. Currently, no one takes it seriously because it’s not enforced.

While we’re talking about this policy, can we also start talking about ticketing property owners that don’t clear snow from sidewalks on their property?

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on February 6, 2014  12:20pm

There is not enough time nor resources available to tow every car parked on every odd side of residential streets, snow emergency routes and downtown during every snow emergency. Towing should be focused downtown and along snow emergency routes, and perhaps one residential neighborhood on a rotating basis. Ticketing seems like a more plausible alternative and will encourage the person to pay attention to where they park for the next storm.


Snow Emergency Routes are labeled with these signs:

Usually on the city website when there is a declared snow emergency, there is a link provided to a map which shows which streets are downtown, snow emergency routes, and residential streets.

posted by: Brian R on February 6, 2014  1:57pm

There are certain residential streets where towing would make a lot of sense.  In East Rock alone, Willow, Canner and Orange would be the big three.  If resources were available, towing Orange alone could have a huge impact on traffic in the neighborhood.

posted by: Lisa on February 6, 2014  11:14pm

I had hoped the new administration would know the previous issues and have a new plan.  Sadly, this did not happen.  I agree with we it net here, Cathy phrases mean nothing if there is no enforcement.  At the very least, the city can issue tickets to those who don’t comply.  That will get peoples attention eat fast.  But surely there must be tow companies chomping at the bit to be able to tow cars…..  New administration means time to make improvements.  Come on New Haven,  Boston has it right.  I was there for a blizzard last year and the streets were spotless in 2 days.  Maybe talk to their people.