Months before the first flakes flew, officials in Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center had snowplowing on the brain.
The neighboring cities have recently debuted changes in their winter parking rules and are cracking down on vehicles left on the streets during plowing.
In Brooklyn Park, officials are testing out a new snow emergency ordinance that gives them more power to ticket and tow. City staffers said they added the "snow emergency" language because it's more familiar to residents who may not know the particulars of the existing ordinance.
The city bans on-street parking between 2 and 5 a.m. from Oct. 15 to April 15, or whenever at least 2 inches of snow has fallen to allow for its removal.
Meanwhile, neighboring Brooklyn Center recently tweaked an ordinance to step up enforcement and restrict on-street parking after at least 2.5 inches of snow has fallen.
The city's new rule, which took effect Sunday, prohibits parking on any public street or alley until it has been plowed to the curb.
Unlike Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center has a year-round on-street parking ban from 2 to 6 a.m. But city staffers said they've still faced a battle getting vehicles off the street for plowing, with snow removal crews often maneuvering around more than 130 errant cars, city documents show.
As the season shifts, Brooklyn Center officials have been working to spread the word about the new rule, said Angel Smith, communications and community engagement coordinator.
"This is new to our community," Smith said. "We definitely do not want to have to tow anyone."
Snow emergencies are a winter staple in Minneapolis and St. Paul, but they're new to Brooklyn Park. The city has posted a website video in English and Hmong about the new rules, and has taken to social media, passed out fliers and parked a snowplow as a reminder in areas where on-street parking problems are common.
Should a vehicle get left on the street during a snow emergency, it could cost the owner more than $200 between the ticket and tow — and that's if the vehicle gets picked up from the impound lot on the first day, said Dan Ruiz, Brooklyn Park's public works director.
"That's the last thing we want to happen to our residents," he said.
In places where off-street parking is in short supply, especially near apartments, Brooklyn Park is making various parking lots available during snow emergencies. A map of those locations is available on the city website.