When Victor Paredes left work on Monday evening, he came outside to find that his car was gone. When Sarah Olson woke up the next morning with plans to get a tire changed, she left the house and saw that her car was gone. When Amy Guttormsson finished holiday shopping at Ingebretsen’s on Tuesday afternoon, seven pounds of Swedish meatballs in hand, she found that her car was gone.
“When I came out, there were other cars parked there, but mine was gone,” she said as she waited in line at the Minneapolis Impound Lot, the meatballs still in her arms. “I thought it was stolen.”
It’s finally winter in Minneapolis, and for city dwellers — or those just storing their cars here — that means learning how to park all over again.
Early Tuesday, the third and final day of the season’s first snow emergency, there had been 4,899 tickets issued and 911 tows — and those numbers were expected to rise throughout the day. Final numbers will be released on Wednesday. The city tickets cars before towing them.
“They try to make it easy. I think they really do,” Olson said as she waited in line Tuesday. She mentioned that the city offers a smartphone app, a brochure and street signs showing where and where not to park during snow emergencies.
“But a lot of folks don’t use apps,” she added. “A lot of folks don’t see the signs.”
For newcomers to the city, the rules can be especially confusing.
“That’s my problem, apparently,” said Daniela Garcia, who moved to Loring Park about six months ago for her job as a flight attendant.
Garcia discovered her car was gone on Tuesday morning, and was pointed to the impound lot after calling a towing company. A friend — and fellow flight attendant — gave her a ride.
“I called her — I was like, ‘Dude, they towed my car!’ ” Garcia said. “Thank God she was here.”
Paredes, who moved to Minneapolis from the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia about a year ago, was at the impound lot by himself Tuesday after trying to retrieve his car the night before.
“I come in last night, but a lot of people was here,” he said, describing a queue winding out of the building.
Over the lunch hour on Tuesday, a constant flow of people waited in the slow-moving line, feet shuffling along a salt-stained floor. Some clutched hot drinks and made conversation; others made frustrated phone calls for help with the fines.
A yellow sheet of paper posted behind the payment window broke down the cost: $138 for regular towing and $175 for “heavy duty” towing. There’s also an $18 storage fee, “applied each midnight.”
Minneapolis ordinances govern winter street parking before, during and after heavy snowfalls, or when snow has accumulated from smaller snowfalls, so that plowing crews can clear more than 1,000 miles of city streets.
Ryan Helgerson said he paid $183 to get his wife’s car out of the impound lot. They’d followed the Day 2 snow emergency rules in Powderhorn Park after getting a text message alert, he said, but didn’t find out about Day 3 rules until it was too late.
Eric Muchow and Darren Nelson, both of St. Paul, were taken by surprise Tuesday when they parked for a few hours in northeast Minneapolis.
“It’s confusing. The parking restrictions ended already in St. Paul,” said Muchow, who described a fruitless attempt to chase down the tow truck on foot. “I didn’t even consider Minneapolis.”
Beside him in line, Nelson drew attention for the Santa Claus suit he was wearing. Asked if he’d worn it just for work, or for the trip to the impound lot, he said no.
“This is a detour,” he said. “This was not planned.”