Snow emergency ticketing in Royal Oak unfairly targets the city’s unlanded and less affluent inhabitants. Those who have driveways and garages can park in them, but for those without parking on the street may be the only option. The expensive tickets - $50 if paid right away, $100 if not paid within 72 hours – punish people with the fewest resources the most.
The ticketing system is flawed because the only ways to avoid a ticket are to have a driveway to park in, or to have official residency at the place one currently resides. People renting homes may not have changed their official residence to their current home, and it isn’t clear on the snow emergency permit if the city considers a letter from a landlord proof of residency. To apply for a permit costs $25 dollars, or around 4 hours of labor for someone making minimum wage. The permitting process may also require presence at the City Clerk’s office, which is only open from 8:00am to 4:30pm Monday through Thursday and only until noon on Friday. Not exactly convenient hours for a student or someone working full time.
The motivation behind the tickets – to get people off the streets to facilitate ploughing- is sound. But ticketing is unnecessarily punitive - no one is excited to park on the street in a snowstorm. It means getting ploughed in and spending a morning scraping and shovelling snow to free a vehicle in order to get to work. But many people do not have an alternative. If the community wants to get cars of the street in a snowstorm it must begin providing other options for people without driveways and garages who may not have residency or the time, finances, and forethought to acquire a permit before an emergency. When a snowstorm is approaching news outlets need to be informing citizens where they can put cars to be out of the snowplough’s way.
Possibilities include opening up parking structures typically closed overnight to residents, especially in the downtown area, where there are more renters fewer homes with driveways. OCC’s parking structure, or the parking structure for the unused townhouses on Washington, might open up when a snow emergency is expected or announced. This solution still begs the question of how residents and renters will get home – a shuttle? Friendly neighbours? – but is at a minimum a better solution than forcing renters to stay overnight elsewhere or condemning them to exorbitant fees.
The city’s permit application can be found here
Snow emergency ordinance maximum fine
Image from here