Hailey parking

Hailey Public Works Director Brian Yeager said many drivers have left their cars on the street despite receiving “numerous” written warnings from the city. “We have tagged numerous vehicles several times with warning notices but they get ignored,” he said. “Then we have to plow around them, causing the roads to get narrow and eventually impassable.”

Cars parked overnight on residential streets in Hailey have hindered city efforts to keep roads clear, Public Works Director Brian Yeager said Tuesday.

Drivers in Hailey are prohibited from parking on city rights of way between midnight and 7 a.m. every year between Nov. 1 and May 1. That means no one can park within 6 feet of a curb or city-owned pavement, including asphalt without a curb and gutter, during that time.

“If someone is closer than 6 feet to the edge of the asphalt, it’s tough to see exactly where the edge of the asphalt is at when we come through with our heavy equipment,” Yeager explained. “So, we have to swing out around those vehicles to make sure that we’re not pushing 1,000 pounds of snow onto the side of the car, which creates weird jogs in and out of the road. It’s just a huge mess, and it really screws up our operation.”

In Ketchum, drivers who leave their car in an unauthorized area overnight are ticketed $125 if the vehicle has to be towed to make way for a service vehicle. Their car is then moved to the closest-available legal street parking space or parking lot.

In Hailey, on the other hand, there are no “OK” spots to leave one’s car overnight. The city generally does not ticket drivers for illegal parking, Yeager said—rather, Street Division employees will give several written warning notices and attempt to contact the driver before towing. But the brochures put out this year have had little effect, he said, and large storms have forced Street Division staff to request tows.

“On any given vehicle we’ll post parking violation notifications numerous times. When we get pinched by the weather, though, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got one warning or 10 warnings—we can’t let our roads get narrower,” Yeager said. “We’ve got to be fairly consistent. Most people getting towed know it’s going to happen but are just not making an effort to remove their vehicle. A lot of these cars are completely mounded over with snow to the point where it’s hard to even identify what it is.”

Vehicles are dug out by tow-truck drivers and Street Division staff—extra labor that Yeager called “a huge waste of time”—and towed to Dick York’s impound lot on Glenbrook Drive in south Woodside at a cost of $400 to the driver. Most illegal parking this year has been in residential neighborhoods, he added.

Most towing has occurred after snow events when city staff have more time to identify problematic vehicles, he said, but towing sometimes becomes necessary mid-storm.

“Our staff is completely tied up with snow removal during snowstorms—we take everyone we can find plus other staff and put them on snow removal equipment—so it’s really hard to focus on towing,” he said. “HPD will oftentimes help coordinate towing efforts. Our main focus is providing enough width for emergency access vehicles.

“Then, when the storm is over and my staff has more time, they can go out there and move the vehicles that they wanted to get out of the way but didn’t have time to get to.”

After a car or row of cars is towed, maintenance crews have to make a special trip to that area to clear more snow.

“It’s not just extra cost, it’s a huge waste of time,” Yeager said.

Hailey’s overnight parking rule tends to be violated most in early winter after the first few storms of the year, he noted, but as the season goes on more people get the message and park off-street. He theorized that the extended fall and delayed winter this year has contributed to more parking violations.

“People maybe have not felt as pressed to move their stuff out of the right of way,” he said.

Of the violations the city has seen, most have been from residents with “multiple cars” who live in higher-density developments, such as Balmoral Apartments and townhomes in Woodside, Yeager said.

“Someone might say, ‘My car is plowed in for the winter, so I guess I’ll just use my other car and leave this one in the right of way,’’ he said. “The key thing here is, please do not park in the right of way. Please do not obstruct our operations. We are shouting this message from the rooftops.”

Yeager added: “We don’t want to be the bad guys. We are here to serve the citizens of Hailey to the best of our ability and keep roads passable for our vehicles. None of us want anyone to get a $400 bill before Christmas.”

Load comments