Snarking Violations


Some Grand Avenue time limit signs.

Snow can expose things about our car-dominated landscape that wouldn’t normally be so obvious. Much like a sneckdown, a “snarking violation” is when one can clearly observe that a vehicle hasn’t been moved and has violated posted parking ordinances.

Over the course of Monday night, the Twin Cities received their first snow storm. I took the opportunity, nearly 8 hours after the snow stopped falling, to bike commute home via Grand Avenue to take in the our best pedestrian street turned winter wonderland. As I passed Dale Ave, I began to realize that many of the cars parked appeared to have not moved for a significant amount of time.

For some background, Grand Ave was embroiled in a heated, and often misleading, debate about the addition of parking meters to encourage parking turn-over and the use of alternative modes. In the end, the parking enthusiasts successfully stopped what, I argued, would’ve been in their best interest on the claim that current posted time limits provided needed turn-over.

Many of us who frequent Grand Ave know this isn’t true, but it is hard to prove a vehicle has been sitting for 2+ hours unless you’re chalking tires and make multiple passes over the course of a day. However, this is where mother nature’s cozy white blanket comes in and saves us all from becoming amateur parking enforcement officers.

Clearly this is a single sampling after the first snow during a “holiday” week so take it with a grain of road salt; but I hope this changes the conversation about Grand Ave. “Snarking Violations” are a way for us to clearly point to examples of low parking turnover and the need for meters as a tool to better allocate our limited parking resources.

(Hat-tip to Jeff Zaayer for the terminology of “snarking violation”.)


Emmett's on Grand

In front of Emmett’s Pub.

Grand Snow 1

Slightly down the block from Emmett’s, east of Grotto Street

Grand Snow Red Ballon

Just west of the busy intersection of Grand and Victoria.

Grand Snow Red Ballon 2

In front of the popular book store Red Balloon Bookshop.

Grand SA Snow

Kitty-corner from 1st Grand Avenue Liquors.

Grand Cigar Shop Snow

Several businesses front this side of the street along with the site of the famed Cupcake debacle.

Grand Snow 2

Traditions Classic Home Furnishing’s is at the corner on the right.

Grand Wedding Shoppe Snow

In front of The Wedding Shoppe near Ayd Mill Road.

Grand Residential Snow

West of Syndicate and Ayd Mill Road [outside of the studied parking meter stretch].

11 thoughts on “Snarking Violations

  1. Steve

    I notice this walking in the Wedge as well. It creates the added problem of preventing plows from clearing the streets curb to curb.

    Is it that we just notice this in the neighborhoods where we are out walking, or is this a manifestation of increasing density and income in our more walkable neighborhoods – the folks who own cars but don’t use them daily to get to and from work.

  2. Eric AnondsonEric Anondson

    I think this is really useful. Businesses who fought meters should be agitating at the city, waving this post as a brilliant fool proof way to ticket parking violators. No chalk needed.

    That is if they don’t care about parking violations. If they don’t, they’ll stay silent about snarking violations.

    But on that word. Maybe “snorking” or “snowrking”? Snark is too close to the high sport of urbanmsp forum comments… 😉

  3. Emily MetcalfeEmily Metcalfe

    Now I know what to call it when my neighbors move their cars just an hour or two after the plow comes by, leaving a section of our street not fully plowed. My spouse even knocked on their door that morning to tell their to move their cars, but no answer.

    Snarking violation!

  4. GlowBoy

    Portland Avenue between downtown and Franklin has several spots where the plows have driven around parked cars that clearly haven’t moved (some still covered) since before the snowfall. As a result there are several places where the bike lane – the primary one connecting downtown with South Minneapolis – is buried under 6-8″ of chunky plowed snow that isn’t even rideable with a fatbike.

    I’m glad I was there on New Year’s morning when there was little traffic. If this is still the situation on Monday at 5pm it will be quite dangerous for cyclists.

    Shouldn’t these cars have been towed? It’s been four days since the snow started falling. I’m assuming Portland is a snow emergency route. The media have made a big deal out of the hundreds of cars that have been towed. From what I can see around town, the city could/should have towed even more.

    1. Scott

      Hear, hear!
      They don’t tow near enough, in my opinion. The ideal would be 100 percent compliance or 100 percent towed.

      1. Wayne

        I’ll second that.

        I heard from an acquaintance of mine who lives in a lower-income area near downtown that the city basically does close to zero enforcement and people aren’t towed or even ticketed in many cases for leaving their cars out in a way that precludes proper plowing (alliteration!) Of course this is kind of double-edged, because those people are likely to be the least able to pay the fines, but the end result is that they also get the cruddiest infrastructure with streets that aren’t plowed properly. As much as I’d like to think the city isn’t ticketing out of the kindness of their hearts, it’s far more likely to be the typical neglect they show for lower income areas in general and nothing charitable.

        1. Nick

          Or maybe they ticket/tow in the areas where people are more likely to recover vehicles so they don’t end up with a lot full of nearly worthless cars that they have to auction?

          1. Wayne

            Still doesn’t really excuse the disparate impact of their policies. Poor people deserve cleared streets and sidewalks just as much as anyone else.

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