It wasn’t always like this. This changed roughly five years ago.
I’m talking about the parking restrictions, that is. See that sign?
As I said, roughly five years ago my neighborhood’s sixty-year-old streets reached their functional end. When we moved in about 11 years back the streets were horrendous. Every Spring potholes were patched. The year before reconstruction started about a full third of the street was patched up potholes.
Sidenote: when you get assessed for the cost of street, curb, sanitary and stormwater sewer reconstruction you will realize just how expensive the infrastructure in our residential streets really is. And the gas tax pays for exactly zero percent.
We’re a small pocket of Hopkins isolated from other Hopkins residential neighborhoods as you can see from the following map. That’s Edina to the south. We also see the Blake Middle School campus to the right, the Excelsior Crossings office park in the upper left, and a few of the SuperValu warehouses in the lower left. For some more context, the Blake Road SWLRT station will be built in the upper right corner.
Below is our residential pocket of South Presidents that had streets completely reconstructed.
Factoid: It’s named South Presidents because the streets are all named after US Presidents, and it’s south of Excelsior Blvd.
The reconstruction of our neighborhood streets took out over 80 boulevard trees. I counted them all. It was unavoidable because the boulevard trees were so mature that too many of their root systems were massively damaged from the street modernization. Because our neighborhood’s streets were regularly subjected to localized flooding from heavy rains the streets were regraded, in some parts it meant dropping the streets a full 12 inches lower to create drainage and those roots were just destroyed.
More trees would have been lost had Hopkins kept the street at the original width. Hopkins narrowed these streets by two feet and widened the boulevards. Even with street narrowing, the streets are wide enough to park on both sides and a lot of room for one vehicle to get through between two parked cars.
Except in a deep winter with heavy snow.
Plows can only move snow so much. After enough snow those curbs are lost far beneath the snowbanks and combined with the narrowing, well, the plow drivers had a challenge.
To ensure plows can get through without smashing cars on either side the city instituted a parking ban from November 15th to April 15th. For five months of the year, half of the on-street parking in the South Presidents neighborhood of Hopkins disappears. A parking apocalypse.
But it never happens.
Look at that map of the residential blocks above. Everyone has a garage. Every garage has a driveway. They aren’t even big driveways because 9 of the 11 blocks have garages on alleys. There is still no shortage of parking.
A five month long, November 15th to April 15th, single-side parking restriction works here. I was skeptical it was going to be fine. But it’s fine. During snow emergencies when everyone has to get off the streets I’ve seen some homes fit three cars in their alley-side driveway side by side.
A little blizzard on April 15th last year didn’t even make us flinch.
7 days later we were out biking in t-shirts.
And we were parking on BOTH sides again!