Parking meter in Uptown

Big Ideas to Bolster Car-Commuter Safety

Citing increasing crime on and near car storage sites in the Twin Cities, an urban Minnesota blog post writer plans to introduce several safety proposals that deserve serious consideration.

Pine Salica, a leading voice on transportation issues, plans to ask a legislator to introduce their proposal during the 2020 session. Salica told a writer that they’ve heard from people in the metro area and greater Minnesota describe unpleasant experiences with parking sites and who worry about their safety when they use the system.

“Minnesotans use cars to commute to work and school. I know many people from different parts of the state who drive cars to the Mall of America or to sports events and or to the airport,” Salica said. “Sadly, a casual perusal of news articles reveals … a number of assaults, robberies and other criminal activity taking place in ramps and at street-level car storage spots.”

Among the worthy ideas Salica suggests are:

  • Looking at the costs/benefits of constructing barriers or turnstiles to keep those who haven’t paid the tolls out of ramps and streetside car storage to enhance security and increase compliance.
  • Directing metro counties to prioritize an increase in parking enforcement officers and meter inspectors, and to study shifting strategies of the parking enforcement officers to match that of fare enforcement officers on trains.
a police officer writes a ticket in a parking lot of parking meters

Storing your car without paying the meter in Minneapolis is currently punishable with a $42 fine. The light rail proof-of-payment fine is $180. Let’s get that aligned.

Nobody is tracking the number of assaults that take place at car storage sites, probably because they’re so ubiquitous.

Salica decided to pursue legislative fixes after hearing complaints and reading a recent Star Tribune editorial about safety measures. They said no bill has been drafted and that legislation isn’t necessarily the best or most typical way to change security policies. Salica recognizes that law enforcement officials are working on the problems but said that more must be done. Their proposals are intended to spark discussion and action and bring the safety concerns “to the forefront,” they said.

That’s especially important, Salica added, given that the state is poised to spend more than $240 million on a parking ramp at MSP Airport and spends millions annually on maintaining curbside car storage. Minnesotans should feel confident that they can store their cars without fear of being robbed or assaulted, they said.

When news of Salica’s proposals broke earlier this month, some friends were quick to question why a blog post writer who has never even owned a car in the state was interested in car storage. And others pointed out that Salica hasn’t been exactly supportive of car infrastructure funding.

But as writers have experienced firsthand, conditions at car storage sites have never been safe. If it takes an urban blog post writer to sound the alarm for a greater focus on public safety at car storage sites, so be it.

Salica’s ideas deserve a full hearing by members of both parties.

Pine Salica

About Pine Salica

Pine lives in Minneapolis and works in Saint Paul. Pine hasn't owned a car for over a dozen years, and can count on one hand the number of times they've operated one in the last 12 months. Housing is a human right, car storage is not. Member of the Climate Committee.