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Editorial: It's up to the council to change snow emergency protocol

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This week we report on problems associated with the city's snow emergency ordinance and how it was enforced by the Hastings Police Department recently.

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During a snowfall a few weeks ago, city plow trucks took to the streets overnight, and the HPD was out ticketing and towing vehicles to make room for the plows.

All of that activity is dictated by the city's snow emergency ordinance. A?snow emergency is automatically declared any time snowfall levels surpass two inches, and at that point, residents had better be sure their vehicles are off the road, or they could be ticketed and towed.

The HPD had fielded a number of complaints about how they were not enforcing the ordinance. Some streets weren't able to be fully plowed because vehicles were in the way, and residents on those streets phoned the department.

The HPD responded to those complaints by stepping up their enforcement. That stepped up enforcement didn't exactly go over well with the residents who awoke that recent morning to find their vehicles had been towed. City council members reached out to the department, confused as to what had happened.

But let it be clear: the body that has control over the ordinances in the city is the city council, not the police department. If council members don't like the way the snow emergencies are being handled, they can change the ordinance.

We would recommend they do make some adjustments in order to provide some much-needed relief for residents whose cars are parked on city streets overnight. We'd recommend there be no towing between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. We know this would be an inconvenience to plow truck drivers who typically get started much earlier in the day, but it's unfair for residents to go to bed only to wake up and find their vehicle gone after it snowed overnight.

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