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Brad Hicks fights parking ticket after meter blocked by snow

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- We've seen a rough winter in southeastern Wisconsin -- with a lot of days with sub-zero temperatures, and a lot of snow. All that snow is exposing a problem with parking meters in the city of Milwaukee. When FOX6 News started digging for answers, we found the city really doesn't have any. We did end up getting some citations thrown out, but countless others have to pay. Should they have gotten a break as well? You decide.

Something happens when it snows and parking meters get plowed in. The citations don't stop!

Driving around Milwaukee's Third Ward more than a week after a big snow, FOX6 News found meter after meter peeking out from the piles.

On Jefferson Street in the Third Ward, in order to plug one meter, an individual would have to literally climb a mountain.

Would you want your grandma to have to do that?

"I'm not putting money in the meter," Kara Mannor said.

Can you even blame her? Mannor walks with a cane.

"I would call it impossible," Mannor said.

FOX6's Brad Hicks found one of those with an expired meter was former state Rep. Jason Fields.

"You know, I did (plug the meter), but you actually have to climb into the snow, and if you're downtown, you're probably dressed in businesswear. You probably don't have the correct shoes to climb a snow hill or a mountain. It just makes sense that if that's what we're going to expect from our citizens, then make it convenient for them," Fields said.

So why is the city ticketing people for not plugging the plowed-in meters?

FOX6 News spent photos of the snowed in meters to Milwaukee's Department of Public Works -- the department that does the plowing and issues the parking tickets.

DPW refused to answer any questions on camera, as did the parking enforcement officer slapping down the $22 citations.

DPW did say in an email that clearing a path to the meters "is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner."

The only problem is there is no city ordinance that says that. The rule DPW cited says you have to clear your sidewalks, which includes "the entire paved surface."

DPW also said that after receiving the pictures from FOX6 News, they "cleared the area on January 10th."

FOX6 News visited the area three weeks later, and while it wasn't "cleared," it was no longer a mountain, but a hill.

DPW volunteered to void parking citations for a section of Jefferson Street for two days -- the two days before FOX6 News brought the problem to DPW's attention. 11 tickets in total were voided.

However, the snow had been piled up for more than a week by then. Who knows how many people got tickets. Apparently, DPW sure doesn't.

FOX6 News asked, and DPW said there were "no citations" issued for the really bad stretch of Jefferson Street that week. The problem is, that's not true.

FOX6's Brad Hicks received an expired meter citation on Jefferson Street on January 3rd. He took photographs of his car, the ticket and the footprints as he tried to get to the meter and ended up thigh-high in snow.

Hicks took his citation to the City Attorney's Office - poised to make his case and fight the ticket.

Other cities have policies about no parking meter tickets after it snows. The Milwaukee Fire Department implores citizens to clear snow from the hydrants, and if some of these downtown parking meters were mailboxes, the letter carrier would keep on driving.

In Hicks' case, staff in the City Attorney's Office took one look at the picture and waived his citation.

They also offered this advice: "Because of the snow we've had, if you cannot get to the meter, then don't park there."

There is no city ordinance that says "don't stay if you can't pay."

In fact, FOX6 News went back down to Jefferson Street this week after Monday's measurable snowfall. Once again, DPW had not cleared any paths to the meters. Therefore, based on the City Attorney's Office's advice, entire blocks of downtown Milwaukee are now no parking until spring.

When pressed about the "just don't park there" policy, the City Attorney's Office told FOX6 News to get in touch with the DPW. The DPW told FOX6 News to get in touch with the City Attorney's Office.

The chair of the Public Works Department, Alderman Robert Bauman says "don't stay if you can't pay" is ridiculous, and is clearly not city policy.

Your best bet at this point: If you can't pay a meter and you get a ticket, take a picture and fight it.

5 comments

  • sonya span

    I am very upset with DPW, I have never gotten a ticket down town, but I thought it was the responsibility of the property owner to shovel the side walk and entry way of their business or home. I feel since nobody but DPW is getting money from the meter, the property owner should not have to or be obligated to remove the snow. If that property owner parks at the meter in front of his business, and that meter go out, I bet his or her butt is going to get a ticket. “It is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner to clear a path to the meter”-bull****

  • Ali

    I live on a street where there is an abandoned building, here on the eastside. The building takes up about a block of the street. Since no one claims to own the building, it has not been shoveled or salted this entire winter. I have called the city letting them know this and that I have seen multiple people fall on this long stretch of the sidewalk, and I myself have fallen going to work a few times. When I called they told me I could shovel it, or I should walk on the street. Also, I get text alerts when the 4 inch rule goes into effect on my street. So when the rule goes into effect, everyone is required to move their cars from the left side of the street so the city can plow. Well almost every time they have issued this rule, people move their cars but no plow ever comes through. Now I understand highways and highly traveled roads are most important, but it has been every time now. And then they give tickets out for being too far from the curb when it is impossible to park closer because of the mountains of snowbanks. I love living here on the eastside, but this parking situation this winter has been very stressful. Stressful enough where I am considering moving away from this area.

  • McTeacher

    Parking checkers are public enemy #1. Taking honest people’s money away from them for next to no reason. It’s one thing if you park in a spot clearly labelled “no parking” or something similar. It’s a completely different ballpark when you’re charging people when they follow the rules! I have heard many stories of people getting tickets for “no overnight parking” when they work downtown! This !@#$ needs to END!!

  • Jane Timm

    Milwaukee City Fathers, please grow a heart! I am fortunately not affected by the ridiculous parking nightmare Downtown because I have my own parking spot in the condo, but my heart goes out to the poor people who must park in the street. And when the merciless parking meter checkers won’t cut anyone a break especially when the weather is hellish, I must say I get so disgusted. I want both residents and visitors to feel the tender care and love of this city, which I am generally so proud of. But when I see these meter checkers putting parking citations on cars as I drive in to work at the crack of dawn, it just breaks my heart at how cruel and merciless bureaucracy can be. Thank God for our free press and the Brad Hicks piece. The path to TYRANNY is paved by an unquestioned government!!!!

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