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Parking on both sides of the street is finally legal, thanks to some city common sense.
Parking on both sides of the street is finally legal, thanks to some city common sense.

Our long municipal nightmare is over! Parking regulations that make sense

This story originally ran Feb 15, 2016. No changes have been made other than updating applicable links. 

Grab your flags, your noisemakers, your flashing lights and your ticker tape. Our long municipal nightmare is over.

As difficult as it may be to believe, the City of Milwaukee, under continued pressure from Ald. Nik Kovac, has actually done something that reeks of common sense. It’s so logical that it’s a miracle it hasn’t happened before.

The virtually constant mystery of where people are permitted to park their cars in Milwaukee at night has been solved, and most can sleep safely at night, not wondering whether the parking checker gnomes are slapping a ticket on their windshield.

Here’s the background, or at least some of the background because the whole city parking thing is only slightly less complicated than the formula for a nuclear bomb and about as friendly.

Milwaukee has something called alternate street parking meaning  you can only park on one side of the street. On even dates, like Feb. 12, you have to park on the even side of the street. On odd dates, like Feb. 13, it’s the odd side of the street.

The change means that if  you live in one of the exception areas (call your alderperson to find out if that's you) you can park on both sides of the street unless the Department of Public Works calls an operation, which normally means a snow storm where they have to plow.

As Kovac said, "There’s aren’t any signs for this. It’s just something you have to know." You can check if your street allows parking on both sides here

This whole thing never seemed to make much sense and Kovac – with co-sponsors, Milele Coggs, Robert Bauman, Jose Perez, Tony Zielinski and Bob Donovan – finally, after years of work, came up with a solution.

They got it past the rest of the Common Council, and now, with streets almost barren of snow, you can actually park on both sides of the street at night. Not the entire city, of course, but the entire 3rd district and  parts of the 4th, 6th, 8th, 12th, and 14th Districts. Basically, if you already lived on a street where you could park both sides most of the year except winter (defined as Dec 1 - Mar 1), you now can do that during those three months, too, unless there is enough snow on the ground for city workers to be out plowing the parking lanes.

"I’ve been pushing for this for about five years," said Kovac, who is running for reelection. "I think that inertia was the thing that kept us from getting it fixed.

"If we get a snow storm, we go back to the old rules. We need to keep the streets open so that we can plow. But without snow, it just doesn’t make sense to have that 24-hour rule."

Just so we are all clear on this, if you park overnight on the street, you still need to get a night parking permits. But at least you don’t have to wonder what the date is or search for a spot on the "right" side of the street.

Of course, nobody has figured out what kind of impact this will have on the incredible revenue raised by parking citations. In 2013, the city raised $21,344,212 from parking citations. If you find that unbelievable, you can read about it here.

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