Nothing reveals the law of unintended consequences like a snow fall in the City of Milwaukee. There are all kinds of ordinances and regulations, posted and unposted, to get and keep the streets and parking spaces clear. There are all kinds of ways these regulations trip up even the citizens with the best of intentions -- who are supposed to benefit from it all.
Getting towed because you are parked in certain parts of town, when you have no off street parking, is one of the more unpopular results. Usually this happens to the people who can least afford to pay a ticket and tow costs -- people with money to spare ALWAYS have off street parking. Maybe there should be a special tax on luxury high-rise apartments, to support a fund to pay parking and tow fees after snow storms for people who can prove residence within three blocks of the space they were towed from.
Many streets have alternate side night parking -- but some do not. Alternate side night parking is, among other things, supposed to allow snow plows to clear the snow right up to the curb, on each side, within two nights of a new snow fall. Then, everyone has clean parking spaces, and we're all happy. Of course, that depends on whether a snow plow even drives down the street on each successive night, but sometimes that happens.
Some streets have parking limited to one side all winter, or all statutory winter: that would be December 1 to March 1. Snow does fall after statutory winter is over some years -- March 2, 2012 for example. Other streets have alternate side parking, day or night, by the MONTH. So if snow falls in January, the side where people can park is full of cars, so the street never gets plowed right to the curb, until February. Then, if snow falls in February, the side where everyone is now parking doesn't get plowed until March.
Then there are streets, or blocks, where for all three months of statutory winter, parking is prohibited on one side of the street. That way, snow plows NEVER really get to clean out the side where everyone parks. Instead, they leave a three foot wide snow bank blocking in all the cars, which may be anywhere from six inches to three feet high, depending on how much snow fell.
Some people think long term and shovel out the space where their car is parked after a snow fall. That makes for an easy drive pulling out, and contributes to having cleared spaces for everyone to park in for the next few weeks. Some think "I ain't got time for that" and spin and slide their car over the freshly plowed snow, leaving piles behind to freeze, melt, freeze, giving everyone a bumpy parking experience until April.
Of course those who shovel out their space never do get to pull into that space again. It's now the most premium, desirable space on the block. Someone who didn't have time to shovel out their own space is quick to grab it next time they need to park. But over a week or so, if even one third of those who park on the block make an effort, it can get to be pretty nicely cleared.
Some cities, like Chicago and Philadelphia, have unwritten customs that if you shovel out a parking space, that is YOUR spot. People leave a couple of pieces of old furniture out to save it, when they drive away. In many neighborhoods, this is respected, and your spot is waiting for you when you return. Milwaukee never picked up that custom.
The 700 block of North 23rd Street is a stretch where parking is only allowed on one side all statutory winter long. It used to be the east side of the street, where everybody lives, that was no parking Dec 1 to Mar 1. Then, the Ambassador Hotel was renovated, and secured a No Parking Loading zone on the west side. Now it is the west side that is no parking all statutory winter long. Otherwise, there would be hardly any spaces at all Dec 1 to Mar 1.
But this still means that snow plows never get to the curb all winter long, on the side where people can park. To shovel out the space, or not to shovel out the space? That is the question. Fortunately, the snow of Mar 2 fell with the weather report saying 50 degrees on Mar 5, so the long nightmare of slippery slidy parking for weeks of winter was not in the cards.
The typical bureaucratic answer would be to post this block, and others like it, as no parking towaway during snow storms. That would not please the residents, who include at least one building that has no off-street parking to offer, at any price. A better solution would be to expand the city's program of providing off street parking during snowfalls, so people have someplace to put their cars. That program is not operating in any accessible Avenues West locations. The alderman has not been responsive to requests to do anything about that.
It sometimes seems that city ordinances are written with the idea that the purpose of the city is to be run efficiently by city departments, and if people want to actually LIVE in the city, well, they are in the way, and they had better stay out of the way, or expect a lot of tickets and tows. It would be even worse if snow plows couldn't get access to do their work anywhere. But common sense solutions to benefit the people who live in the city never seem to make it onto the city hall agenda.