The first snow means that it's time for the Department of Public Works to remind Sierra County residents that they have a legal responsibility to park their vehicles off County Roads and State Highways during and after snowstorms so that snow removal equipment operators can do their jobs effectively.
Vehicles parked on the street make snow removal difficult and they contribute to the narrowing of traffic lanes - making winter driving tougher on all of us. More than just a big lump in the snow, such vehicles are a hazard to motorists and are subject to damage from snow plows and other vehicles.
Here's the legal stuff: Local Ordinance (Section 11.12.050 of the Sierra County Code) and the California Vehicle Code (CVC 22510) prohibit parking a vehicle on the road or street right-of-way, or in any way hindering snow removal. That means no parking on or along the pavement, at the end of a street, around a cul-de-sac or on the shoulder of the road during snow removal. These are the locations that are needed for snow storage. If you need to park on the street short term, go ahead, but keep in mind that your vehicle needs to be out of the way when the plow comes by, and you can't park out there at all if you will be blocking a lane.
If you violate these provisions, you might very well end up having your vehicle towed at your expense per CVC 22651 (L), and receive a citation, which takes up the Department's time and your money. Plan ahead for a winter parking spot off the street and make sure you can get to it during snowy conditions. This applies to trailers, boats, RVs and disabled vehicles as well, so it's time to find a place for them, too. In addition to vehicles and trailers, any item placed within the public right-of-way without a permit must also be removed. This includes basketball standards, firewood, etc. You are responsible for any damages caused by or to any item you placed within the right-of-way. If a snowplow can hit it, it needs to be moved.
Snow berms are created in the process of plowing snow, these berms may block private encroachments (driveways) to County Roads. Our equipment operators go to great lengths to minimize the impact of snow berms to the extent possible. If there is a snow berm that it restricting the access to your property it is your responsibility to remove it. It is much easier to remove a berm soon after it is created, if you wait too long it may freeze and become a block of ice that is very difficult to remove. If you have a berm please make an effort to address it before this happens.
Where do you put the snow you are snow-blowing, shoveling or plowing from your driveway or sidewalk? One place it doesn't belong is out in the street. The act of putting snow or other materials on a public right-of-way is a violation of CVC 23112 and Section 724 of the California Streets and Highways Code, and is a misdemeanor. When Public Works snowplow operators attempt to plow through this snow, most of it will become part of the berm in front of your property (or your neighbor's). What's worse is that the rest of it will stay in the street as an icy, dangerous bump that could contribute to an accident.
Please keep your snow on your property.
Obeying winter parking and shoveling rules makes our job of snow removal easier, safer and faster. With more miles to plow and fewer plows operating nowadays, the road maintenance crews need to be as efficient as they can.
Also, the reduced manpower at the County means residents will find fewer warnings will be issued for illegally parked vehicles and more vehicles will be towed at their owners' expense.
Your cooperation will help avoid these unnecessary costs.
Questions? Telephone the Sierra County Department of Public Works at (530) 289-3201.