Ward 4 Frequently Asked Questions
My neighbor leaves his boat in the street all the time. Can he do that?
My boat was in the street and disappeared – I called the City and found out it was towed. Why?
Can my neighbor leave his big storage unit in the street all summer?
Several times each year, our office receives the above questions. Some residents believe boats, trailers, storage units, and dumpsters are a negative impact on the neighborhood – particularly if there is a shortage of parking on that block. Many other residents feel that putting their boat or storage unit in front of their house is like storing it in the driveway.
Since we receive inquiries about these items – and often from people upset that their boat has been towed or because they have to move the dumpster, we would like to make residents aware of the rules regarding boats, trailers, dumpsters, and storage containers on public streets.
Boats/Trailers: If a boat or other trailer is attached to a working, licensed vehicle, it may be left on the street. However, if a homeowner leaves the car and trailer on the street for several days without ever moving, and it is reported to the City, Traffic Control can ticket or tow the car if it isn’t moved within 72 hours of the tires being chalked by a Traffic Control agent (this applies to cars without trailers as well).
If the trailer is not attached to a vehicle, it may not be stored on a public street – and is subject to an immediate tow by Traffic Control or the police.
This prohibition is in place to ensure safety and keep the streets open for use by cars. If our office receives a report of an unattached trailer, we are obligated to report it to Traffic Control. So, please store your boats and trailers on your property.
Most businesses in the City require a business license to operate. Licensing is governed by the City's Code of Ordinance. A license is granted by the City Council and administered by the Licensing and Consumer Services division. The business license sets certain health and safety standards and parameters for orderly use. Types of uses that require operating licenses include: restaurants, bars, grocery/convenience stores, auto repair garages, and construction trades. If a business violates conditions outlined in the Code, the City may have cause to revoke or penalize the license and shut down the use. For assistance with nuisance businesses, contact Regulatory Services at 311.
Children and Family Services - "I have a concern about the welfare of some children on my block. Who should I call?"
The purpose of Children and Family Services Department is to protect and ensure permanency for children, to preserve families and to strengthen communities by sensitive, effective and ethical use of resources. This involves child abuse prevention and early intervention, crisis intervention and family intervention. To make a complaint or for inquiries, call (612) 348-4111.
Often when residents are doing construction at their home on an addition, renovation, or building a new garage, they will either have a dumpster in the street for construction debris and/or will rent a portable storage unit to store their household items during construction. They often put these units in the street. Well, like trailers and boats, the storage units and dumpsters can be a barrier to safety and open street access.
Therefore, dumpsters and storage units are allowed in the street for a limited amount on time – if a permit is obtained from the City’s Building Permit office.
Dumpsters are allowed up to 90 days, with a street use permit.
Storage units are allowed for up to 7 days, with a street use permit.
Beyond these time periods, dumpsters and storage units must be confined to the user’s property – or they will be ordered removed.
So, we encourage you to place these items on your property for the duration of your project. For storage units, many services offer off-site storage. If you must put the dumpster or storage in the street – make sure you or your contractor obtains a permit and make sure you remove the item as soon as the permit expires.
Call Solid Waste customer service and they will help correct the problem. Their phone number is (612) 673-2917. Visit the Solid Waste & Recycling website to learn more.
Homestead Fraud - "My neighbor is illegally taking the homestead tax credit but doesn't live in the house. Who do I call?"
It is not uncommon to find rental properties that do not have a rental license and/or are illegally receiving homestead tax status. If you find this to be the case, please call 311 to report to the City Assessor, who will investigate.
The City's Housing Maintenance Code governs interior and exterior condition of residential property. The Code is designed to ensure minimum maintenance and upkeep of residential structures. The code covers roofs, painting and siding, litter and debris in yards, ground cover, windows, screens, doors, and garages. The Code also specifies standards and conditions for interior maintenance such as safe and operable appliances, and plumbing. You can file a complaint with Housing Inspections by calling 311, or make a request for a housing inspection on the City website.
Parking/Abandoned Cars - The same car has been parked on my block for several days. What can I do about it?
Please call 311 or report abandoned vehicles online
Parks - "Whom do I contact about Minneapolis Parks?"
All Minneapolis parks come under the jurisdiction of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, a separate government entity. To contact them call 612 230-6400 or visit www.minneapolisparks.org The elected Park Board is comprised of a board of 6 district and 3 at-large commissioners.
Rental Licensing - "Who do I call with a question or concern about a rental property?"
The City of Minneapolis requires that all rental property in the City be licensed. Under certain conditions the City can revoke a rental license, effectively shutting down the property. The most common reason for revocation of a rental license is disorderly use of rental property or Conduct on Premises. The types of activity that trigger a rental license revocation include: gambling, prostitution, drug dealing, noisy assemblies, and unlawful possession, sale or use of a weapon. Your SAFE Crime Prevention Specialist is responsible for working with the City Attorney's Office and Housing Inspections to begin the revocation procedure. Licenses may be revoked include extreme housing code violations. To find out if a property has a current rental license (which it must in order to operate) call 311.
The Minneapolis Public Schools are under the independent jurisdiction of the Minneapolis School Board. You can call the Public Schools at (612) 668-0000 (TTY 668-0001) or visit them online at www.mpls.k12.mn.us. The website has a variety of resources to help you learn more about the public schools, including information about the School Board, Superintendent, and each school in the City.
Sidewalks. People are walking in the street, because some of the homeowners in my neighborhood haven’t shoveled their sidewalks. What can be done about it?
Business/commercial property owners have to clear their sidewalks and/or put down salt or sand within four hours after snow or freezing rain has stopped falling. Residential owners have 24 hours to shovel snow and/or mitigate against ice.
If you have concerns about a sidewalk near you, please call 311 to report the location or report sidewalk issues online at Sidewalk Inspections They will send out an inspector who will work to resolve the situation.
Snow Emergency. Why does the City have such a complex snow emergency system? Where do I Park? Do the rules ever change?
Yes. The current system was implemented in 1983, but there have been modifications over time.
In November 2004, the City Council approved the most recent changes to the City’s Snow Program. They also decided to more broadly communicate some special information about snow emergencies. The City believes these changes make the rules more understandable for all residents. The new rules and information include:
- Parking Rules Change. In previous years, each year the City alternated which side of the street was plowed first in Day 2 of a Snow Emergency. One year the odd side was plowed first, the next the even side. This led to confusion on the part of residents.
Beginning with the 2004-2005 Winter, on what we refer to as Day 2 of the Snow Emergency (the day after snow emergency routes have been plowed) the even numbered side of non-snow emergency routes will be plowed, and no parking rules will be in effect from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. On Day 3, the odd numbered side of non-snow emergency routes will be plowed and no parking rules will be in effect from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. This change is permanent; it will not change year to year any more!
- Snow Emergency Declaration. While not a change, the City wants people to know that Snow emergencies are always declared by 6:00 p.m. on the day the snow emergency begins. If an emergency has not been declared by 6:00 pm, snow emergency will not be declared that night, but crews will continue to plow throughout the evening and night to keep traffic moving. But if the snow has continued to fall overnight, people should check back the following day to see if weather conditions warrant a declaration that day.
- Park after Plowing. In 2002, the rules and ordinances were modified to allow that people could park once the street was "fully plowed." Once a street has been plowed to the curb drivers may park their cars on that street, or side of the street, as soon as the plowing is complete – even if the no parking rules have not yet expired.
- Police Notice. When police are enforcing snow emergency rules at night, they will keep their flashing red lights on while tagging incorrectly parked cars. This will alert residents that the police are in the area, and residents should be sure their cars are not subject to a ticket and/or tow.
- Enhanced Language Outreach. Many of our communications outlets, such as the website, brochures and hotlines, are written or spoken in up to 7 different languages to reflect the growing diversity in Minneapolis. This year a Hmong telephone hotline was added to compliment the Spanish, Somali, and 348-SNOW hotlines.
The City's Public Works and Communications departments use a wide variety of means to communicate to residents about snow emergency regulations, snow emergency declarations, and winter parking restrictions:
I. Snow Emergencies
348-SNOW hotline. The recorded message is updated frequently and includes the parking information car owners need in order to avoid being towed. In addition, the City now offers snow emergency hotlines in a number of languages:
- 348-SNOW (7669)
- Espanol (Spanish): 673-3819
- Soomaali (Somali): 673-2141
- Hmoob (Hmong): 673-2933
- TTY callers can use Minnesota relay or call 673-2116
The City website has a number of resources about snow emergencies:
Parking Status Icon. On the city site’s homepage, throughout the winter, residents will find an icon on the left side which notifies residents about the current parking status - such as snow emergency or normal parking.
If winter parking restrictions are put into effect that will also be posted on the home page. More information on winter parking restrictions is available further in this section.
Major Media. - When a snow emergency is declared, Twin Cities radio (KBEM-FM 88.5 MHz is a good source) and television stations are notified. Monitor the news programs for information. The Star Tribune will carry information on Day 2 and 3.
If you have cable television, watch Channels 14 and 79 for snow emergency information.
Snow Emergency Information Brochure. In November, the City mails all homes in the city a copy of this current snow emergency regulations.
II. Winter Parking Restrictions.
"I just heard on the radio that parking around the city has been limited to one side of the street until April. Why?"
Certain years, snowfall is so heavy and frequent that even with regular plowing, the piles of snow encroach into parking lanes, and parked cars in turn encroach into the driving lanes. The streets become too narrow and it can be impossible or difficult for emergency vehicles - fire trucks and ambulances - to get down the streets.
To ensure public safety when this situation arises, the City declares winter parking restrictions. Parking on the street is banned on the even numbered side of the non-snow emergency routes until April 1, unless officials decide the restrictions can be safely lifted earlier.
Winter Parking Restrictions are announced through all of the communications outlets described above. Also, an icon announcing the restrictions will be placed on the left side of the City home page.
Note: There are a few streets, such as Upton Avenue, where parking is restricted to one side every winter. This is separate from a general winter parking restriction which are declared only in certain years.
Also, please remember when clearing your sidewalks, yard paths, or driveway not to shovel or blow snow into streets or alleys. In addition to making driving in the road or alley more difficult for your neighbors, it is a violation of city ordinances.
It snowed all day yesterday. Why didn’t the City declare a snow emergency and plow the streets?
The City’s decision to declare a snow emergency is not directly related to the City’s plowing of its streets during and after a snowstorm.
As soon as snow starts falling, City crews begin the process of plowing, salting, and sanding streets. When plowing, they focus on plowing the driving lanes of every street. This continues regardless of the amount of snow and continues as long as it is needed.
When at least 4" of snow has fallen, the City will consider declaring a snow emergency – for the purposes of plowing the parking lanes of each street. A snow emergency gives the City the opportunity to plow the streets curb to curb and ensure that the streets are accessible to emergency vehicles.
So, any snow triggers street plowing, but a large amount of snow triggers a snow emergency to ensure that parking lanes can be cleared.
Street cleaning occurs throughout the non-snow season. However, residents need to be especially aware of the two major cleaning operations in the spring and fall.
Public Works conducts a comprehensive, citywide sweep of all streets and alleys each spring, from early April through mid-May, in order to pick up the winter sand and other debris that collects over the winter. There is another comprehensive sweep and leaf collection of all streets (but not alleys) in the fall. This occurs from mid to late October to mid November (unless interrupted by significant snowfalls).
In order to provide the desired curb-to-curb cleaning for these operations, temporary signs to restrict parking are posted a day in advance, and parking restrictions are aggressively enforced with tagging and towing. During the rest of the season, Public Works actively sweeps streets on a rotational basis, with special emphasis in the Chain-of-Lakes watershed areas. Residents are not required to move their vehicles for these operations, except on the rare occasions where they require more complete sweeping. Temporary parking restriction signs would be posted in advance.
There is some schedule rotation that occurs for the comprehensive Spring and Fall sweeps so that the same areas are not always first or last. For instance, if a particular neighborhood could not be swept in the Fall because of early snow, all attempts would be made to put these streets near the top of the list for the Spring sweep. There are many factors that come into play for scheduling so it is difficult to predict very far in advance when a particular street will be swept. In general, people should be aware of the existence of the two major sweep events during the Spring and Fall, and watch for the signs.
If you have a particular need to know when your street may be cleaned, visit the street sweeping information page and you can look up when your street is scheduled for cleaning.
Please note that it is a violation of City ordinances to rake leaves into the street. Leaves raked into the street will create significant public safety, flooding, and pollution problems. The proper disposal method is to bag all your leaves, including from the boulevard, and put them out with your solid waste collection. The schedule for yard waste pick-up can be obtained from Solid Waste at (612) 673-2917.
Requests for traffic calming devices are among the most frequent requests received in my office. When received, we refer the request to the Transportation division of Public Works. They study the situation and report if changes to the current engineering are or are not recommended.
Their recommendations are based on well-established standards that measure traffic volume, speed, and accidents, as well as pedestrian volume. In many situations, no changes are recommended. In other situations, the solution may require neighborhood funding. Speed humps, for example, are eligible for many streets, but the City does not pay for them. If a block wants to install speed humps they are responsible for securing funding, which runs about $4500 for a pair.
Stop sign installation, in addition to the standards used, is based on a city ordinance -- the Minneapolis Stop Sign Policy. Under this policy, there is a plan for the entire City and the ordinance does not allow for exceptions. In Ward 4, this means that virtually no intersection is eligible for a four-way stop – something many residents have requested. Stop signs are also not an effective means of controlling traffic speed. Rather, they establish the right-of-way at intersections.
I thought trucks were supposed to stay on large roads. What are the rules for trucks and what can I do if I see a truck on the wrong road?
There are two types of designated truck routes that regulate where trucks of different sizes may travel.
Trucks over 10 tons (20,000 lbs. per axle)
3 to 9 Ton
Trucks between 3 and 9 tons (6,000 to 18,000 lbs. per axle)
Note: To determine whether a truck meets the standards for the above truck routes, you must compare gross weight in pounds marked on the truck to the above numbers. Some trucks may cite their gross weight versus axle weight. Dividing the gross weight by the number of axles determines the per axle weight for truck routes.
Trucks over 3 tons must use the appropriate truck routes for as much of their travel as practical. They may divert to other streets for the last few blocks to reach their final destination. A diversion onto non-truck route streets is determined by the driver based on turning restrictions, on-street parking, and the approach direction to the destination. Trucks under 3 tons (UPS two-axle delivery truck, for example) may use any city street.
Many of the trucking companies use smaller, short haul trucks to make deliveries in the city, because large semi trucks often have trouble making turns on city streets. However, some semis do continue to deliver in the city.
If you believe a large truck is traveling on the wrong road, please contact Minneapolis Traffic Control at (612) 335-5932. If you can identify and provide the trucking company, license plate, and/or its destination it can help Minneapolis Traffic Control resolve the situation.
Also, businesses are not allowed to receive overnight deliveries in any residentially zoned and used area unless they are doing such within an insulated building. Therefore, you should not hear trucks idling and making deliveries between the hours of 10:00pm and 6:00am. Loud, late-night deliveries in your neighborhood should be reported to Environmental Management at (612) 673-5897.
Variances. The contractor building my new garage says I need a variance before I can build. What is it and how do I get it?
A variance is an authorization to depart from the general requirements of the City’s zoning regulations. For example, zoning regulations govern how large a garage you may build and where on your property it may be located. Variances to these and some other types of zoning regulations may be granted where strict adherence would cause undue hardship due to circumstances unique to the property.
Receiving a variance involves completing an application, satisfying applicable legal requirements, and holding a public hearing. For complete information and application procedures, please contact the Zoning Department at (612) 673-5836.
Your Neighborhood - I’d like to get more involved in my neighborhood. How do I contact my neighborhood association?
See the "Contact Your Neighborhood" page of this website and find out how to contact your neighborhood group. Neighborhood associations are always looking for new ideas and volunteers, please consider getting involved.
Last updated Jan 4, 2018