In a city as relatively small as Milwaukee, certain people, places, or things can get saddled with bad reputations. Even if these reputations are somewhat deserved, Milwaukee Record strives to look past the negatives and focus on the positives. In the first installment of In Defense Of, we make a case for the city’s oft-maligned winter parking rules.

The bad: To paraphrase The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, the logic of Milwaukee parking rules is an illusion. The logic of Milwaukee winter parking rules doubly so. Every year, from December 1 through March 1, the usual grumblings about the city’s Byzantine and ticket-happy parking regulations freeze over into everyone losing their shit about the city’s really fucked-up winter parking regulations. Which side can we park on tonight? Why did I get a ticket? Why did I get plowed in? Peeved Milwaukee motorists take to social media (and the social media pages of city alderman) to register their frosty complaints. Forever-exasperated OnMilwaukee writer Dave Begel always seems to get his damn car towed. Up is down, black is white, winter is evil, the city is evil, and folks with off-street parking spots must be destroyed. It’s a confusing and slush-ridden nightmare.

The good: Okay, so wrapping your head around Milwaukee winter parking rules can be a bit of a chore, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely illogical. They’re just hard to explain. Back in the winter of 2014-2015, Milwaukee Alderman Nik Kovac gave it his best shot:

Okay, let’s unpack that:

• From December 1 through March 1, most residential streets have alternate-side night parking rules. On even-numbered days, beginning at 11 p.m. and ending at 6 a.m., vehicles must be parked on the side of the street with even house numbers. On odd-numbered days, the side of the street with odd numbers. Easy!

• If there are four or more inches of snow on the ground, no parking is allowed at any time on the side of the street marked with a 4″ Rule sign, until the snow is cleared. Parking on the opposite side is permitted, however, regardless of alternate-side rules. Pretty easy!

Another important rule to keep in mind:

• From December 1 through March 1, no overnight parking is permitted on through highways and bus routes. (Yeah, these streets aren’t signed, but they can be found here.) Ditto if a “snow emergency” is called before December 1 or after March 1. Easy!

And now, a big, relatively new, and incredibly helpful rule:

• The 48 Hour Exception. From December 1 through March 1, you can park overnight on either side of certain streets, regardless of alternate-side or 4″ rules. (Yeah, these streets aren’t signed, but they can be found here.) Even better, you can remain parked for 48 hours, without moving. Only when the Department of Public Works announces an overnight snow plow operation or other public works operation do the normal alternate-side and 4″ rules apply. Want to stay in the know about overnight operations in 48 Hour Exception Areas? Sign up for DPW text messages or emails here. Pretty easy! Even Dave Begel agrees!

Trumping all of the above rules, of course, is the fact that you still need a legal night parking permit to, well, park on the street at night. The full set of not-that-awful Milwaukee winter parking rules can be found here.

About The Author

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Co-Founder and Editor

Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.