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Portland snowstorm parking bans to start at 6 p.m. this winter

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Portland snowstorm parking bans to start at 6 p.m. this winter

PORTLAND — When the snow flies thick enough for the city to call a parking ban this winter, vehicles in most parts of the city will have to be off the streets a few hours earlier than in the past.

The city has changed the starting time for winter parking bans from 10 p.m. to 6 p.m., primarily to give public services crews more time to remove snow from the city's 570 miles of streets. Public Services Director Mike Bobinsky said the city called a couple of 6 p.m. bans last winter and found there was greater compliance from residents.

"People made advanced arrangements for alternative parking," Bobinsky said. He also said the extra four hours help his department stretch its manpower.

"We've had staff reductions over the last few years that have been pretty noticeable in our operations division," Bobinsky said.

Bans will end at 6 a.m.

Parking bans in the Yellow Zone, which includes the Old Port and Downtown, will continue to begin at 10 p.m. The zone runs from Commercial Street to Cumberland Avenue, and from State Street to Franklin Arterial.

Jan Beitzer, the executive director of Portland's Downtown District, said that because the start time for parking bans is staying the same for much of her district, she does not expect to see any major differences in business.

"Obviously, it's difficult on restaurants, but there are tons of places in garages," Beitzer said.

Portland called eight citywide parking bans last winter, and three Yellow Zone bans.

The city has also changed the location of its snow ban tow lot. Vehicle owners who don't get their cars off the street in time to avoid being towed will have to go to Ocean Gateway on Thames Street to retrieve their vehicles. In the past, the city has used the International Marine Terminal lot on Commercial Street.

It costs $125 to get a vehicle out of the tow lot. Any outstanding tickets must also be paid.

There are several parking lots, primarily on the peninsula, that are available free of charge during parking bans. The lots are available from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. and include the lot at Deering Oaks, the Cutter Street lots, the lot across from the International Marine Terminal on Commercial Street, all the Portland Public School lots except the Reiche School playground lot, and the Hadlock Field and Fitzpatrick Stadium lots. 

Several downtown parking garages offer reduced rates during bans, too.

Residents can sign up for e-mail parking ban alerts at the city's Web site, portlandmaine.gov, or call the parking ban hotline at 879-0300. Bans are usually called by mid-morning and are also posted on the Time and Temperature Building display. The city will also post parking ban information on its Portland Cityline Facebook page and its Twitter account, Twitter.com/Portlandcitylin.

The tow lot phone number is 774-3025. To report an unshoveled sidewalk, call 874-8793.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net